Archive of February 2008

More Sharepoint frustrations

Posted on 2008-02-18 10:25:41

The company I work for is preparing for a merger with another (larger) company. The indirect effect of this merger is that we have to show the other company how “good” our communication to the personnel is, in the form of our intranet.

The current intranet, while outdated in some parts, is still adequate, in my opinion. Okay, its menu structure isn’t entirely logical and there is no search functionality, but it’s fast, clean, and when do we actually use it? Personally, I only check it to see this week’s restaurant menu, and to look up some P&O information every once in a while (twice a year, max).

But now, with the merger in sight, we just have to have a new intranet. And for what? Prestige. These are things beyond my understanding: if the other company interviews just one worker, they’ll know that the new intranet is only a few weeks old and that the old one was crap.

Anyway, since I didn’t have any project assigned at the moment, they tasked me to doing the HTML + CSS of the new intranet. The other guys seemed to be genuinely relieved that I would do that. Whether to take that as a compliment or not is still unclear to me.

So it was time to boot up that Sharepoint image again… horrible, just beyond horrible. The default masterpages are crap, writing your own masterpage has to include certain “controls” of which I don’t know the meaning, otherwise they don’t work. Automatically deploying a “feature” (that is, a bunch of master pages, layouts and stylesheets) is done using a collection of batch files which do certain things. And once you’ve defined a “content type” you can’t change it.

And then I haven’t even touched the subject of webparts… they’re rendered as a table within a table, with a width of 100% set on the outer table, completely messing up my beautiful div-only layout.

Bah! I really hope this is the last time I’m working on a Sharepoint project: I’ve had it.

Posted in: Web standards, Work

It's been a while ... SCS Minimapper!

Posted on 2008-02-15 19:08:35

Last time my blog/site has gone without a post for several weeks, I was immersed in learning to program in Qt. There’s been a gap of over two weeks again, so that might mean I’m immersed in some other project. And yes, that’s indeed the case!

I’ve made minimap programs for five citybuilding games now (Caesar 3 and 4, Pharaoh, Zeus, Emperor), and they’ve been most heavily used on the result pages of a contest site I’ve helped with. This same site is now hosting contests for Tilted Mill’s new game, SimCity Societies.

The minimap images from the in-game screenshots are so tiny that they are quite unsuitable for display on the results pages. So, a couple of weeks ago, I received an IM from the administrator, basically begging me to write a minimapper for it, even though I don’t have the game itself.

After two weeks of puzzling, with virtually no support from the developers besides a “maybe, we’ve forwarded your request for information to the publisher, but information regarding the file format will have to pass by a zillion lawyers”, and just a few saved games to get by, I figured out most of the file format. At least enough to do a decent job at creating images from saved games.

The job was considerably easier than usual because the game itself already creates two images which, combined, are the minimap, so I had a perfect example to work from. The most difficult part was reproducing this image when the two images were not available. Though it’s of lesser quality, all buildings are still visible on it.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, version 1.0 of the SCS Minimapper is available from the downloads!