At my day job I was given the task of finding a blog solution for my company’s internal website. The site is built on Titan CMS, a powerful and expensive enterprise level Content Management System built with ASP.net. It is good for big sites, with excellent file and site structure. The downsides to this CMS is its cumbersome nature with some simple tasks, the load times can be slow sometimes, and it has no blogging engine. (Plus you are shelling out 100 grand+ for the license.) Titan and I have a love-hate relationship. Since it has no blogging engine, I was tasked to find a solution that would be self-hosted and would provide a seamless transition visually from the existing site to the blog.
The first solution that was given to me was using the blogging feature in Sharepoint, which my company already owns. There were some server security and logistics issues that made this a little more difficult, so in the meantime I entertained other options.
My first choice was, of course, WordPress. This site is built on it and I have a solid level of experience custom theming WordPress sites. I was excited that I could use WordPress for my day job so I started coding the custom theme to match the current intranet site. I finished it in about a day and it looked great. I did this locally on my work PC. After my supervisor saw and approved it, I went over to IT to have it installed on the server. It was then I found out that mySQL is feared in the world of MS SQL-only IT. They were not comfortable installing mySQL, so WordPress was no longer an option. This deeply saddened me.
I then set out to find a self-hosted blogging platform that would be run on MS SQL. I then encountered Orchard CMS a Microsoft sponsored open source CMS. It is built with ASP.NET MVC, so I was rather lost to start. It uses a more logical syntax because of the MVC so I was able to almost figure out theming in Orchard. PHP makes much more sense to me. When I was ready with an Orchard theme I went back to IT and was told, “We would prefer not to install any other CMS’s on that server”.
We were left with Sharepoint, which I messed around with unsuccessfully. ASP.NET is messy for someone not familiar with the language (and more used to WordPress’ PHP). We are now working on getting training/help with the branding of Sharepoint to be used for our internal blog. We’ll see how long it takes.
Learning is important when you are employed by the internet; as a web designer, I relish learning new technologies.
I look forward to learning more code so I can program better for the web!
My supervisor had a really good idea for our new company internal website: a timeline of our company’s history. It is a 100+ year old company so it really makes sense to create an interactive timeline, especially for the benefit of new employees (like myself). So, naturally, I googled “CSS Timeline” to see what is out there already.
Some vertical CSS timelines I found were nice, but not degradable down to older browsers or they were boxy and ugly. So I decided to make my own, based somewhat on a cool concept for an organizational chart. I made it straightforward, semantic, and browser compatible all the way back to IE7. It is also responsive to different browser window sizes (you can actually read it in a mobile browser).
The HTML is very simple. For the sake of semantics, I used ordered lists (timelines flow in order). First I ordered the top “Jump Strip” bar for easy access to decades.
It was requested of me at work to figure out a way to make hover tooltips that look nice and are do-able. The content management system my company paid for (that I have to work with every day) is powerful, but it is not always easy to do things or extend it with plugins. Incorporating jQuery plugins can be difficult (I tried 3 different lightbox renditions before I was successful). I wanted something that was easy to add to this CMS and looked decent. I figured it could be done in only CSS, especially with the power of CSS3, so I googled it. I came across Six Revisions “Sexy Tooltips with Just CSS“. I was very pleasantly surprised and immediately worked out the code for myself adjusted it and used for my company’s website.
I liked it so much, in fact, that I replaced the jQuery plugin vTip (the website for this doesn’t exist anymore) with the “Sexy CSS” method. Check it out in practice on my portfolio page.
Here is an example of the HTML: (more…)