UESPWiki:Community Portal/Bread Crumb Trail

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2006-11

I just changed the bread crumb trails so that they appear on the top right of the screen on the same link as the title instead of on the top of the page. I also changed the ": " separators into " → " separators to take advantage of our UTF-8 character encoding. Let me know how you all like the changes. --Aristeo | Talk 02:45, 27 November 2006 (EST)

Strongly dislike. Please change it back. Here's why:
  • UI elements that navigate upwards should be in a consistent place. For standard monobook, that's on the topish leftish side of the page. Note that the backpage link of subpages use this same logic -- i.e., top left side of page.
  • Aside from that, putting the bread crumb on the same line as the page title is also inconsistent since, for section titles, that part of the line is reserved for the section [Edit] link. Again, UI wise, Edit is a "do something about this particular thing". I.e., it's for moving down the hieararchy. UI wise, "right == drill down" behavior reinforces the "left == go up" behavior. These little details are not accidents -- whoever originally desiged the monospace page layout would have intentionally used simple rules like this is in laying out the page elements.
  • The new location is harder to find. It doesn't stand out enough. The previous font and box worked much better. Again, not an accident. When I first created the bread crumb trail, I tried just about every combination of borders, line spacing, font, separator character that I could think of. In the end, the box stood out just enough to be useful: visually distinct from the rest of the page, easy to find and standing out as a navigational element, but without being too large or otherwise distracting from the rest of the page. Granted, there can be some personal judgement in such questions, but I haven't seen a lot (any?) complaints with difficulty in using the existing bread crumb layout. Which brings us to the "If it ain't broke..." objection...
  • Aside from that, it's a change from what people were used to, which in itself makes it harder to find for experienced users. Fundamental rule: Don't change established design elements unless it's a strong improvmement.
  • Arrow: I don't like that as much either. It's too wide and requires additional spacing. (vs. a colon, which requires no preceding space. Again, I tried several variations when first creating the bread crumb. Some sites (e.g., yahoo groups) use ">", but in my tests that seemed to work only if you added an extra space ahead of it and made the whole line bold -- which made the whole line standout too much.
  • PageName: Not necessary, since for the original crumb trail layout, the page name appeared right under the title.
--Wrye 16:36, 27 November 2006 (EST)
Additional Problem: For some pages with long hierarchies and page names, the same line text can overlap on narrower monitors/windows. And even where it does not overlap can look unattractively cluttered. E.g., Tes3Mod:ClearForceMoveJump. --Wrye 19:43, 27 November 2006 (EST)
The problem with the principle of the logic that you presented is that the pages on the wiki cannot be organized into a strict hierarchy. Our wiki, as with most other wikis, are organized into a more general directed acyclic graph. For example, Oblivion:Ingredients belongs to Oblivion:Items and Oblivion:Alchemy. Oblivion:Alchemy belongs to Oblivion:Skills and Oblivion:Magic. Et cetera. Pages that have only one parent are usually miscellaneous pages whose parent is Oblivion:Oblivion because they cannot go deeper into the categorization system. Of course, these trails only contain the link to the main Oblivion portal, which is a redundant and space-wasting link because the link is already found on the left-hand menu.
Wikipedia had a similar situation around late-2003 to the situation that I described about the breadcrumbs. They introduced the subpage feature to eliminate disambiguation and to create topic-based hierarchies of articles. Instead of browsing to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boat, you would browse to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology/Transportation/Vehicles/Boat. If there happened to be a music album from Prince entitled "Boat", then you could set up something like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entertainment/Music/Albums/Boat, which would effectively eliminate disambiguation. This system proved to be unworkable and eventually failed because subjects tend to belong in more than one hierarchy, as I described earlier. The current disambiguation system that we use (ex. Oblivion:Weynon Priory (quest) vs. Weynon Priory (place)) was eventually adopted, and in mid-2004 the categorization system was introduced which supported hierarchial setups while still allowing articles be in multiple categories.
So as you can see, breadcrumbs are ineffective because of the redundancy of one-tier trails and because of the erroneousness of multi-tier trails. The categorization system fixes this situation by allowing pages to have more than one category, and miscellaneous pages can have as broad of a category as necessary. One may argue that the breadcrumbs allow readers and editors to quickly navigate to the main parent (the mom?) of the article, but this only saves the user from making one click, if any, and the bulkiness of that is required to display this exiguous link is definitely not worth the cost.
My alteration to the bread crumb trails is a solution to temporarily satisfy both the advocates of removing breadcrumbs and the advocates of keeping them. Although not all of my issues were addressed, this elimated the bulkiness and interferrence that the breadcrumbs created without completely removing them. After reading over your concerns, I can't help but have the feeling that you're only against the change because of personal preferences, which are important, but they simply cannot be a guiding principle towards a large-scale change. --Aristeo | Talk 00:00, 28 November 2006 (EST)
Ignored Arguments: Arguments about recognized usability standards? My point that the new layout results in overlap for certain pages? Simply ignored! Or rather dismissed as "personal preference". Here's a thought, next time try answering the argument, rather than brushing it off as "personal preference."
