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 What's new :: About new site

what's new at robgray.com?

With over 600 pages, nearly 4000 photos, and 1000s of embedded thumbnails this has been a pretty big job, plus of course the new look and feel and implementing many "normal" functions into code so future changes will be easier which has required probably 1000s of lines of code.

Still robgray.com has been around for 11 years and this is only the third major rewrite so that's reasonable, I think it does make sense to re invent things every few years.

The obvious

Don't adjust your screen, the look and feel of robgray.com is now totally retro monochrome, makes sense really given my surname and the fact that I'm partly colour blind.

The photos are still colour of course, except the B&W ones.

Navigation is now via a single menu at the top of each page (and duplicated at the bottom of longer pages) so hopefully the hierarchy of the site will be more obvious. Also menu elements are highlighted to show you your current location in the hierarchy.

Thumbnails no longer open a new page when clicked. Instead the thumbnail simply "grows" to a larger version in the center of the screen. This removes the loss of context when you just want to see a picture. If you really want to open a page with more details about the image there is a link on the enlarged version if such details are available.

Portfolio images. Selected images are now featured in "portfolios" and these are displayed differently than the run of the mill shots (which are now in the "stock photos" section).

Firstly Portfolio images are displayed larger on their gallery page. Secondly if that's not large enough you can either load a magnifier to see more detail by moving a magnified window over the image, or you can load a really big image (2500px on long side) into a new window. The file size of the large image is displayed next to the links so you can decide if you really want to download that much.

Your portfolio is a section that allows you to collect portfolio images at random from the pre-canned portfolios to create your own featuring your favourite images.

The not so obvious

Frames, with one exception there aren't any, so you'll be able to properly bookmark pages from now on.

The exception is the FOTOfinder and I'll be working on that.

Photo pages are loaded into new windows (or tabs depending on your browser setup), this can be disconcerting for some viewers and I'm still deciding if it's a good idea. However, especially with the portfolio images, it's possible to load very large versions of the image and if this isn't done in a new window you'll lose that data when you navigate to another page.

Behind the scenes

Stuff you can't see directly includes...

PHP/Javascript, there's always been a lot of these languages but the emphasis is moving towards PHP which runs on the server and can do a lot more. Of course PHP can't interact with the viewer so a lot of Javascript is still required.

ALL pages have at least the header and footers generated by PHP, many (maybe even most) pages are entirely generated with PHP so I don't get to use the WYSIWYG features of Dreamweaver as much as I used to, it's more like real programming.

I'm starting to use some AJAX and what great stuff it is too. This allows me to dynamically fill parts of a page with data from the server without having to reload the page.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are now playing a big role. There are almost no <font> tags on this site and of course with CSS you can do neat things like the under- and over-lines on the above titles.

Thumbnails are now generated on the fly when requested by a page. This only happens the first time as the resultant JPG is then saved for future use. This means I no longer have to muck about with Photoshop to create 100s of thumbnail images.

Testing is performed with recent versions of the five most common browsers, these being...

  • IE 7
  • Firefox 3.0.10
  • Opera 9.64,
  • Chrome
  • Safari 4

When I last looked IE7 accounted for about 70% of my viewers so the CSS style are basically set up to look best with that browser. However there is a duplicate set of style sheets for all other browsers that cause the pages to look almost the same. Opera shows some fonts much smaller than every other browser which is a pain and may require a third set of style sheets.





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PO Box 450, Gin Gin, QLD, Australia.