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New Site: The Behind-the-Scenes Story, Part 1

Posted April 14th, 2008 at 12:58 AM by funrun
Updated April 14th, 2008 at 01:44 AM by funrun
As truth has graciously pointed out his front page Welcome blog, Xotli and myself put in a LOT of time and effort to make this site what it is now (even though it still has some work to be done.) I have created several "New Site" threads in Scapers Online if you would like to point out existing issues or new features. Those things are not the focus of this blog. This is my behind-the-scenes peek of what went into getting us to this point. . .

In early summer 2007, the Admins decided there were enough issues with the old site, and more importantly—enough money from Site Donations—to make a serious effort for overall site improvement. The more technically-orientated Admins searched for possible solutions for a unified page layout and log-in across all major areas of the site. This was a HUGE deal, as each area on the old site was a separate database, so to tie them together would require a database developer (Xotli, and part-time, Ketch) and a graphics/ front-end developer (that's me). After exploring and testing several bulletin board, community, and content management systems, we discovered not every one had abilities to add a calendar, blog, gallery, and downloads like we already had. After two weeks or so of research, we decided to purchase the rights to vBulletin and get hacking.

For a remotely vague idea of how far this design has come from the default vBulletin template, check out the styles and graphics used at the vBulletin site. That is what I started with. With hextr1p's help from the old front page graphic design, and Malechi's help for the post status (unread, active, locked,etc.) hex-shaped icons, I went about customizing the styles and templates. This is an ongoing task as these styles and templates are imbedded in thousands of lines of code and hundreds of form options that all interplay, relate, supersede, and inherit each other, and of course it's not really consistent how one option will affect another once the page loads. And I haven't even begun to discuss how all this ties into the known inconsistencies in how browsers display any given web page!

Part of setting up styles and templates included determining new navigation and features. This means I had to learn what all these new features did so that I could decide which options and settings would be best suited for our needs, I had to figure out which new features were similar to old features but just with different names and options, and how all of these features could be different for regular users versus Site Supporters versus Admins versus mods, and so on. Then I had to create test accounts for each and make sure everyone was seeing and able to do what they should be doing. This testing was never really completed.

With hearing about all of these available features, options, settings, user types, colors, codes, templates, styles, and variables interplaying, relating, inheriting, and overriding each other, is your head spinning yet?!

This blog is getting long already, and I haven't even mentioned any details, nor gotten past what I did in the first couple days of work!

Yeaaaaaah, to be continued. . .
Total Comments 4


whitestuff's Avatar
You seem quite bright for someone with only half a head

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the behind the scenes shenanigans
Posted April 14th, 2008 at 03:29 AM by whitestuff whitestuff is offline
Messenger's Avatar

Looks great, btw.

Seriously, I'm sure I speak for a lot of us when I say Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for all your work.
Posted April 14th, 2008 at 08:38 PM by Messenger Messenger is offline
Hex_Enduction_Hour's Avatar
For a remotely vague idea of how far this design has come from the default vBulletin template, check out the styles and graphics used at the vBulletin site
Yeah, that's quite a contrast.
I'm awed. The time and commitment is huge and I didn't realize how fine-tuned an individual site could be.
Big time props to you.
Posted April 18th, 2008 at 03:05 AM by Hex_Enduction_Hour Hex_Enduction_Hour is offline
Clarissimus's Avatar
and more importantly—enough money from Site Donations

Nice to know that we made a difference
Posted April 18th, 2008 at 04:23 PM by Clarissimus Clarissimus is offline

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