Website News

Monday, August 19, 2013

The new look TransLondon website has been launched for a couple of months now and I, as the friendly neighbourhood web administrator, figured it was time to write a brief news article detailing the state of the website.

As you can see, the website has had a cosmetic make-over. It's hopefully much nicer than the previous layout and hopefully more useful. Not everything has been migrated over to the new website, and there are a few small bugs left to fix. Overall, though, I think it's a great improvement and I'm happy with the way it looks. I hope you are too.

What's not apparent is what's happening behind the website, or under the bonnet, so to speak. The website has been updated to use modern methods of posting content (known technically as a Content Management System, or CMS for short), which makes it a lot easier to update than the old one. This has been done because the website is usually the first portal for new-comers to the group. The old design of the previous website, as well as the fact that it was hard to update (and so nobody did) meant that it was hard to look like we were still around. Hopefully, that's been fixed, and we even have regularly updated the meeting dates.

With the most basic and pressing need of the website mostly sorted, this leaves some space to play with the shiny new features a CMS system allows, in the form of a news section and a place to post events that TransLondoners are going to, as well as the all-important meetings themselves. These seem to be working alright at the moment although whether they're useful will be only something time will tell. You'll also have noticed that we're playing around with how the front page displays this new information and when we figure out how to make it work properly, hopefully it'll settle down and stop changing. A table of links to other organisations has also been added, and that's really not been populated, nor is it properly working right now (aaargh, the banners!) and that's something that's urgently on my to do list. So, as you can see, these features are a bit of a mature work in progress.

One really shiny feature of our CMS is that it also allows for users to create accounts and post their own content pretty much out of the box. This is something I thought would be really useful in posting resources for trans people. However, this is something I've never done before and, compared to the other stuff, is quite complicated. I initiated allowing sign-ups from the internet to give it a trial, but was swamped under sign-ups from robots. In trying to fix this, I bumped up against another problem, namely that we were running out of memory on the server to initialise new features on the web site, so this problem could not be fixed. Hopefully, upgrading our account should give us more memory (as well as a cheaper service, how time flies), but in the meantime, I've disabled this feature as a step too far until I've got it sorted out properly (and fixed some of the other things I have still to do). I don't know if there have been any legitimate sign-ups since then, but if you signed up for an account and nothing has happened, this would be why. In the meantime, the basic skeleton resources I posted to demonstrate the system exist and, if you feel something should go up there, please feel free to contact me with their details. At the moment, no one needs to sign-up to the website to see any of the content anyway. This feature should be considered very much an early work in progress.