Thanks for your post uan. It's very helpful. In this thread, I'm getting some great responses.
first let me say that you've done a lot of good work to put the sutra online. Thank you for making it easier to access.
I'm glad to be of service.
uan wrote:I'd like to make a couple of suggestions that could make the text easier to read. As the page is laid out right now, the text blends into one solid column of words. My suggestions would be to left justify the text and to create more space between the paragraphs. The space between the paragraphs would be for the main text paragraphs, but not for things like verses that are indented (which, even though they are over several or more lines, act as complete "units").
Before posting, since I'm not a web design expert, I did a little research which seemed to confirm my thoughts. It has to do with readability and breaking up the vertical page a bit to create more contrast on the page. It also has to do with creating visual clues and reference points for the reader. In a book, the pages themselves do that. There is also something to do with how full justification works online vs. in print -- it's just not as good online. To see how other sites handled long vertical text online, I went to several different websites (like news sites, etc.) to see how they do articles on the page. They left justify text and create space between paragraphs as well.
What you said about visual clues makes sense to me. And I've also read that because full justification uses varying spacing between the letters, that makes the text harder to read. Changing the justification is very easy to do and I've already done it. I haven't uploaded that change to the server though because there will soon be other changes as well. "The space between the paragraphs would be for the main text paragraphs, but not for things like verses that are indented (which, even though they are over several or more lines, act as complete "units")."
Here, you really hit the nail on the head. Right now the formatting is applied to all the paragraphs and there is no distinction between prose and verse. That's the problem! The fact that I am using indentation on the first line of the paragraphs makes the verse stand out sort-of/kinda,
because the verse is pretty much all indented. But that is not the proper solution. I need to go through all the chapters of the sutra and mark what areas are prose and what areas are verse. That will make it possible to have distinct formatting for prose and verse. I thought about doing this earlier but didn't because it involves quite a bit of work and I wasn't sure where the verse ended and prose began in every case. I started doing it yesterday and got about halfway finished. It should be finished within the next week and I'll upload it. I think what I'll do is not use indentation on the paragraphs but separate them by a vertical space. And I won't indent the prose, but will indent the verse. That should make the verse stand out nicely. Thanks for giving me the nudge I needed to actually start doing it.
uan wrote:One other suggestion would be to add navigation links at the bottom of the page (i.e., "previous" "home" "next") so it's easy to just click where your eye (and often, your cursor) is, rather than having to go back up to the top of the browser window to navigate to the next chapter.
That, I disagree with. I have seen many web pages that have links on the top and bottom and that makes perfect sense for those web pages because those links are part of the text and scroll with the text. But I did things a little differently in this sutra. The links (controls) are on a control panel that is always there; it doesn't scroll with the text. I think that's a nice approach because you never need to scroll to get to the links/controls and you always know where they are. I could move the panel to the bottom (it's easy to do) but am not convinced that putting it on the bottom is better than putting it on the top. It's my experience that control panels are usually placed on the top.
In this work, I am blurring the distinction between links and controls. Now there are only links and pull-down lists of links in the control panel but latter I will be adding an actual control, an icon for printing out the currently selected chapter. Why not just use the print page control on the web browser? Printing through the web browser will print everything including the control panel. Printing through my print control will only print the sutra text so it's a better option.