Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

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5/21/2011 7:47:10 AM
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/Mats Lillnor

Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

Hi!

Version info:
Artisteer 3 Standard, Release Candidate (3,0,0,38499)
mojoportal 2.3.6.5 MSSQL, .NET 4


I try to make skins with Artisteer and struggling with it, but with no success.
First I want to tell you that I am definitely not an expert on CSS. But know just a little so that I have previously managed to craft some skins based on the old standard and also with Artisteer.

But now it is just a mess. If it is because Artisteer has changed and are not in sync with the supplied templates or what, but it is definitely not working well.

Here is an example.

I copy the skin “artisteer-30verticalmenu1” from mojoportal 2.3.6.5 to a local folder under a new name “myskin”
I start Artisteer with the “artisteer30-verticalmenu1.artx” from the downloadable “Artisteer-3x-files”
Change minor things as the font-style and colors and export to HTML to a separate folder.
Copy the contents of the export from Artisteer to the MySkin-folder

So, according to the documentation I should now be “almost done”.
If using the supplied Artisteer-file and doing minimal changes, it should really not be anything to change, should it?

Well, the resulting skin is just a mess.
Vertical menu “overlaps” and menuitems are on top of each other, the header-image does not fill the header, there are spaces between element and so on. Colors are not the ones which I choose in Artisteer.

If I do more changes, like header height or page-width, strange things occur with the header-image totally offset and is outside of page.

Also, the skin renders quite differently on mojoPortal 2.3.6.4 and 2.3.6.5.
I have a site running in 2.3.6.4 that I planned to update, but I tested the skin from that site on another 2.3.6.5 installation and it looks totally different, with background images which are not present on 2.3.6.4 and a few other things. Now I have to tweak the skin a lot before I update the site.

It seems there are mismatched versions and differences in different builds of both mojoPortal and Artisteer and frankly, creating skins has become a PITA. Even minor version changes in Artisteer creates different markup and CSS that does not correspond to the skins in mojoPortal. Which version of Artisteer have you used to create the default skins?

So, I reverted to make a simpler skin on the old style design, without artisteer. In the past I have used “Styleshout-Coolwater” as a startng point, since the CSS is fairly easy to understand and it has a search-feture in the header.

However, from the last build it has been removed, so I used an older version as starting point, but strange things happen in mojo 2.3.6.5. When adding content to a page, the frames for left/middle/right pane are tucked together at the left side. Tha admin toolbar at the bottom reappears each time you navigate the site even if it was minimized and so on.

I know a lot of you people are CSS-gurus and don’t see this as a problem for you, but the rest of us (I guess that I am not the only one) the skinning process has become worse I think. It really needs to be more straightforward and robust.

Better quality starting skins and clearer documentation on how to build skins with Artisteer and version compatibility would be nice.

Joe, if you built an application “mojoportal Skin Designer PRO” that created working skins from an Artisteer design, I would be the first to buy it.

The supplied skins out of the box are not very good I think. This is mojoPortal weakest point.

I really need some advice on how to approach the skin design process. All suggestions appreciated.

Better templates and documentation about exactly which version of Artisteer is needed I think.


/Mats
 

5/22/2011 2:06:15 AM
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/Mats Lillnor

Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

I respond to myself just to clarify.

When I read my own post, I can see that it could be interpreted as criticism of mojoPortals skinning system, which it is not. That is not my intention.

My feeling is that something "has happened" with the latest version and pherhaps the Artisteer solution is not the way to go in a long term, since there are so much problems.

What I would like is to have a method to simply choose color schemes and menu design, not an application with a lot of unwanted extras that generate complicated code. Edit header background images and copy files is no problem.

A set of template menus and page designs that could be compiled into a skin with copy/past would do fine.

Then of course this would not hinder the CSS-gurus to take this further, but it must be possible to a simple way to make customized "standard designs".

 

So, what is the best approach to make skins?
All advice is appreciated.

 

/Mats

5/22/2011 7:02:17 AM
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Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

When making skins with Artisteer you need to make sure you start with a skin from /Data/skins not /Data/Sites/1/skins since those never get updated during upgrades. So fixes and skin updates only happen in /Data/skins, so that is where to get the latest skin as a starting point.

Which skin you use as a starting point should be determined by the criteria in the article, not by which .artx file you start with.

Artisteer 3 is still a release candidate. There have been several issues with Artisteer 3 skins reported since the 2.3.6.5 release of mojoPortal, and these have been fixed in the source code repository so it may work better for you after the next release. There will be a new release of mojoPortal before the end of the month.

Note also that the .artx files I've made available have been upgraded over time from previous versions of Artisteer and that upgrade conversion may mean they have differences compared with a design created from scratch in the latest Artisteer. I made those available as a courtesy, but I don't consider myself a good designer and don't really expect many people to want to use those. I think just about anyone could start from scratch in Artisteer and make better designs than me.
Starting from scratch is probably cleaner and less problematic than using those .artx files which have gone through many version conversions. There can be anomalies in upgraded .artx files that are not there in new designs.

What is the best approach to make skins?

 

Whatever works for you is the best approach. CSS gurus may have different approaches and the system is very flexible. Starting with an existing skin is a good idea for many/most people.

