Thesis: HTML done, on to Flash and Content

Okay. The HTML is finally done. Well, mostly finally done. Out of all the rest of the pages, only the home page remains to be coded, and I’m leaving that one until last. Why last on the home page? Because the site has been developing as I’ve been going and the homepage should reflect the site that emerges out of the creative process, not the site as it was intended going into the planning phase.

I’m still scared on timing, and that fear is lighting fires under my butt right now. That’s a good thing, because it’s hitting that point in the semester when everything is hitting at once and it’s far better to be in overdrive now. The old juggling act is back, and I have to admit that I’m hoping this is the last time I’m asked to juggle this many balls at once for a while. Maybe even the rest of my life. (The trouble with stupid human tricks, you see, is that they all require a stupid human.)

But anyway, the HTML shells are done. The CSS checks out on all browsers (remind me to test it on IE 7 once more, I’ve been twiddling with it a bit lately), and that means that what remains is… the content.

Flash next

The next major task will come in the form of three panels utilizing flash and action scripting. I’m coding in AS 2.0 because a) it’s what I know, b) there are fewer backwards compatibility issues with those users who don’t have the most updated flash player, and c) it’s what I know. :^) Funny how that works out.

The first panel will appear on the homepage. It’s called, “In Their Own Words” and it will feature direct quotes from the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore about Native Americans. (They were all pretty mean to the First Nations people on the whole. George Washington was known to the Iroquois as ‘the Destroyer of Villages’). The quotes will cycle along the mountain from left to right, with each Presidential sculpture becoming highlighted while their quote is displayed. The loop will play continuously, but onMouseOver() it will highlight the particular president chosen. Because the Home page is going to be the last one coded, this flash piece will be the last one developed.

The second flash piece is the Timeline. This will be the most involved, and I’m going to try and tackle this coding first. The timeline consists of dates from the 1848 signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty up until the present day. The mechanics of it will consist of a graphical focus area in the center of the panel, or perhaps off to one side slightly. The timeline will have separate nodes on it… clicking on a node will make the selected node move to the focus area, and then the rest of the flash panel will display any photos or information on why that particular date is important on the screen. There will be a forward and back button, as well as a Start and Finish button to fast forward or back to the first or last node on the timeline.

The final flash piece is the Who’s Who gallery. A gallery of thumbnails on the left of the panel. Click one and the full sized portrait appears on the right side of the panel, and in the middle is a tiny blurb as to why this person is important to the history or modern reality of Mount Rushmore.

And then the Content Population

The three flash pieces should be relatively simple to code. I say that with only slight trepidation, because I can visualize mentally how to deconstruct the behaviors of each piece, and from my Information Animation class I see that as being the hardest step toward success in Flash coding. I’ll be using dummy graphics for the coding attempts and focusing primarily on getting coding done by Thanksgiving.

And that leaves the content population. Worry not, I started by doing my research into this topic and getting my content arranged into buckets that could be used to write the articles for. The articles are going to be written using Hanley’s ‘Writing for Online Media’ chunked style for informational narrative. It’s a bit counterintuitive to me to be presenting an argument without actually -making- an argument but instead providing facts and perspectives and allowing the user to wander through the site to make up their own mind. A veritable buffet of choices. Kind of like dim sum… nothing on its own enough to be filling as a whole, but sample enough here and there and the research pays off in a completely different way of thinking about Mount Rushmore… which is the overall goal of the piece from a content point of view.

Getting the content written up will come in spurts. It’ll probably be happening in between coding frustrations.

The overall architecture

I have to admit that I like the way that this architecture developed for me. For example, if I run over on one of the articles, I can just put a “next” link on the bottom of it to lead to page 2, or 3, etc. That plus a descriptive blurb like “Next: Gutzon Borglum’s secret love of shoes –>”. Just fer instance.

It’s a very textually oriented feel to it. Well, back to work on it.

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