Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

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Digifiend
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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by Digifiend »

According to this, RISC OS comes with an IBM compatible PC emulator. So it ought to be possible to use any browser available for Microsoft Windows. No excuses, Martin! Get yourself a Javascript-enabled browser, pronto.

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by AndyB »

In reality, web authors can't make allowances for people whose browsers can't handle "normal" scripting and markup languages such as Javascript.

Some of the professional webauthors I know aren't remotely sorry to see Apple not support Flash on the iPad etc because they can't stand writing it, and one friend was very pleased to achieve the same effects in html. Ryan is top class, so that wasn't a surprise.

Realistically, it's difficult to test in anything other than Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE and Opera. If IE renders correctly once the others have been tested (being the least compliant), you have catered for 99.something% of all browser users. If a user has no access to any of the above, the web author has to ask how much he is going to lose by not catering for them, and if the answer is "very little", unfortunately.

Firefox exists in an older port for RISC OS at http://www.riscos.info/index.php/Mozilla_Firefox - at worst, you could also revert to the advice at http://www.ietf.org.uk/browser.html

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by colcool007 »

Now that's a useful thing to know. I must admit that I scanned the original link and all the links pointed to items that I know are Linux-based. Plus, it went on to say that the browser was developed from software for mobiles, which led me to believe that there is a work around. And your link to riscos indicates that it can be found.
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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by swirlythingy »

I'm sorry, but people just don't seem to be getting the hang of this, and some seem to have mistakenly concluded that such posts are trying to help me, so I shall have to quote it once more:
swirlythingy wrote:(No "well don't use that browser then" posts, anyone, please.)
Digifiend wrote:According to this, RISC OS comes with an IBM compatible PC emulator. So it ought to be possible to use any browser available for Microsoft Windows. No excuses, Martin! Get yourself a Javascript-enabled browser, pronto.
Oh, dear, Digifiend! After the "Wikipedia - aargh!" thread, I really thought you might know better than that! Do you honestly suppose that page is in the least reliable and/or truthful?

(And even taking this into account, the page does mention that the PC emulator only came with Acorn's Learning Curve package - which was distributed to schools in the early 90s, long before Javascript or, indeed, the web existed in any meaningful sense. Good luck running Firefox 4 on one of those.)
colcool007 wrote:Now that's a useful thing to know. I must admit that I scanned the original link and all the links pointed to items that I know are Linux-based. Plus, it went on to say that the browser was developed from software for mobiles, which led me to believe that there is a work around. And your link to riscos indicates that it can be found.
Did you mean this paragraph?
Originally written for computer hardware normally found in PDAs, cable TV boxes, mobile phones and other hand-held gadgets, NetSurf is compact and low maintenance by design.
Sorry, but that's another example of technical people trying to explain problems in ways non-technical people will understand, and ending up obfuscating the issue so badly they leave nobody understanding anything. The correct interpretation is:
NetSurf was designed for RISC OS, which was designed for ARM architecture in a desktop environment, as opposed to the mobile environment for which ARM is better known.
Your mobile phone undoubtedly has an ARM chip in it, is what they're trying to say. What makes the computer I'm typing on unusual is that it has an ARM chip in it, and it isn't a mobile phone.

Now, as for the famous "link to riscos":
AndyB wrote:Firefox exists in an older port for RISC OS at http://www.riscos.info/index.php/Mozilla_Firefox
There are very good practical reasons why I only use this port when absolutely necessary - it is very much alpha quality, and development stopped some time ago. It's literally twenty times slower than NetSurf (think '120 seconds wait to load any given web page'), it's extremely unstable (think 'three out of four sessions end in a crash and lost data within the first three pages, or sometimes even before it's finished loading the first one'), and it barely integrates with the system at all (think 'basically a single-application virtual machine with bad I/O management').

But the bit which matters in this context is that it's also two major revisions out of date, and not even up to the stable release of the version it is ported from. And we all know, from the experiences of others earlier in the thread, how Comics UK feels about even vaguely old-fashioned versions of Firefox. This is what happened when I tried to load the page using the very port which AndyB thinks will solve my problems:
screen.png
For the record, this is what I get with NetSurf:
screen2.png
It says that a Javascript-free interface is promised in version 2, and this is why I didn't think posting a screenshot and describing the problems would be helpful at this point - chances are Al & Son are already aware of all of them.