However, backing up, you make clear that your real position is that we shouldn't have bread crumb trails at all. So apparently your reformatting is simply a way to brush them out of the way (eliminate them without completely removing them).
Absence of Pre-Discussion: Now you have some good arguments here, but the problem is that you made rather sweeping changes with no apparent community discussion! You refer to "advocates of removing breadcrumbs and the advocates of keeping them" - really? Where? I don't see any such discussion on this page, where it certainly should have been before such a sweeping change took place.
Page Hierarchy: So, engaging in that discussion... The question is to what degree can UESP be seen as hierarchical? Your argument is that UESP articles are directed acyclic graph. I.e., in less fancy terms, it's not hierarchical. However, while there is some truth in this, most articles in UESP are hierarchical to a fair degree. This truth is supported by the presence of link pages, which recognize that hierarchy. E.g., if I want to look over Morrowind Books, they're all in the same group. If I want to look over one of the Hlaalu quests, then it's under the hierarchy "Morrowind: Quests: Hlaalu".
Looking at the area I'm most familiar with... The Morrowind modding pages are deeply and clearly hierarchical, and are strongly helped by having a set of link pages and an obvious crumb trail. E.g., the scripting page referred to above. It is definitely useful to be within any page in the modding category and to go up one level. Nor is it "just one click" to reach such pages from the top level without the modding trail. E.g., from the Tes3Mod:Activate activate page... Going up one level with the crumb trail is one click. Compare that with reaching that page from the top level: 1) click on "Morrowind" in left navbar, 2) scroll down, find "Modding", 3) click on Modding, 4) scroll down, find "Alphabetical Function List", 5) click on "Alphabetical Function List". I.e., that's 5 control actions instead of one. It was precisely to eliminate this hassle that I added crumb trails.
There's the argument that this hierarchy could be handled with categories, but the problem with categories is that they only organize the information alphabetically. When the information is pretty clearly hierarchical, then a link page is better because it is better able to organize the information (e.g., Tes3Mod:Modding). Categories can be used to augment built link pages, but their lack of intelligent structure means that they are certainly not a replacement for them.
Note that UESP, while built on the same engine is not always comparable to Wikipedia -- our structure is more hierarchical than Wikipedia, and so while categories work well for Wikipedia, a more structured hierarchy works better for UESP. For an interesting comparison, see Wikibooks, e.g. a Haskell book chapter. Here, subpaging is used to express hierarchy. Wikipedia is good as guide for us, but it's simply not going to fit everything that we do. As wikibooks does, we should adopt our use of the software to fit our own needs, rather than follow Wikipedia usage slavishly. Hierarchically, UESP falls between Wikipedia (rather flat) and Wikibooks (strongly structured). Accordingly, our use of crumb trails and categories should be mixed -- strong hierarchy where it makes sense, but use of categories to expand that as necessary.
As for your items/alchemy example, there are a simple solution. If the page strongly belongs under both hierarchies, then use both in the crumb trail. That's long been done on the modding pages and it works well. E.g., script command pages clearly belong under Morrowind:Modding, but do they belong under Alphabetical scripting or Functional scripting? Both are useful... So we did both. Again see Tes3Mod:Activate. Or similarly, for some pages that belong under both modding and mod management Tes3Mod:GMST Contamination. We've been using this for a long time and it's both clear and useful.
Pages without hierarchy... Offhand, I don't know of any pages that fit into this category (at least not under any of the games), however theoretically it's possible. In which case, don't use a crumb trail. It's true that the top level index pages don't need a crumb trail (since you can use the left navbar), however for navigational continuity with their subpages, they seem to work better with the minimal trail present.
Recap:
  1. You introduced a fairly sweeping change with no apparent discussion. (Or at least not on this page or the admin noticeboard, which is where such sweeping changes should be discussed.)
  2. You failed to answer my original usability arguments.
  3. You introduced new arguments arguing against having crumb trails, to which I've just responded.
--Wrye 17:59, 28 November 2006 (EST)
I don't agree that it would have been in the best interest of the wiki to propose the idea before making the change. Like Nephele said below, I wouldn't have been able to adequately describe my proposal without actually making the change. Also, it would be very easy to revert the modifications to the individual breadcrumbs themselves if necessary, so I don't see any problems.
I also don't agree with the "left side navigates up and the right side navigates down" arguement at all. The left side of the page navigates all over the place, and the right side of the page only contains links to user related pages as well as the section edit pages. Perhaps someone could expand on this arguement a little better?
Wrye, I don't like how you are accusing me of a conspiracy. I feel like the site would be improved if we completely removed the breadcrumbs – does that mean that my change was some sort of first step in order to get them out of the way? No, I'm trying to create a compromise by using the consensus decision-making process to find the middle ground in which the largest amount of people can support a decision as possible. Also, you seem to imply that I should have responded to each one of your individual arguements, and that by not responding I was "ignoring them". You should respect that it is up to my discretion to respond as I see fit. I felt at that time it was counterproductive to reply to those comments because I did not have any sort of contributive statements to make.
