Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Last Big Update

No, not the "last" as in there will never be a big update again, but whenever I made changes that are so pervasive, so far-reaching, that I can't update individual pages of Atlas Quest without fearing that something will break, I have to take the site offline temporarily to upload all of the changes in one fell swoop. I tend to call these the Next Big Update. "It'll be in the Next Big Update." "It'll be fixed in the Next Big Update."

The update has been done, and I figure some of you would like to know what it included. It's not the Next Big Update anymore, however. It's in the past. It's now the Last Big Update.

Most of the big changes are under the hood and not readily apparent. The most striking changes that are actually visible are when you try to add or edit a box, tracker, event, or group. The main one was to redesign the layout to be a bit more flexible and fluid so it works better on mobile devices. I got rid of the column on the right hand side of the page where it didn't always fit on small screens or other people who used large fonts. Since I'm using floated DIV tags rather than tables, it's also will use all of the horizontal screen space your browser allows that should reduce the amount of scrolling necessary to fill out all of the forms. Mostly minor stuff.

Since I was mucking around with that stuff, I made a couple of small improvements to those screens as well. You can now drag-and-drop the boxes in a series in the order you prefer rather than the convoluted drop down list for the order you want the boxes to be in. You can also delete boxes in a series directly from that page instead of having to using the Delete Box button. Again, pretty minor stuff.

Another small tweak that's completely invisible is that most places that use radio buttons or checkboxes (such as the hike type and attributes respectively on the Advanced Search page)--you can now click directly on the text associated with the radio button or check box to select it. Previously, you had to aim your mouse at the relatively small target itself. Those who have trouble controlling the mouse or use the site on their iPhones or other mobile devices might find it easier to hit what you're aiming at. =)

For the most part, though, there's not much to write home about. The bulk of the chances are "under the hood" and completely invisible. I wrote a lot of new classes and improved a lot of previously existing classes to help speed future development. I refactored a lot of code to make it more reusable and idiot-proof it against myself.

Given the sheer size of the changes involved, you can pretty much count on there being bugs and glitches. I wanted to do this update in the middle of the day so I'd be around to monitor and check for bugs and get them fixed as quickly as possible. Usually I do them late at night then go to sleep soon after, and bugs don't get fixed until I wake up again the next morning. =) (Not to mention that updating the live site is a LOT faster from this wi-fi connection I'm using at the library rather than a dial-up connection from home.)

Most of my testing has been done on FireFox. The last couple of days I've been using IE8 to look for formatting problems that might show up with that browser and caught the worst of offenders, but it's not anywhere NEAR as well tested with IE as FireFox, so if something clearly doesn't look like it's supposed to, do let me know. I only tested with Chrome, Opera, and Safari for all about ten minutes each, so those are more likely to formatting issues.

Happy Trail!

-- Ryan

PS. I did add a new icon option for your stats label with this update. =)
Letterboxing Stats for Green Tortuga


Anonymous said...

Ryan the forever tinker!! Thanks for the fun and updates... I almost went through withdrawals the few minutes the site was down, LOL

Goofy girl

Anonymous said...

I noticed the iPhone changes almost instantly. Thanks! It's much easier to add boxes from here now. And I had only added a few previously.