Cleaning House – Site Changes, Upgrades and Plans

DefaultComments Off on Cleaning House – Site Changes, Upgrades and PlansPosted on June 3, 2006 by:
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I’ve been wanting to update/upgrade my site/blog and infrastructure for some time now, but client work and a million other items always seem to take priorities. This entry will serve as a reminder to me on what I want to accomplish and how to go about it. Now that I have a newborn, I’m learning that having 3-4 hours of uninterrupted development time is simply a luxury I won’t have for some time, and that at most I’ll have maybe and hour or so at a stretch before I need to attend to something. So, I’ve decided to take a staged approach to my personal projects including this site overhaul, tackling small pieces one at a time, and then perhaps a refactor at the end to glue some dangly bits together.This approach might not work for all types of projects, but for my own personal site, it should work out fine. My site has always been a conglomeration of found things, useful bits, and odds and ends jammed together with some badly coded HTML, which eventually evolved into a blog when the word/term hit the tipping point of acceptance. Except for one point in time when it was all Flash, it has never really had good consistent design, or utilized full standards – all completely opposite of what I try to accomplish, preach and deliver to clients, so its always been somewhat embarrassing to me, I just never seem to have time to focus on it, its like the old story of the cobbler who can’t put shoes on his kids feet or the optician with the blind son. It’s also somewhat of a pain to update on the backend, so one of my goals is to make it easier for me to update and make posts. This latest iteration is mainly driven from a highly customized build of an old/outdated version of Pivot. The latest version is almost at a stable release, and I plan to implement it to take full advantage of XHTML and CSS, which should make my job a lot easier. Posting entries with the latest version of Pivot is great, and it supports a lot of standards that weren’t around just a few years ago. As part of my staged approach, I have updated a couple small things while I’m waiting for Pivot 1.30 to hit full stable release status. Here are the few updates I’ve made in the past day or so:

  1. Changed banner ad code so that regular visitors will not see Google ads or certain other types of advertisements, only visitors that have been referred to my site from another link or search engine will see the majority of those banners. There will still be a few, but the most intrusive ones will no longer be visible to regular visitors as a courtesy
  2. Added a section listing all my archives at one easy to use URL. I’m doing this as I plan on also listing lots of individual articles or files that aren’t necessarily in blog entries, and are scattered around my server in over 2 gigs of loose files and folders. This page should make them more accessible. This will also allow me to use some collapse and expand JavaScript code on the DIV’s for the long listings of links and archives in the side navigation of the site, while still remaining visible to search engines.
  3. I’ve added a Links/Resources page with tons of Flash links, blogs, resources, etc. Its not complete yet, as I’m going to add a ton of info for mobile devices, and some other technologies, as well as an automatic inclusion of my bookmarks, etc. Right now it includes an automatic inclusion of all the blogs/sites that the MXNa aggregator aggregates, as well as FullasaGoog, others to come soon. I had a private page on my server that contained most of this info, so now its time to share. This page has lots of content, so I’m also utilizing a collapse/expand JavaScript code to allow more content to fit on the page.
  4. Updated my favorite links/friends/Flash blogs in my blogroll in the right-side navigation. This has been out of date for way too long now and many of the links were broken or directed to spam search engines. I finally automated it and made it easy to edit. I still need to go back and finalize the entries, but now I can do so quicker and with less effort.
  5. I’ve updated my 404 page to be more informative. It’s not complete yet, but it will eventually make some intelligent recommendations on pages that might be close to the URL you typed, using PHP’s metaphone and soundex functions to interpolate out and automatically determine a list of items that might be close to what you were trying to find. Right now its at least offering up a more intelligent error message and a listing of popular resources/links/articles on my site.
  6. Updated my Amazon store area to automatically default to Flash 8 related books and resources
  7. Added one-click bookmarking links for individual articles.
  8. Put in place a temporary new type treatment at the top – was playing around with filters in Flash 8 and went a little nuts. I know its really bad, but at least its new. I really need to focus on the design aspects of the site, but functionality is going to be my first area of concern in this staged approach, at least for the short term.
  9. Updated CSS – I’ve already adjusted some of the A colors for links, hover, visited to be a little easier on the eyes, especially in IE on a PC, but like I said, design wise, I’ve got a long way to go. Once I move to the latest version of Pivot, everything will be in XHTML and CSS, so this will be much easier to accomplish. Right now things are in tables, and hacks abound everywhere. My goal is to have a fully validating XHTML compliant code perfect site, like what I provide for clients

That covers the current minor changes. Got a few more in store, but the big changes wont really be happening until I get the next version of Pivot up and running. I already have a version of it working locally with all the old entries moved over, but I don’t want to deploy it yet till its considered fully stable.
One of my main goals over the next few iterations is to divide my site into two distinct entities, which may end up at entirely separate URL’s eventually. The schism will result in a personal site for posting anything I want and to allow me to focus on other areas of interest besides Flash, and my professional site for clients and items only pertaining to work and my services. Its been a long time coming, and I need it more now than ever. The other side effect of this, is that it will allow me to post more Flash related news at my revamped Philadelphia Flash Platform Adobe User Group Site which is also moving over to Pivot the moment it hits full stable release status. More to come soon…


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