About my personal preference comment, I was mainly referring to the bit about the arrows vs. colons. I made that change because the colons were not as noticeable with the reduced font. The only arguement I saw against them was that Wrye didn't like the arrows because they were wider that what he would have preferred and required an extra space. Since we don't have a shortage on spaces or on width, the only logical explanation I could find was that it was only his personal preference to have the ": " spacing. Or perhaps I don't grasp the reasoning behind his statement.
I implemented all of Daveh's suggestions, which in turn may have implemented a couple of Wrye's. In addition, I'm thinking about replacing the " → " with a template that will allow everyone to adjust the breadcrumb spacing based on their personal preferences. If anyone has any good suggestions on how else I can try to improve the breadcrumbs so that everyone can be happy, I'd love to hear them. --Aristeo | Talk 21:25, 29 November 2006 (EST)
After seeing for a few days I don't particularily like the current version. There are a few things that I can see as being improved:
  • No solid color background. Keep it transparent.
  • Preferably keep it floating above/below the horizontal rule from the title. The rule should continue to the right border of the page with the trail resting on/below it.
  • Smaller font like the previous trail format.
  • While I try to stay out of design discussion, I would still prefer discussion whenever anyone wishes to make this sort of change (unless there was and I missed it, either way I should have known about it). Trails are a significant part of the site navigation and I was surprised to see them 'disappear' from their previous location all of a sudden.
  • I'm not sure about whether right or left alignment is best. I like the previous left alignment but perhaps with the above changes a right alignment would look fine. If its on the left, though, you don't need to repeat the current page name which makes it shorter.
-- DaveH 18:53, 28 November 2006 (EST)
This change was brought up in IRC before being implemented, and I suggested that Aristeo should perhaps proceed to make the change and then ask for people's reaction to the change, primarily because it's always easier to comment on something that is visible, as opposed to commenting on an idea that you don't necessarily understand. Also, I was expecting that the only change to be implemented at this point was the change in location of the bread crumb trail, i.e., a single change that would be easy to modify (or even revert) based upon everyone's feedback. I do agree with Wrye's point that the primary forum for discussing changes should be on the wiki, rather than on IRC, so that everyone who is interested can participate in the discussion, but I don't know that that always means that no changes can be tested until everyone has discussed the idea. If a modification is easy to implement and easy to reverse, I think a viable option is to try out the change and then ask for reactions; that is how most actions tend to be implemented on the wiki.
I agree with the basic motivation behind this change, which is to try to make the bread crumb trail take up less space on the screen. I like the bread crumb trails, and use them frequently for navigation, for many of the reasons cited by Wrye. I don't think that categories are a replacement for bread crumb trails (in particular, the category links at the bottom of the page lead to unformatted lists of pages; I prefer to use the bread crumb trails that lead to the formatted wiki pages which have more information and provide that information in a logically sorted layout). However, the bread crumb trails were taking up a fair bit of space on the most important part of the page, namely the first few lines below the title. When working with a half-size browser window (which I frequently do when cutting and pasting from other windows), generally all that would show up when I first opened a page was the title and bread crumb trail. I think that the first few lines of the page are too valuable as real estate to be devoted solely to the bread crumb trail, especially if there are other options for where to place it. And I have heard comments from other visitors to the site that suggest that other readers feel the same way.
So the intention here was to keep the bread crumb trail still easily accessible at the top of the page, but move it up into "dead space" on the page, so that the rest of the page contents could move up and become more accessible.
As for the details of the change:
  • I agree with several of DaveH's suggestions, in particular transparent background and make the rule under the title extend to the right border.
  • I preferred the text on top of the line, rather than below the line. Moving it below the line takes away one of the primary advantages of the move, namely preventing the bread crumb trail from adding vertical space to the page.
  • I don't have too much of a preference in terms of font size. Smaller size reduces the problem of overlapping text, but does make it harder to notice and use the bread crumb trail.
  • I don't have too much of a preference in terms of the symbol used to separate the items in the trail.
  • I don't like having the name of the page added to the end of the trail. It is redundant information that is already available on the same line; it does not provide any type of navigational purpose. And it makes it much more likely that the bread crumb trail and the page title will overlap.
I'd like to see whether it is possible to make this change work by continuing to tweak the format, rather than just abandoning the entire idea. Of course, if even after trying to address the problems raised by Wrye there is a consensus that the change is unworkable, we should go back to the original layout. But first I think it's worth trying to put some more effort into this, and it would also be useful to get feedback from some more members of the community to see what everyone's impression is. --Nephele 22:31, 28 November 2006 (EST)

