I made the changes to the website because I wanted to make the ENTS homepage crisper and professional looking and also more functional. The ENTS website home page had slowly over time become cluttered, visually noisy, and awkward to use. It was looking amateurish. When I started with the group, ENTS had a small website created by one of the original ENTS members, Matt Therrill. I re-envisioned the website to be a front end and archive of materials posted to the discussion list - at the time hosted by Topica. As the number of posts increased I would create new categories to better organize the materials and create new links and buttons to the newly created subject index pages. At first the buttons looked good, but as their number increased, I was forced to make them smaller, and finally they more than filled the page. The page became more and more cluttered and less and less functional as I added more stuff. I added a list of navigation links to the left side of the screen to aid in navigation some time ago, but really that was not an adequate solution. It was time for a change.
I opted to use frames to make the changes. Some people dislike frames, but really it was the only practical option. Similar page designs can be achieved using themes,templates, and style sheets but could not be easily implemented for the ENTS site. These options require changes to the html code on all of the pages on the site and we have a couple of thousand pages. For many pages this process can be accomplished automatically, but for many many other pages implementation would have required individual html coding. We have a variety of different page types ranging from basic html, to those with tables, to nested tables, to pdf files. These were generated by hand coding and by at least three different web page editors, each with their own quirks. The automated process would not supersede the hand coded elements on these existing pages and therefore many would likely no longer display properly without recoding by hand.
With the frames option the ENTS heading appears at the top of every page and a navigation list appears in the frame at the left side of every page. The main window displays the content from the individual pages. Since these pages are just displayed as is without any code changes, there are not any conflicts between older code and newer code. I particularly like how pages open from links to the Google List archive open within the content frame. For those few who might be unable to view web pages with frames with very old browsers, they can navigate the site using the old style home page and web structure by linking the starting point for the website to index0.html rather than the default index.html
Implementing the frames format was not difficult and only took an hour or so to make the major modifications. I spent quite a bit more time modifying all of the first level index link pages to be more consistent in appearance when they appearing the content frame. I made sure all of the appropriate links were in the leftmost pane and that they were all alphabetized. I fixed display problems on several of the pages that likely were not even noticeable to most users. I also updated several individual page - the Event page for example. I added a hyperlink to the ENTS logo at the top so that it would reopen the content window onto the new home page. I created a link so visitors can either open the ENTS BBS in a new window or within the content frame (default). I am still fussing with the changes. I find a typo here, so I open the editor, make the changes, and post them to the web. Then I find another change I want to make and do it all over again. I suppose my obsessive nature is driving me nuts, or that I am already nuts as indicated by my obsessive nature.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky