So about a week ago I started in on the site revisions at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual. I had a list of tasks in my hand and a smile on my face, and I said to myself:
"Well, self! This won’t be so bad!"
…without realizing that these were the exact words spoken by Xerxes when he led his army up the Pass of Thermopylae.
Like Xerxes, I now know that a few days of hard work, relentless cursing, and some treachery can take you a long way.
Whenever it was possible I isolated my little explosions from the public areas of the site… but despite that, there were plenty of momentary glitches (sorry!) . I had to keep the site’s cache turned off for most of the week, too, and that slowed things down a bit.
But now…. now…. I stand atop a heap of dismembered bugs, glitches, misunderstood syntax, and incomprehensible documentation as though they were so many fallen Spartans. The dripping blade of my text editor is raised in triumph. A harsh, humorless smile creases my face. Now, is that Thebes over there?
Before I do the final two housekeeping tasks, there’s just one thing that I think could be better optimized… and since it’s the page that’ll display the most recent entry in a (linear) story, I think it’s an important one. It’s that page you’d want to bookmark to see the latest updates immediately. So, like I said, important. I’m pretty sure that if I can be just slightly smarter I can make it load faster.
But there’s some neat stuff that finally works. The linear stories have an additional set of navigation links that make it easy to go forward and backwards through the story, or to go straight to the first or latest page. (The normal Save/Restore system works, too, just like in the interactive tales.) I’ve also added a comments panel to the linear story pages, which is neat and pretty well secured against spam. The comments panel is hidden by default, but with a click you can unfold it to read or add comments. And though I know you don’t care about this one much, I can now define custom rotating ads to appear on individual static pages, or have unique ads for each story.
The other major revision was a big change to the way the pages are built, so that they’ll be better indexed by the search engines. That was the first thing I did and it went live early in the week, so that as the search engine bots come through they’ll be finding what they think is new and better content on all the existing pages. It’s the same content we’ve been looking at all along, of course: those poor bots just didn’t understand that it was there.
So I’ve got just a few more days to go before it’s all done and (even more) tested, and then I can begin to add the actual content for the first thirty-three pages of The Lair of the Clockwork Book. They’ll be time-released to post on Mondays and Thursdays, starting sometime in the first half of February. Honest!