Many of you are seeing a new and very different look to the rcdb starting on November 14th. If you are still seeing the old look, you are probably using an outdated web browser. The biggest offenders are versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer prior to version 9 as they do not support HTML5 and therefore the new look.
The word "Smartphone" hadn't even been coined 8 years ago when the previous look was designed and hence, no consideration was given to such a device. Today about 25% of the rcdb's traffic comes from mobile devices and that is growing quickly. Clearly, a mobile solution is needed and the new look is a big step in that direction. The change many are talking about is the hidden navigation links. Taking these out of constant view is necessary to make a consistent interface across all versions.
Some have asked "Why not just write an rcdb app?" It is simply an issue of time. While the market is currently dominated by Apple and Android phones, Windows Phone is growing and a Mozilla phone is on the horizon. That's four apps in addition to the normal website and four times the work for yours truly.
While the new look has not introduced any wiz-bang new features (yet) a couple have been improved enough to mention.
The photo galleries have seen a much needed update. You'll find they make far better use of the screen size and the navigation is less annoying. This design will allow for larger photos as well as "gesture" navigation on touch devices in the future. Another advantage is changing pictures now does just that, changes pictures and not whole pages as before. This speeds things a bit. Some have noticed these pages are not currently linkable. A solution for this is in the works, but isn't ready. The whole new photo gallery system came about in two very late nights of coding and your webmaster does need to occasionally sleep.
The roller coaster and amusement park pages have been reorganized to keep the most valuable information up top and tuck the more trivial information down below. Some photos have been introduced on these pages. Currently these are sequentially the first few photos. Given time these will be organized to be the best photos. There are 45,000 photos so again, I'm using that, it takes time excuse. Did I mention there are now 45,000 photos in the database? Many thanks go to Rik Engelen for reaching that milestone.
If none of this has sold you on the new look or you suffer from OMS (Old Man Syndrome) and you just want the old look back, we've got your back. Go to "Preferences" and change "Bling level" from "Auto Select" to "HTML4 / CSS2". You won't see future features in this mode and I cannot say how long it will be maintained, but for now it works. I'm all ears to anyone wishing to share constructive criticism on why they prefer this old mode.
Some changes mentioned here and some done earlier in the year were inspired by an ironic backfire. While every webmaster wants their site to be frequented by search engines, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. The rcdb previously used URL system where the URL differed depending on what language you were using and what unit of measure you used. Take in consideration the 11,600 pages in the rcdb which can be viewed in 10 languages with two different units of measure. That is 232,000 unique pages in the mind of a search engine. But wait; don't forget to add in those 45,000 pictures in 10 languages with two different units of measure. Now those 11,600 pages plus pictures look like over one million pages. The result is a very overworked web server. The new design has a lighter URL footprint and those 11,600 pages look like 11,600 pages as they should.
Thanks for reading and have a good holiday season,