I don't really mind the messed-up layout - trust me, you get used to that sort of thing, and in any case bugs in NetSurf tend to be to blame rather than known unsupported features - but I do object to what the source informs me is a drop-down menu bar. These are the bane of my browsing - they're just unnecessary, overcomplicated eye candy, but they're currently in transient vogue among the more fashionable sort of web developer in much the same way as Flash, blink tags and animated GIFs once were. It'll blow over, but I hope it isn't replaced by something worse.

Anyway, after having gone source diving and located the URLs of the hidden pages, I can confirm the following:
  • The Loading Bay, quite surprisingly, seems to work perfectly, although I haven't actually tried submitting anything.
  • The Links page also seems flawless, albeit embarrassingly out of date in places.
  • The Ongoing Tasks and Welcome pages work.
  • The Forum, of course, has always worked.
  • Although the Feedback page looks like a simple form, for some baffling reason it doesn't use a standard HTML form like the Loading Bay and therefore doesn't work, even though AFAICT it doesn't do anything which requires Javascript. (There goes my chance of sending my findings direct to Al then.)
  • I completely failed to get into the gallery pages at all. Requesting any one of "annuals.php", "specials.php" or "gallery.php" resulted in me being redirected to "http://www.comicsuk.co.uk/index.php?DBMsg=That". What?
By the way, I know you can't see a menu bar on the screenshot, but it is there, and the links on the relevant sections of the page work - it's just invisible. Nothing will make the menus work, though - their links (the href attribute) show up as "#".

And in case anybody thinks this post is unnecessarily rude and condescending, all I can say is "he started it":
colcool007 wrote:If any words that I have used are incomprehensible or difficult to understand, please use a web search to find a decent dictionary.
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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by Phoenix »

Like you, Swirly, I couldn't access the new version at first. I got the first screen you posted with the four upgrade options. My computer is a PC, and I was already using a higher-spec version of Mozilla Firefox than the 3.5 it was recommending as a suitable upgrade. With guidance from colcool007 I upgraded to Firefox 7, which works perfectly. The only adjustments I needed to make were related to the width of the image on the screen. I have no idea whether Firefox 7 will work on your computer system but I do know that colcool007's advice is worth listening to.

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by AndyB »

The bottom line is that Al does not have time to provide an alternative which does not use Javascript.

As not only the majority of current users use compatible browsers, but the vast majority of those who might be interested do so, we are very sorry, but this is the way it is, and unless you want to pay Al to give up extra time to accommodate a minute number of users of non-compatible browsers, that is the end of the matter.

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Al
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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by Al »

Swirly,

People on this thread have been trying to give you some assistance and all you’ve done is slam their help into the ground. There is absolutely no need for curt remarks and deep-scrutiny of their advice. If it was of no help to you, then politely say thanks, but no thanks. I’m sure the people offering the advice are not experts on the subject, they’re just helpful people who will no doubt think thrice before offering you any help in the future? Good manners cost nothing.

The Comics UK website was designed to be used with current (Firefox 4, IE 7 onwards) and future browsers. I decided not to support antiquated and obsolete browsers working on poorly supported operating systems, because I simply don’t have the means to test for them. So you either go with the flow or you won’t reap the benefits of what phase 1, and everything that will follow, has to offer.

As for a non-JavaScript version being made available in Phase 2, let it be known that Phase 2 is going to be huge and I will certainly prioritise the workload. This will mean that if people choose to turn-off their JavaScript by choice, or run with olde browsers that don’t support JavaScript, let alone JQuery (that this site uses heavily), then I will have to establish how many people this is actually affecting. If the number is extremely low, then I will lower this task in the priority list.

Dropdown menu bars and future incarnations of it will be here to stay, so you had better get used to it, I’m afraid. I have written code to amend the non-JavaScript message to incorporate links to the sections (but I am currently having problems uploading these scripts to the live site at the moment - problem with my ISP). However, the Annuals, Specials and Gallery section use JavaScript and JQuery extensively, so those sections will not work properly for you anyway. The Feedback and Loading Bay sections both use JavaScript, so this will affect you unfortunately. Modern browser users should be OK. If you wish to give some feedback, then please Email me.

