Regular visitors will have noticed that the site looks a little different. I’ve been wanting to rewrite the underlying code that the site runs on for a while, as this is one of my oldest websites so as well as being out of date by current standards it’s got progressively cruftier below the surface over time since it was first created.
So, I’ve finally found the time to rewrite it completely. All the original code has gone, the new system is based around a modular, object-oriented design that uses the same underlying code as some of my newer sites such as BritishListedBuildings.co.uk.
In the process, I’ve taken the opportunity to clean up the visual design a bit as well. It isn’t radically different, but I’ve switched to a fixed-width layout in place of the previous fluid one (yes, the web-design purists will be aghast, and no, I don’t care) and moved the Google adverts to the top so that the main content of the page has more space. I’ve also increased the default font size a tad, and utilised some cool Web2.0-ish tricks for the comment and update forms. The site also uses textual URLs throughout, in place of the old “area=23″ style URLs. Don’t worry if you’ve got the old ones bookmarked, though, they’ll redirect to the new ones.
Some of the features that have disappeared will return once I’ve written the new code for them, but some have gone for good. I do, though, have some plans for newer features that i think will be more useful.
One new feature that I’ve already introduced is the ability to rate MSAs on how good they are for caravanners, truckers and families as well as giving the usual overall impression. With the closure of the Motorway Parking for Caravans website, there’s a gap there for information of that type and I though to would be useful to offer ratings for other user groups as well. I may extend this later, if there’s enough demand.
Another new feature is the inclusion of OS maps and Bing maps as well as the usual Google maps – these give different aspects to the view and I think that offering alternatives will be useful.
I’ve also made the decision to include Irish MSAs in the listings. I didn’t originally intend to extend the scope of the site beyond the UK, and I still have no intention to include sites from mainland Europe, but Ireland seems a natural fit for the website as the language and culture are broadly the same.
It goes without saying that any changes are likely to throw up bugs, so if you see anything that isn’t working correctly then let me know – preferably by posting a comment to this blog thread. Any other opinions, complimentary or otherwise, are always welcome.