ALA’s New Print Sorts

As problems began to return again together for the discharge of ALA 4.0, we discovered that the print varieties weren’t up to where they needed to be.  Thanks to some maddening browser behaviors, articles have been printing out partially, or with severely mangled layout.  It wasn’t just one browser, each.  This was once as soon as something that would need effort and time to take care of, and all our effort and time was once as soon as going into making sure the discharge went simply.

On the other hand might we liberate without print varieties?  After some discussion, we made up our minds that the answer was once as soon as certain.  Given the low awareness of print varieties and disinclination of the general public to print out web pages, we figured that we could wait until after the discharge to fix up and deploy the print varieties, with little or no impact or notice.

Adequate, so we have been mistaken.  How cases business!

In any case, it was once that the most important question about print varieties was once as soon as whether or not they have been in reality useful, let on my own used by anyone of realize.  Positive, correct right here at ALA we’ve been using print varieties for a long time, and my previous ALA article “Going To Print” got a decent amount of attention.  We’ll grant you all that.  Even so, we have been shocked at how many people asked after the print varieties.  A couple of of you were given right here awfully with reference to now not simple them.  Cases business surely.

Ultimate week, we got the print varieties up and working for our articles.  Herein, I’d like to take a handy guide a rough take a look at how the print varieties have been arranged, and expose how one small omission led to a raft of problems in a few browsers.

Essential unstyling#section1

The first step was once as soon as the perfect: “switch off” the presentation of parts that have been unnecessary or difficult in print.  For example, the sidebar is next to unnecessary in print.  So is the navigation bar across the top of the internet web page.  Leaving them in function for print approach shedding paper, ink, and the reader’s time.  In a similar way, there was once as soon as no exact need for the discussion-related pieces of the internet web page.  And in any case, I made up our minds to avoid wasting a lot of rather additional ink and do away with the ALA emblem throughout the top left corner of the report.

All this was once as soon as merely accomplished with a single rule:

 #masthead, #navbar, #sidebar, #metastuff b, #metastuff .speak about, div.speak about {   display: none !crucial; } 

Why make the declaration !crucial?  Because it’s, well, crucial that those parts not appear in print.  I’ve been identified to say that leaving !crucial in a publicly deployed style sheet is maximum ceaselessly a sign of laziness, then again I’d like to supply a modification to that maxim.  I’ve come to imagine that’s true inside of a given medium; that is, if you happen to’re leaving in !crucial directives on screen-medium varieties to override other screen-medium varieties, then odds are you’re being lazy.  (Certain, there are exceptions, then again they are unusual.)

When you’re mixing media, however, using !crucial becomes additional defensible.  Take the ALA varieties: all of the varieties used in a web browser come through a single link part, and those varieties are applied in all media.  On articles, as an example, we now have this:

 <link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/article.css"  kind="text/css" media="all" /> 

This was once as soon as done so that the entire design look of ALA would carry into media very similar to print.  The opposite may well be to restrict the ones varieties to the computer screen medium, and then want to recreate some or they interested in print.  The manner I took was once as soon as a lot more surroundings pleasant, on the subject of style sheet authoring.

Now, was once as soon as it in reality necessary to use !crucial throughout the print varieties?  No.  I will have raised the specificity of every selector throughout the rule and been slightly certain that they could have had the supposed affect.  The rule of thumb of thumb would then have gave the impression something like this:

 html #masthead, html #navbar, html #sidebar, html #metastuff b, html #metastuff .speak about, html div.speak about {   display: none; } 

Upper?  No.  No longer necessarily worse, each.  Merely different—then again, to my eye, a lot much less surroundings pleasant, not to indicate a lot much less readable.  So I stuck with !crucial.

(And certain, the individual can organize an individual style sheet in conjunction with his non-public !crucial directives to make those parts reappear. The crucial question is, how many people will hassle to do so, and why should it hassle me within the tournament that they do?)

Knocking columns out#section2

Another function I used !crucial was once as soon as the very next rule of the style sheet:

 body, #number one, #content material subject material, .column, #articletext, #footer {   width: auto !crucial;   margin: 0 !crucial;   padding: 0 !crucial; } 

The target correct right here was once as soon as to take the pieces of the layout that still continued and make them as large since the internet web page’s printable house.  Throughout the computer screen layout, in spite of everything, the content material subject material column is able to be a selected width.  That width may well be additional narrow, or wider, than a internet web page’s printable house.

