I’ve been a bit distracted for the past week, working towards this putative Lucy Lastique relaunch, because I need more than comic pages. I mean, by crikey, I need comic pages but also, in particular, the website is a bit old and creaky and “Web 1.0” as the young bugs call it. I mean, okay, it’s not quite in the GeoCities “Sign my Guestbook!” range, but the basic site is 10 years old, which is something like a millennium in web design.

So I’ve been staying up later and later for the past week remembering the old programming addiction of my youth (it’s nearly 5am as I type this, ooer). Well okay, web stuff isn’t real programming. It’s not smoking the bejesus out of a z80 with hand-crafted assembler (we wrote it out by hand with paper and pencil in those days, kids today they wouldn’t believe you, etc) but it’s moved on a long way from a soup of <font> tags and that fucking dancing baby animated gif that was on every website in the nineties. Heh.

Specifically I’ve been rewriting the “page browser” section of the website, which had existed in an embarrassing state of being a FrameSet, for heaven’s sake, which is about Web 0.5 or something let alone Web 1.0. My only defence is that it was quite hard to think of another way to do it at the time- a decade ago, near enough. Browsers were all incompatible with each other, there wasn’t the CSS stuff we have now, and I couldn’t think of a neat way to browse the comic that wouldn’t involve hand-editing the pages every month to add in Links to each page. So the JavaScript I wrote then allowed for easy updating at the expense of being a bit clunky- it reloads the entire frameset by calling itself via the URI SearchString for those who are interested. That’s nobody then ๐Ÿ™‚

But back then, I couldn’t think of a way to be able to have the pages fit full screen and have some method of navigation available (not without putting each image in its own HTML page, which would have meant either shedloads of manual work or writing something server-side to dynamically generate pages, which is a skill I simply don’t have and suspect I never will have). So there were the (small format) pages at 800×600, in a layout that required a 1024×768 or so screen, which kind of destroyed the point of making the pages screen-shaped. Still, nobody seemed to complain, and I figured that anyone seriously enjoying the strip would download the .ZIP files of images and browse them offline with some kind of image reader software, like IrfanView, and the online section was as such just for n00bs. At times I thought of dispensing with it altogether, but that would have left the Members Area looking rather bare…

But time and technology waits for no man, and things change all the time. One reader did complain, or, at least, sent me a polite email saying that it was sucky as a sucky thing trying to read Lucy on his iPhone because of the fiddly FrameSetty-linky thing, and could I do anything about it? But this was pretty much at the time when things were falling apart, so re-coding the website wasn’t top of my list of Things To Do. So I didn’t do anything about it.

So, now I am. On the theory that if I’m going to relaunch, the last thing I want to be doing is relaunching with a comic page browser made of suck- ten year old suck- and if I leave it to the last minute, it won’t get done.

So, hence no drawings appearing here this week. Well, here’s one. As you can see, we have to shoot Lucy in bluescreen rather than greenscreen, because of the hair ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s the new Grafenberg “dress” uniform, canon fans! I’m not sure about the boys yet. I think they probably have shorts. Don’t want to get into that ghastly Star Trek The Next Generation first season experiment with miniskirts-for-men. There’s only so far one can push the boundaries…

So anyway. As I started hacking around the ancient code, it’s gradually become apparent that I’m not really writing HTML any more. There is precisely none on the page at all; it’s all Javascript and the elements (images, menus etc) are created on the fly and added to the DOM. It’s effectively proper programming, and I must admit, Gawd help me, I’m actually enjoying it. My inner nerd has truly reawakened!

And there’s no frigging framesets.

It’s also pure HTML5 compliant, and I’ve decided that old browsers will just have to do without (they’ll get redirected to the old version, I’m afraid). And yes, you can read it on an iPad or iPhone or other tabletty-thingumajig. Y’see (jumping about a bit here), as I said above, things change and, well, I might be stuck in the past, but people are moving away from the desktop PC paradigm and, with fast internet everywhere, I guess they do expect to read the thing online rather than download files as .ZIPs and unpack them. You can still do that of course, but I hope this will provide a good experience for a wider range of people. Like, those who want to log in and read the latest episode on the bus, or while taking a break climbing Everest, or what have you.

Here’s a “development snapshot”…

The major problem right now is it looks like it won’t work in Internet Explorer on Windows XP; IE9 is fine, but that’s Win 7 only. It works fine in Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari… nobody still uses IE7 do they? Oh, and it works on iPhones too (at least in simulators)-

…I might be looking for Beta Testers shortly. Have any of you guys got tabletty-phoney things?

Jax