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Autumn Leaves in the Garden

October 29, 2003

Another major Zen Garden update this evening, with not three but six new official designs courtesy Americans Ray Henry and Lance Leonard, Brit Mike Stenhouse, Italian Sandra Greco, and fellow Canadians Nigel Goodfellow and Wendy Foster.

More updates to the comprehensive design list as well, but no new translations this time. We’re still working on the server issue with foreign character encoding, so the Polish version I have on deck will have to wait.

This should more or less bring things up to date. If you have submitted recently and haven’t heard back from me yet in any way, please, by all means submit again. I just jumped to Thunderbird as my mail program of choice, and have had some tremendous problems keeping things straight when it comes to the Garden backlog.

Fun Garden Facts

There has been a Zen Garden submission from every continent except the Antarctic. There are 56 official designs from 42 designers in 9 different countries, and 135 total designs. There are twenty translations with more to come. I get about seven to ten new design submissions per week. It usually takes me up to two weeks to process them, although I do try to rush official designs. In an average day, the Zen Garden gets in the neighbourhood of seven or eight thousand unique visitors (though it has cracked 10k a few times now), moves over a GB of traffic, and sends just shy of a thousand unique hits to each of the eight most recent submissions (the ones listed by default).

Reader Comments

talon says:
October 29, 11h

Safari (1.0) issues ahoy! The two designs topping the list have unreadable copy: zenlightenment cut off before the end of the text (and making the font size smaller causes even more problems); Elevation squashes copy against navigation (appears to be the result of unexpected floats but I am too lazy to fire up any other browser right now) so badly that there’s one ‘heading’ that reads “The RoaSelect a Design” and later headings are missing entirely.

Apart from that, they’re fantastic.

jgraham says:
October 30, 01h

Whilst horizontal designs are a nice concept, there seem to be problems getting them to scale vertically. At least, I seem to have my browser set up with less vertical space than most designers (maybe they all have 23” cinema displays and high resolutions, or just fewer toolbars) and consequentually I have to scroll in 2D to read almost all of the horizontal scroll zen garden designs. Needless to say, this makes those designs almost unusable when you’re actually trying to read the text. This would be much less of a problem with something like height:100% set on the design, so that it actually scaled with the window size. But that in itself would cause other problems.

October 30, 05h

Well, well, well. While I’m honored now to have an official design, and doubly honored to be among good company, the text bugs bug (no pun intended) me quite a bit. Sorry, guys. I’m not sure how they slipped by.

Dave, what are the chances of updating the css to rid the designs of this bug. I know I’ve probably been more trouble than its worth. Should be a quick fix for me, but how ‘bout on your end?

On to the next design! I’ll try to do a little better on the next one. Rock solid!

Dave S. says:
October 30, 11h

jgraham - yeah, I’m not a big fan of the horizontal designs. I thought Mike’s ‘What Lies Beneath’ was great and truly original, but people have been a little too quick to embrace the paradigm. I’ve been asking newer ones to re-work them.

Mike says:
October 30, 12h

Hey Dave,

What constitutes an ‘official design’?

Dave S. says:
October 30, 12h

talon - I’m aware of the text bug in ‘zenlightenment’. But I’m not sure what you’re seeing for Elevation? I don’t get what you do in Safari 1.0. (note that two copies existed briefly - I updated the .css file after writing this, so perhaps that’s what you were describing)

Mike - Lots of things. #1 is overall look and feel. Browser compatibility is important (although I generally trust the designers when they say they’ve tested rather than verify for myself, otherwise no new designs would ever be added), as is ability to scale text. Theme/concept helps - a less ambitious design might be saved by a clever theme, and a great design might be ruined by a poor one. I’ve been rejecting more and more flower- and Zen-related themes lately.

Generally, I use the existing designs as a measuring stick. Do the new ones stack up? Do they look out of place amongst the others?

It’s subjective, but based on objective principles. Some people will disagree with some choices, both of those I have picked and those I haven’t. I’m not saying that every single design in there right now I’d have picked today if I had to go back and pick again. But for the most part, I’m happy with the direction things are going, and I stand by my choices. The quality of work keeps getting better; I think we’re doing it right.

ceejayoz says:
November 01, 04h

white text on light blue background in zenlightenment makes for difficult reading, especially for someone with less-than-perfect eyesight…

Christian says:
November 01, 12h

How about having some sort of poll whereby we could vote for different designs? It would be interesting to see which design(s) people like the best. I know it’s not particularly Zen-like, but it might be fun…

Dave S. says:
November 01, 12h

Fun for everyone but, perhaps, those who don’t get many votes? It’s also why I’ve ruled out discussion forums for each individual design - I’m not running a popularity contest. Let’s not go there.

November 02, 10h

This might be a bit OT bit I just wanted to say a big thank you to Dave for making my Postage Paid submission official. I’ve been a bit fan of the Zen Garden since it was launched and I referenced it heavily in some CSS documentation I recently wrote for a client, so I consider it an honour. Cheers!

radu says:
November 03, 02h

a bit OT: mike, great postage!..

resonance says:
November 03, 10h

I sure wish the Antarctic would get its design act together…

Robby says:
November 04, 05h

Dave, I’m sure you’re aware, but it’s something that should be said in general. The stats are quite compelling. But 1 gb of traffic. Could you imagine the amount of traffic that would have been consumed (bandwidth wise) if they weren’t css based. Would have to be quite a bit. (even more so if you take in the css caching abilities)..

Just a thought,

W. I. Boucher says:
November 04, 10h

The design and resources menus on “This Is Cereal” don’t appear at all when I used Opera 7.2, it worked fine in netscape 7.1 (win)