New Article and Code Navigation Features (2023/09/09)
Recent implementations to the article navigation (ToC), the integration of Example Projects (EPs) into articles, and UI/UX have made it to production for both mobile and desktop devices, facilitating readers a smooth and seamless navigation of article sections, access EP source code, EP web apps, and project-related files which are turning into a positive powerful impact on the platform’s content quality and user experience.
Updates on Platform UI UX Ergonomics
The platform has received many functional and non-functional features recently.
There have been updates on the standards in various regards.
As previously noticed on Automating the Platform Operations and Beyond (2023/08/31), there have been operations features internally to start automating design decisions and workflows.
Page styles and new UI/UX features are also available in production.
Just to mention some designs depicted above, notice how:
- The page layout focuses the article in the center as the main content.
- Puts the navigation to the left.
- Uses the Poppins font (which is the currently official font because of its mathematical/geometrical properties).
h1heading is aligned to its version in the navigation view.
- Some colors and sizes are well established (besides the Piaxid design I’ve been devising since 20171).
Notice the updates are available in production for Engineer (first-class) and the Blog. On the other hand, a subdomain with super high priority but still “plain” is Dev, which looks to require a slightly different design.
With all this, there’s much to update about these new results.
The features for navigating inside articles are in production and recently designed.
Article contents navigation is fundamental to moving among the tree of homogeneous2 articles I create. This way, all this high-quality content can be put together3.
I finished polishing the so-called ToC (Table of Contents)4 feature this time.
From design, we have that an article is the same as its navigation, so both have a different level of abstraction.
That is, the article and its navigation are the same, but the nav is a resumed version with only the headings or sections56.
This well-designed navigation will start allowing readers to move smoothly among the platform articles, so besides having great qualities already, now they’re also simpler and nice to browse with.
The desktop design has the article navigation on the left, and the article is focused in the center.
You can see in the screenshot how the
More Recursion section is selected in
the navigation since the article is scrolled to that position.
So, what’s on the right? I’ll implement that later. I’ll place the footnotes, references, and others like the footer. That way, the design is from left to right, with the article centered as the page’s main content.
The navigation is updated whenever the reader scrolls over the article or loads a URL with a section hash.
For example, the URL path for the selected section is
/drawing-a-tree-on-canvas-with-xy-coordinates#more-recursion, indicating that,
more-recursion is the section ID to select.
When you select a section from the navigation, this is also applied to the URL hash, and you’re smoothly led to the section via scroll.
This navigation allows users with greater displays, like a monitor or tablet, to leverage greater power while enjoying the reading.
This is the mobile version of the responsive article navigation.
As you can see, from the bottom menu —which is also a new feature 👾— you can open the navigation from the left, and it’ll take the foreground of the screen.
The navigation can be expanded or hidden via the “Navigation” menu button for either mobile or desktop, but this feature is more advantageous for mobile.
Then, when you select a section, like
Node Circle and Content, you’ll be led
to that section via smooth scroll:
Similarly to how a PDF is read, articles have those features now. The difference is that PDFs are binary files with no meaning 😐 while my articles are domain-specific systems (i.e., actual engineering instead of mere text) 🦾.
This responsive mobile navigation will allow readers to efficiently move among articles, even on devices that can only support one view at a time.
Source Code Navigation
Articles can have an associated EP (Example Project) or subdirectory in which there are source files that can be browsed and read now in first class without exiting the site.
This is another win for educational content7 as it allows direct access to the project’s source code besides its article.
EP source code, files like markdown, and images can be browsed and viewed with this feature.
Accessing an Article EP
Articles can have an EP (Example Project) associated with the reading, which has been integrated lately.
I’ve worked with these concepts for much longer before, so now I’m executing.
Underlying source code is usually a wanted feature from readers. It’s when we beg the question, “Where’s the full code?” 😸, since standalone code snippets often don’t suffice.
Further, than code, the actual project is integrated into its article. They’re projects inside articles (i.e., second-class); therefore, they’re all EPs.
So, for richer articles with EP, you can read the publication as usual. Now, you can also browse over the project’s source code and run the deployment of the EP itself (if applicable).
The article’s EP appears at the bottom of the page, if any.
So you can read the source code files (and others like project Markdown docs and images). Each resource has its GitHub link, so you can also browse and read them from GitHub.
If you go to the GitHub subdirectory tree, you can browse over all (literally) the source files.
