Colophon

Really? You're going to read the Colophon? Why is it a colophon? Well, I can't think of a better word. This IS a purely online electronic eBook I've written and manage and this is the page that tells you a bit about how I put all this together. So you want to know some details? Great! Let's start...

First of all I code this entire website by hand. Yes, all the basic html and coding of the pages is done my me (Dr. McCord) in a text editor. What editor is it? Well it is either BBEdit or Atom - I use both of them. So this is not Wordpress or Drupal - just straight html.

Ok, I DO use a CSS framework and I seem to be partial to Bootstrap. Right now I'm using Bootstrap 4, but I'm already using 5-beta on my regular class websites. I'll switch over to Bootstrap 5 later this year. Yes, I've tried many other frameworks and some of them are really kinda cool - but alas, my brain is still thinking in Bootstrap terms - I've used it ever since about 2011 when I was authoring the gchem website - which, BTW is still on Bootstrap 3.

Mobile first design. At least this is what I was thinking. Bootstrap helps a lot with this. I DO look at my pages on various devices and try to make sure it looks good on all screens - especially mobile. I'll admit that I am Apple-centric and do all my work on their products. But occasionally I see my site on a Windows or Android machine/device and things do look pretty there as well. I do NOT code for different systems - I depend on the W3 standards and assume browsers will all comply eventually. I also don't really do any cutting edge new stuff, so that keeps things simple.

PHP... yes, certainly. I got into PHP back when there were really no other options for server side programming. PHP seemed fairly easy and I really like the way it coexists with the html on the page. I don't do a lot of real heavy lifting with PHP - just stuff that helps with reusable html code (headers, footers, and tables). I did try to learn Laravel when it came on the scene - it is cool and I'd be using that except for the fact that my chemistry server is not run by me at all and it doesn't have Laravel (or the PHP version to support it). So I gave up on Laravel and I just use PHP to make coding in html a little easier.

Graphics? Well I generally use Adobe Illustrator for any real graphics work. I then export to svg and try my best to use all svg files. However, there are a lot of svg graphics that I actually hard code. I jump over onto codepen.io and start editing away on many of my svg graphics. So most of my graphics are svgs.

Raster graphics? Yes, sometimes you just gotta do it. I generally use Adobe Photoshop for all raster type graphics (jpg, png, and gif). Why gif? Well I do occasionally dabble in an animated gif file to show something that needs movement. However, I do have some looping animations in svg which are cool too.

My goal is to have all graphics be mine. However, there are times when you just have to go grab something off of Wikipedia or the web and use that. I consider those placeholders for "my graphic or image" to come later.

Fonts? Well, the old me would just ignore fonts and let the browser do what it wants. However, I found that a nice soft rounded sans-serif font is a lovely read and it conveys the more relaxed tone my book is supposedly written in. So I use Nunito which is available as a Google font. I like the look and have been using it now for about 3 years. It is close to Apple's San Francisco font. Before Nunito, I used Saira which is a sans-serif font available as a google font.

Mathematical Equations? I've been using MathJax for years now. They do keep making it better and better. I tried for years to get publishers to use MathJax but they just kept doing image based (as in a crappy looking pixelated gif) equations. So I like MathJax. However, I also like my Nunito as well... so you will see me occasionally build out some equations with html, css, svg, and Nunito. Some of those equations I like a lot more than MathJax - but they are a real pain in the ass to build with all the CSS relative positioning and the like.

Navigation? When I started on chembook in July of 2019, I decided to really try and write the whole thing in just html with no javascript ajax stuff (which I did on gchem site). The javascript stuff on gchem was and is a bit convoluted and things can break. So here I decided to use all html. The PHP does help on building out the pages on the fly. The chapter and section numbers are passed in the url and the page is built. I made sure that the navigation looks good (enough) on mobile as well. I even added the little "no nav" button to reload the page only showing content and no navigation. This helps if you are printing (to pdf of course) and just want the content.

Chemistry Content? Well on that front I try to cover some fundamentals of chemistry up front. My content is fairly common for any starting chemistry course. Some of the more detail oriented aspects of chemistry are purposely left out or they are treated very lightly. Our intro course for non-majors here at UT does carry a QR flag (quantitative reasoning). So there does need to be some actual math and analytical problem solving. I tie in to environmental issues where I can but only in a general sort of way. I do not "deep dive" on any one issue.

- paul



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