Quick note: People who beta tested the skin have non-transparent backgrounds on the trails. I fixed this problem for the majority of you. If you still see the non-transparent backgrounds on the trails, hard refresh a page on the wiki and make sure your local copy of monobook.css is blanked. Thanks! --Aristeo | Talk 23:48, 28 November 2006 (EST)

Personally, I'm with Wrye, i.e. I liked the previous crumb trails better. However, here's another idea: why not use a similar format and placement as for the subpage trails? Furhtermore, I think this change should have been discussed here, if not announced at least, and in the future I would try to introduce such changes in a sandbox page first for everyone to comment on. --DrPhoton 03:47, 29 November 2006 (EST)

Re the current below the line arrangement... Again, it should still be on the left for reasons given above. Theoretically, I wouldn't mind it being on the same line as the "The UESP..." blurb, but there's still an overlap problem with that arragement (again, see Tes3Mod:Activate). Simplest solution is to just toss the "The UESP..." blurb entirely. Do that and maybe synchronize font size with the subpage link. --Wrye 20:05, 29 November 2006 (EST)

I guess that would work. Personally, I'd hate to see the sub title go as we have had it for quite some time, but I have no practical arguement to keep it. --Aristeo | Talk 21:25, 29 November 2006 (EST)
Maybe that can go over the line to the left. --DrPhoton 03:57, 30 November 2006 (EST)
Nephele's point is that vertical space at the beginning of the article is valuable real estate on some monitors. If it goes over the line, then it uses up vertical space. If it goes on the line, then it overlaps the title text for some pages. If you put it on the title line, it would still overlap some page titles. And it's basically an advert for UESP -- but at this point, I think we can assume that users know they're on UESP. So, in other words, the benefit is not worth the cost to keep it at the top. Hmmm... Could be added to the page footer though.--Wrye 14:05, 30 November 2006 (EST)
Unfortunately, I don't think that under the line on the left works for the bread crumb trail. Even taking out the UESP banner, there is other text that appears in that location. In particular, I've noticed that when looking at the difference between two page versions, "Difference between revisions" is placed there, resulting in unattractive overlapping text. I think on the right side is overall the best choice. --Nephele 14:55, 30 November 2006 (EST)
I'm afraid it's not technically possible, at least not with my controls. Daveh might be able to do something, but I don't think trial and error with the code of the wiki is such a good idea. What I'll do is set the background color of the breadcrumbs to the same color as what it's sitting on, so that if they do overlap, the breadcrumbs will have precedence. Also, I have a couple questions I want to ask everyone:
  1. Should I remove the " → {{PAGENAME}}" section from the breadcrumbs?
  2. Should I replace the " → " section with a template that would allow us to mass change the separators more easily?
Thanks for the input, everyone! --Aristeo | Talk 17:32, 30 November 2006 (EST)

Moved from Community Portal. --Wrye 18:50, 8 December 2006 (EST)

2007-01

I was thinking about reverting the new layout of the breadcrumbs to the old layout, since there was no consensus to keep the breadcrumbs looking like they do now. However, the breadcrumb class is now being used for other things than just for breadcrumbs. For example, on the recent changes page, Nephele added some links to the page using the breadcrumb class. Reverting the breadcrumb class changes would mess these links up.

