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Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

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Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby Admin » Thu Jul 27, 2006 11:01 pm

We've been doing this since 1994, and it's high time that the website stopped looking like 1994. :roll:

Now that we're about 40 hours into this project already, it's time to allow our valued Liftlines users have an advance look at what FTO is about to become. You may get a look by visiting:

http://www.FirstTracksOnline.com/index.php

Most of the programming work is presumably done, and we now face the monumental task of moving most of our content over to the new system. The good news is that once it's live, maintenance will be much easier due to our implementation of a full Content Management System (CMS) via PHP. The side benefit, of course, is a much more aesthetically-pleasing product.

In the meantime, some of the content is admittedly simply a link to some of the old pages. Likewise, very little of the news and resort features is in the new system yet. Some of what you'll link to, therefore, isn't very pretty yet. It'll take time, I assure you. I'm guessing another month before it goes live.

The preview, though, will give you a good taste of things to come. Your comments, feedback, and critiques are welcome.
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re: Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby riverc0il » Fri Jul 28, 2006 4:33 am

woo!!! looking good! i keep debating CMS for my site, it just seems like such a daunting task, i keep putting it off.

looks great! the main feature used to be the resort & destination features but it seems those were replaced on the main page by news. that actually makes more sense since you have new news content many times throughout the week but only a major resort & destination feature once in a while. i like that the news is broken down by catagory, nice touch.

i am generally not a fan of one image place holders for lateral sizing issues, but it seems that the margins are wide enough to accomodate smaller resolutions and those of us that never close their bookmarks fly in :D

interesting having the menus on the right hand side. that is different, not bad. perhaps even makes things stick out a little more because you don't see right hand side menus often.

will you be able to merge the FTO account database with the liftlines database? i noticed that the accounts are not linked and a new account needs to be created for FTO.

looks sweet!!! i can only imagine the amount of time required to finalize the project. i recall the topic came up some time ago and you didn't seem keen on the idea of switching everything over. looks like you found a great summer project for the off season!! cheers.
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re: Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby Jonny D » Fri Jul 28, 2006 5:58 am

That looks fantastic
I really like the right-side menu.

All in all, it's awesome!
What CMS did you use?
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re: Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby JimG. » Fri Jul 28, 2006 7:33 am

Nice! Just in time too, I had my first skiing dream of the summer last night (I seem to start the dreaming thing just about August 1 every summer) and I'm ready to start posting and debating all things skiing.

T-minus 90 days and counting.
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Re: re: Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby Admin » Fri Jul 28, 2006 9:23 am

riverc0il wrote:woo!!! looking good! i keep debating CMS for my site, it just seems like such a daunting task, i keep putting it off.


Daunting is an understatement, which is why I kept resisting it as well. FTO has over 20,000 pages within the site, and while the forums will stay the same (see more on that below) things like nearly 3,000 links in the database, a ton of news stories, etc. need to be moved over and there's no simple database port that I can find to do either. Neither NewsPro, my news-producing CGI, or Gossamer Threads, the links database, are in production anymore, and there seems to be little impetus for anyone to program a port for them.

riverc0il wrote:the main feature used to be the resort & destination features but it seems those were replaced on the main page by news. that actually makes more sense since you have new news content many times throughout the week but only a major resort & destination feature once in a while. i like that the news is broken down by catagory, nice touch.


News is definitely our bread and butter. I have to also ensure that Google News' robot spiders the new news section before going live, for a lot of our new traffic is driven by folks finding news stories on Google News' index.

riverc0il wrote:i am generally not a fan of one image place holders for lateral sizing issues, but it seems that the margins are wide enough to accomodate smaller resolutions and those of us that never close their bookmarks fly in :D


That was another issue we faced. I spent countless hours simply finding a CMS theme that worked. While the current theme isn't precisely what I wanted, it was the best of what I did find. I finally gave up. :wink: IMO having sufficient whitespace was essential for aesthetics, and if I have to give up a bit on image sizes, so be it.

riverc0il wrote:will you be able to merge the FTO account database with the liftlines database? i noticed that the accounts are not linked and a new account needs to be created for FTO.


