From the engine room

This first blog post after more than two years of standstill deals with the technology behind the website and the reasons for the long absence.

In the very first blog post after the somewhat involuntary end of my old Cronhill blog I would like to tell you something about the technology of the website and the circumstances of its creation.

2 years and 3 months ago cronhill.de went offline. The real reason was not the fact that I was not able to solve the annoying problem with the provider change from Domainbox to Host Europe, no, it was rather the fact that I was not satisfied with the existing content with a few exceptions.

A new beginning

May makes everything new

And which new beginning I should take with the Blog, I did not know 2 years ago yet. The idea first had to mature a bit. Manfred Krug once said in his role as Darling Kreuzberg: I am sleeping on a case. (I didn't find any evidence for the quote.) But with time solutions for many problems are found all by themselves. A component of the old blog, for example, were outraged or commenting articles on Wuppertal topics. With this chapter I have finished. Wuppertal as my hometown continues to interest me very much, yes, the city is the main theme of my painting, but I only want to have as little to do with local politics as possible.

Darling Kreuzberg

Darling Kreuzberg is a German-language ARD television series that was first broadcast in five seasons with a total of 58 episodes from 1986 to 1998. The scripts of the seasons one to three and five are by Jurek Becker, who wrote the role of the unconventional Berlin lawyer Robert Liebling to his friend Manfred Krug. The eponymous main character Robert Liebling is a lawyer and notary who has his office in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg.

Wikipedia article (de)
Deutschlandfunk (de)

And it was painting in particular that motivated me to finally bring something online again. Only very few people know my paintings to date, except on a wonderful evening in December, I have never shown them to the public. And further popularity have motivated me in the last weeks to show what I do. Another topic has joined painting in the last few months, that is my long time interest in doing something with my hands and myself. I want to give it space and share my knowledge and skills with others. And I would also like to show something of my photography.

A question of design and tools

The philosopher Henri Bergson says, aptly and in essence: There is no greater pleasure than to make oneself a tool for doing things with it. As early as autumn 2017, I started to think about the new appearance of the Cronhill brand. If you want to screw something together, nail it together, create something or just create something, you need tools. Our most ingenious tools are our hands, after that nothing comes for a long time. A good tool for nailing is the hammer, but it also works with a good shoe. A famous Hungarian shoemaker once said, that you don't need more than a hammer and a knife to make shoes. So it only depends indirectly on the good tool. It is actually the purpose it is about. And often the purpose changes again when you work with tools on it. But as it is: I have house and yard and in my graphic and web design company there is a lot to do and it took me until autumn 2018 to make a serious decision, something new has to be done.

Henri Bergson

Henri-Louis Bergson was born on 18 October 1859 in Paris and died there on 4 January 1941. He was a French philosopher and, alongside Friedrich Nietzsche and Wilhelm Dilthey, is regarded as the most important representative of the philosophy of life. In 1927 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Quelle: Spiegel Gutenberg (de)

Peter Möller onBergson

The mind is the organ of the "homo faber", the human producing tools.

Quelle: Philolex: Henri Bergson

The first task was a logo, which embodies me, my work and my intention and an appearance that suits me. I am grateful to Arne Kamola for his suggestions and criticism. I would not have come this far without it.

Website layout should be easy for a designer who has been working in this field for almost 21 years, but of course this is not the case. Demand and doubt are constant companions, the daily view through the net shows you the many beautiful flowers that grow on the other side of the street. The only thing that helps is to concentrate on the task at hand and not let too much be distracted. What's finished once is only marginally changed.

Nevertheless: When the first design was finished, justified typographical objections and the improvement of the typography to the pre-classical Antiqua did the logo and the page a lot of good. But the objections took me on an exciting typographic journey through the history of Antiqua in Europe and the United States of America, which now fills several pages of A4 paper and is still not finished. That took days. On this trip I met many interesting personalities and got to know and understand them better. This time was necessary, but again the project was postponed by a few weeks/months.

The design is now characterized by two wonderful fonts: The Georgia or for Mac users the Baskerville and the IBM Plex Mono. The Georgia is not a real baroque or renaissance antiqua, but for technical reasons I had to use a pre-installed Antiqua, and that is the Georgia on Windows systems and the Baskerville on the Mac.

I want to do without elaborate decorative graphics and styles as much as possible, because the Monotype font reminds me that on typewriters text markings and delimitations were often represented with characters.

MODX - the Swiss Army Knife

The design was then ready, all I had to do was choose the right tool. The choice was not easy in 2017, but now in 2019 it became very easy. It only consisted of two alternatives: Wordpress or MODX. I am a developing designer and not a designing developer. PHP is far from me. Wordpress is actually the software of choice for your blog, but I don't think the way Wordpress works - to give the non-technical user as much control over the design as possible - is the right way. It leads to very complex template-codings, in which I have no time or desire to get involved. In addition, the plugin architecture of Wordpress can lead to extreme Javascript and CSS file excesses that make the site slow and harder to load for mobile devices. It's easier, more controllable and much faster with MODX, which I've been using in almost all my professional projects since 2012. In my opinion there is no other tool that allows you to get from an HTML mockup to a running website so fast. At least for a developing designer like me.

Little by little I add the necessary tools to the accessories of my favourite Swiss Army knife and since I have the unreasonable ambition to run a trilingual website, everything has to be carefully tested and adapted. Comments as a function will probably follow later, many of my paintings still have to be digitally reproduced, these contents will follow little by little.

MODX Packages

Here is an unfinished list of the MODX packages I use for this website:

  • Ace
  • Alpacka
  • Babel
  • Batcher
  • Collections
  • getResourceField
  • GoogleSiteMap
  • MoreGallery  
  • pdoTools
  • SEO Tab
  • TinyMCE Rich Text Editor
  • Upgrade Modx

Whats missing:

  • Quip
  • Simplesearch
  • ... and a lot of things I don't know about yet.

CSS

In recent years I have become too comfortable as a web designer, probably like many of my colleagues. I used Foundation and Bootstrap in many projects because it was really easy and fast.

However, the development of CSS frameworks is going up in file size or is taking a path - for example to SASS - which I don't want to go any further. That's why I'm trying to get away from the frameworks at the moment. The result are smaller files and the fact that you don't have to overwrite standard properties all the time. For the basic layout I decided to use a very small CSS Flexboxgrid written by Kristopher Joseph. (http://flexboxgrid.com/) I adapted it to a 16-column layout for myself. The reason was that I could create columns with a ratio of 3 to 5 to 8. This comes closest to the golden section for a flex grid.

What follows

The website is not finished at once. I finally want to be online again. Everything else follows and as you can see in Guédelon: it is sometimes even more exciting to watch the creation of something than to see it completely finished.

tl, dr;

A few reasons why cronhill.de so long offline true. And why I chose MODX as the tool of my choice and what strategy and philosophy I am now pursuing with CSS frameworks. 

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