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Re: WANTED: Design for documentation (Photoshop power users!)

From: Alexander Kobel
Subject: Re: WANTED: Design for documentation (Photoshop power users!)
Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2008 01:58:51 +0200
User-agent: Thunderbird (Macintosh/20080914)

Sebastian Menge wrote:
> Am Fri, 26 Sep 2008 17:47:56 +0200
> schrieb Alexander Kobel <address@hidden>:
>> However, one suggestion: Have you talked about the size of the
>> navigation sidebar? On my 13" MacBook (1280x800), there is /plenty/ of
>> space wasted [...] but I guess I'd prefer a little narrower setting in
>> favour of the main text. Just my two pence...
> Be aware that long lines are hard to read. (That's the reason why
> newspapers are typeset in multiple columns.) When it comes to screen
> resolution and web design, this is a real issue. One option (and my
> preferred) is to fix the width of the html and center the whole thing.
> Wasted space and screen resolutions are not good points, because they
> are very subjective and likely to change. 

Yes and no, or better no and yes. If you want to go for a nice look,
your fixed-width-solution would be my favorite, too. Actually, if you
happen to have a real screen (some 24" width 1920x1200 at the campus
here) and want to keep a reasonable typography, that's your only chance.

For the long lines: I heard this stuff - 40 to 80 characters, best
between 50 and 60, serifs (although not on the screen, depending on whom
you ask), microtypographically fitted hyphens and dots at the end of
lines, kerning, ligatures...
(By the way, many (daily) newspapers do /not/ really fit to this story -
too short lines, usually, too many hyphenations, and often really ugly
gaps between the words. I guess it's more a matter of saving space and
easier calculation of the lengths of the articles than good typography.)

Well, I absolutely agree for any Lorem ipsum, and I tend to be very
nitpicky about it. However, the LilyPond manual merely looks like a
reference. A few words here, an example. A few words there, a piece of
code. An enumeration. Another few words, a link.
In this setting, I'm not sure about the weighting of typography vs. "get
as much on the screen as possible". Of course I prefer /reading/ the
"nicer" thing, but while working I often need a quick overview about,
say, some headers or keywords. Then it's better to have as few as
possible lines for a description.

So, here's another suggestion:
I just looked at the manual at different sizes, and I agree that we
should not decrease the size of the navigation bar too far - it makes
things too worse for smaller screens.
But, couldn't we try a minimum-width in absolute values, say 240px (or
about 16em, to respect user font size settings), and a more narrow
default width in percent (say 20%)?

Another idea. Alternative stylesheets. Cool thing.
Perhaps we can also offer a safe-and-sound version, and have this
"ugly-but-efficient" narrow-TOC solution as a "large screen optimized


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