An Open Access Peon

09 June 2006

Chris Gutteridge once commented that Citebase's abstract ('citations' ) page is rather overloaded with information. With that in mind I've been reworking Citebase's display in a similar fashion to Celestial. Of course, with Citebase this is a much bigger job.

A problem for pretty much any web site is how to provide lots of information while avoiding 'overloading'. I've always thought Citebase had a reasonably clean interface, but that references, citations and co-citations we laid out sequentially on page resulted in a lot of scrolling to navigate around.

So I've now redesigned the citations page making use of some 'AJAX' to provide buttons that - when selected - load a different chunk of citation data into the page. Looking at the users of Citebase most use Internet Explorer, followed by Firefox etc. In Firefox this loading/reloading is pretty clean and works with forward/backward navigation. With some suitable 'fixes' to get hold of the HTTPRequest object in IE (http://developer.apple.com/internet/webcontent/xmlhttpreq.html) the same sub-pages can be dynamically loaded. However, when navigating back to a page using forward/backward IE shows the original page (and not the one modified by AJAX). So, do I change to a total-page reload (now much easier to do having broken down the page into distinct methods) or find some way to hack IE?

It's also become apparent IE has a really bad way of handling button padding. It uses a percentage of the text width to pad and ignores any stylesheeting. It turns out the way to fix this is to use "* button { overflow: visible; }", which is a css hack to effect only IE.

The drip-feed of emails concerning the mismatch of citation-count figures in Citebase continues. This is because the citation counts in some places are taken from the record and in others from the duplicates. I thought I had got this correct, but it seems not.

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