Thanks to some of the comments I received today about my website, which were largely positive, I will be changing my website quite considerably.
The comment that has stuck with me, and it's reinforced by the fact I've thought about it myself is that my website has become too big. I've developed a plan of action to tackle this problem in as few distruptive steps as possible (since now my tutorials have been gaining more popularity and my website is being used by many, I don't want to disrupt that).
My plan is this:
- Revert back to a single blog again, my Projects Blog will move back into my main blog.
- I will merge Software into my Projects section.
- I will create a completely new website (I've been thinking about this since early December) for my professional works
After hours of work and countless cans of juice, I have finished my website update for early 2017. Nothing has changed on the front-end except for my menu, which now implements BalfBar 1.2 and also now has padding on the dropdowns as well as new uppercase text.
This update did focus primarily on updating the back-end, primarily introducing DragonScript 2, the replacement for my January 2015 DragonScript package. This new version is much faster and works on the idea of hashing data rather than storing it in an array. It's a huge performance improvement that makes this website speedier than ever. On top of that I have been stripping parts of my website that are no longer needed with a focus on not only making the website faster but streamlining it so that it is easier for me to update and add to.
Disruptions have been minimal as I continued to support DragonScript version 1 on my website simultaneously with DragonScript 2, but as of five minutes ago, the two year old version has been retired.
Will DragonScript 2 get a release? I doubt it. I don't plan to make it available now because it would be too much work since it is now intertwined heavily with my website. It is possible I will develop a more open, WN Project based on DragonScript, but not yet.
Finally, on top of the menu getting a little update. I decided to push my dark theme further on my website, and for the first time have built dark code samples. The choice to do this was inspired by the fact I now use Adobe Dreamweaver again, and I really like it's dark theme. This now makes them easier to see on top of looking much nicer.
var x = "Test"
This update removes even more skeumorphic designs and focuses even further on the flat design. It does however retract a bit on the statement I made about getting rid of curves, with more and more objects across the site being curved. Alas, I could not resist a couple of circular objects and feel they fit better than the square ones did.
It has taken me most of last weekend and some of today (I have other work to be doing for my PhD as well, so I can't give this full dedication) to get here, but I'm happy to say that DragonScript 2 is finally here on my website.
All pages have yet to have this but any page which is within sections from A-M are now enabled for DragonScript 2 apart from my developer tools. You can probably see the speed difference between the two.
Oh and it was exactly 4 years ago tomorrow that I rebuilt my website for the first time, and for the very first time used HTML5 and CSS. Version 2.0 was finally released tomorrow 4 years after a long struggle to rebuild the content. Now in version 3.7 I'm quite happy with the way things are, particularly now with DragonScript 2 and BalfBlog.
I am happy to announce that my website has had quite a few new changes in the last few weeks, all of which I am finishing now. They are almost all content based but some also improve the actual usability of the website.
Last month I began to implement an improved version of DragonScript, DragonScript 2. DS2, codenamed Robber, is a huge update that improves the performance of the backend of my website, thus resulting in shorter loading times for users. It will take a while for me to bring it to every page on my website since some are still using DragonScript 2015 and I have to manually change the PHP file to update the page to DS2.
New page percentage scroller
If you are on my website reading this then you will see that I have implemented one of those scrollers that goes from left to right as you scroll further down the page. I thought this was a nice navigation element to bring to my website and it was pretty easy to implement so, well you know, I thought I'd give it a try. Lemme know what you think by the usual method!
Goodbye old email accounts
My website email addresses are now limited to the webmaster, information and the no-reply subscribe and admin. Getting in touch via the contact form now goes straight to my personal email address.
I've finished my MySQL tutorial and I am now working on a new tutorial on Web Design. This tutorial focuses on design techniques, design patterns and methods to make a website more efficient and usable. It's fully planned out (and believe it or not I am organising it using the web design technique called card sorting). This tutorial is already coming on. The inspiration to start this tutorial comes from a book I recently purchased on design techniques. It also comes from the fact I now consider myself a bit of a design geek, since I am absolutely obsessed with usability and aesthetically appealing designs now more than ever.
New site features
On top of this, clickit.education will finally shut down this year since I didn't receive enough in donations to cover it. The same goes for the zenlang.net website I never finished. I will be moving both to subdomains on my website (www.sites.jamiebalfour.com). On top of that my DevNet will no longer be maintained. All of this allows me to focus more on my personal website, which I guess is good. I may bring back zenlang.net at some point in the near future, but for now clickit.education will be the biggest loss. Like I said, it is all based on donations which were just not enough this year (there is also ad revenue, which I keep most of so I can continue to pay for things like Creative Cloud used to maintain this website).
