Monday, November 29, 2010

Clues! Clues! Clues!

Who would have thought a single button could cause so much trouble? In this case, it's the "print friendly" button that was found on clue pages. I got rid of it because it was redundant, and I didn't want to maintain the same code on two different pages. A surprisingly large number of people are trying to convince me that the two pages were not redundant.

I guess this makes a little sense--from your point of view, the "clue page" and "print friendly" pages looked different. They used different colors, and the photos used weren't always the same. (The clue page, all photos always showed in a small small. On the print-friendly page, only clue photos showed up in the largest size available.) But in the end, the printouts of the clue should be almost identical to before.

And yet, everyone is up in arms. Why?

Seems there were several reasons. First, some people liked to look at the "print" friendly page because they had trouble reading clues with low-contrast colors. The complaint wasn't in the printout--is was that the "print" friendly was visually easy to read on the screen than the "screen" version. I don't want to maintain a "print" page just for "screen" reading, though. That just seems absurd. If I wanted that, I'd call it a "screen friendly" page.

But I do recognize and agree with the fact that some people pick absolutely dreadful color combinations in their clues. For those who are tired of this, you'll now find a new option at the end of the Miscellaneous Preferences page to "decolorize" the clue page. By selecting that option, AQ will display all clues using the default color settings. You'll never have to see an ugly color combination again--unless, of course, you think the default color combination I selected is ugly. In that case, all of the clues would have my hand-selected ugly color combination. ;o)

The other major complaint was that clue photos were too large. They took up most of a page and wasted too much ink. I'm still unclear why that's only a problem now--that's always how AQ worked. Clue photos might have important details that won't show up in a reduced image, so AQ has always displayed the largest photo provided for printed photo clues. Unfortunately, a lot of people make a habit of loading photos that are WAY bigger than they ever needed to be. AQ has no way of knowing this, however, and would happily have you print whatever photo was uploaded. It's a habit that's annoyed me for years. Apparently, starting today, it's also a habit annoying everyone else. =)

So I've changed the default printouts to now use a smaller image. For the vast majority of photo clues, this is not an issue. "But!" I hear you thinking, "What if the photo clue requires the details seen in the larger image?!"

You'll have to print that separately, on a different page. Just click on the photo to load the large image and print that. Yeah, you might have to print the clue twice--once with the text and words, and once again for the photo itself--but I'm not sure there's any way I can get around that. AQ just cannot determine if the large version of a photo clue has important details that are lost in the small version. The "default size" can't be adjusted for each photo--that's what makes the "default" a "default." They all come out the same size.

The "print all" clues option uses cached version of the clues, so those will continue to use large images for the time being. As the clues are re-cached, they'll be replaced with the smaller image. This re-caching process will take a month or two to complete.

So for now on, AQ is going to print the smaller photos as the default. You will need to explicitly load and print the large version if that's the one you want and need. Fortunately, most clues aren't photo clues, and even among those that are, the largest photo option isn't necessary to find the clue.

Still don't like that default? No problem! It too is now a preference found at the bottom of the Miscellaneous Preferences page. If you'd prefer all photo clues to show up as large as possible, change your preference.

And finally, some people have expressed disappointment with the size of printed text. I haven't changed this at all, so I suspect there's just some latent grumbling finally coming to the surface. First, check your Usability Preferences. AQ will allow you to set the display text size to be different from the print text size. Some people like to print text as small as possible to save ink and paper, so the two settings are completely independent from each other. If you find printed clues have text that's too small, increase the size of your printed text.

Still too small? Well, I suppose if it's necessary, I could make even larger font sizes available. But before I do that, check your own print settings. When you print a page, most browsers will pop up a print dialog box with all sorts of settings to choose from. I quite regularly shrink the text size when I print from most websites using those options, so I know it can be done. So check your printer settings. I can't do that for you.

The print friendly button will not be coming back. I'd rather make sure your visual experience is what you want it to be when you view your screen, and your print experience to be what you want it when you print the page. I can control each of those things individually from the same page, and that's what I intend to do. You do not need two separate pages for each of these tasks.


wassamatta_u said...

Yeah, I saw this blog post coming from a mile away...
But I DO like that you gave the "Options" for controlling the behavior.

Lovebirds-NC said...

I certainly didn't mean to cause a ruckus or anything but the preference options seem to be the perfect solution. Thanks so much for all you do. Lovebirds-NC

frykitty said...

Thank you ever so for the ability to turn off colors! That was the only reason I ever used the "print friendly" page.

frykitty said...

PS: your first link to Miscellaneous Preferences does not work.

In My World said...

I usually cut and paste the clues into a word document so I can remove all the fancy colours, shrink photos, etc. to save on ink and paper so the whole print-friendly kerfuffle just passed me by.

Anonymous said...

Don't let the grumblers fool you. The changes you made are fabulous! The plant date and last found date and even last clue revision date printed?!?! A dream come true for many of us! THANK YOU!!!!