A colleague introduced me to Active Server Pages (ASP) and the idea of storing web page information within a database rather than on a static web page. I started Urmston.net purely as a means of learning how to code using ASP. The fact that people started using the site was a huge bonus because it gave me the incentive to continue to improve the site by building new web applications using Dreamweaver. Years later, my skills had developed to a point where I was able to get a job working on a corporate intranet based purely on the skills that I had learnt in my spare time.
Shortly after starting the ASP.net version of the new site I realised that it would be a huge project - because I had to redesign the site, create the pages, re-create the applications and learn to program ASP.net. The other issue at the time was the fact that my hosting company hadn't updated to the .Net 2.0 platform so some of the pages that I was creating in ASP.net 2.0 were not working on the live server when tested. At this point I was undecided which way to go. In the end, other commitments took priority and the project stalled.
In April 2009 I upgraded to the new version of Dreamweaver and realised that ASP was still very popular and well supported that I decided to stay start work on a new site design in ASP.
The following is an account of of the changes that have been made to the site since March 2009. The log is in descending order so you might prefer to read from the bottom up.
8th June 2014 - I need to move Urmston.net onto a newer Windows 2008 server. However, Fasthosts - my hosting company, has introduced new security measures on their Windows 2008 servers so it's not just a case of copying and pasting; I need to update much of the code. I've now done this and I'm going through a process of testing. I also need to update all the contact forms because I can no longer use my form to e-mail script on the Windows 2008 servers; I need to use a custom script provided by Fasthosts for security reasons.
Once I have fully tested everything I'll work out a process for migrating to a new server and look to do this within the next month or so. There may be a bit of downtime but it shouldn't be much.
The plan of action is to move Urmston.net to my other Fasthosts hosting account. Then I will look to recreate one of my other websites using my SharePoint 2013 account. That will free up a website space on my other hosting account so I'll then look to build a test website using Drupal. All being well, next year I'll look to completely rebuild Urmston.net using Drupal.
6th April 2014 - I'm on for another busy year this year. We're going to be moving onto SharePoint 2013 this year at work so I'm going to have to spend time getting to grips with it. I can't see how I'm going to get the time to revamp Urmston.net this year bearing in mind that I have to build everything from scratch so I'm thinking of using Drupal to build the next version of Urmston.net. Drupal is a popular PHP-based open source content management system that allows for unlimited customisation. As I'm a ASP coder and both ASP and PHP are scripting languages, it shouldn't be too difficult to switch. The advantage being that I will be able to use plugins for the gallery etc and adapt them to suit my own needs. The plan for this year then is to first create a test site in SharePoint 2013 so that I can play with customising SharePoint - which I'll probably do over Easter, and at some point I'll start working on a Drupal site just to get to grips with it with the aim of building a new Urmston.net site next year. In the meantime I'll probably have to do some maintenance on Urmston.net as it is so I'll endeavour to spend an evening a week on that. I'm still religiously going out on the hills at the weekend - which I really enjoy but it takes up one of my days.
11th September 2013 - I've fixed an issue with the Classified Ads that prevented the item details being displayed.
18th July 2013 - I've had to remove the twitter plugin that I purchased the other month because Twitter have recently performed a major update and as a result the plugin has stopped working. I'll add it back once an update has been released.
The year has just flown by as I've been so busy at work. This is the first week that I've had off this year and I've been testing the migration of Urmston.net to a different server. It's not as straightforward as I thought it would be I'll be moving to a newer server and they've restricted/changes certain things and I'll have to adapt the website. It might be easier to rebuilt it.
8th January 2013 - I've spent a few days over Christmas working on the site but you won't notice any changes as I've been working behind the scenes. My main focus at the moment is getting the site ready to migrate to a new server so I did a test migration over Christmas - copied all the pages and files to a new server and of course there were numerous errors. So I had to go through each one and write a procedures on how to fix. Most of them are caused by hard-coded paths so I've been changing these as I go. I'll probably do another test migration at the weekend and it should be a lot better this time. Eventually I'll be able to do the migration and apply the fixes and be up and running on the new server fairly quickly.
