Now With Navigation and Charted Archives

Every couple weeks, I sit down and try to think of things that will make this site better. Rather than post each time I come up with something, I typically wait until I have a few to share and then post about it. This is another one of those posts.

Charted Archives

A few weeks ago, I thought it would be cool to show my archives by month in a bar chart. My thought process was that someone new to the site could see the graph and very easily get a feel for the frequency of my posting. Below is a little screenshot for archival purposes and those in a feed reader. You can also just scroll towards the bottom of any page to see it live.


Navigation and Search

I’ve always put a lot of emphasis on my footer. From there you can get to pretty much anywhere on the site, but I thought it was high time that I finally put some navigation at the top. Then I thought, while I was at it, I might as well add some new content, so there are now two new pages to peruse.

The first page is dedicated to all my projects. It lists those that I care about, along with a little history and such. I think sometimes our Github profiles and a websites get too disconnected, so I think this will help connect the two a bit.

The second page I am simply referring to as “dude”: Whenever I find something new and fall in love with it, I’m always telling my friends, “Dude, you have to check this out.” That theory along with the success of my setup and software post, led me to believe I should have a page here at RailsTips dedicated solely to the things that make me say “dude!”.

The other tweak I did is I moved the search box to the top of the page from the sidebar. The reason for the move is that I think the search box is easily overlooked in the sidebar, but should do fine up at the top. It also helps balance the content above the navigation a bit.

Again, for archival purposes, I’m including a picture of the nav and search tweaks.

Navigation and Search

The only other addition worth noting is that I’ve switched from sections/categories to tags for articles. More a semantic change than anything, but I thought I would mention it. One of the next tweaks I’ll do is add a tag page where you can view all the tags listed alphabetically to get an idea for the topics covered here.

That is all for now. Just thought I would mention the updates for those who read the posts from their feed reader and for those that might be new to the site. I hope they make it even easier to find and discover the content I’ve been posting.


  1. The site looks good — clean and easy on the eye. The bar chart is well done too. Nice!

  2. @Andy – Thanks! Glad you like it.

  3. I love the bar chart, that’s a brilliant idea and it looks fantastic.

    Then again I am a huge chart geek.

  4. Hi, John! I got to know you from BlawgTips (long time no posts, uh?) and immediately came up to RailsTips, which I found very very useful content, and now I know it is really a nice “application” also!

    I’m starting a research quest to find a blogging engine made with Rails so I can migrate my Posterous content to my own site and with some functionalities added.

    Are you using an engine here? Or maybe it is self development? If so, is this site open source code? Don’t you plan to release it under an open source license?

    Thank you for the content, for the attention, for the blog tips, example, etc. Hope I can soon share some code too.

  5. @ John Nice! How do you make your charted archives? Is there a plugin for that? I am always curious about charts.

    @Marcelo, btw, about Blog engines in Rails you have Mephisto and Typo. I am using Typo, I am satisfied with it. The dev team is very supportive.

  6. @Marcelo – At the time of this comment, RailsTips is powered by Mephisto.

    @Harry – Basically I looped through the counts of the archives for the past so many months and then create a div that has a height of count * 10px and a span inside it positioned at the top that contains the count number. I know that 11 is the most I’ve posted in a month so I just set the height of the whole graph area to be a little greater than that.

    A less fragile way would be to loop through the counts and get the max count and then divide each count by the max and times that by 10. I just didn’t take the time to do that. Then I could set the height and know that I’d never go over it. Does that all make sense?

  7. How did you add this? It’s very cool! Much nicer than a big list of months.

  8. @Melvin – I use Mephisto currently and here is a pastie of the liquid/html code and the css. It is actually kind of hacked in and could definitely be cleaned up, but it gets the job done for now.

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Authored by John Nunemaker (Noo-neh-maker), a programmer who has fallen deeply in love with Ruby. Learn More.


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