Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Website Design

1st Generation
In 1997 I decided to write a webpage for my local club Wrexham and District Wargames Club. In those days I knew nothing about writing webpages and used a WYSIWYG editor. It was a simple site with a link to a few rules I had written.

2nd Generation
Soon it began to grow and I added further rulesets. I then learnt about frames so my site had the index down the left side and the main page on the right. I know began to learn to edit my site using a text editor so I could code it manually.

3rd Generation
The site was getting a bit too heavy to edit all the html pages. I know had to have different pages for each era. I wanted a database but my ISP did not support it. A solution then was to save the rulesets as a database on my computer using Microsoft Access. I only updated the site once a month as the next process was very laborious. I exported the database into DBF format and used another piece of software to generate the HTML pages from that.

4th Generation
I found a lovely website called Tiddlywiki. This made an entire website into a single HTML page. The site had a fresh new look and the updates were a breeze to do. Now I could do updates on an almost daily basis. However, as the site has continued to grow so has the size of the single webpage. It's now over 600k. This slows it down when people visit it if they don;t have broadband. I recently changed to a webhost that supports version 4.01 of PHP so now the time is ripe to migrate to a PHP server.

5th Generation
Several days of hunting around has taken place trying to find wikis or content management systems that work on PHP 4.1. Most of them require version 5. However, I think I've found what I'm looking for in pmwiki. I uploaded the templates to my site and within 24 hours I have a working beta.

I have done this migration thing twice with big consequences from html to access in the 3rd Generation took a long time and I only had several hundred rules to do then. When I created the 4th Generation site I had 1,000 entries to convert. This time it's even bigger and I daren't count how many entries will need to be converted.

Will the site migrate to the new version? I don't know yet. But take a look at it and tell me what you think, over the next couple of weeks I will convert more content to see if it is viable.

Freewargamesrules 5th Generation Beta.

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