I've also been working on some of the databases and I purchased Navicat for MS SQL - I already have Navicat for MY SQL. It makes life a bit easier. And now that MS SQL hosting prices have bombed, my intention is to store all data in MS SQL databases. It was only a few years ago that they wanted £20 a month for a single MS SQL database but now they give them away as part of the hosting package. It's all good fun!
13th November 2012 - I've been getting fed-up with my hosting company (Fasthosts) for a while now so I've been looking around and trying some different options. I've finally settled on CWCS and I'm hoping to have Urmston.net migrated to the new server by the new year. One of the advantages of the new account is that I can host up to four full websites in one account. This means that I can duplicate Urmston.net and run it under a different domain temporarily while I migrate the Urmston.net domain name to CWCS - which can take up to three days. Then once the domain name is back up and running, I can use the duplicate account as a development site. And I can move my other websites into the account.
I normally go out on the hills for the best part of a day over the weekend but we gave it a miss this week so I worked on the Business Directory. I've got a day off today too so I've just added a validation to the Classified Ads section to stop members from entering the item in all lowercase. Last week I finally managed to fix the Gallery upload issue, which was a bit of a pain and was caused by my hosting company.
Over the next six weeks then I'll be preparing the site for migration to the new server - making sure that all the scripts work correctly etc, and I'll probably migrate over Christmas.
26th August 2012 - I opened a new multiple hosting account yesterday so that I can start work on a new version of Urmston.net. I tend to learn as I go. A few years ago, when there was no membership option I thought that having a membership was the answer to everything but it's not. Some things are ideally suited for a membership, allowing members to post live to the forum, allowing members to maintain their own database of items for sale etc. But some people just want to make a one-off submission to the site and I've come to the conclusion that they shouldn't have to become a member to do this.
13th May 2012 - On the first of this month I deleted all member accounts that had not accepted cookies - about 1800 accounts. Fair enough, a number of members either forgot or were unaware that they needed to accept cookies and have asked to be reinstated, but this suggests to me that many accounts were created to either have a look around, to submit a single post or to advertise on the Classified Ads section. In light of this, I've decided that my need to prevent members from registering with a web-based e-mail address has now become an essential requirement. However, I also recognise that I need a better system for dealing with one-off posts so I'm going to open the Classified Ads section to members and non-members alike; as this will reduce the need for some people to create a membership just to advertise an item. I'm also pondering the idea of opening the forum up again to non-members.
I have said on many occasions that I would never open the forum to non-members again but I'm thinking now that it should be possible if I adapt my filtering application. It took me a while to develop but this application is currently in place on the enquiries form to filter out unwanted enquires. I've tested and tweaked it exhaustively and I'm really pleased with it - the overwhelming majority of genuine enquiries make it through the filters; which use regular expressions to weed out undesirable enquiries based on many factors. There's no reason why I can't adapt them to filter forum posts from non-members. This, combined with my ability to block IP addresses, should filter out most of the unwanted posts from non-members.
What we're looking at is members losing the ability to register with a web-based e-mail address but being allowed to post live. And non-members who will post as "Guest" but will not need to register or even submit an e-mail address with their post.
Like I say, I'm pondering the idea.
1st April 2012 - I've added the option to tag new topics with related keywords and have updated the search engine to search these keywords as well as the topic title. I have also updated my admin pages so that I can now tag existing topics with keywords.
22nd March 2012 - I've now converted the member's "Contact the webmaster" enquiry form to a database.
20th March 2012 - I've converted the external enquiry form into a database application. Previously, when someone submitted this form it generated an e-mail that was sent to me. I had to make sure that I kept deleting these e-mails after responding because, as a data controller, I should not be storing personal data on my own computer. I have changed it so that now the enquiry sits in a database and I respond by typing into a form which then generates a one way e-mail. I have also introduced a reference number for each enquiry. I will convert the member's enquiry form this week. The added advantage of this system is that I can answer e-mail enquiries while on the train or during lunch.
I've started to benefit from working compressed hours. Getting an extra day off every two weeks is making a difference to my productivity.
10th March 2012 - The Q and A section that appears before the external contact form has now been merged with the one that appears before the members contact form.
19th February 2012 - I added the functionality to accept a cookie to the member homepage and created a banner to promote the fact that all members need to have accepted the Urmston.net cookies by the end of April. Once I've had a good clean-up of old accounts in May, I'm thinking about preventing users of web-based e-mail addresses from creating accounts.
