Post #26 made 1 year ago
Why 2017 (and not before?) - In Brief Our goal, for quite some time, has been to create a new and improved site - good-looking, fast, easy-to-use, fun and informative. To do this required the right information, technology and structure, plus the time to put it all together. Developing the right information (and tools) has taken years of work with many members pitching in over this time. Technology is now at a level where you don't have to be a coder to get some great things happening - or so we thought (more info below ) The structure of the new site has been solved, so, how about 'time'? "The Long Version", below, gives more detail on 'time' - suffice to say that Patch and I started work fulltime on the new site in May 2016, thinking it would only take three months... It's now been nine months but, the good news is: We've solved all the critical 'grey areas' - ie the hardest work has been done now, so I think we can safely say that the new site is not merely a possibility, but should be with us very soon. [attachment=0]Relics.jpg[/attachment] The Long Version Before I came along, thousands of hours had already been contributed by some members, developing what will be the content of the new site. This included questioning some existing information or tools, lots of detailed experimentation, as well as answering the same questions over and over, until they found the perfect analogy or tool to make it all easier. Identifying the gaps in existing information, and filling them, has been a very long process - for instance, the problem of 5 types of IBU systems! Multiply that problem by a thousand and you can imagine the work done before I even arrived. BIABrewer.info ran for many years on a forum software, "phpBB 3.0". Even making a simple change required a proficiency at coding. Patch started to write the new site in that version of the software about 18 months ago, however, it was cumbersome and still not user-friendly. No other alternative technology could be found at that time that would not require a professional coder. When I came along in May, we had a look around and saw some software that we thought would solve our IT problems - "Great!" we thought, "That takes care of that," so we spent the next several weeks writing articles, taking photos of processes etc. This gave us a better idea of how we needed to structure the site, so we delved into that. We then encountered a massive setback. We realised that our chosen software, after a solid month of study, just wouldn't work. Any "add-on" caused problems or would simply not work at all - "bridging" an article side with a forum side was going to require a reincarnation of Steve Jobs! As well as trying to solve these new problems, we also worked on the structure of the site with the aim that the right info would be fast to find, for any brewer, of any method & experience level. This was a mind-boggling process. Patch's living room was transformed into a flurry of whiteboards and butchers paper. We'd make a plan, test it from all angles, and ultimately find a major flaw in our thinking. I found this process frustrating - however, Patch is quite happy spending time simplifying information, and remained confident we would find the solution. We worked from top-side down, bottom-up and inside out and, at last, it finally came together!!! By this stage, phpBB had come up with version 3.1 which didn't require a coder to operate. And, it seemed one could create html pages as well (such as the BIPs page). Yay! However, it hasn't been easy. Once again, many add-ons would not work at all (we tested over 125) and many needed specialised modifications to get them to work. And the html side was not simple at all. In fact, it was only 3 weeks ago that we were able to find a "Bootstrap Editor" that could help us fix this... Patch knew that getting the new site up and running would take two to three months of full-time work from both of us; it isn't something one could do in spits and spurts. And, in May 2016, we were full of hope and high expectations. We would often tell each other that the site would be up in another three weeks! Even this long version of the story does not do justice to the experience of the last nine months. We started with some Dutch Courage, combined with a hefty dosage of blood, sweat and tears; added a dollop of spontaneous hilarity; sprinkled with sage and wisdom; topped with a layer of innovation; half-baked then garnished with a sprinkling of ingenuity, and served it all alongside a million-or-so ice cold IPAs. I hope that the work I've done here will be of great service to those most admirable members who have spent so much time and effort before my time! Anyway - the only problems left to solve are not critical, they can wait - phew! All that is left to do is compile the content which is simply a juggle of time and money now. The end is in sight. Cheers, Sarah
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Last edited by Sarah on 26 Jan 2017, 09:30, edited 11 times in total.
No BIPs? Get them while they're hot!
No BIPs? Get them while they're hot!
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