I have often been asked about the look of our club newsletter on the this web site. Up until June 2001 when the new Editor, Neville, M5NEV started using ‘Adobe Acrobat’ the Internet version of Catswhisker looked very different from the printed (hard copy) version. The Adobe software converts a document such as MS Word complete with pictures into a ‘Portable Document Format’ (PDF) file and provided you have the software you can now read Catswhisker as the Editor intended. The ‘HTML’ version that you could read using your browser is no longer provided but this article explains why the old Catswhiskers and the rest of the web site looks the way it does!
The front page of the Hard Copy (printed) version of Catswhisker that is produced is just that, a ‘Front Page’. I can produce the image on a web page without any problem. However it would not look as it does on the printed versions it would simply be an image located somewhere on the screen of your PC and not fit the available page size as it does on the hard copy version. The point is that you have absolute control over how the final layout looks, l don’t. When I receive the Catswhisker in ‘plain text’ I copy and paste the text into a pre-formatted web page. It then requires extensive editing of course and the edition of html links etc. Images are added separately after editing for size etc.
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The layout of the SDRS web pages is not fixed. Although I try to make it look good the final appearance will depend on the way the viewers PC display is set and the browser in use. Even on my rather outdated PII 266 I can chose from 12 different VDU set ups and IE5 itself has five different text sizes! I am currently using 800×600 and 16 bit High Colour with IE5 set to ‘medium’ but I have to be very careful to use images, text styles and colours that all visitors to the site will be able to see. Also if I provide extra facilities like software to download I have make sure it works with at least the most popular versions of Browsers that people use. (Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator etc.)
Some of the early Catswhiskers I edited for the Web had images with text wrapped around them. Have a look at September 1999 and you will see what I mean. However, although it looked fine on my PC when viewed on a system set for 640×480 it looked a mess! What happens now (I hope) is that the page will dynamically adjust depending on the your screen set up. Although it won’t always look the same as it does on my PC at least it should be reasonably tidy and readable. In fact the layout of the new SDRS site does make one assumption that the old one did not. Your browser must be able to support ‘frames’. That is in effect two or more pages on the screen at the same time (It’s this facility that enables me to provide the reference window on the left and the active one on the right).
Another important consideration is the amount of data that has to be transferred to your PC in order for you to view a web page. If there are lots of embedded images and maybe even background sound etc. it can take quite a while for the page to load. (It’s surprising how many people don’t realise that everything you see on the screen has to be transferred from the web site to your PC) I have decided to abandon sound altogether and keep to a few small images on the actual news page. I then provide a link to another page for those who want to have a look at the pictures.
My intention has always been to provide a Web Site that is easy to use and works for most visitors. Although it is an archive of SDRS and local Ham Radio activities I believe that it must also be an up to date source of information about the SDRS. The current layout allows me to update the site quickly and easily and this is very important as at the moment I often make changes to the web site two or three times a week.
Using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software the full colour version of the SDRS Newsletter is now available each month and I recommend that you take advantage of the facility provided on the Catswhisker Index Page to see Catswhisker as the Editor intended!