4th January 2012 - Happy New Year all. 2011 was a particularly busy year for me at work. I've been supporting and managing SharePoint at work for many years but in January 2011 I started developing applications for SharePoint. What can I say, I enjoy my work and ultimately it impacts on the amount of spare time that I have at home. Add to this the fact that I also started up hill walking again in Jan 2011, which means that one of my weekend days (well, most of it) is spent on the hills. I look forward to it though and we managed to get out on the hills for 45 of the 52 weekends last year.
Coming forward to 2012 and I'm still busy at work, I'll still be doing work stuff in my spare time and I'm still hill walking. On the plus side though I'm hoping to be able to work compressed hours at work. Basically I figured out that, for the past five years or so, I have been working far more hours than I am contractually required to work. Furthermore, I realised that if I do a few more hours per week I can apply to work compressed hours and get a day off every two weeks - 24 days a year, by working compressed hours. I basically work my contractual hours for ten days over nine days so I get the tenth day off. It does affect my annual leave slightly but it's well worth it. So I'll be applying for this during the course of this month. The idea is to use the extra days to work on the website.
One of the first things that I need to do to fulfil my obligations as a data controller is to obtain consent from all members to accept the Urmston.net cookies. I'll implement this fairly quickly, it'll probably take the form of a tick box that appears on your member's homepage accompanied by a consent statement... 'I do not object to Urmston.net cookies being stored on my computer'. Once you've ticked the box the message will disappear. Of course members can still choose to delete the cookie when they end their browsing sessions, as I do with many websites, and some members already do this; preferring instead to login each time. However, the process of logging in still generates a session cookie which is why all members will have to agree to accept Urmston.net cookies if they want to retain their account.
1st August 2011 - July was a bit of a wash-out, I was just too busy at work and doing work at home. On top of that, the job that I was doing on temporary promotion was advertised, so I had to spend a fair amount of spare time working on my application. I got the job but I'm still swamped at work but hopefully things will start to return to normal soon.
8th June 2011 - By the end of this month I'll be in a position to start working on the site.
27th March 2011 - I've made a few security changes this week but most members won't notice any change. Fasthosts have updated my account so I now have access to 10 more MYSQL databases and I'm keen to migrate the MS SQL database content to the MySQL databases so that I can switch my account to a reseller account and host more than one website.
I have other websites that I'm paying for separately and I want a permanent development website for Urmston.net so that I can make changes online without affecting the current site. The best way for me to do this is to switch to a reseller account but by doing so, I will no longer have the two MS SQL databases that are included with my current Fasthosts account.
I've not done much work on the site so far this year but I still plan to spend at least a week making changes. I think my priority will be to convert the Times gone by pages into a forum. What I might do then is incorporate the Times gone by forum into the main forum and use a tagging feature to distinguish between the different types of topic. For example, general topics, topics the enquire about local services and Times gone by topics. For the local services topics I can then easily put a system in place so that users with web-based e-mail addresses cannot post to local services topics. This will make me a lot happier as for me, ensuring that the forum doesn't become a free for all for people to register multiple accounts just to promote their business is essential. If it were just about me getting hits on the site then I wouldn't care but as I've said before, if it's a choice between 10 validated posts a week or a 100 free for all posts then I'll always opt for the former.
4th January 2011 - Happy New Year to all my members and visitors. 2010 was a busy year for me which meant that I wasn't able to work on the site as much as I wanted to. The reason for this was partly due to the fact that I built another totally unrelated website so now I have two sites to manage. Hopefully this year will be better and I've already earmarked at least one week of my annual leave for updating Urmston.net. Ideally I want to devote at least one evening a week for doing updates, particularly now that I'm back hill walking regularly each Saturday - which wipes out most of the day. I'm also waiting for my ISP - Fasthosts, to update my account as apparently they're including 10 MySQL databases when they do the upgrade and I actually prefer using MySQL to MSSQL and it's a lot cheaper. So hopefully you'll be seeing updates to existing features and new features being added soon.
21th August 2010 - I can't believe that we're in August already. I'm busy with other things at the moment so I'll probably reach a point later this year where I'll spend three or four months or so working on the site.