As you may know, we use phpBB as our forum management software. We're using PostNuke as our CMS and while the PostNuke team has ported a version of phpBB to integrate into PostNuke it's a very stripped down version. Add to that the fact that our forums are heavily modded and I broke down and accepted the fact that I'll be running the two side-by-side rather than integrating the forums into the new format. I'm sure that someone with greater MySQL expertise would be able to simply merge the relevant database tables into the PostNuke database, but I'm loathe to risk that maneuver. As it is I managed to get far enough into PostNuke that when I fubarred it once to the point that I had to start again from scratch, I wasn't a happy camper.

Jonny D wrote:All in all, it's awesome!
What CMS did you use?


As mentioned above, PostNuke. I spent the first night installing and configuring PHP-Nuke, but as I got further and further into it I began to recognize that it wasn't exactly tailored to what I wanted to do, and I gave up, removed it, and started playing with PostNuke. While the latter has its weaknesses as well it's much closer to what I want to accomplish, and I have been successful thus far in creating workarounds to fill in the gaps.

That said, there are still some bugs and quirks that I haven't been able to completely solve. Sometimes the article preview chokes on an inordinately large article with many photos, or in some instances the page titles are simply too large -- see http://www.firsttracksonline.com/module ... file=index for an example -- and I haven't been able to successfully modify the templates to fix that, etc. If there are any FTO readers out there skilled with PHP who wouldn't mind helping to diagnose and fix a few minor problems, I'd sure love to hear from you! The same goes for any sadomasochists out there who don't mind helping out with the monumental cut-and-paste operations ahead.

Jim G. wrote:Nice! Just in time too, I had my first skiing dream of the summer last night (I seem to start the dreaming thing just about August 1 every summer) and I'm ready to start posting and debating all things skiing.


It could be worse. Last evening I heard a noise outside in the backyard, and when I looked out I thought I was having my first skiing dream of the summer, too. In the end, though, it was simply an overly-obsessed The Kid. See below, Jim -- that could be you. :wink: (Sorry about the crappy quality -- it was a cell phone camera taken through a dirty window screen.)
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re: Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby JimG. » Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:44 am

Go Kid!

Getting psyched over here.
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re: Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby riverc0il » Fri Jul 28, 2006 2:42 pm

word. cheers for all the troubles, the end result so far looks fantastic in its incomplete form. any plans to reskin the forum to make it look more conected to the main site? it is all about keeping the brand consistent! though i do really enjoy the liftlines color sceme.
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Re: re: Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby Admin » Fri Jul 28, 2006 3:23 pm

riverc0il wrote:any plans to reskin the forum to make it look more conected to the main site? it is all about keeping the brand consistent! though i do really enjoy the liftlines color sceme.


I hear ya. I doubt that I'll try to skin the entire forum the same way, for I haven't found any themes that cover both phpBB and PostNuke, not to mention the one that I'm using. I'm far too unqualified in PHP to create my own theme, and changing the themes manually means a mountain of work each time a change is warranted, defeating the automated nature of the software packages. We likewise can't afford to have a theme created for us. I too am pretty partial to this scheme as well.

One thing that I'll likely do, though even this isn't a top priority right now, will be to port the main site header over to the forums for a consistent appearance and consistent "return to main site" kind of option for users. I should be able to pull that one off without too much difficulty although it will lack the mouseover effects and some of the other PHP-based bells and whistles that I couldn't program if my life depended on it. I'd like to use the same menu bar that appears on the test site, photo and all, and of course that photo will be rotated on a consistent basis to maintain a fresh appearance -- I'm thinking of a seasonal look, i.e. run one of a ski area in summer during the summer time, first autumn dusting during the fall, etc. If necessary I could simply do this as a JPEG with an embedded imagemap, which is old 90s technology that I know and understand. I'll likely implement that header at the same time that I turn the switch on for the new site.
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re: Get a sneak preview of the new FTO

Postby Judz » Fri Jul 28, 2006 6:27 pm

nice, like the new layout
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