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Open source web design

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 22, 2003

Open source web design.

Reader comments

J.D. RothJul 23, 2003 at 1:00AM

Ugh. The designs are about as attractive as the UIs of the open source operating systems I’ve seen. What’s the point of open-sourcing something that nobody would want? Give me the HTML and CSS for kottke.org! :)

Dave MetzenerJul 23, 2003 at 7:00AM

How about that it gives newbie web designers a chance to see how some sites are designed without having to deal with copyright issues…

dowingbaJul 23, 2003 at 7:49AM

I used to like the kottke.org design, but I don’t anymore for some reason. So it’s perfect for the open source site.

VaskaJul 23, 2003 at 9:12AM

if people want bad design (or lack of it almost)…let them have it…from my experiences, i’ve found that it’s the first step in becoming educated about what good design actually is…i’ve had a few clients come to me from that road and it was a good experience all-around creating useful things for them…and i think we can all agree that more design education is required for the public at large (and i don’t mean that in snotty elitist kind of way)…

J.D. RothJul 23, 2003 at 10:13AM

Good points, Dave and Vaska.

I humbly withdraw my hasty remarks.

jkottkeJul 23, 2003 at 10:34AM

You don’t want the CSS and HTML for kottke.org. It’s kludgey, at least 3 years old, not semantically correct, and just generally crappy. Hopefully that will change soon.

cynicJul 23, 2003 at 12:08PM

It won’t.

Paul ScrivensJul 23, 2003 at 12:27PM

There can be nothing but good things that will come from sites like this. The same as with open source software itself. Maybe the designs as a whole will not be regarded as useful, but not too many people like to copy the whole general look and feel of sites anyways. What will be useful from these sites are the little things that people will want to copy, maybe for example shadowed borders or background effects.

AnonymousJul 23, 2003 at 3:09PM

Did you guys ever see this Onion-esque sarcasm from 37signals? This was a year or so ago when everyone was copying their site.

MikeJul 23, 2003 at 3:57PM

FYI, that site has been going on for at least two and a half years. I know, at one time, I would look there for some different ideas.

BobJul 23, 2003 at 4:17PM

I think the idea of open source web design is terribly redundant redundant. Web sites are by definition Open Source. Let’s make the entire web look the same, while creating mediocre designs and ripping off good ones. (But I declared it Open Source!!)

dowingbaJul 23, 2003 at 10:47PM

Whenever I see something interesting on a site and I want to learn how to create the effect, a simple “view source” works. It’s how, and only how, I learned HTML (and now CSS). CSS is tough though because lots of people make their CSS scripts in a separate file, the bastards! (For instance, I’m completely ignorant as to how to personalize the “blockquote” command in CSS. Those vertical lines in the blockquotes on kottke.org are the one feature I really like.)

plotJul 24, 2003 at 12:02AM

look, i found this code lying in the dumpster:

padding-left: 10;
padding-right: 10;
margin-left: 5px;
margin-right: 0;
border-left: #e0e0e0;
border-width: 0 0 0 1px;
border-style: none none none solid;

plotJul 24, 2003 at 12:07AM

hmm…. look, this is a much more improved version of the code i found lying in the dumpster:

padding: 0px 10px 0px 10px;
margin: 0px 0px 0px 5px;
border-left: 1px solid #E0E0E0;

dowingbaJul 24, 2003 at 12:09AM

I love you. That is all.

plotJul 24, 2003 at 12:26AM

huzzah. just so you know though, that’s kottke’s code. well, the better one is mine, but i just improved what i found in the source (except i spelled ‘blockquote’ wrong). anyway, for future reference, to look at a stylesheet simply find the line that says

and go to blah.css. hope this helps you.

plotJul 24, 2003 at 12:28AM

argh, it ate my code. it should look like this:

link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”/blah.css”

but with carrots around it.

dowingbaJul 24, 2003 at 8:07AM

I actually never thought of actually going to the file it names in the source until last night. A whole new world of scripting is at my fingertips.

And no, I don’t steal code, I just use examples to figure out how to do stuff. I changed kottke’s code to have a box that goes all the way around the blockquote, and made the font-size a point smaller than the main text, and so forth. And yes, I noticed your typo…

AaronJul 24, 2003 at 10:24AM

dowingba: I also used “view source” to learn all the basics, but at some point I think it really pays to pick up a book. Once you have the basics down it is amazingly easy to grasp the more advanced concepts when someone is saying “here’s the syntax, here’s and example and here’s the browers it works in.”

Specifically, I recommend Danny Goodman’s “Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference, Second Edition” from O’Reilly Publishing.

ScottishJul 26, 2003 at 12:56AM

“Once you have the basics down it is amazingly easy to grasp the more advanced concepts when someone is saying ‘here’s the syntax, here’s and example and here’s the browers it works in.’ ” [sic] (and emphasis added)

Aye, there’s the rub. HTML, old as it is, still doesn’t work exactly the same in any two browsers. Especially with the introduction of CSS.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.