- I appreciate the rousing essay about eggs on the homepage, but I still don’t want to write my blog posts in HTML. Do I *really* have to do that to use Zonelets?
- Can I use a custom domain name?
- Can I use Zonelets without Neocities?
- How can I keep my Zonelets data backed up and avoid data loss on Neocities?
- I already have a Neocities site, and I’m not on the Supporter Plan so I can't make multiple sites. Can I use Zonelets but also keep my existing content?
- Can I use Neocities without Zonelets?
- Can I tag posts on Zonelets so that readers can search by tag?
- What are these weird things in the files? //, /* */, <!-- -->...
- Can I draft posts privately before publishing them on Neocities?
- What is "favicon.png" in the image folder?
- My images load slowly and/or are bigger than a megabyte (mb), what do I do?
- How much can I change the appearance of my Zonelets-based blog?
- How can I make my blog accessible?
- My site looks different on different platforms and web browsers! What gives??
- I've heard about "responsive design" and "mobile-versions" of sites. Sounds scary! Is this stuff really complicated?
- How do I make my blog post title have apostrophes, quotes, or other special characters?
- How can I streamline my Zonelets workflow?
- You have a comment section on some pages of this site. Can I have a comment section too?
- Can my Zonelet have an RSS feed?
- Can I add a shopping cart, image gallery, or other interactive feature to my Zonelet?
- My question isn't answered here!
I appreciate the rousing essay about eggs on the homepage, but I still don’t want to write my blog posts in HTML. Do I *really* have to do that to use Zonelets?
I think it's kinda fun to blog in HTML, but I understand if you don't agree! It can become difficult to read if you insert all the HTML tags as you go, and if you do it all at the end it can feel like an extra layer of busywork. There are a lot of different options, I would say that the simplest is using an online HTML editor. The top two search results that I find are HTML-Online.com and HTML5-Editor.net. Both sites are free, ad-supported editors that allow you to use a word-processor style workflow. Both also have a "Clean" button that will attempt to cleanly convert formatted text copied in from other programs like Word or Google Docs.
Can I use a custom domain name?
If you host your Zonelet on Neocities (the recommended beginner method), it will live at yourusername.neocities.org. If you want to use a custom domain on Neocities, you must become a supporter ($5/month as of 2020-11-09). I am a supporter, and that's how this site is zonelets.net instead of evenkei.neocities.org. You also have to purchase domain names to use them! You should be able to find one for ~$10-15/year.
Can I use Zonelets without Neocities?
Yes, the Zonelets code can easily be hosted anywhere! You'll have to get your own web hosting and domain name, e.g. with a service like Nearly Free Speech or find some other method of web hosting. The benefits of Neocities to a beginner workflow are astounding, but more advanced users may find it to hinder more than help. The file explorer interface, in particular has a lot of quirks and limitations.
How can I keep my Zonelets data backed up and avoid data loss on Neocities?
When you go to edit a file, occasionally Neocities will accidentally load an old version of that file. If you save that file, then your newer changes will get overwritten! In general, no technology is fully safe from data corruption: books get water damage, tapes unspool, and computers malfunction. So it's good to keep backups of your work! Advanced computer users will likely already have methods for backing up their important files, but here are some tips for the beginner Neocities workflow:
I already have a Neocities site, and I’m not on the Supporter Plan so I can't make multiple sites. Can I use Zonelets but also keep my existing content?
Yes! Just be careful not to overwrite your files with the Zonelets files! Put all of the Zonelets files in a folder (subdirectory) called "blog" or something. Then, if you link to "blog" from your home page, it'll open up your Zonelet! (Be sure you have Zonelets version 1.1 or newer!)
Can I use Neocities without Zonelets?
Huh? Why are you asking *me* this? Of course you can! If you just want to tinker with simple web pages and not a blog, then you don't need Zonelets. What Zonelets adds to Neocities is the ability to have a consistent header and footer that you can easily update across a bunch of different pages, as well as using the array of all your posts to automatically generate the recent posts links, the archive of all your posts, and the next/previous post buttons. You could do all of this manually in HTML (inconvenient) or write your own solution (not-beginner-friendly).
Can I tag posts on Zonelets so that readers can search by tag?
No, not by default! I wanted to keep the Zonelets base code as simple and solid as possible, so I decided not to try implementing tagging. It should be possible, though: developers will note that each post in the post array is actually also an array, so there is room for post metadata.
Say you wanted to blog consistently about 2 very different topics. I'd suggest creating multiple blogs, each with their own script, post list, and theme to suit the mood. Making multiple blogs will be simplest if you become a Neocities Supporter, but you can also do it within a single site!
What are these weird things in the files? //, /* */, <!-- -->...
Can I draft posts privately before publishing them on Neocities?
If you make a new file on Neocities, it will technically be instantly public. People who are browsing Neocities or who follow your blog may come across your posts-in-progress, even if you have not yet added them to the postsArray. If you want to draft privately, you must use an external text editor or HTML editor. For additional flexibility and convenience, you may also access your Neocities site as a drive on your computer if you have a Supporter Plan.
