custom stylesheets January 21, 2002 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Not that don't like the look of MetaFilter, but I think it would be nice if the Customize page had a textarea field for specifying custom stylesheet rules. More inside...
posted by bschoate to Feature Requests at 8:32 AM (19 comments total)

If specified, those stylesheet rules get placed in the MetaFilter pages for that user (or perhaps an option to override the existing stylesheet completely would be nice too). Users can then make MeFi look however they'd like. A skinnable MetaFilter if you will.

Of course, this feature would work better if additional elements of the design were CSS defined (such as the header graphic, etc). Complicated stylesheets could even be pulled in via an @import rule from some external host.

I know MetaFilter is supposed to look like MetaFilter and all, but I think as a community site, it would be better if MeFis could customize it's appearance to make it their own MetaFilter. I think that end result would improve it's appeal rather than hurt it's identity.
posted by bschoate at 8:32 AM on January 21, 2002

Personally. I know I wouldn't use it. I'm not sure how much work something like this takes, but I don't think that this would have wide enough appeal to justify the time it would take to implement, let alone to fix the inevitable bugs and compatibilty issues. Out of the 12k+ users here, how many would actually use it? 100? 200?

Of course, it's pretty silly for me to talk about justifications for doing this, as it has absolutely no effect on anyone asides from Matt...
posted by skwm at 8:47 AM on January 21, 2002

I've done a mockup of this exact feature. Click the customize link in the top nav, select "MetaFilter lofi" from the drop-down menu and click the "Change Your Preferences" button, then click on the Home button in the top nav to return to the original page. (I used the lofi stylesheet as an example, but it'd be easy to add other stylesheets.)
posted by kirkaracha at 9:06 AM on January 21, 2002

OK, similar feature, not exact.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:12 AM on January 21, 2002

I think this is a great idea, and I think given the number of web designers/bloggers who visit this site, they would probably take the time to figure it out.

Kirkiracha's Lo-Fi thing is nice too. But most of all, Bert in the MeFi logo would be a dream come true.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:42 AM on January 21, 2002

i don't think it would hard to implement. and it would be kinda nice to have, i 'spose. but what about the extra server load? if pulling all user style outta the DB and popping them into the code slowed things down in the least, it wouldn't be worth it.
posted by danOstuporStar at 10:15 AM on January 21, 2002

but what about the extra server load?

A valid point-- since this feature wouldn't be used by very many people, maybe the Metafilter cookie could indicate whether the user had a custom stylesheet and then the server would only do the DB lookup for those users. Caching that data it in a session variable space would help too.
posted by bschoate at 10:25 AM on January 21, 2002

This wouldn't necessarily be a lot of work, though of course it is easy for me to say.

One way: Add a field to each user's customize page where the URL of a Cascading Style Sheet can be entered. Then dynamically add this line to each page's head:

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="[theURLhere]>

I'm not sure how many people would use it. However, it would be cool to see what some people did with the feature.

posted by rcade at 11:08 AM on January 21, 2002

I doubt that I would use it (I'm bigtime averse to change,) but I think it would be a neat pony to play with. I know my mom wishes she could change the background colors and font sizes easily.

BTW kirkaracha, the blue backgrounded pages on your mock up are slightly broken in Netscape 6.1- the body text where the links are runs over the sidebar. (The LoFi version, however, works just fine.) The description text on the settings change page run over the input boxes. It works perfectly in Explorer 5.5. I know nothing about CSS, or how you might tweak that, but I thought you might want to know.
posted by headspace at 11:31 AM on January 21, 2002

if your pony doesn't get delivered there's no need to get too bent if you use a newer revision of explorer:

tools --> internet options --> accessability --> turn on "format documents using my style sheet" --> "browse" to the location of a style sheet you'd like to use.
posted by boogah at 11:53 AM on January 21, 2002

you could set it up like waferbaby's prefs page and then use other people's style sheets...
posted by panopticon at 12:32 PM on January 21, 2002

as i recall, the existing mefi stylesheet is coming out of the db anyway due to the custom font styles in your prefs (thats why its inline in the head of the page, rather than a more efficient external .css file) - so the 'extra' load on the server to implement this would be pretty minimal...

hacking the existing design to make it fully css enabled would probably take longer than adding a waferbaby style prefs function (the reason it works so well over there is daniel's use of standard xhtml)

i figure like a lot of potential features, this might be something mathowie is already aware of, but just doesn't want to do?
posted by sawks at 1:27 PM on January 21, 2002

Since we're pony-begging, if Matt was going to spend some time writing code, I'd much rather see a better search facility...that's if.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:30 PM on January 21, 2002

thought a bit more about this in the shower this morning - if we get custom stylesheets it would be nice if everyone's posts were wrapped in a span with an id that matches their user id - then you could have custom colors etc for different users, and even a display:none 'killfile' hack
posted by sawks at 3:57 PM on January 21, 2002

sawks: brilliant! I get my best ideas in the shower too. I think I'm going to set my office up in the bathroom.
posted by bschoate at 4:33 PM on January 21, 2002

sawks: That idea makes me glower in amazement. I don't ask for much, but Matt, pleeeeeease?
posted by j.edwards at 12:08 AM on January 22, 2002

thought a bit more about this in the shower this morning - if we get custom stylesheets it would be nice if everyone's posts were wrapped in a span with an id that matches their user id - then you could have custom colors etc for different users, and even a display:none 'killfile' hack

ummmm....... this idea is GREAT in theroy, but it could potentaly fuck up mi-fi pretty badly.

Example. What if someone set's their stylesheet to have like this ->
font-size: 40px;
border: 1000px x-large pink;
margin-left: 2000px;

Every post that this user made would be with 40 pixle high letters, and a border that would take you a screen or two to scroll past, not to mention that you'd have to scroll to right for about 2000 pixes.

It just really doesn't make a lot of sense to have individual style sheets for EVERY user. Besdies, some people have really bad taste.

posted by SweetJesus at 8:19 PM on January 22, 2002

I think sawks is suggesting that it would allow your personal stylesheet to render user comments in your browser however you want.

So, if you set your stylesheet to render your friend's posts in bright green, it would make it easy for you to spot them as you read MeFi. But of course, that would be your preference-- your stylesheet would only render those comments like that for you, not anyone else.

Suggesting that each person could create a style for their comments that everyone would see would be silly. It would obviously be abused and it would take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to load any page.
posted by bschoate at 8:44 PM on January 22, 2002

You're probably right..... I think I read the post too quickly.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:54 PM on January 22, 2002

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