Earth Notes: On Website Technicals (2019-05)

Updated 2019-05-23 07:56 GMT.
Tech updates: displaying coverage, build too slow, ISO 8601 dates, GSC FAQ report, How-To, dated Comment...
Yet more structured metadata work this month, including maximising use of HTML5 elements such as ins, thead and so on. Also fixing some persistent networking problems I hope...

2019-05-16: Phone Bill

Not really an EOU matter — though I've had to support EOU on 3G through my phone more while my broadband has been flaky...

According to my last itemised bill I'm not exactly propping up my mobile telco: just over a call a day on average and two SMS texts and a little over 10MB data per day also!

2019-05-14: Yes Comment

I have long been toying how to mark-up dated/'journal' updates to pages.

Some clearly post-hoc updates I've now started marking up with ins with its handy datetime attribute. This applies to notes/asides added months or years later for example.

But for the more general case I've created new SECTION and /SECTION tags, which are bland valid HTML5 if left as-is, even if not optimal, as for IMG.

However, if wrapped around a part starting with a heading, the part becomes a hasPart of type Comment.

If the header starts with a date of the form YYYY-MM-DD then that is extracted to create datePublished and temporalCoverage properties.

The remainder of the header text is extract to create headline (and name) properties.

The entire body of the part becomes its text.

In future the Comment could be replaced on another type, depending on the whole document type/tags, eg BlogPosting for a page tagged as a blog.

This simple markup may also allow automatic extraction and re-arrangment of just these elements, eg reordering the blog by rising date...

2019-05-13: How-To

I now glory in a 'How-to' ( page recognised by GSC!

2019-05-11: Speedy FAQ

Google continues to astonish me from time to time. Within a few hours at most of me embedding a brand new FAQ in the Enphase AC Battery Review, it is present as a full-fledged rich result (on the first page)! (At least when I do the search, with an exact-match question...)

The next one (a completely new FAQ on another page) it was showing in search within minutes of me requesting it re-indexed through GSC. Magic!

2019-05-07: FAQ Report

I have not yet seen in GSC the vaunted "Unparsable Structured Data" report. However, I do now see for EOU the "FAQ" report under Enhancements. It complains about quite a lot of things that Google's other hand, "Structured Data Testing Tool" does not. Such as missing mainEntity in a FAQPage, detached (no itemprop) objects within the main one, and no acceptedAnswer alongside suggestedAnswers. Some of these seem borderline bugs, and will need to be revisited.

2019-05-06: ISO 8601 Everywhere

The most common format for dates on EOU has been YYYY/MM/DD until now. (Though some dates have been written without separators, and some with '-'s.) ISO 8601 does not allow '/' in the date part, but does allow '-'. HTML5's time element seems to require '-'s.

From now on new dates in EOU will be written as ISO-standard YYYY-MM-DD, for consistency (and compression!), and old ones converted as and when...

2019-05-05: Too Slow

Rebuilding a page has become just too darn slow; sometimes >40s on the RPi2.

I looked at a number of possible causes, and found that a big culprit was recomputing the background:#xxx for IMGs each time. It can take several seconds on the RPi2, and there can be many such images on each page.

So now I cache the value once computed. In cases where I currently can't cache the value then I simply refuse to compute it at all — it's not vital!

There is now a facility to print out timestamps at various points through page construction with wrap_art, which should help with continuing tuning efforts.

2019-05-04: Showing Coverage

I'm thinking how to show temporal and spatial coverage on (non-lite) pages.

Do I show temporal coverage with a small thumbnail with crosshairs such as used in the Gallery? Should those be drawn on the image directly (ie a separate image for each possible cross-hair location)? Or should a crosshair be overlaid with CSS or SVG, or maybe a mainly-transparent sprite?

Maybe linked through to the Gallery or to GeoHack?

(Almost all spatial coverage in EOU is going to be of, or close to, 16WW!)

As to temporal coverage, some sort of simple CSS-rendered timeline seems like a good idea. Should the first published and last update times be on there too? In the first instance a simple textual representation is being used.

(Google Search Console's widely reported new "Unparsable structured data" report is not available to me yet...)

2019-05-02: Router Fix Nearly Started

After at least a couple of weeks of trouble with the (business class, FTTC) networking to 16WW, a (second) replacement router has been dispatched by the ISP. Again nominally a drop-in, plug-and-play replacement. But it turns out that it's really quite important to select a router that is up to the job and to perform at least basic configuration before dispatch!

Luckily the old router has perked up a little and is behaving reasonably well, at least so far this month: Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.