20th June 2010 - I've made some changes to the validations on the Local Events. Initially I wanted to set a limit of one week for any single event but while doing this I noticed that one of the other validations wasn't working correctly so I fixed that too!
5th June 2010 - I've increase the countdown for the Classified Ads so that items will now remain live for a month instead of seven days. Renewing an item will also now renew it for one month.
9th May 2010 - I've been working on a completely different website over the past few months and I've completed this now. My plan is to spend the rest of the year making changes to Urmston.net. I'll finish off the property section this month. Then I really need to have a look at the Times Gone by section and this will probably be my main project for this year. I also need to update the Business Directory and there are many small changes that I need to make. For example, I might re-think the entire left panel so that it provides more information - at the moment it only shows events and a photo. Basically lots to do.
21st February 2010 - I've not done anything on Urmston.net recently and the property section is as I left it last month, but it's nearly finished and I'm really pleased with the multiple image upload. I've been really busy at work since the start of the year as we had a project deadline to meet. We've achieved that now, we launched a SharePoint version of our corporate intranet and have migrated a chunk of the key information from static HTML pages into SharePoint. I'm technical lead on the migration so virtually every aspect of the migration involves me. Besides being busy at work, I'm currently building another website which I've been planning for a while. It's nearly finished now so once that's live the rest of the year will be focused on Urmston.net.
12th January 2010 - As a security measure new members will not be able to contact other members until they have been a member themselves for three days.
2nd and 3rd January 2010 - I've had a really busy weekend working on the upload part of the property section. Nearly there now.
23rd December 09 - I've been really busy at work this month; I'm working on a project to migrate our static HTML based corporate intranet on to a SharePoint platform. We've reached the stage now where we need to start migrating the data so things are pretty busy. As a result, I've not been able to spend much time working on the site. The property section hasn't advanced any further but I want to finish it over the Christmas period. I need to sort out the Gallery first though but this is only a minor issue. I've actually re-built the Gallery upload pages using Pure ASP upload 3 and Smart Image Processor 2 but I just didn't get around to implementing it on the live site. So hopefully it should just be a matter of checking everything and putting the files live. The Gallery upload pages will then be compatible with all popular browsers.
I'm thinking about creating an RSS feed for the events so that anyone can view the events on their browser without having to visit the site. I'm also thinking of adding RSS feeds from the popular newspapers into the members homepage. For the Christmas period though, I want to get the Property section up and running and I'm going to extend the Classified Ads section so that items have a one month countdown instead of one week.
It's been nearly five months now since I added membership functionality to Urmston.net and I'm really pleased with the way things have gone. I could have done things better though; I should have had the option for members to choose their own encrypted passwords, and to post to the site without being logged in from the start. The biggest difference by far however is that I have almost eliminated unwanted posts to the forum - which makes my life so much easier. It is clear to me too that some people wish to use the forum for no other reason than to promote their business and it's a lot harder to do this now. So far I have suspended three members for contravening the rules.
18th November 09 - I've not done much over the past few weeks as I've been working on another website. I did make a start on the Urmston.net property section though the other week. I'm making use of Pure ASP upload 3 and Smart Image Processor 2 which I purchased earlier in the year. This excellent upload software has a Flash - multi-upload to database feature which basically allows the user to browse for and select multiple images on their drive and it will upload all the images automatically and write the filenames to a database. The property section should be up and running for the new year.
3rd October 09 - I've been working on an application for work this week to allow our global intranet authors to upload a photo and obtain an optimised main image and thumbnail. I've added a few extra features so that they can select the size of the image and thumb, and also choose to square up the thumbnail by having it entered and cropped.
There are a few things that I need to look at on Urmston.net this month. The forum is stored on an MySQL database and compared to the MSSQL database it seems a bit sluggish. I have a Windows hosting account and as such, the MSSQL databases are optimised and they're virtually instant. So I'm going to migrate the forum posts from MySQL to the MSSQL this month.
Having members posting live is great. I have created a page where I can preview and amend the last 20 posts so I can keep an eye on what has been posted. I would like to thank those members who are posting live as they are obviously making an effort to ensure that their posts are formatted correctly. Some members do not bother to check their posts though, and if I want to let these members post live, it means that I will have to spend time adding more validations to the preview page and perhaps make the validations compulsory.
