Technical Bulletin – September 2017

First of all, apologies that some of the previously promised functional upgrades have not yet materialised. This is the busiest time of year for data collection (updating the new season’s programmes for groups listed here) and that has to take priority. After all, without up-to-date details of forthcoming concerts, the site would be pointless!

Now that the list of groups has expanded to over 350, keeping tabs of additions and modifications to the schedules had become very time-consuming, so the latest backroom change to the way the site is kept up-to-date is use of a site monitoring service. The one I’ve chosen is www.followthatpage.com, which for a very modest annual fee allows me to keep track of 1,000 webpages on a daily basis. Now, whenever there is a change on any of the pages being monitored, I receive an email to let me know what has altered. Sometimes the changes are minor or cosmetic and of no interest to me at all, but if I can see there’s a change to dates, venues, times or programmes, I can visit the site and make all the necessary alterations to our database. No longer do I have to waste time checking the majority of sites to find they haven’t changed at all.

The other technical change this month is that the process of exporting the data from our database into the software that formats it all into the pages you see on this site has now been automated. In effect, SQL data is converted to HTML data with just two clicks of the mouse. Unfortunately, the final stage of the process – uploading the pages to the hosting site – still has to be done manually for now, but at some point in the future, this may be automated too.

As a result of these backroom changes, the database is being updated more frequently, and the time taken to create new versions of site pages is greatly reduced, which means that I’m now able to upload a new version of the site roughly once a week, rather than once a month.

Update – 22/09/2017
A useful modification to the Groups Lists – you can now display in-page details of each concert by clicking on a symbol to the left of each concert date. This is a much quicker way of seeing further information than clicking on the date to open the whole diary. However, you can still click on the date if you want to see the concert in the context of other events on the same day.

Update – 28/09/2017
Two minor changes: (a) in the Groups lists, groups whose names begin with the definite article are now listed under the first letter of the second word of their name, rather than under ‘T’ for ‘The’ (e.g. ‘The Pico Players’). (b) The date of the last update is now displayed on every page.

If you want to read last month’s technical bulletin, click here.