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AMA 4204

 

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About Our Website

January 2017

Our website was originally built with Microsoft FrontPage. In 2010 the website started to grow, especially the photo galleries and videos.  Photo galleries were built with proprietary FrontPage wizards.  A few years later, FrontPage was no longer supported, but I continued using the software to expand the website.

 

As time went by, FrontPage Extensions were no longer being supported by companies hosting websites (including our site).  As the move to modern web standards progressed, I had to remove all website elements that relied on FrontPage Extensions or proprietary wizards.  This required rebuilding all the photo galleries and creating new templates to create future web pages.

 

After a couple more years, it became necessary to upgrade to Microsoft Expression Web to use newer HTML code standards to built our web pages.  Many of the web pages are now compliant with "transitional" HTML standards and the photo galleries were again updated, but the process took less time than  upgrading  from FrontPage's Photo Galley Wizard.

 

Today, current webpage standards are HTML5 and CSS3.  Despite all my upgrade efforts, there is still a lot of HTML code that is not compliant with current standards.  This is due to the inefficiency of early Integrated Development Environments (IDE) that originally used WYSIWYG interfaces that worked like Word Processors.  Today, HTML5 should be used to define the content and structure of a webpage, then CSS3 used to format that content.

 

There are numerous web browsers and devices that should consistently display the same webpage content, so what is now called "responsive design" is a consideration.  Webpage design can be accomplished with a simple text editor or an IDE.  The advantage of text editors is that they only require learning how to code , but the advantage of IDE's is that they have built in functions to search for broken links, suggest code options and syntax, and provide error checking and color coding to make coding easier, and some have FTP integrated to uplooad pages to a server.

 

Websites like ours, that contain early and transitional code, need a design tool that allows maintenance of older code while implementing new standards.  Currently our website is maintained with Expression Web, but it appears that Visual Studio 2015 Community, while also free, is more complicated than what's needed.  Dreamweaver and many other IDE's are available, but code can be just as easily developed with a plain text editor.  For example, I've created a test photo gallery that takes 30 lines of code, but when using Design view in Expression Web it takes 67 lines.

 

February 23, 2017 - I have run a compatibility check for HTML5 and CSS3 on the entire website and this reveals 10,504 compatibility problems on 92 pages.  While this sounds bad, the key metric is "92 pages".  In  the worst case, it will take cleaning up 92 pages, which can be simplified by using  search and replace to reduce time and effort.  The site has over 103 pages, but some, including two test galleries, already meet the latest standards.  The other consideration is that the latest web browsers are able to interpret older code and display nearly all pages without any noticable visual issues.  To further reduce the effort I will see if I can run some search and replace against the entire website, but that will require careful crafting of the process to avoid catastrophic mistakes.

 

I may also continue to use Expression Web for now, even though it will never be updated again.  New webpages will be created by using templates in the EW Code view.  When I create a new page in code, I can switch to Design view and see a fairly accurate representation of the page that browsers will display.  So this is just the opposite of how EW was designed to be used, that is, creating a page in Design View (WYSIWYG) and then viewing the Code page to tweak the results.  The best test of code is to load the page in the six most popular web browsers and also display it on a smart phone.

 

Steve Black

 

 

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