For a while I have been pondering a way to make it easier for users to submit their Flickas to the site.
In the previous system I started off with user accounts but I soon realised that it was totally impractical to allow public users to own their Flicka record. This is because Flickas change hands so often. If I gave people database access and then let them enter a Flicka then what happens when they sell that Flicka? I would need some way of transferring the ownership of that record to the new owner. This is then complicated by the fact that Flickas are often renamed after a change of ownership.
The solution I opted for was to provide full database access to a small band of helpers who could add/edt the data whenever it suited.
This worked quite well for the database and a lot of boats were logged. But a lack of communication between the editors sometimes led to Flickas being added twice or a new Flicka record being created when a Flicka was renamed.
I did consider the idea of some kind of temporal system whereby Flicka names are held in a different table and the history of a Flicka could be tracked over time. But in the end this was all too much for a hobby project.
By the time I came to build the new site I was determined to simplify everything as much as possible. I had to keep maintenance to a minimum if I was to ever go to sea again.
I decided to ditch user accounts entirely and strip the site down to the essentials. I re-built the database and interfaces from scratch making them faster to work with and easier to maintain. The facility is still there to grant access to other users but for now I will be the sole database maintainer.
I had hoped that when I took over the site I might be able get at least most of the Pacific Seacraft built Flickas listed on the database.
In this regard I have failed dismally because there are still only about 160 Flickas accounted for. PSC made at least 423.
Where are all the others?
In order to improve the process of getting a Flicka into the database I have just finished a new submissions form. This will enable a user to enter all the details of their boat online and then post this to the database. I will receive an email when this happens and can then review the data and check it's not spam. The user will then have to email me some pictures which I will format and upload.
This will save me the constant chore of typing all the data into the system. The new file upload method I am using is much quicker and easier to work with than the old one. So I can often get the images up in five or ten minutes.
The complication is when a Flicka already exists. In that event I will have to liase with the owner and see what they want changed. But once the system is as stable and bug free as I can make it I might consider a guest account so that someone can log in and edit a particular flicka. But that's something for the future.
Unfortunately at least 50% of Flicka owners I have contact with find basic computer work a struggle. Perhaps that accounts for the paucity of flicka owners getting in touch to have their boats listed? Maybe, but I like to think they're just too busy sailing.
If you have a Flicka you'd like to list then please try out the new submissions form.
Well, the first cut of the new Flicka 20 web site is complete. I hope you like it. I've not had time to build a new logo or re-work the original banner. I plan to do that later once I've had some sleep and done my tax return and cleaned the car and weeded the garden and built a shed and gone on holiday. And who knows? Maybe even been to sea in a boat again..
For now I've focussed on getting the core features back up and running under the new architecture.
The old site was hosted under an increasingly creaky Dotnetnuke 4.9. I had tried upgrading several times but always ran into problems and gave up. I pondered using the latest version of DNN (now 8.x) for the new site but I wanted to try something different. DNN has been a great tool over the years but I wanted to learn some new stuff and build something leaner and more manageable.
I am a big fan of NancyFx and decided to build this new site with it. Nancy is clever and fast and very nice to work with. I much prefer it to .NET MVC for it's simplicity and ease of use. I soon realised that I could be extremely productive using Nancy and get away from dependence on third party modules and the persistent bugs that had caused me such headaches with Dotnetnuke.
For the new site I decided to do away with the stuff that was an additional maintenance duty on top of the for sale pages and database. The blog, gallery, gear for sale and public registration had to go.
There is still the option to grant user accounts to a select few database editors if need be but people will have to use external services for blogging and individual Flicka sites.
I hope that the Flicka forum will continue to thrive under the Yahoo Groups service.
Unfortunately a great deal of the images I have from the old site are just too poor quality or too small to be of much use.
This means that most of the cover shots are of just my former Flicka Caraway and Tom Davison's Flicka Blue Skies.
I will keep all the original content and images for a while and may put them into a new gallery at some point. We'll see.
This new site has been built with a focus on being usuable across a wide variety of devices. This means that you should be able to access and read all content on an Apple iPhone, Android tablet or Amazon Kindle as well as a desktop Windows PC or Apple. I have found that over 50% of visitors are now using mobile or tablet devices so I hope this makes the experience better for you all.
Angus Beare, June 2016