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Site Development

      May I introduce myself ...       My name is Allan Oliver and I maintain the Shropshire Philatelic Society website. Now you may already be wondering what this has to do with your local society, and hopefully this will become clear as I ramble on ...

      In the early hours of the cold and wet morning of the 6th December 2007 I was chatting to one of your members, (Mr Stuart Tanner), who was looking into the possiblities of setting up a website for the Lagan Valley PS. Knowing that I set up and now maintain the Shropshire PS website, he asked various questions, such as: What was involved?, How do you host a site?, What were the costs? and What objections had to be overcome when I first started?    ...    The main problem was the answer to the last question ...

      In general, philatelic society websites are an unknown factor. It is not known how they will be accepted by members, it is unkown if they will generate any new members and so it is unknown if they wil be cost effective. In short the entire project becomes an "unknown" and the general feling is "why spend money on an unkown?"

      Having full access to the Philatelic.org server I am able to develop a philatelic site at almost no cost, and suggested to Stuart that the Lagan Valley site could be started in the similar way as a sub-section to my site. Now that needs a little bit of explaining ...

      As a sub-section of the Shropshire PS site this means that it is very easy to link into the research that is already online. It will be seen from the Research Information section that you already have access to a number of on-line philatelic collections, a basic philatelic translator, a philatelic library and an online version of the penny red plater. All these items were developed for the Shropshire PS site. It will also be noted that one member has already submitted a collection for on-line display and this is listed with all the other collections available as well as under a section for your own members collections / displays.

      The drawback to this approach is updates to the site. As I work directly on the server, any updates need to be made by me hence, all details need to be forwarded to me and I generate the pages required or update those already in place. This set-up may need to be changed as the site develops, but for the early stages, especially where as Stuart stated, he had no idea how to put the pages together, this seems to be a good starter option. I should state here that should the society wish at some point to host the pages somewhere else, then I will provide all the pages so that a switch over can be made as easily as possible.

      To return to the morning of the 6th December, after just a few hours we had a basic site in place, all-be-it, the options placed on the main page did not link up with the required information (acceptable if one realises that this was being done at 4 O'clock in the morning). Over the following days, Stuart sent out some emails to members and based on the comments that were returned, various alterations were made to the site. These included the textured background to the pages, buttons to link to special sections, a banner at the top of the pages and a host of minor revisions that don't show, but make the whole work better.

      By the 9th December, the site had a working basic format that would allow for expansion, and many of the details supplied had been put in place. This was followed by contact from Carole Barbosa in the early hours of the 10th December, who had been looking at some of the on-line displays / collections. The point raised was if a collection she had could be scanned and added to the site and how to make this happen. It was explained that all I required were scans of the pages, (all in the same size) and that I would generate the pages for their display as well as link it into the main index of collections on-line. Not appearing to want to miss the chance presented, the scans started to arrive, and I set about making the pages for this collection of "Stamps on Stamps" for the site. The final scan arrived about 3-30am and the entire collection was on-line, linked from both the main collections menu and a seperate section for members collections around 4-30am. Whilst I can-not promise to get others up this quickly, it does at least show that with a little co-operation we can add to the philatelic information that is out there for collectors to learn from.

      As a final word, I would encourage members to support this site. Send emails to your club officers or use the email address on the main page. This is YOUR site, I am only hosting the pages and helping if I can. If an idea is put forward and I can make it happen I will and anything I need to know will be passed to me by Stuart -- the rest is between the members and the society officers.

      I hope you like whats in place ..... Regards ALLAN


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