This is the archive of version one, made in 2006, launched in 2007, and active until 2012. It’s archived to preserve the original design and its content that was referenced in multiple posts, books and galleries. There’s a holding page before the new site arrives.

/ log / 16th Dec, 2008 /

PHP Advent Seasoning

Ladies and gentlefolk, I give you the two-thousand and eight PHP Advent Calendar!

PHP Advent Calendar screenshot.

As an aside in a season that gets rudely interrupted every year with a huge, great party, the PHP Advent Calendar is adding to the fray. Some of the denizens of PHP are sharing their wisdom from a beat-up old soap box in our quiet, geeky corner of the Web.

The entire project was launched in a mad, two-day rush, which featured the guys with real talent setting up the server, propagating the DNS, and gathering the initial content. A couple of days after the first article, for my sins, I applied some style to the interface. Twenty-four hours of key-smacking later — and with a good dose of help from the indomitable Jon Gibbins — it was done.

The project is edited by Chris and Sean with nuts and bolts help from Jon. It is kindly sponsored by OmniTI. I have to tell you, with almost no time to get it done, deadlines looming, colleagues sweating, and the world in general turning far too fast, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

A single typeface is used throughout. It changes depending on availability, but this seemed like a good opportunity to stretch a face or two. (Writing that made me smile.)

Although we would have loved to license and use various typefaces not currently available in operating systems, there just wasn’t the time. Without knowing the full range of glyphs the content might need, the faces currently licensed for @font-face linking (many with slightly abridged character sets) might not have had the range we need. So, I chose Baskerville as the primary face with various fall-backs from there. Hopefully the epidemic of the Baskerville italic ampersand will ebb soon, but there are many worse things in life to see on an almost daily basis.

You might notice the use of the golden ratio, and an attempt to coerce our awkwardly independent browsers into rendering a baseline grid.

As always, the content was king, queen, barkeep and god: I veered away from images as decoration, considering them unnecessary. I hope nothing overshadows the reading experience. With that in mind the interface is fluid, with a minimum width to stop it all collapsing into a narrow abyss. Most significantly though, the content is genuinely interesting. There are some choice pieces over there, and if you’re interested in PHP at all, swing by, grab the feed, or follow ‘phpadvent’ Twitter for fast updates.


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  1. 1. By Anon on 16th Dec ’08 at 04:51am

    I’m a subscriber to the site and the content is excellent. Great job on the design.

  2. 2. By Vladimir on 16th Dec ’08 at 06:45am

    Two days ago I was wondering how come PHP community site(usually developers are not so good designers) has so beautiful typography. I think you did great job.

  3. 3. By Leon Paternoster on 16th Dec ’08 at 12:57pm

    Thanks to all involved — a nice gift for someone about to delve into PHP.

    You sound slightly apologetic, Jon. It looks great. Interesting to see a fluid layout (don’t know much about golden ratios: is that the 58% in the CSS? Or 58% of 85%?) Wouldn’t that result in a too–wide measure on a wide screen monitor (or is it 58% of a fixed amount?)

    It borks at 800X600 (or maybe you’re not too fussed by that; on my own blog, 800X600 accounts for about 0.2% of the visitors).

    Reassuring use of a drop cap too. The site has that unmistakable Jon Tan feel to it.

  4. 4. By Leon Paternoster on 16th Dec ’08 at 12:59pm

    Come on Tan – we want to hyphenate correctly!

  5. Jon 陳’s profile 5. By Jon 陳 on 16th Dec ’08 at 14:24pm

    Thanks, Vladimir!

    Leon, you can — with the proper numerical entity (—)! Hence the ‘#’ in the example. Easy to miss, though. I.e. Not explicit. I’ll think about how to make it clearer. I’ve fixed your first comment.

    Thanks for the feedback, too. I appreciate it very much, as always. Cheers!

  6. 6. By Anon on 28th Jan ’09 at 07:18am

    This is such a great site. I’ve always loved Smashing magazine, and I found you through there today. This site is much better though.

  7. 7. By webtiful on 4th Mar ’09 at 00:37am

    Valuable tips from all the experts. Thank you for the article.

  8. 8. By radio on 16th Mar ’09 at 18:07pm

    Very nice. Great work again.

  9. 9. By conficker on 1st Apr ’09 at 07:51am

    I love the design of their site. I have a big monitor, and it stretches. This site is also very appealing.

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