Thursday, 25 February 2010

Genealogy Websites: New, Improved, Updated & How

My current site Fergy's Website has been in its current form for over a year, except for the Pedigree pages having been converted to CSS. I commenced work on the new site in November 2009 with a view to launch on 1 March 2010, although this was pushed back to 1 April 2010 mainly due to illness.

What I hope to do over my next few Blogs is to illustrate the objectives and problems and how these were overcome. Please do not think that this is going to be so technical it will over your head, some of it perhaps, but most can be applied with little knowledge of programming.

It is essential to draw up the criteria which need to be met for the revised site, mine are:
  • It must be based on the Legacy Pedigree Web creation function, for no other reason that I really like this layout. I have looked at formats such as The Next Generation, and others, most of which require a GEDCOM upload, but, for me, Legacy was the one.
  • To maximise the use of CSS to separate out the design from the HTML data.
  • To replace the Javascript navigation with CSS, and in general, minimise the use of Javascript.
  • Where possible apply the most modern CSS and HTML standards.
  • To ensure cross-browser compliance, including IE6 - which continues to be used by a surprisingly high percentage of genealogists!
  • To redesign the Index page, which given that I do not pretend to be a designer is no mean feat!
  • To ensure W3C standards are met.
Some of the above aims obviously conflict with each other, so compromises have to be made. These will be described later.

The first problem is that the Legacy Pedigree web pages are not W3C compliant and are written exclusively in HTML. Whilst I had converted the major design components to CSS, to convert all would have meant writing a program to automate this, or using a program which would use Regular Expressions to convert each tag individually - ugh! Unfortunately the first alternative I thought to be beyond my VB.Net programming skills.

However, in 2009 Ltools released a program for Legacy users which validates the HTML and converts all to CSS, and it was this which I used last year to overcome this main stumbling block to achieving a major aim. Some information on the use of this tool is also given in my tutorial here.

The other items will be considered in future Blogs, so watch this space!

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