.NET and Open Source: better together

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Customizing Post Navigation

Post navigation in BlogEngine is a little hard to customize. By default it looks like picture below and that works fine with standard theme. Small problem is that those angle brackets and "|" in the middle not that easy to get rid of without some nasty CSS tricks because they baked into the core code that nobody likes to touch (or you'll have to remember to carry it over during upgrade). Good news is that you don't have to touch it and still modify navigation any way you like pretty easily if you follow this little guide. More...

Laying out nested DIVs with CSS

Tell me what you want, but CSS is twisted. Some simple basic tasks that should be no-brainer sometimes make you throw things and say words you later deeply regret. Usually people use IE6 as lightning rod, sadly even if you don't care about IE6 anymore CSS still will find ways to hurt you. Consider this simple scenario - I want DIV with some text and 3 little ones inside it alined right. More...

Comment Form Templates

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When I visit someone's blog for the first time and want to check quickly if it runs BlogEngine, I usually go straight to comment form and if it looks like a variation of the picture below I can sure tell it is running BE. Few reasons for that, first of, if you look at code BlogEngine generates for comment form you’ll agree with me that this is not exactly a designer’s dream. It’s a little hard to modify for a different look. Secondly, most of the themes you’ll find for BlogEngine were created by developers converting existing templates, and we usually not very concerned with details when functionality is working perfectly well. So most time instead of modifying comment form to look naturally as theme itself, we simply copy-paste CSS from standard theme and wash our hands. Good enough, right? And it works just fine, too. More...

DarkBlog theme refreshed for BE 1.5

db-15Just finished refreshing my old DarkBlog theme to run under newest BlogEngine 1.5 release. It has been neglected for quiet some time now, I had to add widgets support, nested comments and few tweaks here and there to play nice with new features added to BlogEngine since version 1.3 when this theme was introduces. It looks pretty good with standard “welcome” post, but when tested with my own blog content, some things do not look right. Nothing is wrong with theme though, the problem is content itself - which prompted me to write a note to myself: More...

Porting WordPress theme to BlogEngine. Part 2

Crafting CSS style sheet

This is the most time consuming operation in porting any CSS template to BlogEngine. If you like your design pixel perfect - that will cost you. These are some general tips that I hope will help make job a little bit easier. More...

Porting WordPress theme to BlogEngine

Cool thing about open source is sharing. You give some - you get some. When it comes to themes, there are tons of great free designs out there on the web for applications like blogs. Some of them are generic CSS templates, others specifically designed for popular open source projects like WordPress. This tutorial is about converting WordPress theme to BlogEngine, but most of it very much applied to almost any web template in the universe. More...

Fixed vs. fluid CSS layout

People are arguing about which layout is better since web exists. Some like it fixed, others prefer it fluid (or elastic). I always used fluid layouts, mostly because I really hate to see narrow column with unreadable small text on the screen with large resolution - and I used to see it a lot. Naturally - large companies going after broad audience don't want to alienate even tiny portion of potential customers and always go with [W:lowest common denominator]. Lately, though, I start noticing these ugly sites disappear. To confirm my guess, I went to [W:Google analytics] for my blog and looked at screen resolution for clients that access this site. Wow... you guys! More...

Throwing a punch

Just read a great article at coding horror on becoming a good blogger. It says that it takes at least a year to even get noticed and main peace of advice is to keep punching and feel good about it. Well, it sounds… hmmm… encouraging. Thanks God I’m not aiming that high. Anyways, I decided to follow advice and throw a punch – even though my new shiny theme for BlogEngine is not quite ready yet and I was hoping this will be my next subject. Funny how it goes – takes about an hour to convert any CSS template into BlogEngine theme, this is how simple it is and how good ASP.NET overall and BlogEngine in particular implemented skinning. Almost too good to be true – and it isn’t. Dirty little secret is that it takes ten times more to polish it to the dissent “production” state, when it looks good in all major browsers and scales fine for reasonable range of screen resolutions. I’ve heard that there are about ten testers for every developer in Microsoft – totally makes sense! More...

CSS survival guide, part 2

There are two important things to understand when dealing with CSS - how to address element you are styling and why in the world it does not picking the style you are trying to assign it. For the first part you might consider to install add-in to your browser, there are many for FireFox and IE alike, so that it will actually show element address for you.  For example, Developer Toolbar for FF can show you full path to tag cloud link in the browser panel like shown in the picture. The second important thing to remember is that CSS called "cascading" for a reason: all styles down the road will cancel those on top. Which is a good thing - this way you can style all anchors first and then be able to override style for the second layer anchors canceling some attributes, keeping others and yet adding some on top.  And this is what we generally doing here: first level menu buttons have it's own style, sub-menus keep some of the attributes and cancel others so that sub-menus look different.  To overcome browser incompatibility we will add conditional block to the header of the page: More...

CSS survival guide (developer addition)

When you are a developer working with CSS on “as needed” bases, you have to be prepared for some pain and frustration. Don’t get me wrong, I love CSS – and what not to love? It makes your HTML code clean and light-weight, pages load faster and all formatting logic neatly separated from presentation markup. Beautiful! But I hate it, too. There are two major problems with CSS: it is not intuitive and every browser has its own parser doing job “better” (differently) than others. Practically, it means that when working on CSS you have to fire up 3-4 different browsers and test every line as you go. More...