I started the overhaul in October 2004 when I wanted to introduce a way to list all the articles and jump to the article of choice. Since I started Cooking For Engineers on Blogger, I realized that this feautre did not exist. I had to implement my own database to keep track of the article titles and URLs for the new Table of Contents page. After that a series of database enhancements and code revisions increased the power of the Cooking For Engineers Content Management System.
In May 2005, I finally implemented a way to store comments without using Blogger. I accomplished this by tying the comments in with the Community Forums. Unfortunately, I couldn't do it with the original forums software and had to migrate to new forum software to accomplish this. The forums have not yet recovered from this move (which required participants to re-register).
Since May (for the last five months), I've been working on designing and implementing a brand new interface that I could truly call Cooking For Engineers. The original interface was a modified version of an original Blogger template called Rounders 4 written by Douglas Bowman. This template, although well suited for Cooking For Engineers, was by no means unique and was the last bit of Blogger left on the website.
So, today, October 14, 2005, I've launched the new interface and layout (after a series of late-night marathon coding sessions during the last two weeks). The new layout's had several goals:
- The old layout was very narrow. I wanted to increase the width of the page and have it scale with screen resolution.
- To increase horizontal space, I wanted to get rid of the sidebar. Most of the info on the side bar was used for site navigation. I have replaced the navigation with two horizontal navigation bars at the top of every page. The first bar lists the article categories and will pull down to reveal the article titles. The second bar provides the links that used to be found in the Quick Links part of the sidebar.
- I wanted the website to be less time bound. The old interface highlighted only the most recent articles. The new interface currently shows the last two articles as well as a random recipe and random equipment or kitchen notes article (random by day). Hopefully, this will help encourage readers to explore some older articles that may be of interest.
- A lot of readers liked the color and feel of the old website, so I wanted to maintain a similar color palette. I felt the old look was a bit "faded", so I punched up some of the color contrast and used fewer rounded corners.
The interface is by no means complete. There are still several "special" pages that need to be updated to the new look. The Table of Contents, Recommended Reading, and Ingredients Dictionary are just a few. Also, Printer Friendly mode has not yet been implemented, but the Internet Explorer bug that prints blank pages is no longer a problem. However, when printing from Internet Explorer, you may still need to resize the margins or print in landscape to get the text to fit. Never fear, I will be adding a printer friendly mode as soon as I get a chance. Many other upgrades were also suggested (such as the inclusion of EXIF data for the photographs) and most of them will be slowly phased in.
For those of you who haven't seen the old format, click here for a taste of the old Cooking For Engineers.}?>
If you've been wondering why I haven't been writing any new articles, now you know why. Enjoy!