Earth Notes: On Website Technicals (2019-12)

Updated 2020-01-18 13:34 GMT.
Tech updates: Dataset search and dateModified, not lazy yet, newsflash, ad shift, GSC page speed report implausible.
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A quiet month for development, partly because I have been fantastically busy on Radbot's fundraise and ROWR/ECO3 trial support. But I have added a newsflash facility (top-of-page banner) to support the raise, and Dataset search support in Google is also improved.

2019-12-29: Speed (experimental)

20191229 speed charts implausible

The GSC 'speed' enhancements section is driving me slightly mad. It's showing mobile and desktop pages en masse, but separately, flipping between 'fast' and 'moderate'.

I suspect that apart from anything else Google is running the tests from a US user's point of view, from a US location, which is particularly harsh for mobile sites where all the users and servers are close but outside the US, because of the effects of latency.

In any case I have cranked the number of AMP ads per page down to one, and have now restricted AMP ads to the top 20-ish most popular and recently-updated pages, about 30 in total, to see if that makes a difference. (Total AMP page count ~240.)

Now most pages are eligible for automatically-applied ads on desktop, a small subset of those pages are for AMP, and no lite pages are.

It's odd to be fighting against Google's AMP script load time, and Google's AdSense loading time, to meet a 'good' metric in Google's Search Console.

2019-12-22: Solstice Summary

There's sunshine right now so this summary, if not exactly summery, is not as gloomy as it might be!

I am sad that declarative native lazy loading is still not with us beyond Chromium and derivatives, and so also not yet supported by the W3C HTML5 Validator, and thus unusable by EOU. I understand that others feel miffed that Google was trying to steam-roller this through, but it's really quite a decent idea and eliminates more pesky JavaScript. I prefer declarative when I can have it because browsers can do far cleverer things in future than we'd have imagined when we wrote a page...

I've added a 'newsflash' HTML file which when present and non-empty is inserted into every page head. This has also become the file to force all main HTML pages to be rebuilt. I have been using this to plug Radbot's fundraiser on Seedrs. (Over 90% of our £300k target, and 236 investors, as of writing!)

I also moved the always-inserted (eg even in 'lite' pages) ads from the LED lighting article to the 'greening Christmas' one, which feels less intrusive given the aims of the two pages.

2019-12-05: Dataset Search and dateModified

Google has been sprucing up its dataset search, to include filtering by access rights and format.

For the filter on recent updates it currently seems to ignore datasets with open temporal coverage and instead only use the dateModified value.

To that end I have added dateCreated, datePublished, and dateModified as appropiate to all datasets. For live datasets I allow dateModified to be the current YYYY-MM injected as a template variable in the HTML, and those pages updated at least once per week. This keeps my pages about as live as the data behind them.

I'm not entirely convinced by the data format filter either, right now!

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