Design decisions for the Computer Pioneers web pages
Rather than trying to match the layout of printed pages in a book, the Web implementation of JAN Lee's Computer Pioneers hosted at the IEEE Computer web site uses a layout that supports multiple different browsers and display environments. In the web environment, users control their screen size, fonts, and other display parameters.
Each page of the original book was scanned into MS Word and corrected by Prof. Mike Williams. He produced a PDF for each biography that matches the original book. The PDFs do not identify the book or J.A.N. Lee, or contain any links or page numbers. When viewed on the web, these PDFs do not mention IEEE or contain a copyright notice; their title line says e.g. "Microsoft Word - AB Word 97.doc - Adams.pdf."
Our Web implementation consists of an index page, a few pages of front matter and explanation, and 290 web pages containing biographies of computer pioneers. The pages contain a picture of the subject, if one is available, and may contain just a little information, or quite a lot. Links are also provided to the PDF files for each biography.
Visitors will often arrive at pages of the site by Google searches, or by links from other web pages, so each page must be understandable by itself, and give the reader a chance to find other pages.
Here are the choices we have made:
- Standard heading at the top of each biography.
- Book title and author.
- Heading similar to current IEEE web site.
- Same background color as current IEEE web site.
- IEEE logo copied from current IEEE Computer web site.
- IEEE CS logo copied from current IEEE Computer web site.
- Link to IEEE main web page.
- Link to IEEE Computer main page.
- Link to IEEE Computer Society History Committee page.
- Links to next and previous biography pages in alphabet order.
- Link to the home page.
- Standard footer at the bottom of each biography.
- Link to the PDF version.
- Copyright notice provided by the IEEE Computer Society.
- Uniform HTML packaging.
- formatting and positioning provided by a common CSS file.
- TITLE element for each bio is "Computer Pioneers - person name".
- H1 element for each bio is person name.
- other major divisions are set off by H2 elements.
- HTML code is standards compliant and validates with W3 validator.
- author picture, if provided, is after the tagline paragraph.
- Google friendly.
- TITLE and H1 tags are provided, which Google uses to index pages. H2 and H3 indicate subsidiary headings.
- Pages are named after the subject. Google considers the file name to rank pages relevance to a query.
- META DESCRIPTION tags are provided. The content of these tags is shown in Google results.
- Using inline footnotes ensures that footnote content is presented in context. A search that matches a footnote will lead to the page referencing the footnote.
- Citations use CITE tag rather than italic, distinguising publication names from emphasis.
- Structure is consistent and HTML is valid, making it easier for screen readers to find things.
- Standard paragraphs have class names that describe content.
- Tables and equations are presented in standard HTML.
- Special characters are translated to HTML entities.
- Fluid Design.
- Page layout does not assume a window size.
- Maximum width is specified for readability.
- Content can be read on large or small screens without horizontal scrolling.
- Only relative font sizes are used in the BODY section so users can choose larger or smaller type.
- Footnotes are presented inline rather than using another window, to make it easier for non-expert users to continue reading.
- When a biography mentions other pioneers listed on the site, a link to the other bio is provided.
- Changes from the content of the printed book are described in the UPDATES section. What was changed, and who did it and when, are provided.
- Occasional italicization/font change of words is removed.
- Incidental typo corrections are made without comment.
- Index page.
- Contains an image of the original book cover.
- Is generated from a database file.
- Points to the PDF version of the scanned pages.
- Points to the HTML version of the biographies.
- Points to PDF versions of original intro, appendix, and publishing details.
- Points to an introduction to the web version.
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