For anyone who is interested in the found-film site, this is another short post which covers some of the changes I’ve introduced over the last couple of weeks, and some plans I have for future changes.
It’s actually been a while since I made changes to the site, but a few weeks ago I recreated a proper development environment and set up a simple deployment process, which has allowed me to get back to making changes and updates.
Introduction of borders
The biggest, noticable change has been the introduction of borders to the images in the browse and search pages.
In these archive pages, each of the images which appears has a border added which represents the manufacturer of the slide.
So, for instance, a Kodachrome slide will have a Kodachrome slide border so it will look more like the slide would if you picked it up and held it to the light to look at it. Moreover, for popular film manufacturers, there are border images which represent the age of the slide. So again for Kodachrome if the slide dates from the 1950s it will have the famous ‘Red Border’ slide mount, if it’s from the 1990s it will have the plastic Kodachrome image etc.
With this change, it’s possible to show the user more readily digestible information about the slide than is feasible with additional text on the page.
Although I like this effect, one downside is that it does result in the images being a bit smaller than they would otherwise be, so one of the future enhancements I’m going to add is the ability for a viewer to turn off this effect if they want. This will be as a checkbox or link which will store the information in a cookie rather than requiring viewers to register on the site.
Another part of the future enhancement will be the option for viewers to change the size of the main image on the photo pages. I know that if you are using a lower resolution monitor the images can appear a bit too big, so I’m going to add a mechanism, again managed by a cookie, to alter this.
Many of the other changes I’ve made recently have been refactoring of the codebase and fixing bugs rather than additional features for the user. At the moment I’m fixing the one remaining bug I know about (the map zoom value is not being applied to the map view) and then I’m going to start work on enhancements to the series viewer and search results pages. On these pages I want to add the ability to view the images in a full screen gallery rather than using individual photo pages.
Update on Site Stability
In the last ‘change’ post I explained about some issues I’d been having with the hardware my sites run on and how I’d finally fixed the performance issues. Well, as is often the case with these type of issues, I spoke too soon.
Over the last few weeks I’d been seeing intermittent mysql connection issues which I couldn’t get to the bottom of. When I refreshed a page I’d occasionally see an ‘Unable to connect to database’ page which would go away when the page was refreshed.
Well a couple of days ago this happened but it didn’t go away when the page refreshed – there was a corruption of the data and mysql wouldn’t start. After a lot of tearing out of hair (and I don’t have much of that to lose) I had to fire up a new digital ocean server and restore the databases for all my sites from backups in order to restore them.
I’m now hopeful that the sites are stable and working – certainly on initial tests everything seems to be both more stable and faster than they have been for months – but I’m wary of saying everything is right!