Please remember, this whole website is done on a voluntary basis and is a pure labour of love. I am not paid for doing it and I have rejected offers of advertising on the website because that’s not what it’s about. Even when I was out of work and bringing home no money, I politely declined their offers. There are no development or testing teams in place, it's just me, and I work on the site when I have the time. I have no affiliation with any of the publishers. I’m just happy that they allow me to display their images the way that I do and that we’re allowed to discuss them the way we do. And long may it continue.

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by philcom55 »

No sweat Al. I can hardly blame you for keeping up to date (I've recently started to get the same upgrade screen with sites such as the I-Tunes store), and at least I can still access the forum...so far.

My only real objection is to the way in which the IT industry appears to have raised built-in obsolescence to a fine art by expecting people to buy a new computer every ten years or so, regardless of how little interest they have in flashy graphics or downloading films. It's as though they are saying that anyone who can't afford to buy their wares on a regular basis simply doesn't count from their point of view. :(

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by swirlythingy »

Al wrote:The Comics UK website was designed to be used with current (Firefox 4, IE 7 onwards) and future browsers. I decided not to support antiquated and obsolete browsers working on poorly supported operating systems, because I simply don’t have the means to test for them. So you either go with the flow or you won’t reap the benefits of what phase 1, and everything that will follow, has to offer.
By a minor coincidence, I happen to currently be viewing the forum on a computer running Firefox 3.6.23 (when I should be working), which, according to the release notes, was last updated on September 27th, 2011. Hardly an "antiquated and obsolete browser" - yet I still can't get into Comics UK, and the ultimate indignity is that the "ie6" banner (screenshot above) recommends I "upgrade" to Firefox version 3.5! At the very least, I'd advise you to change this banner to accurately reflect the actual browser versions it checks against. (I believe others have experienced this same problem - see Lew Stringer's earlier post.)

I have only succeeded in loading the new Comics UK homepage in one browser so far. Ironically, it was NetSurf 2.8. (September 21st, 2011.)
Al wrote:The Feedback and Loading Bay sections both use JavaScript, so this will affect you unfortunately.
As I said, I haven't actually tried using the Loading Bay, merely verified that the submit button worked, but I wouldn't be terribly surprised if that was Javascript-dependent. The Feedback section, however, mystifies me. What does it do that uses Javascript, which couldn't be achieved using normal HTML forms?

I'm not dissing the site. I'm sure it would be absolutely spiffing if only I could get it to work (I still haven't managed to see the new gallery, three browsers later!), and I appreciate all that Al's done to preserve UK comics history and make it available free of charge to aspiring (and practising) researchers. I'm also regretting my initial decision to post on this thread in the first place, since I knew what the cause was, and I could predict everyone's responses well in advance, because I've heard them all a hundred times before. (Still didn't stop everyone posting them, though, even after I explicitly asked them not to three times - and then I was the one accused of being ill-mannered.)

I still think Al's apparent philosophy of forcing everyone to use the very newest versions of every browser long before the previous ones have stopped officially being supported, are still vastly more commonplace than the newer ones, and are still quite capable of any task a comics website could feasibly ask them to perform, is, at least, highly unusual, but it's his site and I can't change his mind. I can only assume (and bear in mind this is purely a guess, since I haven't seen the pages in question) the reason he feels this way is that he wishes to take advantage of HTML5 syntax (with which NetSurf complies, by the way, which may be why it was the only browser which didn't show the upgrade screen), which may require end-users to browse at the cutting edge, but let it not be forgotten that the second of HTML5's five Design Principles is "Degrade Gracefully" (more info here).
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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by Phoenix »

My father used to say to me, If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. You would appear to be following his advice already, Swirly. Your task from now on is easily expressed, given your self-reliant refusal to adopt any of the pieces of advice you have been offered on this forum - succeed or do without. So get on with it then.

