Colophon

An exploration of the mechanics that makes my website work

col·o·phon (koluh-fon, -fen) noun

  1. An inscription placed usually at the end of a book, giving facts about its publication.
  2. A publishers emblem or trademark placed usually on the title page of a book.

[Late Latin: colophon, from Greek kolophn, summit, finishing touch] Colophon definition provided by dictionary.com

Image of 1567 English colophon

Image: colophon from John Fortescue’s book – “A Learned Commendation of the Politique Lawes of Englande” – 1st English ed 1567

Colophon: fad or functional?

There is a great tradition in many cultures, that their written and printed works will contain a colophon. This tradition goes back many centuries.

In modern times, the colophon has had varying degrees of popularity on the internet. They seem to come in and out of fashion, like everything else on the internet.

A colophon allows the web-developer to offer interested visitors an insight into how the website they are visiting functions and some of the key components in its development.

CMS

The FuqDat website, like all modern websites, uses a Content Management System (CMS) to manage data presented to the visitor. The CMS I use to serve you the FuqDat website is WordPress. WordPress is open-source and free to use and abuse at will. The beauty of a CMS like WordPress is that non-web-developer netizens can easily create content and the CMS will store it logically.

Image: colophon from Egypt, Mamluk, 15th century

Image: colophon from Egypt, Mamluk, 15th century

CMS frameworks also provide added functionality like forums, blogs, and online polls. A CMS is vital in producing a dynamic website which aims at building a community and strengthening social networks.

The CMS back-end allows for a self-service approach. Visitors can join up using an automated system which does not require human intervention. Those that join a community can then become active in posting material to the website.

Of course, automation while convenient, comes with a danger in that security needs to be implemented to stop spammers, crackers, phishers and all those naughty little script-kiddies from plundering personal information about the members of the FuqDat community and defacing the information on my website.

For this reason, from time to time you may be required to answer a CAPTCHA! There is a fine balance between security and convenience — I hope that the FuqDat website manages that balance. For security reasons, I will not detail the various implementations aimed at hardening the FuqDat website from malicious attacks.

Part of the Poetic Anthology of Bo Juyi (白氏詩巻, Hakushi shikan) by Fujiwara no Yukinari. Collection of eight poems from volume 65 of the Poetic Anthology of Bo Juyi (Boshi, jap.: Hakushi) written on nine joined sheets. With a postscript by Yukinari and a colophon by Emperor Fushimi.

Part of the Poetic Anthology of Bo Juyi (白氏詩巻, Hakushi shikan) by Fujiwara no Yukinari. Collection of eight poems from volume 65 of the Poetic Anthology of Bo Juyi (Boshi, jap.: Hakushi) written on nine joined sheets. With a postscript by Yukinari and a colophon by Emperor Fushimi.

Typography

I have now implemented Google Fonts on the FuqDat website. I’m using Economica and Garamond. Economica is for the body text and the tags are in Garamond.

There is also a smattering of Noto Serif and Sans remaining, mainly for tags as I like its clean crispness at small sizes.

Unfortunately, I can’t use my favourite font, Gill Sans MT. Outside of my website, I pretty much exclusively use Gill Sans for its legibility, both in print and on the web. As a typeface, Gill Sans characters are beautifully configured. If you are interested in how the Gill Sans typeface was developed, you can check out the Wikipedia entry on Gill Sans.

Google Fonts doesn’t have a Gill Sans analogue so I had to ditch it for the 2015 respin.

Browsers

All modern browsers should render the FuqDat website in the way I have designed it. If you are using an older browser, like any version of the dreaded Internet Explorer (prior to version 7), you really should do yourself a favour and consider downloading and installing the excellent Firefox web browser. Being open-source, Mozilla’s Firefox web browser is free. It offers greater security and rendering speeds than the current versions of Internet Explorer. I prefer, and recommend using Firefox.

Colour scheme

IRL, a friend of mine, Simon once asked me why I didn’t follow the current “trend” by having a white or light background. Its a very good question and I was glad it had been asked.

The answer is very simple: with the FuqDat website current dark background, more than 85% of pixels are either darkened or completely turned off. Why is it important to turn pixels off? I think I owe it to the environment to be conscious of energy efficiency in whatever I do.

With 85% of pixels on the screen either darkened or turned off, you as a visitor are actually using less electricity to view the page. Less electricity to view the site means less carbon emissions released into the environment. Yes, I agree, it does take some getting used to, however, I have utilised best practice methodologies to improve the usability and accessibility of the FuqDat website.

On explaining the energy efficiency principle of a black background, and the logic of a website being environmentally friendly — don’t you also think a black background makes very good sense? Simon seemed to come on board with the concept and appreciated that someone was thinking out of the box in order to make websites, like FuqDat as friendly to the environment as possible.

Yes I need to deliver information to our visitors, but, do I need to destroy the planet in the process? Unless this logic is explained, most people don’t even consider the value of this energy saving aspect and the direct benefit to the environment of turning pixels off on the websites they design, develop and administer. It is a small step, but hey, don’t we all need to do as much as we can to reduce our carbon footprint?

Web technologies

FuqDat has been developed exclusively using open-source technologies. The operating system running this web-server is Linux. The website is served from a LAMP stack. The components of a LAMP stack are Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.

WordPress, as previously mentioned, is a free and open-source CMS. WordPress relies on PHP (an open-source server-side scripting framework) and MySQL (an open source database) to do its magic.

Did you know

  • Linux (or some other derivative of Unix) is the operating system preferred by most website administrators?
  • Apache powers 46.90% of all websites in October 2009 according to Netcraft?
  • MySQL is the most widely used database on the internet?
  • PHP is one of the more widely used scripting frameworks on the internet?

Coding standards implemented on the FuqDat website

WordPress is a great CMS because it renders output as HTML5. This is a standard administered by the WorldWideWeb Consortium aka W3C. Being standards compliant is important because this means that the widest possible variety of browsers (including non-visual web browsers or screen readers) will be able to understand the markup code and successfully render the FuqDat website to visitors with visual or physical impairments.

When visiting the FuqDat website via your smart phone, hand held, desktop PC, netbook or other appliances yet to be developed, our site should present itself as designed. This is known as future-proofing. Mind you, if you do not use the latest, most modern equipment, you should also be presented with human readable information. This is known as degrading gracefully and/or backwards compatibility.