Eyre History - Modifications

For quite some time now I have been working on making the site more efficient and maintainable by seperating the content (that you the visitor read) from presentational instructions (that your computer / web browser reads).

The benefits

Most pages are now a lot smaller in size (code wise) as they only contain the info you read and links to documents called style sheets (CSS) that your computer reads. Your computer downloads these CSS files once and then remembers the instructions on how to display the site in various styles which saves them from having to be downloaded for each and every page. This method of seperating the content from presentation has multiple benefits.

  • The pages are quicker to download esp. usefull for those on dial up conections.
  • It allows me to alter the layout of the whole site (well almost) from a single file. Quite handy when you consider the Eyre History site has over 3500 pages.
  • It reduces demand on the webserver
  • It reduces the bandwidth consumed by the website.
  • Search engines find it a lot easier to make sense and categorise the site when they don't have to seperate content and presentational info.
  • The site is more accessible to small screen devices such as PDA's and mobile phones.
  • Blind or visually impaired visitors who have sites read out to them via specialised web browsers / screen readers aren't put off by constantly hearing presentational info such as align this paragraph left in such a font etc.
  • It allows the site to be displayed in a variety of ways and gives visitors a choice in how to view the site with a given theme or layout.

Site Structure

The site is split into 3 sections

  • The handwritten pages that give background information which are now viewable in a variety of styles layouts.
  • The Gedcom pages created by Dan which are limited to being viewed as they are at the moment as I don't have copies of the Gedcoms.
  • The Gedcom pages that I created which are styled by a single stylesheet.

I'm in the process of coding a variety of style sheets which will allow visitors to choose different ways of viewing the site. This may be desirable for a variety of reasons from making the site more accessable for visitors by enlarging text sizes, altering the contrast between background and text to changing the layout from the standard structure colour scheme just for the sake of it.

I'm also writing a program that converts Gedcoms to web pages in much the same way as Dan used to and I'm currently doing but by writing my own I hope to be able to create pages for the genealogical content that are able to fit in with the option of accepting multiple display options that are currently only available on the handwritten pages.

Layout changing - How it works

Each webpage has links to a selection of files that give info on how to layout the pages on your monitor. Each time a page is recieved by your computer it works out how to display it by looking for the relevant file. If you haven't selected one it displays it in the standard format. If you have previously specified you want the site displayed in a certain layout or style this prefernce is recorded on your computer as a cookie (a small text file that in this case stores a single word such as new, 1999, blue, grey etc for 24 hours). If you choose to change the style you prefer to view the site in it stores the new word in the cookie.

In order for this functionality to work it requires that your web browser has cookies and javascript enabled to allow the cookie to be stored and read back.

Layout changing - Try it now

The layout can be altered to another colour scheme by selecting one from the list displayed in the box under layout in the navigation area.