Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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To Do

Postscript Notes:

This and the remaining todo files are relatively obsolete: they are scratchpads of ideas, many of which are done, some of which are forgotten. Eventually there will be a major rewrite of the software, and at least some of these problems won't be tackled until then. Meanwhile, the Help List provides a prioritized list of things that we need help on.

This and the other "to do" lists are the project documentation for developing this web site. They are also, at least implicitly, an admission and warning of various mistakes in the current design and/or implementation of the web site. These lists are public because, well, why the hell not? Maybe you (the reader) have a better idea? Why not tell us about it? (Write to webmaster.)

Also note that most of the ideas here are mere proposals (mostly by Tom Hull), and are as likely to disappear as to be implemented.

Also note that these files are more than a little out of date; i.e., some "to do" things have been done, others have been done differently, and some ideas are cooking that haven't been detailed at all. It would be a good thing to straighten this out. Maybe soon.

Several major areas have been carved out into separate "To Do" files:

Some other topics are listed below.

General HTML

Some general problems with current HTML encoding:

  • We currently do not make use of meta tags, which may be useful for steering search engines. They may also be desirable for declaring authorship and copyright, and possibly other uses that haven't been adequately researched.

Some general stylistic things:

  • Use of spaces around dashes (actually hyphen pairs) and slashes is inconsistent. The WP files tend not to use spaces; the legacy TH database and the CG '70s book do. The main argument for spaces is that browsers only break lines on space, so hyphen/dash/slash do not break.
  • In much of the text, ellipses are done with three periods separated and surrounded by spaces. This risks breaking the line inside an ellipsis.
  • We currently use traditional ASCII quotes (including some use of ` ', usually for quotes-inside-quotes), and -- for the em-dash. HTML has alternative encodings for these, but there are cases where they are not well handled by browsers.

Home Page

The general page design was hacked together in about ten minutes, mostly testing color combinations on some earlier work, then typesetting the banner graphic. The page design is concentrated in one PHP file and one CSS file, and can be easily changed. The pros and cons on the design should probably be thrashed out in a separate file.

We could make the banner a link back to the home page. I haven't seen this done, but it's fairly logical.


I want to add a bibliographic database, which can be used both for URLs and print references. This would be split out into three tables, which currently exist but are empty: author, publication, and article.

Meanwhile, we have Joe Yanosik's bibliographic notes, which among other thing sprovide a check-list for figuring out what early writings we do/do not have online as yet.

Page Links

Most of this has been done, except that the plink table hasn't been populated. A similar table exists for linking artists to URLs, which is used for "See also" links from CG artist pages to other web pages.

I want to be able to define a link from any page to any other page (more generally, to any other URL). This basically requires the addition of two tables:

Table: url
id int unsigned primary key auto_increment: Identifier for linking against this table.
urlvarchar(180): URL to link to, relative to this site (i.e., do not include http and IP name for site-local files, but do include for foreign URLs).
linkvarchar(120): Text to appear inside <a> tags when presenting a link to URL.
desctext: Optional text describing URL, to appear following <a> tag where appropropriate.
Table: plink
pageunsigned int: Link to url table for local web page.
linkunsigned int: Link to url table for reference web page.

We may wish to also have fields for local/foreign, status (unchecked, OK, broken, redirected), dates (for local: create, modify; this would allow us to generate What's New from a database query), author.

Each static web page (and possibly some dynamic web pages with stable URLs) would be added to the url table. Each page could then look up cross-references with SQL like:

select ... from url a, url b, page p where a.url = MyURL and = and =;

The url field in the article table should link to the url table.

Web Site Maintenance

The main method for web site maintenance will eventually go through a series of administration web pages. These pages will allow for the database to be updated through forms, and can orchestrate other activities, including adding and revising web pages. Prototypes for some of these pages exist (not yet on the web site).