Archive for January, 2006

Recent changes to Carsurvey.org and related sites

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

In the last year, the following significant changes have been made:

  • The code has been changed to output pages as XHTML 1.0 Transitional. Unfortunately this doesn’t currently include the members area, which is still HTML circa 1997
  • Almost all the layout of the site is now done using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), rather than lots of nested HTML tables and font tags. This means that the pages have a significantly smaller file size (should download faster), and should render more consistently
  • The site has been moved to a new dual processor Xeon server with 2Gb of ram and a mirrored disk array. This server is also running a much more up to date software than the previous server (a 1.7GHz Pentium 4)
  • The current site has been tested on Linux (Firefox), Windows XP (Internet Explorer 5, 5.5, and 6.0, and Firefox), and Mac OS X (Safari, Camino, Firefox, and Opera). I can’t promise that things are perfect, but hopefully there are no major issues with recent versions of major browsers (please let me know if you spot any problems). Previously the site was only really tested with Mozilla on Linux, and Internet Explorer 6.0 and Firefox on Windows
  • The breadcrumbs navigation has been moved out of the cramped search box, to the top of the page. This gives it more space and is more consistent with standard practice
  • A tabbed menubar has been added to the top right of each page to allow navigation between my various sites. Making this work across browsers using only CSS was rather tricky, but I’m very happy with the results
  • A “New Reviews by Type” menu was added to the New Reviews page. This allows for some fairly simple filtering of new reviews, but is only updated once a day
  • There’s been lots of work to make finding comments much easier. “New Comments” boxes appear on many pages, and the main lists of reviews now show the number of comments for each review
  • The “Reviews by Region” link has moved to the top menubar, where it should have always been
  • There’s also been lots of small changes that are too numerous to mention – database optimisations and clean ups, anti-spamming code, code refactoring etc

CSDO Media web sites – some background

Monday, January 16th, 2006

To date, all changes to Carsurvey.org and related sites have been done unannounced. I’m planning to use this site to let regular visitors know about changes I’ve made, rather than just letting people find out for themselves.

So this all makes sense, it’s helpful to know that the car, motorcycle, mobile phone, and wine sites all run off the same set of code. Certain options are only enabled for particular sites (such as the Members area), but in general, new features and changes are released for those four sites simultaneously.

The airline flights site runs a different set of code for historical reasons. So unfortunately its development rather lags behind the other sites.

First Post

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

OK, after years of procrastination, I’ve finally got round to creating a blog.

I’m planning to use the blog to document any significant changes to my web sites, and also to express my opinion on anything that’s caught my eye.