Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Public & Special Acts Index, 2006

Busy, busy, busy! What I’m working on today:

(1) Public & Special Acts Index for 2006: our indexer has done a great job making the content work and massaging some of the code at this page ( http://www.cslib.org/indexing/psindex06 ).

I put this index in the same format as the last one we worked on together – in a frameset. I hear your collective gasp of horror. Frames have been hated since they arrived on the scene years ago – blamed for everything from global warming to accessibility problems. Some have been legit complaints, some of which have been overcome since frames first made their appearance on the internet. Other complaints are due to poor implementation of the code on the part of clueless webmasters. And many complaints are vague and unknowing, just that someone had heard that they were “bad”.

So why did I use frames on the indexes? (Besides the Public & Special Acts 2006 index, the Subject Index to Research Resources was done this way. It can be found at http://www.cslib.org/indexing). Primarily, it was the quickest & dirtiest way I could think of updating/adding these indexes and overcoming the original index format’s problems. The original format is still visible at http://www.cslib.org/psindx05/index.htm. The real problem here was that you couldn’t keep your navigation controls – your alphabetical guides - on the screen while you viewed the entries, so you always had to return to that navigation page in between looking up acts.

I’ll admit that there are some problems with the my current setup (for example, if I’m in my Netscape 8 setup and click on an external link, then use the back button to return to the index, the frameset seems to load slowly, probably due to the number of files incorporated in the page). I think that I’ve defeated any major accessibility problems with this setup, in providing careful descriptions of individual frames and in using an extensive noframes section of code, which ensures that a frames-free user can still get to the content. I haven’t checked all of the search / web crawler implications to this setup yet.

Clearly there’s a better way to do the indexes, but I needed to get them up fairly quickly, so this was the route that I took. So I’m open to rethinking the whole deal (though I have to admit that my first attempt at a redo has been based on a page with an inline frame, so I’m not radically rethinking yet… by the time I radically rethink, we may have a content mgt system in place.) In the meantime, try the index out & let me know what you think. The other stuff for today – well, I’ll have to save that for another blog entry!

No comments: