Preservation rules – but good HTML sacrified.

It’s been a particularly busy few weeks leading up to Christmas 2006.  Although listed as a web developer at the top of this blog, I get very little time to do much real development work away from work (where my main web developer work takes place) – due to my ties with the Retro gaming world.  One such time absorber is the GTW64 project (as well as maintaining and tweaking the main site.).

Now GTW64 isn’t the prettiest of websites, and could be a whole lot better (Well, the front-end is about 4 years old now)… but if I was to redo the entire website and do a proper database back-end, then more time would have been carried out making it all look nice, and not actually going out and finding the titles we are meant to be looking for.  I’ve gone for “Functional”, so I can sacrifice time to find the games themselves.  Eventually I hope to move it all across when my work rate is slowing down.

As an example – In recent years we have been desperately unlucky.  At one point during GTW64’s lifespan, things ground to a halt whilst I was doing University work.  Then afterwards I found the developer of the long lost Parasol Stars game.  Sadly just 6 months prior to finding him,  he had dumped all his development disks at the local yard.  Had I have been concentrating on the site in my free time, I would have maybe found him sooner before he had got rid of everything.  And this has happened with other cases too,  and could happen again if I was to redo the site and do it up.

It’s an agonising thing as a web developer… as I know the pages are a pile of steaming poo and i’m itching to update them.  I’ve been slowly converting pages to just CSS instead of tables,  and improving areas all the time.. but its very time consuming with a 4000 page site and 756 game entries in only one hour a night.

The GTWPortal was a welcome relief, and I was able to make something half decent within the short time available.  As well as working full time,  i’ve recently moved house and have a whole number of projects to do, and of course a family to spend time with.  The perfect solution was “WordPress”, which I was able to adapt and work into something which I could set up for other users to help contribute and function as I wanted.  Development time was about a month on and off,  and I think its working well at the moment (With tweaks happening all the time to improve things more and more).

But GTW64 is now looking pale in comparison in terms of style and code quality.  What do I do?

Well, we have a huge backlog of information which i’ve decided to clear up and sort out.  This isn’t helping, and more time is being spent on adding game information than actually going out and finding ones we have already listed.  If we ignore the backlog,  we could at the same time be ignoring a title which is decaying away.  Some of the games are now 20 or so years old,  and those disks won’t last forever.  It is a race against time now to get the site fully updated and our backlogs cleared so we can start finding these titles before it is too late.

My plan is to clear out things by Jan 2007 – and 2007 will mark the year of GTW64 actually doing a bit more searching work and less writing up.  Any new info will then be added on the fly.

But the site itself? – the code, the layout, the structure? …  It needs a massive overhaul, and my aim is to make a start in 2007 and build a new framework and mechanism of importing the existing info with ease.  I may just stick with flat pages,  but the archive will be database driven,  the news pages database driven.   And pages optimised so they get picked up better by search engines.  As well as the dialemma of getting information itself out there… we need to optimise pages to enhance findability on the web through the use of proper headings and metadata (Something i’ve started to do on converting pages,  but is still only in the beginnings).

2007 is going to be a busy year for GTW as a whole – but also with other new web developments…  I’d better start getting the caffine brewing…


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