Thoughts

Summer 2006

XeoMage Overhaul: Phase Three

Site News / September 30th

Well, here it is. It isn't done yet, not by a long shot. But for the first time in years, XeoMage has a new look. There are a ton of changes, but for the most part content is the same. There are some new names, though. 'Me' has become 'Profile', 'Pictures' has become 'Photos', and 'Writing' has been split up into 'Articles' and 'Fiction'. Also, 'Thoughts' has returned as a section, though it's slightly different than before, and 'Updates' and 'Quotes' have been retired as sections.

Let me walk you through some basics of the redesign, though most of it is fairly self explanatory. Sections that have long series of posts, namely Thoughts, Journal, Photos, and Movies have all been switched to a seasonal menu. Now content will always remain on the same page, and the endless menus of pages are replaced with something more intuitive.

Next, you can see what sections have been updated recently by mousing over the 'Updated' date on the bottom of the main menu. Additionally, within a section it will show you what's new, either by putting it on the first page, or by noting it with a link or other identifier. The goal here is to be able to see what's new easily if you're a repeat visitor, while still keeping things organized if you're new to the site.

I have a ton of plans for new features and new sections to come, so please bear with me while the redesign continues. Also, keep checking back, because Thoughts will be updated as regularly as possible (you'll notice I made some old posts that were previously updates or journal entries into Thoughts because they fit better). Finally, if you notice anything that doesn't work or doesn't look right, let me know. I'm sure there are some bugs to be squashed yet.

XeoMage Overhaul: Phase Two

Site News / August 16th

Work on the new XeoMage interface has continued and is virtually complete. Cross browser checks are all looking very good, and the only thing left to be done with the interface is some minor organization and cleanup of style. That leaves the final phase, which encompasses a manual resorting and updating of the database, as well as some back-end code that is needed to support the interface changes. The new interface cannot be implemented until the new code is written and the database changes are completed, so while Phase 2 is essentially done, it won't be revealed until I finish Phase 3. This last phase is not difficult from a technical perspective, but there is a fair amount of work to be done to accomplish it, so the new version may still be a couple weeks out, depending on how much time I find for it.

XeoMage Overhaul: Phase One

Site News / July 21st

It may not look like it, but a tremendous amount of work has been done on XeoMage in the last couple weeks. The backend has been completely overhauled with updated code, an entirely new administration system has been made with AJAX that allows me to update any page dynamically. Code has been standardized and enhanced throughout, and editing can now be done without putting paragraph tags everywhere.

In all of this, there are a few actual changes that you can check out. The first is that "Reviews" has been renamed "Movies". Next, the Quotes have been paired down to just the out of context ones.

This is the first of three phases in the next version of XeoMage. The next phase will bring the new interface and design, and the final phase will bring new sections, content, and some changes to existing sections. I don't have a timeline worked out, but if it is done in the next month I'll be very pleased.

XeoMage Overhaul: Preface

Site News / July 7th

I wanted to take a minute to explain some upcoming modifications to XeoMage. Since FIRE is a long ways out (if ever), and I'm really tired of the XeoMage design, it's time to make some enhancements. I have all the code I need to add a real logon system, it would be simple to make the style sheet editable through the browser, and with a logon system I could even edit posts directly instead of having to go into the admin page and find them. I'm also going to put some automation into the Updates.

On the visual front I've had an interface nearly ready to go for a while now (over a year), and making it live would not be all that difficult. So I think I'll start out working on that, and then work on FIRE when that's done. XeoMage has waited long enough for a refresh. This won't be the complete conversion to a new architecture that I still intend to do at some point, but it will at least be a big improvement. I've learned a whole lot more php, html, css, design concepts, and visual asthetics since I made this version originally. I think I'm ready to demonstrate that.

FIRE in the belly

Web Design / July 7th

My web development energies were briefly directed at comtrad.net since it needed a refresh. It being such a small, simple page, it was fairly easy, but I like the way it turned out, plus it didn't take very long. I've continued to spend a lot of time thinking about FIRE which is farther from completion than ever. I'm not entirely sure why I keep coming back to it, but I do. So I've been indulging the never-ending designing and even doing some documentation.

If this time is different than the three or so efforts before, and doesn't die off due to challenges, lack of interest, or distractions, it would be really nice. The nearly-done, mostly functional version currently idle for well over a year will mostly be scrapped, but I will take away from it a lot of techniques, lessons, and even some bits of code. There are only a handful of challenges to work out before I start coding again. When I do, I expect it will actually develop rather quickly. So many of the challenges I encountered before have already been solved, all of the problems with the previous design have been remedied, and I've spent a great deal of time ensuring there won't be (as many) with the new one.

All of this thought of FIRE and considering it's long term nature leads me to think that I may want to spend a little time on some overdue enhancements to XeoMage, both on the front end and the backend.