I am much more in favour now of having the majority of members posting live so I will revert back to the idea that I had last year and allow trusted members to temporarily remove a live post and suspend the go-live status of that account until it has been moderated. So I need to redesign the forum slightly.
I also need to switch all the rich text editors over to the new one and update the Gallery upload form.
23rd September 09 - I've allowed some members to post live. I will continue to review this process as I get to know the members.
13th September 09 - I purchased a new rich text editor; which is the one that I was going to buy before opting to buy the Cute Editor because it had a spell checker. In practice though the spell checker is clunky and, what I didn't realise at the time, any new words that you add to the spell checker are stored within the Urmston.net cookie. But if you log out as a member the cookie is destroyed and so are the new words that you added.
This new rich text editor (RTE) is a Dreamweaver extension so it's easier to use for starters. I was a bit unsure about how responsive it would be but it loads almost instantly so I'm really happy with that. There's no spell checker but there's no need for a spell checker as both Internet Explorer and Firefox have spell check abilities. I'll continue testing this RTE for a few weeks on the forum before installing it site wide.
9th September 09 - The personal encrypted passwords feature is now live. I've used the same RC4 encryption as the pin number but your personal password will have to be at least six characters. This pretty much concludes the changes required to make life easier for all members. So now a member can select their own password, they can have a pin too, and If they do not wish to login they can post to the forum using their pin number.
I will now concentrate on allowing some members to post live. This functionality is already available but at the moment I am the only person who can post live. However, I want to give "post live" members the option not to post live should they wish to post comments which may be controversial. That's easy enough. I am also aware that some "post live" members will be using shared computers so I want to give them the option of being able to enter their pin number before posting. This feature will be enabled from the member homepage. It's just an added bit of security to prevent someone else from posting dodgy comments on behalf of a member.
I'll make these changes over the weekend and some members should be able to post live at some point next week. I may buy an alternative rich text editor this weekend as the one I have is licensed for use on Urmston.net only and I have a few other projects on the go. The trouble with rich text editors is that they can be really clunky in operation and I'm not overly impressed with the CuteEditor considering it's supposed to be a market leader.
Once members can post live, my next project is to create the database-driven contact form so that I don't have to store member's e-mail addresses on my PC. I'm in the mood for creating new features at the moment though so I may build the property section and an online dating feature this month too! I am aware that I have some older features that need to be brought up to date but I've spent many hours modifying the site recently and I think I'm due a bit of fun.
8th September 09 - I didn't get much done this weekend as my dad's hard drive packed in so we had to reinstall everything. It makes you realise the importance of keeping backups. I've been working on the encrypted passwords tonight and it's almost done. I just need to do a bit of testing and then I can put it live.
23rd August 09 - I finished off the Classified Ads section this morning and put it live. I also started work on an alternative means for members to post to the forum without being logged in. It'll be handy for those who cannot accept cookies, who are on a shared computer, or who can't be bothered logging in. I've created a pin number column on the members database and each member will be able to choose their own pin number as it will be encrypted. I'll then create a redirect on the forum Reply button and if you have an active Urmston.net cookie it will continue as normal, if you don't, it will take you to a verification page where you can post to the forum by entering just your username and your pin number. It's going to almost the same as posting to the old site except you'll have to be a member. All posts submitted this way will be moderated.
22nd August 09 - I was in the mood to do something different today so I decided to build the Classified Ads section, which wasn't really a priority but I decided to do it anyway for a bit of fun. I think it works quite well and I have to admit, it's so much better when you're building for members. Each advert will expire after seven days unless it is updated but updating it easily done. Seven days may be a bit low, let's see how it goes. I want to avoid the situation where items are still being advertise a week after they were sold because the advert wasn't removed.
16th August 09 - I eventually got the Smart Image Processor 2 to work so I will be implementing it over the weekend. This will make it easier to upload images to the gallery and it also means that I will be ready to build the new Classified Ads next month.
1. When posting live it will be a final check to validate that it is definitely the member who is submitting the post. If the pin number is entered incorrectly or if it is missing, then the post will still be submitted but it will be a moderated post and will need to be authorised by me. This is also handy for a member who can post live if they want to post something which might be controversial. By omitting the pin number the post will be moderated instead of going live immediately. Which also means that I can allow more members to post live.
