Major Changes to Web Site Planned (Updated)
Monday, August 24 2009 @ 03:53 PM EDT
Contributed by: richardpitt
Over the next several months we will be making some fairly major changes to the web sites that make up the Hancock Wildlife Foundation's web presence.
- Sites updated to glFusion version 1.1.5pl3 - soon to be updated to 1.1.6. New features will be included in the update. You'll be drawn to these new features as we turn them on.
- November 23, 2009 - The two websites, www.hancockwildlife.org and www.hancockwildlifechannel.org have now been merged under the www.hancockwildlife.org URL.
If you notice any items missing or broken, please send a note to richard @ hancockwildlife.org with the complete URL of the broken item and an indication of what you think is broken
Old URLs and bookmarks should still work but you'll notice that the "channel" portion of the URL will be removed on the address bar. You should update your bookmarks, although the redirect will be left in place for a long time, possibly "forever"
Please excuse us if the site is down for a few minutes (hopefully not often or long) or if your bookmarks no longer take you directly to some specific page - things will be moving around quite substantially as we bring the current 3 different sites together into one.
We are also looking for more volunteers for site moderation and administration. There is a tremendous amount of content and new postings daily, especially during the nesting season, and our moderators and administrators would love some help both with our changes and in preparation for next year's expected major boost in membership and interaction. Please contact forumadmin @ hancockwildlife.org to let us know you are interested.
There will be a feedback area set up where you can note problems and tell us about things that do or don't work the way you expect them. We'll try to keep up with your suggestions and give feedback on what is happening.
Currently the web presence uses 3 separate web sites:
- www.hancockwildlife.org - the foundation's "corporate" and "biology reference" portions - things that are generally long-term in nature and that are created/updated by a small group of people
- www.hancockwildlifechannel.org - the site where the various camera video streams reside and where the media gallery and various articles of immediate interest are hosted and created/updated by any of our over 5000 members.
- discuss.hancockwildlifechannel.org - the discussion forum where there are topics and threads to do with not only the HWF cameras but other cameras and interesting wildlife sites around the world, as well as some social topics for general discussion.
There has always been some confusion over membership in these various sites but at the time they were created it was felt that this was the easiest way to prepare for what we hoped would be a huge response to our cause. There was also a necessity of having a separate discussion forum just because the software was different from that of the other two sites (phpBB vs Geeklog, now glFusion)
As is typical of the web, the reality is both better and worse than we expected:
The "corporate" site has not grown the way we expected - mostly due to some confustion as to where biology reference materials should be collected and who by and how this should be done.
The other two sites have grown HUGE in comparison to the corporate site.
We have also ridden the coat-tails of the software open source movement which has come a long way since we first chose our core software. At the time there was no equal to phpBB for discussion forums, and Geeklog was both every bit as good as other "content management" packages and in my opinion much more secure from things like hackers and defacement, etc.
The last major update we did was to substitute glFusion for the original Geeklog. glFusion is a "fork" of the Geeklog code base and integrates many otherwise optional plugins into a package that adds much in function to the original software. Key in our decision to do this major facelift is that glFusion now supports both a discussion forum module and a method of importing the phpBB3 discussion forum content into the main glFusion content manager. This will allow us to continue with the discussions currently in the discussion forum area but also integrate the membership (currently requiring 2 different signups) into a single membership file (at last!)
There will be some lost functionality in the discussion forum area but we currently make little use of it so will likely not miss it. On the other hand there is a lot better integration of the media gallery into the discussion area and provision for a number of other synergies that we have not had in the past.
Overall we're sure you'll find the new web much more complete and less confusing than it currently is.
- Update to glFusion 1.1.6 - latest version (from 1.1.5) - prior to December 1
- Create "test" version of main web site with discussion forum turned on for our administrators to learn on - prior to September 1
- Test integration of "corporate" with "channel" site - should be little problem as they are same software, just different data - Mid September
Test import of phpBB discussion forum into "channel" site - late September
- Integration of "corporate" and "channel" sites into one (both URLs will point at the same place and membership will be that of "Channel" site) - October 15 (DONE)
- Startup of new "Forum" module in main web site to replace the phpBB discussion forum currently in use. Late November
- The discuss.hancockwildlifechannel.org web site will be "archived" (set to read only) and all new discussion will move to the new "Forum" portion of the main site.
As you can see this should have things done well in advance of next year's nesting season. There is a lot to do, including a lot of testing and training. The discussion and channel sites are so large that just doing the data integration of one to the other may take as much as a day. There may be days or hours when we ask that you not post anything new so that things won't get "lost" but we'll try to keep the actual downtime to a minimum.
In the mean time we'll also be working on new camera locations and such so there may be times when something might remain "broken" for a time if it is found while I'm out on a camera site. I appologize in advance but at this time I'll be doing most of the underlying software changes - our other admins mostly work with the software's administrative interfaces once it is up and working.
Overall things will get better - I promise :)