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by AndyB »

Firefox has long since passed version 3.6 - 3.6.23 is merely the latest stability and security update. It is now on Version 7.0, with a lot of changes having been introduced at version 4.0.

The official answer from all three admin is that this is your problem, Martin, not ours. Work computers are outside our control - mine runs 3.6.12, for example - but home computers are well within the control of the user.

Any home user of Windows XP or later will almost certainly have had a compatible version of IE automatically downloaded to their home computer without much intervention. Similarly, Mac users will have had Safari kept up to date automatically. The default for both Firefox and Google Chrome is to check for updates automatically on opening.

Those or running Linux or any other similar OS are usually savvy enough to be able to handle upgrading their browser.

Realistically, we are speaking of a tiny minority of web users who use OSes to which no modern browser has been ported, such as Windows 98 and RISC OS.

Al has said he will look at whether he should prioritise backward compatibility in the future. That is the end of the subject.

Now, can we return to discussing the content of the new site?

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by Al »

Have just noticed that Andy replied as I was previewing my reply (apologies for any repeats).

As I've mentioned, the site should work well with Firefox 4 and IE7 and later versions. Firefox 3 is a couple of years old and 4 versions behind the current release Firefox 7. Latest updates for old browsers obviously do not bring it up to Firefox 7 specifications.

I don't supply the banners like "upgrade" to Firefox version 3.5!. These are generated by the browser not me. Have a chat with Microsoft.

I did mention, as you quoted, that the Feedback and Loading Bay sections do use JavaScript. So you shouldn't be terribly surprised.

The Feedback section uses JavaScript to automate the displaying of the Submit button and it will also determine member details (getting ready for when the membership project goes live).

If you make a post you have to expect replies, whether you want them or not. If you don't want replies, don't post!

Firefox 4 and IE7 are not the very newest browsers, they're at least two years old, but they do allow a lot of the new-wave stuff to be used. But, as I said, if a number of the site visitors are suffering because of my move to these later browsers, I will raise the priority of that task to have a non-JavaScript alternative.

As for HTML5, that wasn't even considered in my latest release. But it might be considered for Comics UK Version 3!

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by Peter Gray »

I've updated my browser from internet explorer to google crome and will use this for a time...so I can now see all the specials and annuals..

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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by swirlythingy »

Hooray, I've finally got into the site! By a much more major coincidence, my new laptop arrived yesterday, and I'm typing it on that. This needed to run Linux in order for me to use it to assist in the Computer Science course I am currently taking, and I chose Scientific Linux to match up with UCL's computers and hopefully make the environment as familiar as possible. Turns out that was a big mistake - Scientific Linux does not officially distribute Firefox packages later than the very 3.6.23 I was using earlier, and it's taken me all afternoon and evening to successfully locate and install Firefox 7. This task was made extra delicious by the fact that SL takes its commitment to 3.6 so seriously that all the update screens and automatic update procedures have been disabled and/or blanked, to the extent that even the appropriate parts of the official Mozilla site were nonfunctional. All very educational in some parts, but a complete bloody waste of time in others.

First, a minor correction: Firefox 4 came out six months ago, or about a month before the hosting change forced creation of Comcs UK v2. Yes, we are now on Firefox 7, and yes, it is completely absurd. Reportedly, they were suffering from version number envy.

So, having caught my first glimpse of Comics UK v2 (phase 1), here are my impressions on how it behaves when it works as coded:

The drop-down menus still don't work! This could be a problem specific to using a touchpad instead of a mouse, since I cannot believe nobody else has noticed this. Moving the pointer over the menu title (either of them) will cause the menu to appear, but moving it off the title - including moving it onto the menu - will make the menu vanish! It does occasionally work, but only rarely, although some techniques have more luck than others; the secret seems to be to catch it by surprise and storm past the lower border of the title before it gets chance to see what you're doing. Hovering a few pixels above the top border of the title, then rapidly swiping down on the pad so as to make the pointer come to rest over the menu seems to be the most reliable trick.