2. Those members who are on shared PCs or who cannot accept cookies will be able to post to a topic without being logged in by entering their registered e-mail address and pin number. All these posts will be moderated and you will have to be a member.
For the majority of members, posting to the live site will still be a pretty painless procedure. Your cookie will keep you logged in for twelve months so you don't need to remember your password, and all you need to do is enter your pin number when you submit the post. If you forget it then your post will be moderated instead of going live immediately. And if you are a member and you cannot be bothered logging in then you will still be able to post to the forum. I might start working on this next week.
12th August 09 - I finally received confirmation today that my data protection registration has completed. So I need to get cracking on an online contact form so that I don't have to store Member's e-mails on my PC. This was identified as part of the data protection audit that I performed.
I'm struggling to get Smart Image Processor 2 to work on Urmston.net. It works well on my local server and on my other Fasthosts account but it just won't activate on the Urmston.net server. The images upload but the thumbnail creator doesn't work. It's nice when it works though and uploads images a lot faster than the current system. I'll get it sorted out.
Last night I had a play and adapted an RC4 encryption script to work with registration/login test pages. So what you have is a text box containing the phrase to be encrypted and a text box for the encryption key as per this example. The idea is that the first party encrypts the phrase using a key word then gives that key to the second party who can then decrypt the phrase. The point being, that you need the key to be able to decrypt the phrase. What I did was combine the phrase box and the key box into just one "Password" box. This means that your password is the phrase that is encrypted using an encryption key consisting of... your password. In other words, the only way to decrypt the password is to know the password.
I adapted the script and applied it to a test registration form. The Username: Dave and encrypted password %0D%BCcO%C6%A9%25 were added to the database when I registered and I then adapted the script to work with a test login form. I used to test login form to log in by entering the normal credentials, it encrypted the password and then queried the database to compare the username input with the username field on the database, and the encrypted password input with the encrypted password field. If successful I logged in, if not I was refused. So basically I can now create encrypted passwords but it means that I will have to create a password reset system rather than the existing password recovery system because if you forget your password there's nothing I can do because it's encrypted. You will have to do a password reset instead as many of the big companies do these days.
RC4 encryption is pretty old compared to today's encryption standards and apparently some people have managed to crack it. But as every single password will have its own unique key, every single password would have to be cracked separately and I can't realistically see anyone bothering to do that for Urmston.net. The main benefit for me is that I will not be able to see your passwords on the database as I can at the moment, which is why everyone is using system generated passwords.
08th August 09 - I've had a busy week. Lot's of enquiries to deal with and at the moment we're nearly at 200 members. During the week I made changes to the login procedure so that now, once a member successfully logs in and a cookie is created, the session is terminated. All member only activities are now authenticated by cookie rather than an active session. This should drastically reduce the number of sessions active on the server and speed things up a bit.
Other things that I did during the week was to add a Member log-out option, simplify the registration process, and add the Captcha to the Business Contact form - as I received notice that it was being spammed. Last night I purchased Pure ASP upload 3 and Smart Image Processor 2. I've had my eye on these two commercial ASP products for a while; they will improve the gallery upload application and will also be used for the new Classified Ads section and the Property section - when I build them later this year.
Today I converted the Local Events database from Access to MS SQL. As local events appear on almost every page, I'm pretty sure that using Access was slowing down the system.
31st July 09 - The new site goes live.
5th July 09 - I've not done much on the site this weekend, it was too nice to be sat on the PC. I'll try and catch up by working in the evenings this week.
28th June 09 - I purchased a new hosting package yesterday which I will eventually use to host the data protection website that I intend to build later in the year. For the time being though, I've used it to upload the new version of Urmston.net for testing purposes. It takes a while for a newly registered domain name to activate but it was working this morning and I got my first look of the full site on a live server. I wasn't impressed. It never looks right at first but it'll be okay after a few tweaks. One thing that I have noticed though is that the coloured background loads a split second before the white page style loads - which is something that I don't notice on my personal web server. I'm going to have to do something with that as it doesn't look good.
