Posted in Typography

A font-identifying website that really works

Like Jen over at Digital Scrapper my font-identification attempts on the various websites that purport to be able to do this for me are frequently thwarted. Many thanks to her, then, for the recommendation of WhatFontIs.com

Most of the alternative tools “recognise” a promising-looking selection of elements from the sample you’ve uploaded, asking you to match those elements to your keyboard characters in a way that in theory should work. Unfortunately, in an attempt to get the name of a font just now that’s a pretty core component of the typographer’s toolkit (Didot) so you’d think success would be likely, I found over and over again that automating the whole process just didn’t cut it. Scraps of  letters were getting interpreted as unique characters (eg the dot and the stroke of the i). I was having to turf the elements entirely, since neither was an “i”, and in the process the set of identifiers grew smaller and the pool of matches returned would come to suck.

WhatFontIs.com addresses this problem by letting you drag-and-drop the two estranged elements on top of one another where they’re combined in a happy reunion, maintaining a larger set of characters to use in the matching process. The result: my font, identified.

My choice in the future’s going to be WhatFontIs.com for sure.

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Posted in Google Analytics

Google Analytics Report Templates

The Analytics Solutions Gallery is an officially-hosted library for Google Analytics users to share templates for dashboards, custom reports, segments, goals and custom attribution models that they’ve designed to monitor their business performance. By design, only configuration data is shared in these templates, making it simple for people upload into the Solutions Gallery without risking disclosure of personal or business information.

Of course every business has its own unique needs, but a resource like this is definitely worth a look for ideas and starting points when setting up Google Analytics for your business. The filters in the left sidebar allow you to sort by template type, category, and star rating. You can also run a text-based search using keyword terms or other metadata (try ‘author:”The Google Analytics Team”‘) using the Search field at the top of the page.

Posted in Google Analytics

Google Analytics Dimensions & Metrics Reference

Not all combinations of dimensions and metrics make sense in a Google Analytics report. Choosing to show a hit-level metric alongside a session-level dimension in your custom or filtered reports isn’t something you’re restricted from doing, but in many cases the results in your report won’t make sense.

Worse, when you’re viewing the report, you may not even recognise a problem, as numbers that look like real numbers will still be displaying and updating.

Google Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinaush Kaushik’s blog post here explains the mess you can make of your reports by mismatching metrics from one level with dimensions from another.

The problem is, when you’re searching via the dropdown in the reporting interface, metric names alone aren’t always enough to tell you whether that ostensibly perfect metric you’re about to include in your report is a hit-, session-, or user-level metric.

Google Analytics is a complicated beast.

The Solution

The Dimensions & Metrics Reference is the official Google Analytics source for looking up valid combinations.

This page lists dimensions and metrics within categories like User, Session, Traffic Sources and so on (all the ones you see in the Dimension dropdown in the reporting interface). Check the one you’re interested in like so:

  1. Use the first set of radio buttons to choose between API mode or the UI Names mode. UI Names mode shows user-friendly versions of the names which is nice. API mode doesn’t show these but has a more immediately-understandable column-based UI. Choose your poison—probably the UI Names mode.
  2. Click the ‘+’ icon corresponding to a category to expand it.
    What you’ll see now is two lists. If you’re viewing in UI Names mode, one will be on top of the other. If you’re in API mode, the lists are alongside one another.
  3. Either way, the way to see what metrics can be used in valid combination with a dimension is to select the checkbox beside a Dimension. (Don’t click the word itself: doing so takes you through to a detailed view of the dimension in the API.)
    The Metrics that are valid in combination with this dimension will remain displayed in the corresponding Metrics list, while those that aren’t valid will be greyed out.
Posted in Stylin'

FlexBox Froggy

Something worth having a play with is this cute game shared with me yesterday by one of the other mentors I volunteer with at Coder Dojo, which gamifies the learning of FlexBox. None of my clients’ audiences have been narrow enough that using FlexBox has been a real option on anything I’ve developed at this point, but it’s worth taking a look at in preparation for when IE 8 and 9 are phased out on government and similarly slow-moving institutions’ computers, and FlexBox becomes the new way web layout is done

Keep an eye on the situation on caniuse.com for when that happens. And in the meantime, get familiar with it playing FlexBox Froggy!

Posted in WordPress

BuddyPress links going to the wrong places?

I scratched my head a little while this morning trying to troubleshoot the behaviour of some of my BuddyPress admin bar links.

Clicking the “Activity” link redirected me to a page showing the entire membership’s BuddyPress activity (the link itself appeared to point to the right URL, yet when clicked it went elsewhere). Then the default profile page was going to the site’s Support page. My username on the site I was fiddling with is “support”, so obviously something was going on with WordPress trying to predict the URLs.

And thus began my education in WordPress’s canonical URL redirects.

This is functionality that can be useful if you’ve just slightly mistyped a URL, because it’ll get you there in the end anyway.

But somewhere in WordPress, the memo seems to have gotten missed that BuddyPress’s URLs are all internally-generated and not needing correction.

The fix: (added to the functions file or as a plugin)

function my_redirect_canonical($redirect_url, $requested_url) {
 // If on a BuddyPress page, just go to the requested URL: no redirects!
 if ( bp_is_members_component() || bp_is_user() ) {
   return $requested_url;
 } else {
   return $redirect_url;
 }
}
add_filter('redirect_canonical', 'my_redirect_canonical', 10, 2);

I’d love to know what’s causing this, and if something’s been set up improperly or incompletely. This problem didn’t always exist on this site, no caching plugins are installed on it, no redirects are listed in the htaccess file…. My little Wednesday mystery! But working now, anyway. 🙂