Therefore, I assume that most people either like the change in layout and that the change just took some getting used to, or are indifferent. Most likely a combination of the two. Just to make sure, I have opened this opportunity to discuss this for anyone who still opposes this. --Aristeo | Talk 12:17, 25 January 2007 (EST)

This probably should have been posted on the Bread crumb page, though I recognize there are arguments for posting it here. Anway, yes I think they should be reverted, though that may mean modifying Nephele's changes. If that's done and there are no objectsions, then the dispute is resolved, I think. If there's still debate over it, then discussion should be continued on the bread crumbs page -- when we have time -- which may be a while. I think that we're all busy with other projects.--Wrye 16:45, 25 January 2007 (EST)
I think most people are indifferent to a point where having a debate over this isn't worth anyone's time, which is good. Like you said, everyone is busy with other projects. --Aristeo | Talk 18:35, 25 January 2007 (EST)
I for one still prefer the new bread crumb style. I think it allows the bread crumbs to provide all the useful functionality (i.e., convenient navigation) without taking up a lot of valuable space at the top of the page. I think one factor limiting input to this discussion is that most editors don't know what the bread crumb trails are, let alone remember what they looked like before this change was implemented. So I've put together a demonstration of what a page looked like with the old-style breadcrumbs, at User:Nephele/Sandbox/3. I don't necessarily want to restart this debate, but I also don't want to see the changes reverted just because everyone assumes that nobody likes the new style.
As for the issue with the Recentchanges page, I don't really see it as a problem, and definitely should not have any bearing on the decision about the bread crumb style. It would be trivial to use a different style for the one line of text that I added to the Recentchanges page (and I think that's the only other page where I've made use of the breadcrumb style). --Nephele 15:42, 26 January 2007 (EST)
Ok, having looked at both now I much prefer the new style over the old, the old one just seems to take up space to me. Jadrax 18:28, 26 January 2007 (EST)
I wanted to see how many people support them, don't support them, or don't care. All of my assumptions have been false so far, so I'm glad I asked. ;) Right now there's no consensus, and I don't think there will be, so let's settle this dispute with a good ol' fashion plebiscite! I see one vote to revert the breadcrumbs back to the way they were and two votes to keep them the way they are.--Aristeo | Talk 19:48, 26 January 2007 (EST)


Outsetting The smaller text and arrows are fine with me. My main concerns are that it should: 1) be under the title line (otherwise, as I previously mentioned, there's a problem with with text collisions between the crumb trail and the title on some pages). Secondly, the crumb trail should be on the left side, not on the right -- the reason is that the crumb trail does pretty much the same thing as the "back" link does, and so the two control elements should be on the left side (for more reasons see the earlier comments). There was also discussion about getting rid of the "The UESP..." banner text which takes up precious space at the top of the page. I think that makes sense -- or it could be moved to the right side of the bread crumb trail line (and maybe the back page link line if that can be arranged). --Wrye 19:58, 26 January 2007 (EST)

I think Wrye has some good points, which should be addressed if possible. --Ratwar 20:03, 26 January 2007 (EST)

I think a vote should only be a last resort solution when trying to reach a consensus. And it seems to me like it should be possible in this case to find a solution that addresses everyone's concerns, instead of imposing the majority's preference. To address Wrye's comments:

  • Re: placing the bread crumb under the title line. I have no problems with that. I'm pretty sure that the only reason it's now appearing above the line is that the addition of a Sitenotice shifted the rest of the page down one line, while the bread crumb's vertical position is fixed. I'd suggest we need to make a decision about whether or not we want to use the Sitenotice feature, and then figure out the appropriate vertical position for the bread crumbs, so that they are positioned below the line.
  • Re: placing on the left. Placing the bread crumb trail where the tagline ("The UESPWiki...") currently is located works for me. That leaves the question of whether we want the tagline and, if so, where to place it. I have no particular preference in terms of keeping or deleting it. If we'd like to keep it, moving the tagline to the right margin should be pretty easy (for my own reference: the css id "siteSub" controls the tagline format). By "back page link line", I take it Wrye means, for example, the line that says "< Oblivion:Anga" on the page Oblivion:Anga/Description. With the current location of that back-link line, I don't see that it has to be moved (i.e., it wouldn't necessarily collide with a bread crumb trail placed on the left side of the page), but I don't have any objections to experimenting with its location (css id: "contentSub" or class "subpages").
  • Arrows vs colons as the separator: as long as there's enough horizontal space in whichever location we choose, I'm OK with either. If we do opt to change the separator again, I would just like to suggest that we create a template, so that any future experiments only require a single change instead of 50 changes.

