Sunday, September 7, 2008

A bit about the process....

Hit a model horse show with my wife this weekend. That hobby is more about collecting than building, so when I go to one with her I usually bring stuff to work on; it's great to be trapped in this way as it really forces you to focus on what you brought and not get distracted. There were no tables available for modeling, but there was power out in the lobby, so I was able to work some more on the USS Raleigh CL-7 Pearl Harbor Damage Report. She was one of the first ships torpedoed (Must pull out David Aiken's excellent "Torpedoing Pearl Harbor" to double check; it was Utah first and Raleigh second I think).

This damage report is somewhat of a slog, perhaps due to the fact it was a ship's report and not an official booklet, or perhaps because it was earlier in the war before they had refined these reports a bit. Regardless, the "text to formatting ratio" was highly skewed to the formatting side, which alway slows me down. When it's just 4-5 paragraphs a page with the odd indent here and there I can walk through a page in five minutes, but all the table work for this one has been taking me

Certain elements can be carried from page to page quickly, such as headers, but how about the actual text? This one I had to start each page by looking it over from a formatting view and planning out how I was going to lay out the HTML and tables to get things to line up the way they were on the original document. Page 4, for example, took a half hour just to set up the formatting down to item C.1., at which point I could copy and paste rows in and replace text, but even after that it took another 15 minutes to get the rest of the text into its respective code. (which I did while sitting at The Rock Pizza in Vancouver as I waited for our lunch to cook. We were the envy of the show hall).

Items spanning pages are a concern; do I want to make sure all the numbers, etc. are spaced exactly the same or will it be too much of a PITA (Pain In The Ass)? How do I make it graceful, so there is a minimum amount of code and I don't look like an idiot to any other HTML Wrangler who inspects my code? Some times there is an area that I can see is going to be difficult and I'll code around it and leave it for later... when I come back, the solution turns out to be simple.

Anyway, I managed four pages in about as many hours yesterday. Page 7 still has the table borders up at this time so I can double check layout, spacing, etc.. Once it's all kosher I'll remove them.

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