While looking through older versions of OpenBooks (thanks to the time machine I added to the home page), I noticed something. A lot of older versions of this site look a lot better than the current one. There's more polish on some of them, even if the style isn't to my taste anymore. Some standouts being the 3.X releases, because I picked a design and stuck to it.
Even 8.0 looks a lot better - If I remember, when making it, I was inspired by / copying Windows Live's old design. Silver/gray blues, and a hint of gloss. Somewhere, that got lost. I think at one point, I was designing a new home page, but it was never finished. That unfinished state was pretty ugly - and a lot of things just don't look right. You can see it in TimeWarp as OpenBooks 8.4. Looks kinda weird, doesn't it? I'm leaving that version in the Time Machine because it's what OpenBooks looked like before I started touching it again in 2021, so it's sort of 'pure' in a way. But god, is it ugly.
I've made some tweaks, and already changed a lot of the home page by removing the unfinished image map and replacing it with a metro-ui inspired design, but the base color scheme and backgrounds still aren't very pleasing to me.
To combat this, I've started by testing new styles on the Personal Pages section of the site - you're looking at it now. I think this looks a lot better. This design is a drop-in replacement for the current stylesheet, so I can pretty easily turn it on for the entire site. As of right now, I'm still not happy with the home page. It's... better, but it's still sending confusing signals. I have a few ideas in mind, but in order to implement them, I need to re-build the entire page. That's going to be a pretty lengthy process, but I don't want to upload it until it's done. For now, the other pages will also use the new style, and the home page will use a modified version of the old CSS in order to blend in better with the rest of the site, without the need to rebuild it entirely yet.
The new home page will likely be part of a new major version for OpenBooks, which I plan to refocus mainly on being a place with 1. Neocities Search, which, I'm probably the only person who uses it, 2. Useful links to sites on and off Neocities (replacing the current Directory), and 3. Personal pages - and probably not just my own. The personal pages will be the largest focus of the new site.
This new update, since it will include a major rewrite of the home page and other system pages, such as news, update history, etc, will likely be called OpenBooks 9. I just like numbering schemes. There is no scheduled release date or ETA for these, and I just work on OpenBooks in my spare time, and want to make sure everything is right before sharing it. I've started using the new CSS on all pages to make sure I have a drop-in replacement for the current CSS so all pages don't have to be re-written immediately, saving time. Eventually, the system pages will get re-written to match the future OpenBooks 9 site design, as there are a lot of under the hoot changes I want to make, such as mobile compatibility. I've actually done this before, which you can see on OpenBooks 8.4 , where some pages are wider than others, but the overall style is consistent. OpenBooks 4 still had some pages designed in the 2.x and 3.x days, but updated to look slightly more in line with 4.x's design. The 8.x updates did a better job of this by comparison, and the non-rewritten pages in OpenBooks 9 shouldn't look any more out of place.
This turned out to be a much longer update than I intended. I'm glad Neocities' community is still around, and I'm looking forward to making a site with a more clear focus instead of whatever OpenBooks has been trying to be since... well, just look at version 5 on the TimeWarp.