The gallery: I'm sorry if you believe this is the best way to display cover scans, but this type of web coding philosophy really depresses me, and only partly because it renders sites needlessly inaccessible to NetSurf. Think about it: is the browsing experience really enhanced by seeing special covers whizz through a box at high speed before finally alighting at the one you requested? Does the site become more user-friendly by, upon a click on an annual cover preview image at the bottom of a long list, accelerating upwards at motion-sickness-inducing rates before screeching to a shuddering halt? Eye candy is not functionality [1], which is why all experienced (or long-suffering) Windows users set their display preferences to 'Windows Classic' or near equivalent.

And I have genuine practical reasons for disliking an entirely Javascript-based interface as well. This being a comics forum, we naturally like to discuss comics, and sometimes in the course of heated debate, or in response to a question about artwork, or simply because we like the pictures, we need to link to websites devoted to comics in our posts. The non-forum section of Comics UK is, of course, a natural candidate for showing people cover scans of annuals, rare or first issues of comics, or a particularly fine example of an artist's work... except, oh, we can't. "Now click on this link here, and you see that list of pictures below you, yes, go down three rows, and then take the fourth picture from the left, and you should see a cover drawn by Dudley D. Watkins of a bear on a pogo stick... what's that? It's a dog chewing a metal horse? No, I said the third row... yes, yes, that's right, and then take the fourth from the left, and... oh, I see, there've been some more scans uploaded since last time, so I think you want to go down to the fifth row and take the second from the left... Hmm, it still doesn't look like I remembered it, maybe I was thinking of some other comic..." Uniform Resource Locators were invented for a reason, and having the same one pointing at many different resources just doesn't work.

There's nothing, in short, on the gallery pages which couldn't have been done simpler, quicker, and better in HTML. Perhaps we should all just hotlink instead?

You probably think I'm being unduly harsh, and I probably am, but one of my many pet peeves about the world in general (and there are many) is the use of Javascript purely as a substitute for, rather than an augmentation to, HTML, particularly where the primary motivation for the use of the language appears to be so that elements can whizz around the page and text and forms can pop up in tinted boxes floating around the screen instead of just as text and forms. The web is not a graphic design medium or an immersive user experience (I haven't forgiven Beano.com for the unforgettable slogan in its advertisers' media pack: "The heart of the Beano brand experience!"), and it never will be - it is, first and foremost, a medium to convey information to as many people as possible in as convenient a way as possible. That's what made the web great, and it'll be making the web great long after tinted boxes and drop-down menus have gone the way of the textured backgrounds and animated GIFs, followed by a long line of their equally transient successors.

I'm sorry I can't like Comics UK. I really think it's an immensely valuable site, and I spent six months eagerly waiting for it to return and being certain that it would be the best thing in the world. From my perspective, sadly, a treasure trove of all that was old and glorious has embraced all that is new and crass. I'm sure that statement won't make me any friends, but one thing I have always believed in, above all others, is that honesty is sacrosanct. This has got me into a few scrapes on here in the past, and doubtless a few more in the future after the inevitable uproar following this post dies down, and I'm sure the usual suspects will be along in a couple of ticks to give very honest voice indeed to exactly where they think I can stick it. I only ask one thing of you, which is that, before replying to this post, and no matter how angry you may be with me, read and comprehend it first, so that you may address things I have said rather than those I haven't; I wish I didn't have to say this, but experience has taught me that it is necessary. I don't expect Al to implement any of my recommendations, which would essentially amount to another six months of rewriting the site from the ground up (although I did see a brief flash, while the sluggish Javascript did its stuff, of an alternative navigation bar - thanks for that!), although working menus would be nice. I'm going to try not to post any more on this thread, as it seems I open up yet another can of worms every time I do, and the rest of the forum is being neglected, and, ooh, is it Wednesday already? Goodnight, Chums, as Ginger might say.

[1] I was going to replace the part of this sentence after the comma with "..., as anyone who listened to Jordan's speech at the Oxford Union could have told you." Too irrelevant? Better than technical guff about Windows? Answers on a postcard.
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Re: Comics UK - Version 2 (Finally)

Post by AndyB »

Linking images from the gallery? Like this?

Image

I just selected the annual, and when the large image came up, I right-clicked as usual to get that link.

All the annual images seem to have dates, so it's not so bad. It's quite possible that the version of Linux is so locked down that things aren't quite working properly.

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