January th, 2016

Website Version 5.0 Launched

More than five years after the last major overhaul of this website, it was about time for a new irrlichtproject.de layout. As I have since adopted “Digital Minimalism” as my artistic credo, a minimalistic layout seemed appropriate. The new site has been hand-coded from scratch, like all the previous versions.

A major problem with the old site was that it had hit the limit in terms of the amount of content it was able to include. So my objective was to produce a layout that would be more flexible and dynamic. Also, the old site did not display well on mobile devices. Even though I’m not a fan of these gadgets, I nevertheless felt the need to provide a proper viewing experience for those who are.

Keeping the site secure by design was another essential point, so as usual the choice was to use neither Javascript nor PHP. Furthermore, all Flash elements got axed as well. The entire site is now written in HTML, CSS, and some embedded SVG.

A few words about the coding experience. Prior to making this new layout, my knowledge of HTML dated back to the early days of 4.01, so the logical step was to throw most of that knowledge out of the window and start re-learning HTML from scratch. While I thoroughly came to appreciate HTML5 and the changes that it has brought, I’d love to see the same principles of coherence and stringency applied to CSS3. Sure, with version 3 CSS has become very powerful, which is great. However, syntax-wise CSS is still the same ugly, indecipherable mess it has always been.

Well, at least I thought so until I had a closer look at SVG. If CSS is a thick but friendly forest where you can occasionally get lost, then SVG is an impenetrable jungle with malicious spirits lurking at every corner. No doubt it’s a powerful tool, but in my hands, it rarely does what I want it to do. Especially not when it’s being displayed in a browser. It actually brings back memories from a more sinister CSS past, when you had to supply properties in a certain order to make sure it displays properly in most browsers. The same is happening now with SVG. Despite that, it’s a neat technology that I definately want to explore further. As a truly reliable web standard however, it’s not quite there yet in my opinion.

By the way, that “version 5.0” part is entirely made up. I’ve operated my own website since the year 2000 and naturally, it has seen it’s share of changes and revisions. I’ve actually lost track of how many times I’ve changed the layout over the years, and most of the old layouts have been lost in the void of retired, dying hard drives. Well, 5.0 has a nice ring to it, so here we go.