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Not Dead.

April 18, 2004

I’d better leave this on here for the night so I don’t wake up to a deluge of email tomorrow morning. The Zen Garden has been down all day, as has been well reported by now.

A whois comes back saying that the domain expires today, April 18th 2004. Horribly bad timing, that. I renewed two weeks ago, and while the DNS doesn’t appear to have updated, rest assured my credit card has been debited and it’s still well within my possession.

The actual reason it’s down has nothing to do with the domain: a routine upgrade went wrong, and the Linux kernel on the machine hosting it went up in a puff of smoke. The worker ants are busy bringing the Garden back online. Keep checking back, it’s not going anywhere.

Update: All systems go. We’re back on line. A big huge incredible thanks to Dream Fire Studios for the tireless work in fixing this downtime. You guys rock.

Reader Comments

ak says:
April 18, 11h

maybe it’s not going anywhere, but i think the css zen garden has a bigger issue than being down.

i don’t think there are many good designs going into it anymore. a friend stated that for every 5 bad entries is one good entry. i don’t think that’s a very good ratio.

i’d love to hear dave’s thoughts on this..

Dann Ryan says:
April 18, 11h

I dunno about that… as much as I’d like to think otherwise, Dave is still pretty selective with the process, and not just anything makes it as an official design. I mean, every time new designs come out I find myself liking the majority of them, there is only so much you can do, and the stuff that is subpar Dave typically weeds out, with the exception of some of the earlier designs before the project got bigger. I must admit he does a pretty good job with the selection process.

Basically, If you want more good designs, make your own, I don’t think Dave can get out there and MAKE people produce good designs.

April 19, 02h

The Garden is down? I don’t usually visit unless it’s updated or I want to go back to some of the designs for inspiration.

In any case, it explains why I have low traffic today. ;)

Glad nobody had the chance to snatch the domain up, or something similarly disastrous.

ak says:
April 19, 03h

i’m glad this is getting discussion..
let me go back and say that i love the garden that i have used it to persuade others to use css, and i think that dave is doing a fantastic job.

though i’m not too sure people are getting as excited as they once were. i think this is a natural truth, the excitement you have one day can easily be gone the next.

i meant to convey that from my opinion (which is very subjective, i agree), the designs just aren’t as cool and exciting as much as they used to be.

so, is this a problem that should be fixed, or is this just life? i’m interested in opinions here (sorry to take over your discussion, dave.. *sheepish look*)

Dave S. says:
April 19, 03h

“i think this is a natural truth, the excitement you have one day can easily be gone the next.”

Remember your first airplane trip? The excitement, the nervousness, the apprehension, the fear? Remember the sinking feeling in your stomach as the plane took off? Remember how exhilirated you were in the air, and how elated you were to walk off the plane, in another city or state or country or continent?

Given how mundane air travel is for the average person today, I’d say expectations have been substantiated. What was once solely a dream is today a common, banal reality.

Most comments above have covered any responses I would have given the original comment that kick-started this thread, but I’ll chime in that I didn’t delete it because this could be a valuable discussion to have. Make the most of it, I’m interested in hearing more opinions.

ak says:
April 19, 04h

“Most comments above have covered any responses I would have given the original comment that kick-started this thread, but I’ll chime in that I didn’t delete it because this could be a valuable discussion to have. Make the most of it, I’m interested in hearing more opinions.”

i do have to apologize for the blatantness my first comment displayed, i get a bit incoherent at late night. i thought this discussion could be valuable, that is why i posted it. i truly hope i didn’t offend you or any others.

McChris says:
April 19, 04h

For those in need of their CSS design swapping content keeping goodness for the day …

A word of warning though you must be using IE 3 or later ;-)

Eric says:
April 19, 04h

Really, the point raised is an interesting one. Obviously, as CSS design keeps getting better and better, fewer and fewer of us are going to say “wow, you can do _that_ with CSS???”

There are two aspects to the ZG - first is CSS technique. At first, what we now see as easy and simple was revolutionary - tableless layout that isn’t ugly. Then, we were blown away by dropdowns and transparency. We will will see more of this in the future but it will eventually become more common - there won’t be a “wow!” response just for dropdowns. Maybe more CSS techniques will be explored in the future - CSS3 will happen someday, though I’m not holding my breath, and there might even be more we can do with CSS2.

The other criteria is graphic. Many sites that are simple in CSS are brilliant graphically, and there is still a place for that. Instead of “we can do dropdowns?!” it is now “dropdowns can look like _this_? DHTML never looked that good!”

