Friday, December 21, 2018

Minifying the forum software's contents

In an attempt to make the esoForum (esoProjects) software run more efficiently on less gifted machines, I recently started minifying different portions of the code, which were excessively large or could undergo benefit through the process of minification.

Several different codes, files, and resources can be minified, surprisingly. Before taking on the project, I've only done it to a select few languages (CSS3 and JavaScript being the main contenders), however it may be done to PHP as well.  Critics of PHP minification state that the code is less translatable by the layman, yet all minified code, alas, is -- and that it gains no speed effectiveness, whereas other minification processes do -- however one single justification is that it makes the files themselves much smaller in size, especially those being massive.

esoProjects is designed to be lightweight, even fairly quicker than most of the normative, for a relatively flexible web forum, that doesn't skimp out on the typical feature-set examined on other boards.  As a result of this, it's necessary to make the overall package lesser, as a smaller package allows the software to be present on a wider variety of platforms, and makes way for further consumer distribution than it would if it were double its size. Illegibility is a price to pay, and after all, the code can be easily beautified (the term used when you elongate a script back into legibility).

Nano is an online tool which allows for fonts to be integrated into a vector image, but more importantly, it does an excellent job at minification.  When comparing different vector minification services online, I found that Nano even significantly reduced previously-minified vectors, without any noticeable decrease in the detail or elements of the vector.  Most likely, it is this that will have the biggest speed impact on the software, as esoForum's buttons are well-decked with gradients.  The same process was applied to the emoticons, formatting icons, and even the logo itself.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Comprehensive mobile support

When the forum first unveiled its beginning of support towards low-resolution and undercutting-density panels, a wide variety of features which would typically be available were either disabled (using the stylesheet) or inaccessible, on mobile phones.  Over time, this gradually improved...

The issue came up once I started routinely examine analytics to see what could improve my site, and to my surprise, a grand portion of viewer traffic had originated from mobile phones.  Given that the site was never intended for mobile browsing, this was unexpected, but concurrently given how our net somewhat centers around wireless technology, it made sense.

My highest priority was chiefly insignificant; I wanted all forum icons to be generated from vector data and incorporate no image file whatsoever.  This is beneficialnot only in that vector images bare no resolution and tend to look more attractive on later panelsbut, when compressed, they are more lightweight and quick-to-load than the bitmap image.  Thus, what I did was redraw all the icons using Inkscape (my go-to vector editing tool, for its likeness to the GNU Image Manipulator), compress them with Nano, and replace all software references to their bitmap counterparts with the aforementioned, newly-created vector edition.

Afterwards, I appended the usual HTML prerequisites and began suiting the PHP with double-elements (using two identical elements: one for desktop, one for mobile  and enabling/disabling each one based on the respective environment), setting maximum-width medium tags, and lightening the experience en total to fasten esoForum.

In the end, this really paid off.  The forum has significantly grown in popularity since these changes were pushed to the live site, and an amount (if not the majority) of our users primarily, or solely, operate through a mobile experience.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Making of the blog

I wrote up a quick stylesheet based off the 'classic' Blogger theme that accompanies esoForum itself.  Why I chose the original Blogger is that, not only does it avoid the needlessness of dynamic blogs (while providing an embedded comment field), but undercuts the recent design rules set in place by Google's services: 'material design.'

Introducing the 'esoBlog'

Roughly one year ago, I released esoForum's public registration feature to the live edition of the website (esotalk.net).  Since then, the forum has steadily gained popularity; reaching over one hundred registered accounts, two thousand unique posts, and one hundred-and-seventy-three conversations.

Not to mention, many instances of unique developments have unfolded for the forum itself (and subsequently, the 'esoProjects' software); including mobile support, user customization, and advances in end-to-end security.

Until now, I've been documenting these changes by making individual posts on the forum itself and embedding notices into various menus of the site.  Rather than giving out vague changelogs of what has happened, I will begin writing about esoForum changes here  this will include updates, concepts, and various notable events in acting as the forum's developer.