One of the most exciting moments in developing a web site is when you
take the "bones" and apply the "skin." After working on the ugly but
functioning version of the site for so long now, I decided to do just
that, and today began implementing the visual design the I recently
From a technical standpoint, the design is completely CSS-based now, so
performing the actual integration is simple. I do need to go back
through and clean up the markup a bit, but the pieces for the
look-and-feel are essentially in place.
The home page, map browsing and map detail sections were already largely
functionally complete, so this change REALLY made a huge difference in
how the site appears to be progressing.
I also did some work on the administrative tool set — the
behind-the-scenes pages that help me manage the site. Version 1.0 never
really had a complete set of tools and unfortunately this has forced me
to do a lot of manual database work. In addition to making management
much easier, the new administrative section will also make it possible
for me to allow other staff members to help with things they've not been
able to in the past (map approvals, user-management, adding game
It's slowly becoming painful to use v1.0 of the site :) Can't wait to
show the new site to you all.
Comments ported from original blog:
At 9:06 AM, Firefly said…
And we can't wait to use it. I
noticed you posted that at nearly 4 in the morning. There's dedication
for you :D
At 3:53 PM, John said…
I have a tendency to work early
into the wee hours of the morning. Time seems to fly when I'm deep
into working on projects I love, and before I know it ... it's 4am and
I'm forcing myself to go to sleep.
Since my last post, I've crammed a bunch of development into the site
and things are moving along at a very nice pace. If I were to give an
estimate, I'd say that I'm right on the cusp of having an alpha version
of the site ready for some preliminary examination on the whole. No
promises, but perhaps in a month or so I'll be soliciting for beta
Of course, I like everything about the new site, but now that things are
actually functioning a bit, my favorite new features have to be the
revised browsing and search functionality and support for map packs and
The new browse/search system is fast, efficient and flexible. It just
simply "feels" cool to use. And after having added/edited thousands of
maps on the existing site, I can't tell you how excited I am at the fact
that multiple authors and map packs are now going to be natively
supported by the site. No more manually listing the multiple authors or
maps in the pack in the description as a "duct tape" fix!
There's still a bit more work to be done yet (the overhauled map
submission process being the biggie), but Mapraider 2.0 is quickly
becoming a working-replacement for the live site — even in its current,
unfinished and unpolished state.
I'm planning on eventually putting together a checklist of to-do items
and publishing it here on the blog so you can see exactly how things are
progressing. I'll be excited when that happens, as I'm sure you will be.
Wow, it's been a while! But don't let that fool you. I have indeed been
working on 2.0 all this time :) and wanted to post a quick status update.
As I mentioned previously, the database design has been finished. But
since then, it's actually gone through a number of refactorings. Mostly
with how the maps are stored while still accommodating for map packs. It
may sound trivial, but it's surprisingly complicated and I wanted it to
be simple for the user without being a hack like it is now.
I've spent many, many hours trying to decide on a direction for the new
visual look of the site. I even dug out some old layouts I did for
Mapraider 1.0 years ago (it'll be 7 years this November if you can
believe it) to see if they had some ideas. The site has been stuck in a
post-1999 design flavor that was "hacked-together" for so long, I really
wanted this new look to be up-to-date, well designed and thought-out.
Last week I finally had the creative energy and inspiration I needed and
was able to put together something that I feel is nearly perfect.
Best of all, the initial production work to translate my Photoshop
layout into HTML/CSS is nearly complete and awaiting integration into
the back end. No sneek-peeks, sorry ;)
In all seriousness though, getting the visual design done is an awesome
milestone to have reached! Putting the new site design and the old site
design side-by-side is both invigorating (because it looks so awesome)
and depressing (because it makes the old design look like a mess) all at
the same time.
The back-end is roughly 50% complete. Because of the refactoring of the
database I did, I had to re-work portions of the code to accommodate and
that was completed last night.
I'll be doing my best to continue the focus I've given to things over
the last couple of months and my goal is that the site will be done,
tested and live before the anniversary this fall.
It's really just a matter of cranking through it all now. More soon.