So, does anyone have any objections to moving the bread crumb to the position currently occupied by the tagline? Or any feedback on what to do with the sitenotice, tagline, or subpage back link? Hmmm... why does it seem like we may have solved one problem but created three new ones? :) --Nephele 03:07, 27 January 2007 (EST)

It seems moving the breadcrumb trail under the line, then swapping it's position with the Tagline would solve everyones concerns? Jadrax 06:56, 27 January 2007 (EST)
I removed the site notice, which seems to have an effect. --Aristeo | Talk 07:37, 27 January 2007 (EST)
When you said that you didn't think that restarting this discussion would work, I was under the impression that you didn't feel like the consensus process would work in this situation. I'm glad you changed your mind. As for the breadcrumbs, I'm fine with all of these suggestions. :) --Aristeo | Talk 07:37, 27 January 2007 (EST)

2009-04

With some reluctance, I'm reopening this ancient and never-quite-resolved discussion. Reluctance because I'm proposing reorganization of a relatively minor part of our article layout -- in the process changing what readers have come to expect, and requiring a non-trivial amount of work -- just to fix some problems that most readers have probably never noticed.

First, to summarize what previously happened (given that nearly everyone reading this missed rounds one and two):

  • Breadcrumb trails are the little blurb of text that currently is found near the top right of nearly every page on the site. On this page, it's the string of text reading "UESPWiki: Community Portal: Archives", providing links to various "parents" of this article. The name comes from the concept of dropping bread crumbs to find your way back to where you came from -- our bread crumb trails are to provide links back to the articles that may have led you here.
  • Breadcrumbs weren't always in their current format. In late 2006, a series of changes were made to their layout. Much of the preceding discussion is about the details of when, why, and how previous changes were done.
  • The current layout wasn't really the layout selected at the end of the discussion -- it ended becoming the de facto standard mainly because we (or perhaps just I) had run out of steam. Furthermore, the remaining problems were relatively minor, while also being somewhat trickier to properly fix.

My primary motivation for reopening this discussion now, more than two years later, is that it seems likely that in the near future we're going to be reworking the countless Bread Crumb Trail Templates that are currently used to generate the bread crumb trails. There are some new tools (e.g., the NS TRAIL variable) that will simplify the templates. Furthermore, the current system of 200+ templates is ridiculously over-complex, in my opinion -- we shouldn't need more than a couple templates to do this task. However, before we start any major revisions of the bread crumb trails, I think we should first consider how we want the bread crumb trails to work, because it seems likely that an optimal layout for the trails will need a different approach.

The problems that I see with the current layout include:

  • Placing the text at the left side of the page would make more sense, for various reasons discussed above (in exchange the tag line, i.e., "The UESPWiki – Your source for The Elder Scrolls since 1995", could be moved from the left side to the right, which was also discussed above).
  • The breadcrumb trails are redundant with any subpage links. For example, at the top of this page, we don't need both the subpage link (on the left of the page) to UESPWiki:Community Portal given the bread crumb trail on the right of the page. Moving the bread crumb trail to the left of the page will just make the redundancy even more painfully obvious. On the other hand, that's also one reason why the bread crumb trail should be moved: all of these navigational links should be in the same place, instead of confusing readers by sometimes putting the "page up" link on the left of the page, and sometimes putting it on the right of the page.
  • The box displaying the bread crumb trail is poorly behaved. Its position is fixed, which means that it does not necessarily appear where it's supposed to, namely right below the horizontal line. Its layout is unrelated to the surrounding text so it's easy for overlaps (or collisions) of text to occur. The previous rounds of rearrangements tried to a find an "empty" area where overlaps were less likely, but nevertheless overlaps are still possible.
    • The current way of adding the bread crumb trail text to the page makes it impossible to truly fix this problem. The code adding the trail has to somehow retroactively insert the text so the text appears higher up on the page than the code. The current solution doesn't truly move the text; it just creates a somewhat-fragile illusion that it's been moved.
    • However, there are other ways of adding the bread crumb trail that would allow the text to really be moved to the correct location on the page. Specifically, through parser functions (e.g., tags like {{#addtrail}}) and other PHP coding tricks it's possible to directly manipulate any part of an article's HTML code.