In January of 2015, I redeveloped the backend of my website and released my DragonScript powered website. DragonScript is not really even a programming language or anything, so the name is a kind of misnomer, so I wasn't entirely sure about it, but I kept it anyway and it's my plan to keep the name.
My latest changes will be known as DragonScript 2.0. This is a backend change that should not affect the front of my website. However, it is a huge change. Part of this change is developing my old BalfPHP file into a more modern, object oriented version. DragonScript 2.0 focuses on a much cleaner and a more efficient, as well as overall faster, development that will focus on what's actually needed to make my website function and removes a lot of the ugly bits that were a part of it before. As well as this, DragonScript 2.0 utilises an object oriented approach.
After messing with some ideas, I finally decided to ditch my oversubscribed underused newsletter system on jamiebalfour.com and replaced it with push notifications. These push notifications are achieved thanks to OneSignal's service.
Push notifications represent a much lighter way for me to develop a communication method, similar to Twitter and allow me to send much smaller and more frequent messages to my subscribers. On top of this, they allow me to get immediate results out there. They are a huge part of the open web and moving towards a more standards based approach.
My plan is to deeply integrate these push notifications through OneSignal into BalfBlog in the near future. At the same time, I will also integrate them into my website.
As well as this, users of my website who can login will be the only people to receive email updates. These will mostly be related to software alphas, beta versions and new features to come to my website as well as my software.
Finally, the subscribe page (which was also the very first bit of PHP I ever wrote on my website) will also be disappearing. Well, not entirely. I'm going to keep it with details on how to subscribe, including a button that will help you to do so.
I hope this is satisfactory with everyone, but if you wish to be unsubscribed from my website, please email me now using the contact form on my website.
You can easily subscribe for push notifications through the button that says 'Subscribe' on it or by clicking on the button below:
As part of the on going updates to BalfBlog my own site has to adapt very slightly to the new changes. Since my website is reliant on BalfBlog for the reviews, articles and indeed all the blogs and journals on my website, it is absolutely essential I carry out maintenance to keep up with it. The changes make no actual different to appearance of the website, but they do require that you refresh the page to see the website properly.
The new update to BalfBlog makes several changes to the way in which the CSS is represented. This update follows along side the new update that focuses on adding more white space in the form of padding to my website on desktop.
I'm very happy to say that I have kept my word on website changes in that I haven't made major changes to the structure of my website in the last year. Minor usability tweaks have been made but nothing major, and a lot of the stuff that I have changed has remained quite consistent with the 'new' flat interface.
If you feel the same way, please leave feedback, I'm really interested to know. Also, my website achieved 1000 people each week this month - by a long shot the best result to date. It has also moved up 11,852,082 places in the Alexa ranking system as a result of this surge in the last month alone.
I think a lot of the improvement on my website comes from the fact that I have not been focusing on these changes and ensuring that there is good content on my website, as my blog is now one of the most viewed parts of my website and my reviews are not far behind.
A lot of the time changes are now directly to improve the DragonScript concept for a more efficient server side website. I have also been removing bits and bobs from the accessibility menu, since I no longer feel the need for this.
However, as a suggestion was made to me to do this, I will be updating my website with a new cover picture-esque thing like Facebook pages have. This will likely be a picture of Perthshire or somewhere in Scotland.
I'm not really doing much on my website in terms of design but I am simplifying my website by removing things I no longer deem necessary. The first of those was the removal of Dark Mode (a feature of BalfBar and always will be, but not of my website any longer) since I was always in favour of the dark menu myself and will not be letting users choose the light menu any longer. I have also removed the invert colour feature of my website as of recently and will next be looking at removing the max page accessibility feature and the font size changing features. I will also look at removing other accessibility features and I'm not sure where it will end.
In the last few days I've been focusing a lot of my time on software development rather than my usual web development. As a result ZPE has received more of my time than my website. This changed again today when I decided to work on it again.
Today I brought back the Facebook commenting system to my website, replacing my long lasted Disqus comment system. As a result of this, I am also including this in BalfBlog 2.1 instead of Disqus. The main benefit is now users no longer have to enter an individual post to comment on it (for the main blog mode, not introduction mode).
DISQUS_SHORTNAME and the related settings are no longer required since Facebook does not need users to login.
On my website side of things again, I have been focused on ensuring the OpenGraph content is up to date on my website. You should see that it is now pretty concise and works effectively every time and as a result sharing looks much better with Facebook.