It has been a bit laborious migrating the old pages into the new template and cleaning up the code. The reason why I started Urmston.net was purely as a means for me to learn how to code using Active Server Pages (ASP). As such, I knew much more about ASP than I did about HTML and the HTML code used in some of the first applications that I built was terrible. I've definitely come a long way since; I've used div tags and CSS as much as possible on the new site.
Everything has been converted to the new template apart from the Classified Ads section and the Yearbook - both require a complete rebuild. I've rebuilt the picture upload using a different application and it now works with the latest versions of IE and Firefox too! I've redesigned the Events page slightly and I can't decide whether to make this a member's only feature. For the time being though it will remain public. You will need to have cookies enabled to become a member and you will have to be a member to post to the forum. I had found a workaround for those who don't like cookies but the user login cannot be completed without activating a session and the session requires cookies to be enabled so there's no way around it.
At the moment I do not have a homepage, and the Member's homepage doesn't contain much either. What the members do have though is an application that allows members to contact each other without revealing their e-mail addresses. This will be optional and it will be disabled by default for data protection purposes. A member will be able to activate this feature from their homepage.
The site is going live at some point in July so I'll more than likely put the registration live within the next week for advance registrations, and then put the site live at some point towards the end of the month. It depends how many problems I encounter. The main thing is to check that the cookies work correctly and what I might do is ask some of the registered users to start using the test site the week after next.
Once the site is live I'll spend a few weeks adding extra images and tweaking some of the design elements but it will be an ongoing thing. I will also attempt to find owners for the existing forum posts but that will definitely be an ongoing thing.
The new classified Ads application will be live shortly after launch. It will be much more like eBay - you'll be able to upload a photo, select a category and you will control your ad/ads from your homepage. The ads will expire after seven days but clicking on the ad on your homepage will extend it for a further 7 days.
I'll be building a Special Offers section so that members can add special offers - Walls Cornetto: two for the price of one at Sainsbury's for example. The way it will work is, if you don't know the expiry date of the offer then if you leave the 'To' date field blank, the offer will expire after three days. The offers will appear as a list on other members pages.
At some point in the summer I intend to take hundreds of photos because I want to create an information page for every feature of interest in the area. It will basically be a page with a picture and a little bit of information. It's something that I never completed on the current site. Many of the pages will reference David Smith's excellent Glancing back A-Z directory.
I will be building a property section at some point this year. It'll be pretty much like any other property site except it will be free to advertise your property. I'll include For Sale, For Rent and Looking to Rent options and will be controlled from the members homepage.
The Times gone by section - where we select a building and list the businesses that have operated there, will be up and running again at some point this year. All the information that we had is still stored on a database so it's just a matter of rebuilding the application.
I would like to add a film review section because I think, with it being a local audience, it will be better than a national one - like the IMDB for example. But it's not a priority at the moment.
I will be registering for the Data Protection Act today.
June 09 - I was on target for a launch this month but I lost a couple of weeks in May due to the failure of my motherboard so it's going to be July now. IE8 has also caused a few issues too as my rich text editor - which I have added to the forms, doesn't work with IE8 and my image upload no longer works with IE8. So I've purchased a new rich text editor and I will be purchasing new upload software in June.
At the moment then I expect to put the registration pages live at the start of July and launch the site towards the end of July. Oh, I am also registering as a Data Controller - as advised by the Information Commissioner's Office. Today 30/05/09, I've fixed a CSS issue with IE8 this morning and this afternoon I will be having a play with the rich text editor (RTE) and getting it configured to work the way I want it to. And then I will have to replace all occurrences of the old RTE with the new one.
May 09 - I had a really productive Easter weekend and I've been working on the site in the evenings as well as at the weekend. The members application seems to be working okay so it's just a matter of converting the existing content to the new format. Well it's not as easy as that as it's the behind the scenes pages that require most of the work.
April 09 - Oops, I changed my mind again and opted to stay with ASP. The main reason being that I already have a pretty good level of skill with ASP which means I can customise the site the way I want it. I can't do this with ASP.net and it would take me a while to learn. The other thing is that ASP is still an acceptable means of building database-driven websites, particularly with the enhancement made to Dreamweaver - which is the software that I'm using to create my pages. Dreamweaver now has support for Ajax which opens up a whole new area of web technology.