Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What's New for 2013

When you visit the web site for the first time in 2013 you will find changes to the initial "Genealogy in Hetfordshire" page where the layout has been changed to provide space for a very brief description of the aims of the site, and information of the mental health charity supported. 

There has been a complete revision of the "Home Page" you get to on deciding to Enter the Genealogy Site. This is now divided into three parts
  1. On the left is the "Home Menu"  where there have been some changes - but old options are still there.
  2. The centre of the page, under the heading, is a brief guide to navigating the site (new), plus some administrative details at the bottom.
  3. On the right is a list of options as to what you can do - with picture buttons. There are more options to the options on the page it replaces.
The changes on other pages (where they have already been made) are best illustrated by the following example:

The most obvious change is the position of the title and the revised button box. Because the page is about a postcard of a football team from Harpenden there are three picture buttons and, for example, clicking on the football will take you to the group page on football, while clicking on the Harpenden picture will take you to the Harpenden group page. The "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" takes you safely back to the site's welcome page. There is also some simple changes to the left hand menu - the top link always takes you back to the Welcome page, while "Home Menu" and "Place Menu" allow you to change the left hand menus without loosing site of the content of the right hand side of the screen.

The rule for the revised format is that if you click on a picture button the relevant group page will be selected, together with the appropriate menu. It will take a long time before I can provide every page with a new format button box - but the old linkage arrangements will still work just as well as it did before.

The reason for the change is well illustrated by the Harpenden example. When the site was first created in 2002 the pages were divided into a number of groupings. All the pages describing a town or village was treated as as "place" page; pages which were answers to questions were "answer" pages while other pages dealt with "advice" , "web sites", "maps", etc. Each group had its own menu to accompany the relevant "content" pages. It was soon found that many people were entering the site via search engines and being presented with pages without the associated menu, so all the "content" pages had to have a link to call down the appropriate menu. As the site grew the bigger towns grew - and needed their own menu, and there were interest topics, such as "brick making", "military" and "football". In creating a new page I had, in the past, to allocate it to ONE of the relevant groups, with ad hoc links to the others. Now it doesn't matter, every page can be placed in a number of groups, and where-ever a group picture button is used  it can be used as a link to the appropriate group page and menu.

Men at Work
The plan was to start loading the revised pages late on New Year's Eve. This appears to have worked but detailed testing will be needed over the next few days. Some points to note:
  • The donation collecting box for 2012 has been closed and a new one for 2013 has been opened. One small donation has been made to check the box is working.
  • There are some places where links will need to be forged between the main site and the Newsletter that can only be done (and tested) after the update.
  • While all the menus (apart from individual place menus) have been updated, the place menus and most content pages will get their "new format" picture buttons in batches over the coming months.
  • During the work I found a rather large number of pages "under construction" which had been forgotten. I will need to schedule these - but to clear the backlog and keep the site running could take at least a year.
  • The Tutorial is currently being given less exposure as I have not been able to keep it "up to date" with all the relevant changes on the web. 
  • I will be surprised and delighted if everything works perfectly first time!
If there is chaos for some unanticipated reason please be patient - further reports will appear on this Newsletter.

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This is the newsletter for the Genealogy in Hertfordshire Web site. Comments on this blog are moderated and may be transferred to the web site where appropriate. If you have a local or family history query you want answered you must use "Ask Chris" - See box in right hand column. Anonymous comments cannot be answered.