Recall that GitHub is a dev abstraction (lower-level), and using the web app (i.e., mathsoftware.engineer) to browse has the premium advantage of being a first-class experience (you don’t exit the platform8).
The following screenshot is another example of how this is achieved in mobile too:
Code navigation has been a significant achievement in organizing and sharing my content and further projects. More enhancements are due in the future, but for now, it’s a great step already.
Another super exciting feature is the new standard to navigate to an EP deployment path.
That is, you can read the article; if it has an EP, you can open it in source code form. Furthermore, if the EP is a web app, it was deployed automatically by SWAM Ops9 when the article was built. Therefore, you can open it as a web application.
This access has been available since always, but now it’s standard and more automated, so I can worry much less about off-topic tasks when developing projects and articles.
As you can see in the illustration, there’s a URL path structure consisting of the article ID, the EP name (access to EP source code), and the “app” sub-path (access as a web app) when applicable.
The new features for EP navigation are making project integration into articles more powerful, so they get to a further degree of quality and usefulness.
Accessing an Article Subdirectory
You can also access an article generic subdirectory with files the same way you do it for accessing article projects.
Sometimes, source files are not projects but just files. So, they can be put into a subdirectory like the following example. Articles can either have EPs, subdirectories, or both.
The subdirectory button appears at the bottom of the article and leads you to the subdirectory path.
Then, you can open files to read them, as if it were a GitHub Gist containing the article code snippets.
You can open them as files or subdirectories on GitHub too.
So, besides article projects, its subdirectories with content can also be browsed and opened.
Markdown and Further File Rendering
As seen before, source code files are displayed as code, so markdown and image files are also rendered as such.
If you open a markdown file, instead of reading its raw low-level text, you’ll get the web app-rendered resource, which turns them into a sub-article.
This can be useful for EP documentation like
Image files can also be displayed, but that feature is still a low priority.
These rendering features enrich the article projects and files so files can be viewed as high-level or first-class resources.
Testing new Articles
I’ve successfully tested the new ToC and source code navigation features in the coming articles in staging.
As published in Finishing Writing the Documentation for my Next EP (2023-07-14), I have the article Building Slides from Screenshots App in JavaFX almost ready to be published.
So, this is how the source tree of the article project can be browsed. Its style is still plain because reading the contents of the resources is more important, so this has more priority over directory navigation.
This way, you can see (in the URL path) how the EP is related to its article:
The introduction of these new platform UI/UX ergonomics will make a remarkable impact when releasing these kinds of polished and long articles. That’s why I haven’t published many articles and projects yet. As always, I optimize for quality rather than quantity.
Page Footer Style
The site footer look has also changed recently.
I tried not to change much about these secondary components because since I was using plain Jekyll and GitHub pages 😑. Now, I’ve polished the styles according to the design.
As I said, I’ll put the footer strategically on the right side for the desktop layout so the article page in the center is more cohesive. This is because the footer is not part of the article, so it shouldn’t go at the center but to the right bottom, that is, a progressive disclosure design.
The new footer style (that was around for a while already) will put the cherry on top of the site design for now.
Powering the Platform Articles with Advanced Navigation
The latest article navigation (i.e., table of contents), EP and subdirectory access, and the application of styles have turned the platform articles into powerful math software engineering references and have also turned into more establishing MathSwe standards implemented into UI/UX ergonomics.
You can think of Piaxid as the philosophy I originally invented to make pure design decisions ↩
My articles are homogeneous since they have the same design, so I can scale up the whole content as I add more articles by letting the platform design principles constant (i.e., relativity) ↩
Recall the cohesion principle to build greater wholes ↩
I don’t like using those commonly used generic terms you see from older computing and academia, like “table” of “contents,” because it makes the articles more heterogeneous by using those repetitive stereotypes ↩
It’s important to see my design view to conceptualize and understand the principle of homogeneity —both article and nav are the same, with different levels of abstraction or purpose ↩
It could also include other major navigation links like image or table captions ↩
I’ve provided my content on mathsoftware.engineer under CC and BSD 🆓 licenses so far, so it’s always been education-friendly ↩
Relatable with the math closure principle: enjoy an uninterrupted workflow in MathSwe, as any operation you perform in MathSwe stays in MathSwe 🔢 ↩
SWAM Ops is an automation tool I’ve been writing for MathSwe software operations, so in this case, for mathsoftware.engineer ↩