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Old 01-08-2006, 01:49 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Playing w/Big Medium

I have a 30-day opportunity to play with a Big Medium demo, and it is interesting and very close to what I need. Maybe as close as exists, in fact. But princess-and-the-pea-like, I have noticed a few things that do not please me. For example …

I really hate editing CSS via browser. It is repetitious, hard to keep track of, no way to group things with identical properties, just plain annoying. I have asked about that — hope to find out it is okay to edit the (coherent) style sheets and ftp them to the server.

If not, the only options for font sizes are pt or px or size “names” (from xx-small to xx-large or larger/smaller). I really prefer % or em. (The text on the demo site initially is too small for me to read comfortably, so I had to change a gazillion of those dumb editing boxes to fix it. That definitely caught my attention!)

You have to choose font-families from lists, and the lists do not include what I normally use (verdana, sans-serif; or georgia, serif) — the available choices all include Times for serif, Helvetica and Arial for sans (I would not specify those to my worst enemy for reading online; well, maybe my worst enemy, but no one else). Those who favor them or know no better will get them anyway — no need ever to specify them!

There is no way in the various CSS editing windows to use font-style or line-height; there is an additional CSS section that would allow that, but what a messy way of doing things.

The CSS does not specify background-color, so attempts to validate it yield a full page of warnings. No errors, however. And the XHTML validates (transitional; one can select strict or several levels of HTML if preferred).

So I have my fingers crossed about working directly with the CSS files; can’t think why not, unless it creates too many potential support issues for the developer.

I like the ease of entering article text and heads (use a rich-text editor, allow Big Medium to convert plain text to HTML, or use an HTML editor and either type or, in my case, paste in your own HTML).

The format allows for callouts: enter the text, say which paragraph you want them to appear next to, and it’s done. Images are also easy, although the template I was playing with assumed they were standard sizes. It is efficient, but perhaps monotonous, visually. But it does mean you can easily make them to size to begin with — no messing around.

The developer responds very quickly to queries and advice is generally to the point (unlike so many other onlike developers we have to deal with who send canned boilerplate that is often as amusingly off-base as a Google translation!)

   
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Old 01-08-2006, 03:24 PM   #2
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If the css file exists on the server then yes, you should be able to edit it and ftp it, or edit it on the server using a text editor end either file manager or good ftp program.

I look forward to hearing how you get on. I'd have a play with it except that I am currently occupied with an ecommerce site and a couple of Wordpress blog setups.

   
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Old 01-08-2006, 05:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelvyn
If the css file exists on the server then yes, you should be able to edit it and ftp it, or edit it on the server using a text editor end either file manager or good ftp program.
That seems logical to me as well. I hope that is how it will turn out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelvyn
I look forward to hearing how you get on.
Me too! <g>

There must be many people like me — writers, not interested in very complex sites — who need a way to automate some aspects of web site management.

I sure hope this one works out — nothing I have seen elsewhere even came close.

If it doesn’t, then I guess I will have to learn PHP and Perl and other odd techie stuff — stuff that I would just as soon leave to you guys! <g>

   
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Old 01-09-2006, 05:43 AM   #4
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Default Know a lot now

Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
That seems logical to me as well. I hope that is how it will turn out.
KT,

You already know a lot now, and that is why you have started this thread with a long list of details that the average CMS user without a lot of knowledge of fonts or CSS or HTML would not observe at all.

Some PHP is sometimes needed, but why would you need to learn to write PERL? Sufficient to know how to find and use a script somebody else wrote, in most cases.

David
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Old 01-09-2006, 06:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8
You already know a lot now, and that is why you have started this thread with a long list of details that the average CMS user without a lot of knowledge of fonts or CSS or HTML would not observe at all.

Some PHP is sometimes needed, but why would you need to learn to write PERL?
So far as I know I do not need to know Perl — just have to make sure my server supplies the file along with some CGI modules. That is what Big Medium runs on rather than PHP and MySQL.

   
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Old 01-09-2006, 06:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelvyn
If the css file exists on the server then yes, you should be able to edit it and ftp it, or edit it on the server using a text editor end either file manager or good ftp program.
Turns out that won’t work — the next time I save something in the editor, it would overwrite the CSS.

However, I can use the Additional Styles area to overrule any of the CSS I dislike; and can also add a link to my own CSS in the header template, so there are workarounds.

A revision to the CSS editor is part of version 2 of Big Medium, due out later this quarter. So I have my fingers crossed that it will be much improved. The developer did say that my complaints are not the only ones!

I must say, this guy is extremely responsive.

   
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Old 01-13-2006, 12:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
I have a 30-day opportunity to play with a Big Medium demo …
I licensed the software. It will clearly do what I want (to the extent I see it now, anyway) and I just wanted to get on with it. If after 30 days I am unhappy, I can get my money back. Fair enough.

The installation was interesting. It is not automated (although you can have them do it for you for an additional $50, which seems fair enough). I had failed to set permissions on a group of files, so that messed me up for a while (bad me!). And I am having an odd problem with showing the live site — have to append /index.shmtl to the URL, which shouldn’t be necessary. I posted a query about that.

The installation instructions are seriously good. I cannot remember seeing any better manual in the world of computers. Each step was described explicitly, with examples where relevent (taken from my actual site when paths were being discussed). Every so often, the wizard stops, provides a couple of tests, and gives you a chance to fix the problem before going on. Very intelligent instructions — Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, vBulletin, et al could benefit by taking a page from Global Moxie’s book!

Now I am about to set up the site. Since I installed Big Medium on my base domain (I have a multi-domain hosting deal), one which I am not particularly interested in right now, I think I will take advantage of its multiple-domain option, and set up a second site immediately. It should be easy (she says, with fingers crossed).

Anyway, if anyone reading this wants to present a collection of articles (essentially, static pages) or a magazine format on the web, this appears to be an excellent solution.

With luck I will have a trial site to show off in a few days.

   
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Old 01-13-2006, 01:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
With luck I will have a trial site to show off in a few days.
I am very interested in this, because I need something like it for my news page. I receive a heap of press releases and need some way of dealing with them other than manually styling them, one by one and paragraph by paragraph.

   
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Old 01-13-2006, 02:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by annc
I am very interested in this …
I’ll keep you posted.

Maybe because the developer seems so well organized (and so does the software), but I am finally almost enthusiastic about this. I really just want to publish my content, not be fussing endlessly with the mechanism.

   
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Old 01-13-2006, 03:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
I really just want to publish my content, not be fussing endlessly with the mechanism.
I can relate to that!

   
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