Hope that helps,

Joe

5/22/2011 10:39:27 AM
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mojoPortal Community Expert

Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

Hi Lillnor

If you are using mojoPortal 2.3.6.5 and the latest Artisteer Candidate Release 3.0.0.38499 and you'd like someone else to give the skin conversion a try, email me your artx file to rick@hubka.com and I'll see what I can do with it.

Rick

 

5/23/2011 7:08:40 AM
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/Mats Lillnor

Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

Hi again.

Joe, i grasp the concept and followed your advice, but the issue is not minor things or "user-error", but that the functionality is "broken" in the current version with Artisteer 3 RC. The reason I tried to start with your .artx-files was just to see if it should become any better than starting from scratch.

It is just not working as it has been before. Here is the procedure that should be reproducible:

  1. I created a new fresh installation of mojoPortal 2.3.6.5.
  2. Copied the skin \Data\skins\Artisteer30-VerticalMenu1 to a local folder
  3. Renamed the folder to LightBlueSkin and deleted the subfolder images.
  4. Created a new design with Artisteer and did html-export to a folder called lightblueExport.
  5. Copied the contents of LightBlueExport to the LightBlueSkin folder
  6. Copied the folder lightBlueskin to \Data\Sites\1\Skins\
  7. Changed to the LightBlue skin in the site

Problem is that it is not minor things to change at all, it is totally different and does not correspond at all. Seems like there are totally different code generated with Artisteer than the template skin and it is no longer working as the guide says.

Here is my Artisteer design: www.lillnor.net/art-design.jpg

And the resulting skin: www.lillnor.net/resulting-skin.jpg

 

I have no problem tweaking the design, editing CSS-files and the layout.master, but something is definitely wrong. If it works with the bete-version of Artisteer 3, i would not mind to go back to that version, but it is no longer available. Best would be if the template skins where updated and hopefully that Artisteer releases the final version of Artisteer soon and then I will not upgrade.

Rick, I send the .artx-file to you and if you could look into it without to much effort it would be great.

 

/Mats

 

5/23/2011 10:05:05 AM
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/Mats Lillnor

Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

Hi, its only me talking to myself again :-)

 

Found Artisteer 3, Beta 2 and downloaded it. uninstalled the RC and installed Beta 2.

NOW IT WORKS!

Apparently, there are different CSS-code generated by the RC-version that is not recognized by the template-skins or something like that.

This is fine for me for now. Looking forward to next mojo-version and if needed I upgrade "back" to Art3 RC by then.

Personally I think it is strange that Artisteer changes like that between versions, but it is not designed to have the code altered outside the application and does not really support that so they dont need to provide backwards compatibility.

BTW, there is an irritating thing with Artisteer skins in general. When creating a new page that yet does not have any content, it gets collapsed vertically. The "other skins" does not behave like this. Is it possible to add a "page-height=90%" or similar somewhere in the CSS-files and if so, exactly where and how?

I try to figure it out myself, but if anyone knows this right away a hint would be great.

 

/Mats

5/23/2011 10:33:40 AM
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Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

Hi Mats, I know that once Artisteer 3 final is released, Joe will get everything working even better than it did with 2.x. It's really unfortunate that Extensoft has dragged out this Artisteer 3 release process for six months so far, and that they have no regard for keeping consistency in their CSS selector IDs.

Today I saw this post on the Artisteer forums, posted by a representative of Extensoft, in response to a request for tableless layouts. I hope this means that the whole HTML export will be cleaner, and easier to support and modify whenever 3.1 comes out. I know for sure that I am going to wait for final versions from now on before migrating or creating skins.

We are working on Content Layout and Content Styling that will automantically create DIV based Content structure.

Also Artisteer 3.1 HTML will be more simple without many nested DIVs in Sheet, Blocks, Footer and other elements.

Jamie

5/24/2011 5:49:30 PM
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Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

I am just about standing on my head, waiting for a new release; their last so-called "release candidate" STILL had those crash-and-burn issues that leave you trying to reconstruct whatever you hadn't saved yet, since it wouldn't recover properly.  But I guess if they're fixing it to a tableless layout scheme, it's worth the wait, even if it is hindering my Mojo efforts.  I've been suggesting a Mojo export to their tech support for months now, and they told me it was "on the wish list," whatever that means.  It sure would be nice to have it exported for us automagically instead of all this HTML and CSS diddling.  I mean, I CAN do that sort of thing, but the reason I started doing all this CMS stuff was to not have to, at least, not very much -- I always have to "fix" something! devil

Andria

5/27/2011 12:58:08 PM
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Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

Hi All,

fyi, Artisteer released 3 RC 2 just 2 days ago.

Today I made updates for mojoPortal to support this latest RC and I should be making a new release of mojoPortal in the next few days.

Hopefully there won't be any major changes in the final release of Artisteer 3 as there have been over the beta/RC period. Actually the changes have been small but even small changes can make a big difference when it comes to rendering the design.

Best,

Joe

 

5/29/2011 10:03:59 AM
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Re: Trouble ctreating skins with Artisteer 3

mojoPortal 2.3.3.6 is now available and should work better with Artisteer 3. RC 2.

Best,

Joe

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