Writing HTML by hand #

I write some of my pages using a markup language (emacs org-mode) and other pages using xhtml, with a few extra x:* tags that get expanded out into html later. I was curious, when I write html by hand, which tags do I use? I used Python's elementtree to get the answer:

 3085 p
 2466 a
 2303 li
 1042 em
 1008 code
  876 span
  719 x:section
  517 br
  454 div
  446 strong
  424 h3
  410 figure
  359 ul
  358 script
  331 img
  323 pre
  262 td
  249 x:document
  228 x:footer
  219 g

A lot of what I write is explanations in <p> paragraphs and <ul> <li> lists. And I try to include lots of <a> links to other supporting documents. I do try to use the semantic <em> and <strong> instead of the visual <i> and <b>. These results didn't surprise me much.

Here's the code (roughly):

    tag_counts = collections.Counter()
    for doc in documents:
        tree = etree.fromstring(doc.contents)
        for el in tree.iter():
            tag_counts[el.tag] += 1
    for (tag, count) in tag_counts.most_common(20):
        print(f"{count:5} {tag}")

Do you write HTML by hand? If so, what tags do you use most?

Update: [2023-09-20] Some people commented on HackerNews about how they write their HTML, including some debate over closing tags, HTML vs XHTML, and markup languages.

Changing a URL #

One of the things I highly value is stable URLs. When you link to my site, I want that URL to work as long as my site is up. I don't want to lose all those links lightly. But for ease of implementation, the URL structure matches the file structure on my site, and I occasionally want to change the file structure. So what should I do?

I make a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL.

There are links on forums, discord, stackoverflow, etc. that I can't expect anyone to change. But I can keep those links working on my end by adding a redirect. I have made 28 of these URL changes in 28 years, an average of once year, and each one has a redirect to keep the old URLs working.


Experiments and motivation #

I was encouraged back in March when I was able to port my tank control experiments from Flash to HTML5. I had previously attempted to port my spaceship control experiments from Flash to HTML5, but failed. Part of the problem was that it wasn't a strict port; I wanted to use a different algorithm. But it didn't work well.


Improving Mapgen4's boundaries, part 3 #

In the last post I described how I investigated and fixed several bugs in mapgen4's boundary points and rendering. I was a bit annoyed at myself because I didn't initially follow great practices while debugging, so it took longer than it should have. But I was also glad I found and fixed the bugs.

One reason I wanted to try a double boundary layer was that I thought it might be neat to "fold" the edges downwards a bit, so that when you look at the map from the side, it'd have some depth. So I tried it, and … it worked! And it was so easy (after I fixed the earlier bugs). I then changed the underground color and added a faint line at the fold:

Underground view

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Improving Mapgen4's boundaries, part 2 #

Last time I mentioned that I made some changes to my dual-mesh helper library. I use it for my Delaunay/Voronoi map and art projects. Part of the motivation was that I want to work on some new map projects, and wanted to fix some of the issues with the library. I then realized I need to test out the changes in mapgen4.

I made a list of mapgen4 bugs I wanted to fix. The main one I'm going to talk about here is that the edges of the map are jagged. Why didn't anyone notice? Because I set the default zoom level to be slightly zoomed in, so that you don't see the edges!

Map edges are quite jagged

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Improving Mapgen4's boundaries, part 1 #

I've been wanting to refamiliarize myself with the mapgen4 code because I'd like to do some new map projects and will want to reuse some of the code from my existing projects.

The first thing I decided to work on was my dual-mesh library. I had originally written it to be a generally useful wrapper around Delaunator. Since then, I wrote the Delaunator Guide, which has all the same functions, but in a way that you can adapt to your own needs. I also realized that by making this library public, I was making it harder for my own needs. So version 3 of this library is going to be primarily for my own needs.

Boundary points (blue) surrounding Poisson Disc points (red)

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Explaining the Hexagon Layout class #

On the Hexagon Implementation page I have a Layout class that controls how to convert back and forth between hexagonal coordinates and screen coordinates. It has parameters (size.x, size.y, origin) that aren't explained on the hexagon concepts page. That's in part because they complicate the explanation and aren't hexagon-specific. The size is a standard scale transform and the origin is a standard translate transform. Although I have some explanation on the implementation page, it's not very good. I made some improvements:

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Tank Control experiments #

I'm still a bit sad about Flash going away. Yes, I know lots of people hated it. But it was an amazing tool for quick prototypes. There are some projects that I keep revisiting, and over time I'm converting them to HTML5.

Last year I converted my Flash procedural tree generator (succeeded) and attempted to convert my Flash spaceship flyer (failed). This time I wanted to run my Tank Control prototype from 2012:

Screenshot of tank control prototype written in Flash


Making-of: draggable objects #

I noticed last year that some of my projects behave inconsistently on touch devices. I didn't do anything about it. But then I was working on a tutorial about how I make my interactive tutorials, I had to show how to handle touch events, and I was embarrassed by my code. I decided to take a week to learn about mouse, touch, and pointer events.

That week turned into two. And three. And eight.

I learned a lot. Not only about the event handling spec, but also differences in browser behavior and operating system behavior.

State diagram for mouse and touch events

I was able to greatly simplify my code by using newer APIs and by removing unnecessary code.


Making-of: circle drawing page #

People sometimes ask me how I write my interactive tutorials. I started out using d3.js, and five years ago I wrote an interactive tutorial about how I made interactive pages with d3.js. I recreated a diagram from my line drawing tutorial, which was implemented in d3.js. I now use Vue.js v2, so I wrote a new tutorial about how I make interactive pages with Vue. I recreated several diagrams from my circle drawing tutorial.

Diagram constructed in layers

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