Isn’t it about time that the SDN admins made a clean sweep of our beloved site and carried out a cosmetic (extreme) makeover? One has to admit that the current site looks a bit dull, wouldn’t you agree? OK, most developer sites do tend to look rather flat since the focus is more on the content and not on the visuals, but appearance does count in life. There is a good reason why bread isn’t blue or purple, despite the fact that it might taste just as good, or even better, than normal’ bread.
To be honest I expected some finery last year when SDN 2.0 was launched, but alas. I guess everyone was too busy solving problems with that technical upgrade. But I would have thought that any teething troubles would have been over by now. While we’re at it though there are still some things that I find rather annoying:
- The performance is sometimes very poor, certainly on the home page. It could be due to any number of factors: the network and/or the servers which can’t cope with the high volume traffic, but it is also partly the site itself. The homepage has too many faults and HTML wise is very slapdash, sloppy and messy (as you can see, I’m using my translators dictionary very extensively).
When I load it in Firefox I get 36 (!) errors and the Tidy HTML Validator discovers 96 Errors which can be fixed by Tidy itself. You say that those things need to be taken with a pinch of salt and you want some proof?
- does it have multiple
< title >SDN Homepage</ title > &
- tags aren’t closed before a newor
- the ,
, have missing attributes
- the links is the contains carriage returns or are empty? Why does one bit of coding go something like this:
or if one absolutely wants to use the onclick
- have wrong id values like branchdeveloperareas/platform whereas ID and NAME must begin with a letter ([A-Za-z]) and may be followed by any number of letters, digits ([0-9]), hyphens (“-“), underscores (“_”), colons (“:”), and periods (“.”)
- proprietary attributes are used like in
- forms have empty targets:
- You might find all this rather irrelevant when it comes to performance, well you’d be wrong my friend. Well formed HTML is the basis of a highly efficient site. You think I’m talking through my hat? I don’t think so. The best proof is the following example. It is still the case that a browser needs to know the dimensions of an image in order to show the page properly. If you omit the dimensions of an image, the browser WILL NOT show your page before it has retrieved all the images, even if everything else is loaded. It needs to determine the size of each image in order to show the page properly. If it just so happens that the gif isn’t in the browser cache, and thus needs to be loaded from the server, and the server can’t respond swiftly, you sit there waiting for the show.
One can prevent this, and help the browser, by setting the size of the images. It’ll show the HTML as soon as it comes in without waiting for the images.
So SDN developers, don’t program things like
- The lack of W3C compliancy results in the above error list and the troubles one has showing things properly in non MIE browsers like Firefox. The latter isn’t error free itself, but one can’t complain to the Mozilla foundation if the site itself isn’t compliant enough.
- The new session revoking system isn’t what it should be. I’m connected via my RSS reader and/or browser for at least 8 hours a day. After 2 hours my sessions are revoked and I’m logged out, regardless of whether I was working on it or not. On top of that, there is a difference between the portal itself and the forums, in whose case I can still be logged in. It’s SSO, but not SLO (Single Log Off). In order to continue working I need to restart my RSS reader and browser, and the homepage takes quite a while to load.
Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t have anything against session management, in the contrary, but I think it could be done more cleverly. One doesn’t need to look at the elapsed time since log on, but rather the last actual visit to the site. Furthermore it should use the SAP passport, or the remember me option, to log on again and not only when one starts the browser. Otherwise these things are rather useless.
This whole article was triggered by my view of the SDN site as being rather a dull site and my desire to see its image improved. So what do I suggest that we do? Well for a start I guess that one of the problems is to do with the lack of a real CI/CD (Corporate Identity, Corporate Design). In fact the SDN site doesn’t resemble the site of its source, not that it has to, but the SAP site does have a clear and recognisable look, despite the fact that the photo themes design is also used by many other companies.
I think that a good start would be for it to have its own logo. I have developed many SDN related tools and I know that when it comes to design I need to put quite a bit of effort in to come up with something with my limited experience/knowledge/talent. Failing which I appeal to the voluntary cooperation of my colleague Gerrit a.k.a Sh3Ll4c. Others have done the same, with the result that we now have a multitude of non certified logos. This could have been avoided if there was an official logo (which also appeared in the location bar via a favicon).
One doesn’t need to look far to adopt a style though. There is already some decent material out there: the graphics that accompany announcements for the articles, web logs, etc. There are also the banners that announce the SDN survey, the TechEd to go, etc. and finally the cute little icons in the Contributors Corner. I heard trough the grapevine that a very nice young lady named Jodi made those graphics for the Contributor Corner, very nice work! If one could merge all these in to one generic, clear, distinctive and recognisable style, and then apply this unique style to the whole site we could have both the content AND the looks to be envious of.
- does it have multiple