What I'd like to propose is essentially inserting the bread crumb trail into the position on the page where the subpage link normally appears. The following screenshots hopefully demonstrate what I'm proposing:

Demo-Bcrumb-current.png

  • As it would appear after this change:

Demo-Bcrumb-new.png

Demo-Bcrumb-new b.png

One detail that is not obvious from static screenshots is that the new bread crumb trails are well-behaved. You can resize the window to be insanely narrow; you can change the font size; you can insert site notices, etc. -- and the bread crumb trails never overlap with the adjacent text. Instead, the layout rearranges as necessary (wrapping the text onto multiple lines, or putting the tagline and trail on separate lines, etc.).

On pages that don't normally have a subpage link, one would be created in order to display the bread crumb trail links. On pages that have a subpage link but no bread crumb trail, the subpage link would still appear. The above screenshots demonstrate one obscure detail of the implementation: the "(Redirected from... )" blurb will end up appearing above the bread crumb trail/subpage link instead of below it. You really don't want to know why (the details get pretty ugly), but basically to make this work, the breadcrumb trail has to be the last line, i.e., the one that appears immediately before the real page content.

The second part of the proposal is how the template coding would be done. Since the only way to make this work is through PHP functions, the template coding needs to be significantly different from what we've done in the past. I've set up three new parser functions that can be used to construct the bread crumb trail:

  • #inittrail would be the basic tag used on most pages. For example, {{#inittrail:Places|Cities & Towns}} would be the tag on Bal Oyra. It automatically figures out the namespace (or "|ns=TR3" could be added to the tag to manually set the namespace), inserts NS_TRAIL to start the trail, then appends any arguments, converting them into links if necessary.
  • #addtotrail can be used to add more arguments to a previously initialized trail. For example, {{#inittrail:Places}}{{#addtotrail:Cities & Towns}} would be another way to set up Bal Oyra. An option with #addtotrail is to specify the separator, e.g. the trail on Oblivion:Scrolls could be constructed using {{#inittrail:Items}}{{#addtotrail:Magic|separator=/}}. Multiple #addtotrail tags can be used to build up an arbitrarily long trail, using any desired combination of separators.
  • #settrail can be used to bypass all the fancy stuff and just provide the complete string to be used for a trail. In particular, if there's some reason why NS_TRAIL shouldn't be used, #settrail can be used instead of #inittrail. #addtotrail can, again, be used to append more links to the trail.

These tags could appear anywhere on the article (for example, #inittrail could appear in a summary template, then #addtotrail could appear in the main article and add an extra link relevant for that specific article), adding a lot of flexibility to how trails can be constructed.

So, is this tweaking worth all the trouble? Or perhaps the real question is: is everyone so used to the current bread crumb layout that we're willing to keep it as the permanent layout? I'd suggest that if there are any concerns with the bread crumb layout, this is probably a good time to discuss those concerns, before we start any template revamping -- even if those concerns are unrelated to my proposals or are aggravated by my proposals. --NepheleTalk 05:28, 29 April 2009 (EDT)