To make sure that happened, I zeroed out the margins and padding of the elements in question.  Then I set all of the widths to auto.  Why not 100%?  On account of over the years, I’ve grown wary of setting an element’s width to 100%.  On account of the way in which wherein the CSS layout algorithm is written, it at all times feels to me like I’m enjoying rather bit with width: 100%;.  In this case, if a margin or padding ever did in some way creep its way back in, then an element might merely develop into wider than the print house.  By the use of explicitly pointing out auto in this case, I’m pronouncing “take in as so much room as there is also available without pushing the part outside the print house, even supposing there are in some way margins or padding.”

Given the categories we now have correct right here, the results of using 100% or auto is identical.  auto is fairly additional future-proof, however, so I went with it.

A remade issue worm#section3

When it were given right here to the easiest of the principle internet web page, I faced some interesting choices.  The issue amount, as an example, is created thru laying styled XHTML text on top of a background image.  As numerous you realize, browsers thru default will not print backgrounds, and there’s no manner for an creator to turn them on.

In any case, the solution was once as soon as to restyle the issue amount and its publication date, and put them at the “top corners” of the report.  That sounds simple, however it definitely led to some varieties that appear, initially glance, to be the remainder then again simple.

 html body #ish {serve as: static; width: auto; height: auto;   margin: 1em 0 0; padding: 0; border-top: none;   font-size: 0.9em; text-align: proper;   background: none;} html body #ish a:link, html body #ish a:visited, html body #ish a em {   serve as: static; display: inline;   font-size: 1em; font-weight: usual;    width: auto; height: auto;   margin: 0; padding: 0;   background: none; color: #555;} 

What’s all that?  A large number of it is simply undoing what the all-media varieties are doing.  Let’s take a look at the #ish varieties from base.css.

 #ish {serve as: relative; z-index: 10;    border-top: 1px solid #666;   font: bold 10px Arial, sans-serif; letter-spacing: 1px;} #ish a:link, #ish a:visited {serve as: absolute;    top: -33px; left: 150px;   width: 65px; height: 52px; padding-top: 13px;    text-align: center;   background: url(/pix/ishbug.gif) top left no-repeat;   color: #FFF;} #ish a:hover {background-position: bottom proper;} #ish a em {display: block; margin-top: -0.2em;   font: 2.33em Georgia, Cases, serif; letter-spacing: 0;} 

There’s a number of positioning and sizing that had to be triumph over with a purpose to create a simple, unobtrusive issue amount.  Listed below are the print varieties yet again, apart from this time I’ve emphasized the parts that exist maximum often or wholly to undo the all-media varieties.

 html body #ish {serve as: static; width: auto;   height: auto;   margin: 1em 0 0; padding: 0; border-top: none;   font-size: 0.9em; text-align: proper;   background: none;} html body #ish a:link, html body #ish a:visited, html body #ish a em {   serve as: static; display: inline;   font-size: 1em; font-weight: usual;    width: auto; height: auto;   margin: 0; padding: 0;   background: none; color: #555;} 

Previous those, the categories are pretty simple: right-align the issue amount, make its font duration rather bit smaller than its mother or father’s, and relax the text color.  That’s kind of it.

Reworking the date#section4

After that, the styling of the issue’s publication date is form of trivial.  As the issue amount was once as soon as situated to the right kind, the date goes to the left.  To be able to function them “on the an identical line,” visually speaking, I simply pulled the issue date upwards 1.5 ems.  A two-em bottom margin made certain that the content material subject material after the issue date was once as soon as pushed downward a ways enough, and we have been all set.

 html body #content material subject material .ishinfo    {padding: 0 0 0.5em; margin: -1.5em 0 2em;     text-align: left;    background: none; serve as: relative;} 

The only little oddity this is serve as: relative.  I integrated that because of IE/Win has a tendency to make parts disappear if you happen to pull them upward like this.  The remedy is to place them, which I feel triggers the hasLayout flag.  I don’t pretend to snatch all of the nuances of hasLayout, then again recent information from Microsoft and third-party belongings has shed slightly just a bit of light on the topic—it is going to appear that a lot of the layout problems that bedevil us in IE/Win are the result of an element not having hasLayout.

