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Current Site Overview, Feb. 2002

From May 2000, until August 2001 was mirrored on three servers: 1) Red Hat Linux 6.2 running Apache 1.3; 2) Windows NT 4.0, running Internet Information Server 4 and 3) OpenBSD 2.6, 2.7 and 2.8 each with Apache 1.3. When the NT Server self-destructed on Aug. 19, I decided the effort to restore it was not worth the benefits. The Red Hat 6.2 Linux server was replaced with Red Hat 7.2 on Nov. 29, 2001. In early February 2002 I put a new FreeBSD 4.4 server, running Apache 1.3.22 into service, more or less replaceing the missing NT server. In the fall of 2003, the three mirrored local servers were taken off line and the GeodSoft site moved to a single external hosted site.

Development was done primarily on an NT 4 workstation running Personal Web Server for testing. Most content development is done with the text editor TextPad from Helios Software Solutions. Occasionally Macromedia's Dreamweaver was used to layout a new page or debug a tricky spacing or formatting issue. Graphics have been developed mostly with Macromedia Fireworks but for some things Adobe Photoshop is preferred. The vector drawing core of the GeodSoft logo was developed in a trial copy of Macromedia's Freehand and the final displayed graphics were created in Fireworks.

In the fall of 2003, my old Windows NT workstation motherboard was damaged by a power surge despite being connected to a UPS. I salvaged the data but decided to move to a Linux desktop rather than buy a new Windows machine or repair the old one. Since then site updates, including the changes made when moving to a hosted service, have been mainly done with Quanta and occaisionly Vim. Apache is used as the development web server.

When I started this project, I fully expected the Windows NT web site would be the primary site or the one that and lead to. I had substantially (3+ years) more Windows NT web server experience than Linux or OpenBSD. I also had a functioning NT web site up months before I did any serious work on either of the other systems. Index Server was working fine on a site I used for Perl and Java Documentation. When I created a virtual site for on NT, I was not able to get Index Server to index it. I was able to get Swish-e and a Perl front end to work quite quickly on the Linux system. Since the Linux site has more functionality, it is the primary site.

All of the standard page components of all versions of the site are program generated by a platform independent Perl script. These include the standard page headers, all content in the right side column with the search form, platform graphics and site map as well as the page footers. Also the tables of contents and navigation aids in sections like this one, Making This Site, are generated by the same script which is generally referred to as the site maintenance script.

The design and development of the site maintenance script is covered in several pages starting with Time to Script in the Designing This Site section. This script allows any of the standard page components to be changed at will and propagated throughout the site with a minimum of work. I've switched the style of graphical navigation buttons and switched from graphics to text and finally eliminated top of page navigation aids altogether. The color scheme has changed. These changes only need to be made in one place in the script and then run it on each site.

The script includes an option to recursively process the directory tree and do the entire site in one operation. Now that the site is over 300 HTML pages, this takes over a minute per site on P3 500s. The script is responsible for all of the adaptive navigation aids that highlight the current page's location in the site. The script preserves files' original modification times so that these change only when page content and not style is updated.

When new pages are developed or page content is updated, the new/changed pages are copied to a transfer directory. From there a script picks them up, copies them to the other sites and erases them from the transfer directory. At the receiving sites another script moves the new files from the transfer directory to the actual web site directory and runs the standardization script on the new files. The process is not particluarly robust but it is functional. These scripts are discussed in Site Synchronization Scripts.

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Copyright © 2000 - 2014 by George Shaffer. This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in (or These terms are subject to change. Distribution is subject to the current terms, or at the choice of the distributor, those in an earlier, digitally signed electronic copy of (or cgi-bin/ from the time of the distribution. Distribution of substantively modified versions of GeodSoft content is prohibited without the explicit written permission of George Shaffer. Distribution of the work or derivatives of the work, in whole or in part, for commercial purposes is prohibited unless prior written permission is obtained from George Shaffer. Distribution in accordance with these terms, for unrestricted and uncompensated public access, non profit, or internal company use is allowed.

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