This is a sign of the Garden, and CSS-based design maturing. It’s a good thing, IMO.

Yes, there are only so many ways to lay out a webpage. Especially considering the content has been the same on all of them, I think there’s quite a lot of variety, but we will have scrollbars and 4:3 screens for a while, yet.

The airplane analogy is a good one, I think. Hopefully the future submissions will be like when you get bumped to business class, and get the leather seats, TV, and gin and tonic for free, rather than just coach. Many of the recent submissions are in that category for me; some are not. Again, that’s where the subjectiveness of art comes in.

Eric says:
April 19, 06h

hmm…i wonder if mine is one of the good ones or one of the bad ones :)

ak, as has been said, design is subjective. I don’t like some of the designs; others I love. It’s a gallery. When was the last time you liked everything at an art museum? It doesn’t mean it’s not good art, it means you don’t like it. End of story.

The garden is doing its job - people are being excited and inspired. The bar will continue to be raised, as I’ve said before, as more and more designers discover CSS design and build their own entries. The growth this year has been tremendous, and like any work in progress, the process and history of the changes are as interesting as the designs themselves. We can’t force progress to happen; we can only enable it and watch.

dara says:
April 19, 07h

As some one who is still learning all the possibilities of CSS, I find the Garden inspirational– An excellent tutorial! Even in design that I don’t like ascetically, I find tips and tricks I haven’t encountered before.

For that reason alone, the Garden is a wonderful resource and I’m thankful for its existence.

Derek says:
April 19, 07h

Even if I agreed with ak, which I don’t, I could say—using the Zen Garden as an example—“look, you can make a horribly ugly design into a really great, cool one, just by changing the CSS.”

So, mission accomplished. Once it’s back up.

April 19, 07h

I’ve had this happen, and it’s no good. I actually lost the domain because the host didn’t get it in time and someone else picked it up. I called them and they said something happened in their system and since someone else had legally registered it before them, it was his. LAME since I had that domain already.

Registrars stink.

dan says:
April 19, 08h

Design is 90% subjective. The web would be pretty lame if we all followed the exact same style.

The Garden is hands down the best design reference online and without it I and many others wouldn’t of learned css the way We did. I fear the day it will vanish.

cj69collins says:
April 19, 09h

I have found that the latest designs, while good designs and worthy of mentions, are rarely as ‘innovative’ or ‘groundbreaking’ as the original design. There is only so much you can do with one HTML page to make it look different than the other. Nearly everything ‘has been done’. The recent layouts are beginning to look similar. Often, when I see a new design, I go to translations, select Czech, and see what English remains.

My two cents. :-/

April 19, 09h

I would beg to differ, look for example at deisgn #99 (when it is available). This is truly a unique example of the boundless possibilities of CSS design.

April 19, 12h

While I am not Dave, I’d still like to offer thoughts. Big words from your friend, ak. Let’s quickly confront the tip of the design iceberg:

What constitutes “good” design? Certainly, cleanliness of code (is this really part of good design, or good code?), efficiency of space usage (a rule I am guilty of transgressing, copiously so …), the logical presentation of information, and typography are high-ranking. However, where do we define what is “good” creative thinking and “bad”? Where do we draw the lines that dictate “that design decision was poor” or “that’s good design”?

We can’t assign numbers to the creative process through which designers go on their journey to a finished product. We can’t give a “plus 5 for the logo” or a “minus 6 for the icon set” or a “minus 10 for the color scheme, because I hate red.”

It’s true that we can usually see how much experience the designer has had by looking at their work with a critical eye. Regardless, Dave is faced with the tremendous responsibilty of setting a threshold of quality for creativitiy, a task I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

The Garden’s purpose, we most remember, is to “excite, inspire, and encourage participation … ” If a certain entry does not inspire you, it may inspire someone else. The purpose is to promote CSS as a highly viable option for the graphic designers in the web world.

Steve F says:
April 19, 12h

When I try to sell CSS and XHTML, I’m normally met by a semi-confused look, usually supplemented with a raised eyebrow.

A minute or so later, I spark up The Garden and they don’t just “get it”, they “want it”.

It’s an absolutely invaluable resource, with each and every design adding to its appeal.

April 25, 09h

As a webdesigner for 8 years now I can say that is byfar on of the best web resources I had come about and it really demonstare and illustrate the power of great design through css.