Monday, March 21, 2005

Online TODO Lists

I am now moving away from the Development phase to the promotion phase.
I am finding that the personal process needed here isn't the same as I used when developing (see my Big Charts post)
What I have now is hundreds of little TODOs when doing business development and promotion.
After a bit of searching I found 'The Simplest Thing That Works' with an online todo list/ WIKI-like thing at:

JotNote.com
- The Online To-Do List


Give it a try.

Fortunately, the launch of RoadRaceResults.com hasn't had many programming fires to put out. But all the little tasks are piling up and I am entering a mode called 'Running Down the Hall with Your Hair on Fire". A picture is worth a thousand words...

Promotion of RoadRaceResults.com has started

Yesterday marked the first day that I promoted RoadRaceResults.com within the target market - runners in Ontario.
The first big road race of the year in this area is the Around-the-Bay 30K run. I attended this race and promoted the site.
Can you tell from the daily stats graph when I started promoting the site...


The great thing is that there are still almost no referrers so that means thousands of users have typed in RoadRaceResults.com.

I haven't done anything for SEO so I still an not indexed. That is at the top of my list. (see next Blog entry about Todo List).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Serious Design Flaw in PHP Development Environment

I was forced to buy 'File Recovery for Windows' late Sunday night.
DOOOH!

Here's the scenario.
In Zend Dev Studio...
1. Right Click a Project and click 'Add to Project' in the context menu
2. Try to select a file in c:\RoadRaceResults directory
3. Double click RoadRaceResults directory (instead of click)
This adds the c:\RoadRaceResults directory to the project rather than open up the folder to allow a file in it to be selected.
4. So remove this folder from the project and try to add the file again.
Do this by Right Clicking c:\RoadRaceResults in project and click Delete.

THIS DELETES THE ACTUAL FOLDER RATHER THAN REMOVING IT FROM THE PROJECT!

Folder and all subdirectories GONE!
And since it was deleted by an app it isn't in Recycle Bin.

Thank God for my nightly backups to another computer but this day was an amazingly productive day.
All the work this day was lost.

Quickly do a search for recovery software.
FILE Recovery for Windows seems like the best bet.
I gave it a try.
I was able to find some files that had some of the content I was looking for. Of course the filenames didn't give a hint but the Last Modified time helped narrow it down. With some hunting, all the bytes of the files were somewhere on the hard drive and in a couple hours I was able to piece everything back together. I got to bed after 1AM considerably less stressed than I was a couple hours earlier.

Bad feedback for Zend Dev Studio.
Great feedback for FILE Recovery for Windows.

Technologies used for RoadRaceResults.com Portal

After evaluating several languages, tools and environments, here is what I finally decided on to deploy RoadRaceResults.com.

The criteria were:
- excellent development environment
- site will be all dynamic pages
- quick execution speed, site must be very responsive
- support and documentation easy to access, many other developers to tap into
- hosting of chosen technologies widely available and competively prices
- compatibility with all client platform
- compatibility with at least one common server platform
- cost
- server logging, monitoring and statistics

Factors that were not very important, if at all:
- learning curve
- complexity
- third party components availability

I needed to choose technologies for:
-web application server
- server-side application development and hosting
- database
- page markup
- some client-side functionality
- development envisome client-side functionality

I always lean toward technologies that are low-level to gain speed at the expense of complexity. I have a great deal of experience with CGI and some ISAPI filter experience so that wasn't out of the question. Those would result in the most responsive sites. But cost was a factor here and hosting was more limited for these. I would have had to co-locate the host right from day one if I went this way. Eventually, I will need to co-locate but I wanted to wait to grow into that.

I have experience with ASP.NET and some ASP experience so those were each a possibility. My experience with these is that there is a bit more overhead than I am comfortable with. In addition, my tendency to low-level solutions pushed me away from these but I seriously considered .NET. Hosting is getting quite easy to find and cost effective.

Finally, I jumped on the bandwagon and selected PHP and mySQL even though I hadn't every used them. I was up to speed quite quickly and everything is going great so far. Easy to learn. Quick responsive site. Easy to deploy. Widely available hosting. Cost effective. etc. etc.

For the development environment I tried several CSS editors, HTML editors, graphics tools, PHP development environments and FTP clients. I'm not going to take the time to list all the tools I didn't choose but suffice to say, I tried almost everything.

Here's what I finally choose:

  • HTML Pad or Rapid CSS from Blumentals (RapidPHP from Blumentals didn't make the cut though)

  • Zend Studio Client (excellent PHP debugging)

  • Navicat 2004 (mySQL client)

  • Flash FTP

  • Easy GIF Animator (Blumentals)

  • Corel Draw

  • MS Paint

  • JASC Aftershot (for simple filtering and transforming images)

  • TextPAD



I'm still deciding on the site monitoring and site analysis tools.
WebTrends seems very good so far.
Save yourself some time. If you're building a portal with medium traffic then these tools will allow you to deploy a responsive, reliable site in a minimum amount of time.

RoadRaceResults.com BETA Launched!

As reported in a previous Blog entry, in January I changed gears from my qWIKpage Intranet prototype to the design and development of RoadRaceResults.com.
Now, after about a month of development I have launched the RoadRaceResults.com BETA site!

Please, take a look and give me any feedback you can think of...

  • Look'n'Feel

  • Colors, Fonts

  • Site navigation

  • Features

  • Useability

  • etc.



Thanks
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