Well first, the new layout is definitely better so absolutely no argument from me there and I also like the new tags for generating them. This new way of doing the trails makes me want to bring up something that's been on my mind for a while: we ought to have a better link between the trails and the categories. The trail on the Oblivion:Scrolls page is, to my mind, wrong. Scrolls are items; they are not, of themselves, magic. That description belongs to the effects that the scrolls generate. It's worth mentioning that Shivering:Scrolls and Morrowind:Scrolls don't have this divide. Trails should, I feel, be more of a straightforward path. Then we have the categories. I've never really understood how these were constructed. Oblivion-Armor should be Oblivion-Items-Armor, for instance. If trails and categories can be made to resemble each other, it would make generating both much easier.
I know this isn't directly related to the new layout, but since we're talking about the trails in general I thought it was a good time to mention it. –RpehTCE 13:00, 29 April 2009 (EDT)
In fact, a wholesale review of the categories should be done given confusion like this. –RpehTCE 14:36, 29 April 2009 (EDT)
Now I've opened Pandora's box ;)
I agree that we probably also need to think about our category organization, because there are various inconsistencies. However, I'm finding it hard to come up with any general ideas about what we should be doing differently. It seems to me that more of the issues are individual ones that need to be decided on a case-by-case basis, rather than there being a need to overhaul the entire system from top to bottom. It probably doesn't help that I'm not entirely sure about the specific examples you've provided.
With Oblivion:Scrolls, for example, I don't agree that the current trail is wrong. Scrolls are items, but they also appear in your character's magic menus, alongside all the spells that your character can cast, because they are used the same way as spells. Scrolls are listed on the Oblivion:Magic page, and are listed on every individual effect page under availability. Someone reading the page seems as likely to be interested in finding out about other available forms of magic (and therefore to use the Magic link in the trail) as they are to be interested in other items in their inventory. If readers are likely to use the link, I don't think it should be removed just to streamline the trail.
As for armor and weapon categories, I'm ambivalent. Armor and weapons are more important than most of the other item types. Furthermore, armor and weapons are subdivided into numerous sub-categories, so changing Oblivion-Armor to Oblivion-Items-Armor also means that Oblivion-Armor-Cuirasses_Heavy needs to be changed to Oblivion-Items-Armor-Cuirasses_Heavy, along with a bunch of other subcategories. Therefore, it doesn't seem unreasonable to give armor and weapons different treatment. On the other hand, I can see how it's inconsistent and I can see how having everything treated the same way could make the organization less confusing.
--NepheleTalk 23:41, 1 May 2009 (EDT)
While I personally don't have a major problem with using Oblivion-Items-Armor instead of Oblivion-Armor, how would the Blades armor Captain Renualt and Glenroy wear be classified is it static or an item? (Yes I know that this is a relatively minor issue but I thought it best to bring it up before these changes go into to effect.)
Well it's standard armor, just not playable. That would put it into Items-Armor or Armor.
In general I'd say the categories should follow the CS. Armor goes inside Items so that's what the category should be. At the moment it's confusing: Oblivion-Items-Artifacts is a member of Oblivion-Items, but so is Oblivion-Weapons. We have Oblivion-Books but Oblivion-Items-Scrolls, and Oblivion-Jewelry but Oblivion-Items-Valuables. I really think all item categories should follow a similar naming convention.
Having said that, let's leave categories alone for now, as there's more than enough to be going on with elsewhere. I take the point with breadcrumb trails, but again we need to get some consistency. I've already pointed out that Oblivion:Scrolls is unique in terms of its trail compared to other scroll pages; the same problem crops up with other pages too. There may be some cases where a difference between games needs to be reflected through different trails, but in most cases we should make an effort to have some consistency. –RpehTCE 05:19, 18 May 2009 (EDT)

The new trail subroutines are now available and on display on the Arena pages. Documentation of the subroutines has been added to UESPWiki:UespCustomCode.

For now, I've just implemented them on Arena pages as a relatively low-profile set of test pages (i.e., unlikely to be noticed immediately by most of the site's readers). There are several things about the implementation that are temporary.

  • I haven't moved the tag line yet. My thought is that moving the tag line should be saved until the very last step, after all of the site's pages have been converted over to the new trail format. Moving the tag line before that will just create an ugly mess in the upper right corner, and it's a simple one-step change to move it once we're ready (it's just a change to the site's CSS).
  • I'm still using the pre-existing trail templates. That's just to minimize the number of edits necessary to implement the change, and make it easy to revert if there's a sudden negative reaction to the new format. Long term, however, templates such as Template:Arena Trail and Template:Arena Items Trail should be completely unnecessary. We just need to do a global (bot-enabled) replace of {{Arena Trail}} with {{Trail}} and {{Arena Items Trail}} with {{Trail|Items}}.

However, before moving forward to those stages I'd like to, first, see if there's any feedback/suggestions and, second, make sure there aren't any unanticipated problems. --NepheleTalk 01:36, 1 June 2009 (EDT)

I still like the idea and I'm looking forward to the hundreds of Trail templates becoming redundant. One slight problem: the Template:Arena Quests Trail is now causing broken links on quest pages like Escape From Prison because Arena:Main Quest is used instead of Arena:Quests. I was going to just move that page, but there's a question of terminology given that there is also the Arena:Random Quests page and it was going to require more thought than I can spare right now. –RpehTCE 08:16, 2 June 2009 (EDT)
Yep, I hadn't noticed that -- although I'm guessing this process will reveal many more such subtle inconsistencies ;) I opted to create an Arena:Quests page, not that it really contains any useful information. --NepheleTalk 13:20, 2 June 2009 (EDT)