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 Finished removing jQuery, feels good to streamline things a bit more.

I found a couple of things that weren't working (even with jQuery) so removed them – must have been stuff I introduced before some of the more recent changes.

The only place jQuery is still used is in my SPARKS installation. It's not part of the site itself (and I don't actually use it) so there's no point taking the time to remove it.

 I added a quick and dirty keyword search to /reader to find things within the current cached items, checking against both post titles and content.

It's not overly fancy and the look can be improved but it does the trick.

Build first, iterate after.

 The subject of item categories in RSS feeds came up in an email conversation.

While I have 'labels' I rarely use them except for certain, specific situations and this hadn't translated to categories in the feed.

I've added a quick check (only an additional 9 lines of code) to fetch any applied labels and write category elements to items where applicable. This post has the 'meta' label so I'll see if it gets passed to the feed as a category.

It worked Success!

 The first casualty of war is innocence but the first casualty of the site review has been the 'expanding bit' if the latest post shown on the home page was more than 350 characters.

With the bottom bar being fixed in place, and the post text scrolling underneath it, having to expand the post felt like an extra, unnecessary step.

I'm definitely keeping the hover effects on the SVG icons as I think that a little bit of fun and personality. The idea is not to strip the site of its character but to remove things that make it clumsy. I have to remember to view the site in an incognito window so that I see it as others do, without being logged in.

A feature I'm not sure about (and, admittedly, almost never use myself) is the date picker. I know it doesn't get in the way or cause any usability issues but do I really need it?

 The code for the site may be relatively tiny when compared to a CMS like WordPress but, while making a few small tweaks and fixes, I found myself almost lamenting how much it has grown in both size and complexity.

Obviously this is not just a blog, rather its own ecosystem with symbiotic relationships between the different parts.

I started pining for the more basic approach of hyblog which behaves a lot like this site used to – albeit with an alternative approach. That's not to say hyblog is better (it's far from perfect and could do with some updates) it's just different and doesn't have all the extra trappings.

Things are in a constant state of flux but features are usually added instead of being removed; everything made more complicated rather than being simplified. Beyond the navigation map and virtual business card (which weren't around long enough to count) the only recent removals have been the /start page and the Garden. 1

This site is like an old house which new owners remodel and extend such that it becomes a mishmash of styles. Each new room has its own design language and means of construction – it can be a wonder that the whole thing remains standing.

That might be a little melodramatic but you get the idea; behind the façade, things are a bit of a mess.

Walking through the code charts my personal development. The original core is fairly crude, patched up over time with new insights (or better glue). New additions often look like an excuse to use something I've just learnt but without retrofitting what's already there. Consistency is definitely not something you'll find.

This makes me want to go back and rewrite everything – there is so much duplication and extraneous rubbish – but that would be a massive undertaking I just don't have the stomach for.

All aspects of the site can be improved, from the PHP to HTML layout and CSS. Logic in numerous areas could be simplified and a lot more elements reused across pages. Likely months of work that would have to be completed on a clone site with the additional issues that would cause.

Maybe, in the first instance, I just need to go through everything, ask myself if it needs to be there and, hopefully, get some honest answers. What is essential to the site's operation and what is just fluff, added because it looked flashy?

Where are the pain points from the perspective of both a reader and myself? What has been overworked when it really needed to be streamlined?

Don't get me wrong, I am immensely proud of what I've built, I just think it's time to re-evaluate.

  1. both are still there just inaccessible, unless I make a change