More than a few cleanup#section5

Having gotten the issue amount and date in line, all that remained was once as soon as to wash up quite a lot of bits correct right here and there.  For example, the “metastuff” line to begin with of every article needed to lose its background, and the “Be told Further” segment’s border had to be adjusted just a bit as it was once as soon as not followed during the “Discuss” box.

 html body #metastuff {background: none;} html body #learnmore {border-top: 0;     border-bottom: 1px dashed #999;} 

In a similar way, the footer sought after a rework.  The tagline “From pixels to prose, coding to content material subject material” was once as soon as actually done as a background image with a purpose to stay its typography, so we knew it wasn’t going to print for almost everyone.  To ensure, I dropped it and shifted the footer’s paragraph so it filled all of the with of the footer and didn’t have a left border.  At the moment, centering the text appeared like a smart move too.

 html body #footer {background: none;} html body #footer p {border-left: none;     margin-left: 0; text-align: center;} 

Finally, I added some varieties to auto-insert the URLs of links that appeared throughout the article text, the creator’s biographical realize, and the footer itself.

 #articletext a[href]:after, #authorbio a[href]:after, #footer a[href]:after {    content material subject material: " (" attr(href) ") ";    font-size: 90%;}#articletext a[href^="/"]:after, #authorbio a[href^="/"]:after, #footer a[href^="/"]:after {    content material subject material: " (http://alistapart.com" attr(href) ") ";}  

Somewhat than check out to give an explanation for all this correct right here, allow me to refer you to my article “Going To Print,” which has an extensive exploration.

The necessary factor to clarity#section6

The entire ones problems are well and excellent, they normally worked slightly neatly in short articles.  If an editorial ever got longer than three pages, even though, the margins on pages Four and later would transfer berserk in Firefox.  Maximum ceaselessly the content material subject material would best possible be a couple of 0.33 the width of the internet web page’s print house, and the 0.33 it occupied would business from internet web page to internet web page.  So that you could upload to my frustration, IE/Win wasn’t printing the footer the least bit in a lot of cases.

With quite a lot of experimentation, I was able to get the footer to reappear in IE/Win using some borders and positioning, then again the Firefox problem merely wouldn’t transfer away.  Pissed off, I put out a call on my web internet web site, and Dan Wilkinson stepped up with the answer.  One simple addition solved every problems:

 body, #number one, #content material subject material, .column, #articletext, #footer {   waft: none !crucial;   width: auto !crucial;   margin: 0 !crucial;   padding: 0 !crucial; } 

Really easy, however so tough.  I’d pushed aside to un-float the content material subject material that remained, and that was once as soon as throwing all kinds of monkey wrenches into the gears.  Once I’d added that declaration, I was able to remove my IE/Win hacks for the footer, and Firefox stopped mangling the layout on pages Four and later.

So let my mistake be a lesson to you all: in print, at all times un-float huge parts, specifically long parts containing things like article text.  As an ordinary rule, when a waft runs to a few pages, you’re merely inquiring for hassle.  Disregard about this at your personal peril.

(And don’t assume Safari was once as soon as free of printing bugs each.  The only reason it didn’t stand up in this article is that its bugs best possible came about in print varieties that have been dropped as we refined the print design.  In several words, it got lucky.)

Collation#section7

So is this without equal on ALA print varieties?  No longer only.  Throughout the first function, we might in all probability tweak the print varieties over the years.  In the second, the ones print varieties are best possible used on articles, which may well be the pages which may also be in all probability to be revealed.  Other pages, like the home internet web page or other top-level pages, do not lately have print varieties.

Will they?  That’s an interesting question… and one to be considered every other day.  For now, I hope the print varieties for ALA 4.0 meet their design goals along with make the process of printing an editorial additional pleasant.  As a result of everyone who gave us feedback on the lack of print varieties—it vividly demonstrated that problems have in reality changed in the last few years, and that print styling is an important and valuable piece of web design.

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