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New Host, New Format and New Webmaster

I have "volunteered" to takeover webmaster duties from Keith Greenall.  After discussion with Keith and others, I decided on the key initial actions:

  • Conversion of all existing pages to an improved format which makes future updates easier and with less risk of errors
     
  • Publication to a new area within a new account I have now opened with PlusNet
     
  • Setting up the URL http://www.acoventryway.org.uk/ so it is fully hosted by PlusNet, meaning users will see this as first part of all pages on the site, and will be able to save any page as a favourite/bookmark easily.

Below are more details and implications of this decision, plus an implementation plan.

Features of Format Change

The new format is based on an adaption of the original, which better suits the editor I use (SpiderWriter 4.0, free copy off PCPlus 3 years ago!).  See z-template-demo.htm for outline of how it works.

The main advantages are:

  1. easier to maintain, because only the individual page content is visible to me when editing, and this is in a self-contained table which can have no adverse impact on the margins
  2. Almost all text is formatted by a separate "style-sheet", normal.css .  This defines the default font (set as Verdana preferred, but if you don't have it Arial or Sans-serif), text size, Header text size and colour, etc.  This makes it easy to maintain consistency, and also easy to change the look of all pages instantly if we wish - e.g. all headers could be changed from the Navy I've used here, to DarkGreen like I've used on Coventry Walks site - or any other colour for that matter - by just changing the color code in the line of normal.css:
        H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 {
                   color: #000080;
  3. easy to adapt an individual page to fit 800px wide window (like this one) rather than older pages which fit all content to a 640px wide window.  It is also easy to create a page like the "ACW Community" page which retains the top margin, but omits the left and bottom margins
  4. Retains the original look and feel which is excellent, but allows it to evolve.  I have e.g. added a "Search" button to the top margin, improved the efficiency of the left margin buttons (less code to download) and made all buttons have "Alt" text (which helps blind users who can hear it, lets those with very slow internet access see the "Alt" text before the picture downloads and if you have IE browser (or similar, and have it set up to work that way) lets you see a prompt when you hover over it.

I hope you like the format.

PlusNet as Host

Keith has used PlusNet for over 2 years, so the current site is already hosted on PlusNet, but in Keith's area.  I have for many years been with BT (as BTinternet, then BTopenworld and now BT-yahoo); Coventry Walks website was hosted there.  I have decided to move my ISP account to PlusNet, and host both sites within my new area.  The main advantages are:

  • PlusNet supports URL hosting, so the http://coventry-walks.org.uk URL can be seen as the root URL for all Coventry Walks pages, as can http://www.acoventryway.org.uk/ for all Coventry Way pages.
     
  • PlusNet offer 250MB of webspace, thus avoiding me sometimes getting far too close to the btinternet 50MB limit
     
  • BTinternet 50MB is not guaranteed to remain.  Although I was told it would be available "for the foreseeable future" at the time of the BT-Yahoo launch in early 2004, BT are really pushing the Yahoo product.   [Note: BT-Yahoo allows 15MB webspace (but with pop-up adverts forced onto every load of every page) + 100MB photospace + possibly another 100MB briefcasespace, all 3 types per each of up to 11 users;  this could be 2,365MB total, but worth much less to me than PlusNets 250MB of good webspace.]
     
  • PlusNet seems to offer an excellent service, judged by many as among the best.  BT-Yahoo is rated less well on every measure.
     
  • I get the PlusNet package for c.£5 per month less than BT-Yahoo

Implementation Plan

  1. 24-Nov-2004 - The old files were converted to new format, checked by Keith and others, corrected then published to the PlusNet location
     
  2. 25-Nov-2004 - I applied for the acoventryway.org.uk URL to be re-hosted to PlusNet;  this is completed "within 24 to 48 hours".  Unfortunately during part of this transfer period, most users will find the URL does not work.  
     
    By soon after noon on 26-Nov some people could see the new site, and by 27-Sep noon all should have been able to see the new location - any who can't, please "try again later" - or complain to your ISP that their DNS-NS (Domain Name System - Name Server) is slow at getting up to date!
     
  3. 28-Nov-2004 - sent out the newsletter telling users about the change.
     
  4. between 30-Nov and 15-Dec we will replace all pages on the old location with a "We've moved" notice, which will include a link to the new location, an auto jump to that location after 5 secs, and an instruction to search engines not to index that location.
     
  5. between 5-Dec and 15-Dec I will also update all email links to send messages to mailto:xxxxxxxx@acoventryway.org.uk, where xxxxxxxx is the appropriate officer/expert within ACWA.  This will ensure portability should we ever move again, or if named officer/experts change duties!  It also helps me organise my inbox to give priority in dealing with your mail, and/or to automate my filing system better in order to find your messages if needed at a later date.
     
  6. Dec-2004/Jan-2005 - most search engines should update their index to remove the old location, and add the new one.  As soon as Google has indexed most of the new location, I will update the within-site search to point to it.
     
    [ NB - would anyone who has a link from their website to a page on "A Coventry Way" website, please update that link to be of the form  http://acoventryway.org.uk/filename.htm   in order to help speed this process. ]
     

Experience with PlusNet so far ...

I had only used PlusNet for a few days when this page was first published, but everything I had seen/experienced so far had been as good or better than I had expected.  Well done PlusNet - keep it up!

I have just updated this page (30-Jan-2005), and am pleased to report that I am still very pleased with all that PlusNet have provided

I trust my users have been equally impressed.  If you have any difficulties, please let me know and I will try to fix them.

Future Plans

I am working with Keith and others to identify a wish list for further enhancements.  Many have already been implemented and will soon turn the remainder into a prioritised "plan", and publish as a page on this site.  If you have requests, please email me.

Peter Page
webmaster Subject: ACW General


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