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April GOL updates round-up
Liam Dawe 25 Apr

Hello everyone, Liam here with another little monthly update for you. This was first posted on Patreon.

There's been a lot I wanted to work on in the last month, which sadly I just didn't get time for. The Games/Software database as an example, didn't really see any attention recently. Still plenty planned for it.

Plenty of articles as usual though but here's a look at what else.

Website theme

The dynamic theme switcher is now live, which plenty of you have seen. Available from the User/Guest menu on desktop (click the avatar on the navigation bar) or the mobile menu on smaller screens. There's a little slider, to allow you to easily switch between light/dark theme.

Also, for people with JS forced off you can override theme from the User Settings page :)

Doing all that took quite some time, it was a huge overhaul to many parts of the CSS/JS/PHP code to get it right. An important feature though and one I hope you all enjoy.

Many parts of the website were tweaked during this to improve the look and flow. Like the new article share buttons which look many times smarter. Unlike other sites, our share buttons are also built-in and not using an external service. Once again, respecting your privacy is important to us.

Pagination

There's now a quick Page 1 button for all normal pages (home, comments, forum) if you're on Page 3 or above. To make going back super easy.

The forum now has the same pagination at the top, in the same bar with the title, similarly to how it's done in article comments to match up.

JavaScript

While updating the website code, I noticed a few places that didn't fall-over correctly when JavaScript was turned off. The user menu/login menu in particular. So now, they will act like normal links to the special user account page if JS is turned off. I always try to keep GOL as accessible to all as possible.

I often have people tell me GOL looks "old", and when I look at other news sites rammed full of adverts, JavaScript for everything, videos all over the place and a layout that's hard to understand, I'm actually a little glad we stay as simple as we are. People know when they come to GOL, they can just find the news easily.

User Statistics

Our user statistics page had a small update, when switching between dates it now appends the info into the URL so you can share specific dates easily. Here's January 2020 for example.

On the subject of JavaScript, I've moved over the monthly User Statistics to chartjs by default. The same library used for the trends charts on the same page, because it works better than our own SVG stuff and it's interactive. However, the original monthly SVG charts remain for people with JS off/blocked.

The download/view direct option (if you're logged in) still uses our own SVG rendering, plus the download filename is finally correct.

Lazy image loading

The home page is now using lazy image loading for article thumbnails. What does this mean? It means (if your browser supports it), the thumbnails won't load until you scroll to it thus saving you data and speeding up page load time quite a bit.

Browser support for it will improve over time but it already works quite nicely! Not a huge difference but it definitely makes that first load snappier.

Games

I helped the developer of Chronicon sort out their dependency situation, again. Turns out it didn't quite work on the latest Ubuntu 20.04, so I cobbled together the exact dependencies it needed and ensured the launch script actually used the included files. Works fine now across an up to date Manjaro and Ubuntu.

Also helped test The Procession to Calvary for the developer across multiple distributions. As it's a Unity game, using an older version, it had issues on NVIDIA but luckily given how many games I test I knew the quick workaround to prevent major hassles at release for them.

Made sure the developers of Iratus: Lord of the Dead sorted out the Steam depots, as the Linux version was missing from most of them.

Ensured the developer of Can't Drive This set the correct launch configuration on Steam, as they (twice) had the wrong filename.

Advised the developer/publisher of Galaxy Warfighter on how to correctly setup their Steam depots, as they launched with all platforms having an empty download.

If you know a developer needing help testing their Linux version, do send them my way any time! I know the majority of the gotchas nowadays to ensure a smooth release.

Non-gaming news

Something that has been asked, quite often, is to cover more general Linux desktop news. The same way you see other "PC" gaming websites talk about Windows changes, it's quite right we talk more about happenings on the Linux desktop. I'm going to be attempting this now. Slowly building up a list of good feeds to follow from projects and distributions.

Going with the same way we handle normal gaming news: no adverts, no bullshit, no clickbait. Keeping it all under the same roof though, lessons were learned about trying to do two websites before.

Reddit

Just a reminder that I also run /r/Linuxers/ - so if you're looking for a friendly Linux-related subreddit that's the place to be. You know what you get with our moderation: no bullshit.

Videos

Don't forget we're also on Twitch and YouTube!

Recently, we added ourselves to LBRY, a newer video platform which auto-syncs from YouTube. Giving you another option to watch any on-demand videos we make.

Thank you for your continued support, comments and post sharing.

Last edited by Liam Dawe on 25 April 2020 at 12:46 pm UTC

WorMzy 26 Apr

Basically bringing Life on Linux back from the dead as part of GoL? Nice. Just don't burn yourself out. :)

Valck 27 Apr

Quoting: Liam DaweJavaScript

While updating the website code, I noticed a few places that didn't fall-over correctly when JavaScript was turned off. The user menu/login menu in particular. So now, they will act like normal links to the special user account page if JS is turned off. I always try to keep GOL as accessible to all as possible.

I often have people tell me GOL looks "old", and when I look at other news sites rammed full of adverts, JavaScript for everything, videos all over the place and a layout that's hard to understand, I'm actually a little glad we stay as simple as we are. People know when they come to GOL, they can just find the news easily.
Awesome. The less JS, the better.

However, just a few observations:
I had to allow JS to be able to use the buttons on the top of the post to reply-with-quote, and I'm fairly certain some of the others wouldn't work either. Also, the "N likes, [who]" at the bottom of a post is unusable too without JS.

Thanks for making GOL the awesome site it is.

Last edited by Valck on 27 April 2020 at 3:25 am UTC

Liam Dawe 27 Apr

Quoting: WorMzyBasically bringing Life on Linux back from the dead as part of GoL? Nice. Just don't burn yourself out. :)
Sort of, don't worry no chance of burn-out on it :)

Quoting: ValckAwesome. The less JS, the better.

However, just a few observations:
I had to allow JS to be able to use the buttons on the top of the post to reply-with-quote, and I'm fairly certain some of the others wouldn't work either. Also, the "N likes, [who]" at the bottom of a post is unusable too without JS.

Thanks for making GOL the awesome site it is.
Okay, good feedback there. This morning I created and enabled a new core module, which provides a standalone new comment box page. This is now the default URL for the Quote button, which will go to a new page with the quote added in for people who have JS turned disabled, won't affect people with JS turned on since the JS overrides the button :) - hope that helps and shows I am committed to providing a good experience for all. I will be doing the same for the forum shortly. Forum replies with quoting also now has the same for no JS peoples.

I have added a note on my todo list to also provide a standalone page for the who likes link too. Should have it done this week.

Last edited by Liam Dawe on 27 April 2020 at 11:06 am UTC

Valck 8 May

Quoting: Liam DaweI have added a note on my todo list to also provide a standalone page for the who likes link too. Should have it done this week.
Thank you, works now. However, JS is still required to "like" a post; without it, even the "heart" icon itself isn't there at all.

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