Book Samples

The Dickimaw Books site now has a new book samples area. This provides a collection of sample images taken from pages of the selected paperback book with an accompanying audio track. At the moment there’s only one book listed (The Private Enemy) although I plan to add other fiction paperbacks at a later date.

The sample starts with an image of the jacket. You can navigate to the next available sample page using the “next page” icon (a right pointing arrowhead ), which can be found at the top right of the page image. Below the page image are links to further details about the book and to the book’s listing in the Dickimaw Books store . If there is an ebook edition (which there is for The Private Enemy), then there will also be a link to the ebook’s HTML sample.

The audio file accompanying the jacket image is simply an introduction. The audio files for the actual sample pages are of me reading out that page. This means that you can see how the text is actually typeset on the page of the paperback edition and you can hear the page content. If you prefer to just read the text then follow the link to the ebook sample instead. The navigational icons can be changed in the site settings page (see also the Sticky Hamburgers post).

Remember that the ebook edition of The Private Enemy is free for the duration of the “Authors Give Back” SmashWords sale (ends 31st May 2020), so now’s a good time to try it out!

Sticky Hamburgers

The previous posts covered the migration of this website to a cloud cluster server and the site cookies (strictly necessary and optional). The optional cookie is only set if you choose to change the default site settings. This post describes those settings in more detail.

The settings page allows you to adjust various stylistic options on this site. They’re not used on every page, but if you visit the site regularly you may prefer to make some adjustments to better suit your device and taste.

Image of a page on the Dickimaw Books site using the default settings

The main part of this site has a yellow and green theme to match the logo’s yellow parrot holding a green book. The main banner shows the site name “Dickimaw Books” with the logo on the right. At the bottom of the banner is the cookie notice and some icon links to the RSS feed and social sites. Both the cookie notice and those icon links can be hidden by changing the default settings. (This won’t usually make a noticeable difference to the overall banner height.) If you hide the cookie notice for the main site it will also hide the cookie notice on this blog.

Below the banner is the main navigation bar (with a green background and yellow text) and below that is the area where the latest news item is displayed.

If the browser window is wide enough (over 600px) there’s a side panel on the right with additional links related to the current page. This right-hand panel will stay in view as you scroll down the page. However, if the browser window is narrow (≤600px), the panel will be moved to the area below the latest news item and will scroll off the screen (along with the banner, main navigation bar and latest news) as you move down the page. This secondary context-sensitive navigation area now starts with a “Skip to main content” link, which will take you to the start of the main page content (below the navigation area) to make it easier to skip past a potentially long navigation list.

Image of site page displayed in a narrow window.

If you have a wide screen but require a large font then you may prefer to have the context navigation panel below the recent news (as with a narrow screen) instead of on the side of the page. In which case, if you go to the settings page and scroll down to the “page style” area then you can switch from the default style to the “without side panel” style (shown below).

Image of site page using the “without side panel” style.

Alternatively, you may prefer to hide the context sensitive panel until you need to use it. This requires a button that can show or hide the side panel. This type of button is sometimes called a “hamburger” button because it often has an icon with three horizontal bars (representing the items in the navigation list or menu) that look a little like a stylised hamburger. Buttons that require action but don’t submit information to the webserver require client-side code to perform the action. This means that if you want to use the hamburger page style you need to allow JavaScript. Most browsers support JavaScript but some people prefer to disable it out of security concerns. So if you have disabled JavaScript, don’t use the hamburger page style.

The hamburger style also makes the main navigation bar sticky (it sticks to the top of the window). The hamburger button is placed at the right hand side of this bar so you can still access it as you scroll down the page (see image below).

Image of site page with green navigation bar stuck to the top of the window.

Perhaps you don’t like the yellow and green, in which case there are plain versions for all of the above, which just have a grey border. For example, the plain style with side panel is shown below. (This setting will also change the colour scheme used by this blog.)

Image of site page in plain style with side panel.

Some of the images are quite large, especially in the shop, gallery and book list. If you have a narrow screen or limited bandwidth you may prefer smaller images. In which case you can select the small images option in the settings page. Below shows the standard size image in a narrow screen compared with the same page using the small image setting.

Image of page in narrow window with image wider than the window. Image of same page as before but with a smaller image.

If you like to have little icons, there are a selection you can choose from. Some of the icons are images, designed for either the yellow/​green or the plain styles. For example, below shows the yellow/​green sticky hamburger style with image icons in the main navigation bar (following each associated text link) as well as for the bullet points in the context sensitive navigation list (not currently supported on all pages). Note also that in the main body of the page the “available in store” link is now followed by the chosen shop icon and the permalink icon has also been changed to an image icon. The side panel also has an icon to hide it (or you can click on the hamburger button again).

image of site page with image icons

Most of the available icons that you can select are actually Unicode characters. Their appearance (and whether or not they are supported) depends on the font used by your browser. For example, below shows the page using coloured Unicode pictographs as the icons (in the main navigation bar and the permalink).

Image of site page with coloured Unicode pictographs.

The same page with the same settings in a different browser with a different font is shown below. In this case the font doesn’t have coloured pictographs but instead has symbols that just use the current text font.

Image of site page in different browser.

Not all fonts support all the possible symbols. Unavailable symbols are usually depicted with an empty rectangle or a boxed question mark.

For a more compact layout you may prefer to hide the text in the navigation bar. The image below shows the plain sticky hamburger style with no navigation text so the navigation only consists of pictographs. (It also has the small image setting on.)

Image of site page with no navigation text.

The pictographs mostly relate to the topic (such as the email symbol U+1F4E7 📧 for the link to the contact page) but for those of a more fun-loving nature there are also more frivolous symbols available.

For example, the image below has the “About” icon set to the U+1F99C🦜 parrot character, the “Shop” icon set to the U+1F986 🦆 duck character, the “LaTeX” icon set to the U+1F981 🦁 lion face character, the “Software” icon set to the U+1F427 🐧 penguin character, the “Books” icon set to the U+1F989 🦉 owl character, the “Gallery” icon set to the U+1F99A 🦚 peacock character, the “News” icon set to the U+1F993 🦓 zebra face character, the “Contact” icon set to the U+1F40C 🐌 snail character, the “Blog” icon set to the U+1F99B 🦛 hippopotamus character, the “Settings” icon set to the U+1F984 🦄 unicorn face character, and the menu icon set to the U+1F995 🦕 sauropod character. The close icon for the side panel is the U+1F996 🦖 t-rex character. The page also has the U+1F418 🐘 elephant character for the permalink and the context-sensitive navigation list has the U+1F95A 🥚 egg and U+1F423 🐣 hatching chick characters for the top-level, and the U+1F41B 🐛 bug and U+1F98B 🦋 butterfly characters for the second level.

Image of site page with frivolous icons.

The settings are stored in a cookie. You can opt for a session cookie, which your browser should delete at the end of the session (but remember from the previous post that some browsers use session restoring) or you can opt for a persistent cookie. Once the cookie expires or if you use your browser privacy settings to delete it, the site will revert back to its default style.