In general, don't upload any file of any kind to Neocities that you do not want publicly available!
What is "favicon.png" in the image folder?
A favicon is the little icon that shows up on the browser tab, and it makes it much easier to tell what site you're on. Feel free to leave the default Zonelets logo favicon, or make your own! Simply upload another square image named favicon.png to this folder.
My images load slowly and/or are bigger than a megabyte (mb), what do I do?
This is the part where you'll have to put in a bit of legwork. Images that you take on your phone or that you find online might be pretty large, hi-quality files. That's great if you want to get them printed and framed, but it's bad if you want your webpages to load quickly, be friendly to your readers' data plans, and not fill up your free Neocities storage space! Sites like Facebook or Twitter automatically run compression algorithms when you upload photos to them, and that's one of the only advantages they have over Zonelets ;) ...So what are your options?
- Resize your images with image-editing software. The default Zonelets content area is 630px wide, so it's a waste for your images to be any larger than that, as they will just be scaled down.
- There are some automatic image compressors online like TinyPNG
- You'll notice that most of the images on Twitter are less than a few hundred kilobytes. You could post images to Twitter to use their compression algorithm, download the resulting files, and then delete the tweets, hehehe... This is the digital equivalent of getting your friends with office jobs to print copies of your zine (lol idk).
How much can I change the appearance of my Zonelets-based blog?
The sky's the limit! My pre-made themes are just very simple examples. It's tons of fun to tinker around with this stuff, doing lots of web searches to figure out what you can do and how to do it! Follow your heart and learn what you need about HTML and CSS to make your Zonelet totally unique!
How can I make my blog accessible?
One simple way is by using alt text for images (you should also be doing this on social media sites, by the way!). Here's more info on images and accessibility! In general, try to have good contrast between text and backgrounds. The developer tools in some browsers will let you know if your text has poor contrast with the background! Search for more info online and please let me know if this site has accessibility issues. Thanks!
My site looks different on different platforms and web browsers! What gives??
There are many different computers with different fonts installed running different versions of different browsers. As a web designer, you may set up various workarounds and fallbacks to try and get things to look exactly right in as many circumstances as possible. But also remember that the Zonelets ethos is scrappy, anti-perfectionist, and anti-capitalist! And ultimately, all web designers must make peace with a certain degree of inevitable variance. As long as it's not totally broken for a large chunk of people then you're probably fine!
I've heard about "responsive design" and "mobile-versions" of sites. Sounds scary! Is this stuff really complicated?
It can be, if your page has a complicated layout. But with simple pages like Zonelets it's actually very easy, almost automatic! There are only 2 little bits of code related to responsive design involved in a default Zonelets page. You'll run into them if you read the comments in the example files. It's good to test things as you're making new themes, but in general, your Zonelet will look great across all devices with very little effort!
How do I make my blog post title have apostrophes, quotes, or other special characters?
You may have noticed that Zonelets generates post titles directly from the filenames, and filenames can only use A-Z, 0-9, -, and _. To use special characters, you'll just need to add a second value when adding your new post to postArray in script.js, separated by a comma. Place the name with special characters inside an encodeURI() function. It's a bit difficult to explain concisely so there is a video tutorial below:
How can I streamline my Zonelets workflow?
I suggest adding web browser bookmarks to your posts folder and scripts so that you don't have to keep navigating back and forth through different folders. Also, I've noticed that it can be a pain to update the title of a blog post in the filename, because you need to change the text both in the filename and in the script. Luckily, we can simply use the same process as we do to overwrit the post titles with a special characters title. If the new name doesn't include special characters, you can even omit the "encodeURI" function.
You have a comment section on some pages of this site. Can I have a comment section too?
Yes! I am using Disqus for comments. Disqus has paid plans, but I also found this note on their site: "For personal blogs, .edu sites, nonprofits, and small sites that do not run other advertising, Disqus advertising is optional. If you are a small, non-commercial site, you can self identify for a free subscription to our Plus plan." I emailed Disqus and they set me up with their Plus plan for free!
To implement, you just paste a block of HTML from Disqus into your Zonelets pages where you want the comments to go. Then you can moderate comments, etc from your Disqus account.
Can my Zonelet have an RSS feed?
Sort of. Neocities offers a very basic RSS feed that notifies followers when your site is updated. It doesn't have a blog-style feed where you can read the contents of posts from RSS feed-readers, and I haven't implemented a way to generate that easily. You can also encourage people to make their own Neocities accounts to follow your site.
Can I add a shopping cart, image gallery, or other interactive feature to my Zonelet?
Features like these won't be at all "automatic" unless you find other services to plug in like Disqus for comments. Technically you can add anything to a Zonelet (particularly if it's self-hosted, as Neocities has some technological restrctions). But the core idea of Zonelets is simple blogging, so this may not be the system for you if you want a site focused on other functionality.
My question isn't answered here!
Feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org