New site

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brettz9
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New site

Postby brettz9 » Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:48 pm

Hi all,

I made an announcement at viewtopic.php?t=1438 about the update just made this last day or so to the code of the site (not to this forum, but the main part of the site, starting at http://bahai-library.com ).

It'd be nice to hear how the new site is working for you. Please let us know if you notice any difference in the speed at which the pages are loading, if there is anything confusing to you about the new interface or if you have additional suggestions, or if you like the new features, etc. Any feedback would be appreciated. This version makes more behind-the-scenes improvements, so you should not see so much of a difference besides a couple of new features. But being new, there can of course be bugs, etc., which we'd like to get ironed out.

best wishes,
Brett

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:52 am

C'mon folks, is it too much to ask for one line of feedback on the new site? ;)

Even, "I don't notice much different" would be fine (and would in some ways be a relief since it would mean new problems are not cropping up)... Again, this is not for the forum but for the main site's pages...

thanks and best wishes,
Brett

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:53 am

I didn't really notice anything different...

Jonah
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Postby Jonah » Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:07 am

I'm as guilty as anyone, Brett, I hadn't looked through it yet either.

Let me fill in some backstory. For over a year Brett has been working on a thorough upgrading of the PHP scripts which power the Baha'i Library website, but we hadn't "gone live" with his new site yet, mostly because of my delays. Last weekend I upgraded the server, largely so we could make use of the latest software to power Brett's new version of the site. Things went wrong during the server upgrade, and my old version of bahai-library.com went offline unexpectedly, so I asked Brett if, even with no advance warning, his version was ready to go. It was, he made the switch, and the problems were solved!

I take it as a very positive indicator that no-one has noticed much different. That's exactly as it should be at this stage -- with the notable caveat that his version works!

The next step is for me, as site designer, to make use of Brett's brand-new templating system and restructure much of the site's interface and utilities (e.g. new search features).

Let me pose a question: what new features would you like? What would make the site more usable for you? Do other sites that you use a lot, from Wikipedia to Google to whatever, have features that you think could be useful for the Baha'i Library?

Thanks, -Jonah

FruccalFrilia
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Postby FruccalFrilia » Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:25 am

My apologies, Brett. Thank you very much for the site renovations. I did notice some problems a few days back. Some pages werent working right and instead directed me back to the home page, but that problem is gone. And it actually seems faster.(could be me though, Ive accessed this site on different computers)

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Mon Dec 11, 2006 3:48 am

Hi all,

Thanks for your quick response! I do appreciate it, really...

Argos, I'm glad to hear it seems faster. Actually, it well could be (I hope). Since some of the changes I made normally can slow down things, Jonah persisted through some sleepless nights (literally) to get things working with a system that should speed up the whole site. Also, for the main page, unless you're visiting an interface/content language combination that hasn't been viewed at least one time yet, our code is caching the results of these pages, so that should speed things up on that page. Once we get some time, we should be able to cache some other pages (or parts of some other pages) too, but we have to be careful with this or otherwise the site won't show new changes, or will show content to the wrong people.

BW, while I listed all the features in the thread I referenced at the beginning of this thread, the only new features the average user should notice are:

1) A navigation bar at the top of each page (with links to author search and language search (files which Jonah had already basically coded but had not been integrated into the rest of the site, so these are probably new to you too)) and "breadcrumbs" (on the top left hand side of each page besides the main page) which show you where you are in the site's hierarchy. These improvements should hopefully help out everybody to get around quickly to where they want, but they are also part of the guidelines for making websites more accessible for those with visual disabilities. We still have some way to go with this.

2) The prompt at the main page for you to set your interface language and then the ability for you to narrow down which collections you see on the main page (and subsequently) by your language. For example, you could read the directions to the site in Spanish, but see only those collections which contained Russian content (like if you were just curious).

Most of the rest of the changes are behind the scenes and should speed up development, designing, or translating.

As far as Jonah's comments about my working on the project for a year, while that is true in a sense, I've only worked 1-2 months or so on updating his code. I tried to stick to his original design as much as possible, while for the most part I just made some security (and a couple very small bug) fixes, and separated the programming code from the appearance code (so that Jonah or any other designer can have an easier time altering the appearance or underlying code, respectively).

I also did some things to make the code more adapable by others, since we were planning to release the newer version as open source (I guess we still will if Jonah wants to double-check the code first?) and hopefully make the underlying software available for other library administrators (not necessarily sites relating to the Faith) to use. Open source, besides rendering a service for those who might like to download the code for themselves, might also help out our own site, as others might eventually make contributions back to the code pool (especially if we use a license like GNU GPL--as used at Wikipedia, to compel anyone redistributing our code to likewise share the code they added).

The rest of the time was on my Text Browser project which I hope to integrate with the rest of the site in the future as a "power user" option.

While I plan to add search features during the latter process, if you're doing it anyways Jonah, I think for the short term the ability to search for text by collection and/or author ideally too (more like BRL, Ocean, Archive, etc.) would be most useful--especially with the Central Figures being explicit ready-made options. I'm currently using Firefox keyword shortcuts to do this in a sense, but it is crude (since it only works on the old site) and I haven't integrated the functionality into the public graphical interface (mostly because I want to work on the grand-daddy of search tools for the future version and don't want to get distracted with an albeit useful shorter-term solution). <grin>

Oh, and a technical note for Jonah: if you do go ahead with templating changes, please remember to use XHTML since we're using that now! :) (Since we're using XHTML 1.1, that also prohibits use of <a name="">'s which should instead be an id (which can't only be a number) on any element (e.g., <div id="p5">.) Also, for forms, we should use "label" and "fieldset" tags (for accessibility) and have no blanks in select menus, and we should avoid any stylistic tags like <b> in favor of CSS (which also should ideally be put into doc_raw's so that the styles can be shuffled off into an external stylesheet). Even the CSS I have in style attributes should be moved into doc_raws with the XHTML tag just being given a class or id to reference it. That is easy to do since we can put the doc_raws anywhere including within any subtemplate.

best wishes,
Brett

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Mon Dec 11, 2006 3:58 am

Oh, one addendum to my technical note to Jonah:

If you want to go with open source (and this would also help us avoid overwriting each other's updates), let's go with the Subversion versioning system, as its supposed to be pretty much all-around better than CVS. I see with a Google search that there are some "Subversion Mac GUI" (I've tried TortoiseSVN which is Windows-only but it very easy to learn and use--I can let you know if I find a good Mac GUI before you do).

Jonah
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Postby Jonah » Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:17 am

Brett, you've lost me. :-) I've got some catch-up to do. Yes, let's get the security up to par, and then we can go open-source.

-Jonah

FruccalFrilia
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Postby FruccalFrilia » Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:49 am

Also thank you to Jonah. This site has been a spiritual lifeline to information on a wide range of topics.

Irish
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Postby Irish » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:08 pm

I haven't experienced any problems with it, and it does seem faster.


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