The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Site Improvements - Part 4 - Image Warehousing

First Image
The last improvement I made to the site in the recent major overhaul was not in the playbook originally. It is called Image Warehousing and I will explain the details shortly. Originally I looked at it as an under-the-hood improvement that would affect me, but have little impact on the end user. It was something I would have liked to have done originally when I set up the site. At this point in time image warehousing would be a huge undertaking. The change I was making for responsive design affected every page on the site, so if I was ever going to do it now would be the time. As it turns out there are several benefits to the end user of the site, some of which only occurred to me once I had image warehousing in place. If you are only interested in how it affects you skip down past the next two paragraphs which explain image warehousing and sub-domains.

So what is Image Warehousing? Quite simply it means instead of storing the images for the picture pages locally on the computer and having to upload them every time that page changed, they are uploaded to an area on the website and stored (warehoused) there. This makes the file for the website, called a RapidWeaver Sandwich file smaller. You don’t have to upload the pictures over and over again every time there is a change to the site.

The additional benefit to me is I could rectify a site organization issue I was forced to employ in the beginning, which was getting more and more ornery to deal with. RapidWeaver has limits on how big the RapidWeaver sandwich file could be. Not a hard limit, but a practical one. Over a certain size the sandwich files could become difficult to use and upload. When I set out to create my site there were only a few RapidWeaver Photo page types that could handle image warehousing and I didn’t like the looks of any of them at the time. The solution I used was called sub-domains. These were full domains that were a level below the main domains. The structure of the site was the main grillinsmokin.net domain plus 4 sub-domains: photos1, photos2, photos3 & blog. Each of these sub-domains had their own RapidWeaver sandwich file. The good news here was the amount of content was divided across 5 files, so each of these files was relatively small in size and easier to handle.


Before I had 5 RapidWeaver Sandwich files to work with, cross link and upload (left) The new reality is much more my speed (right).

The bad news here was the content was divided across 5 files and made links a nightmare at times. Their are two types of links in RapidWeaver: Internal and External. The internal links are other pages within that RapidWeaver sandwich file. They are available via a popup menu in the links dialogue boxes. RapidWeaver is able to track these pages internally. Their names or location can change and it is no big deal: the links to those pages still work. External Links are a traditional URL:
www.websitename/pagename.com. The url has to be exactly right or the page will not be found. The links between domain to sub-domain pages or sub-domain to sub-domain pages are external links for RapidWeaver. Any change to the name or location of the page required getting the new URL for that page and correcting the external link name in any of the other four sandwich files. Adding a new photo page required changes to the Home Page (Domain File) and the Photo Page (One of the 3 Sub-Domain Files) and I had to provide correct external links (URL) in at least 2 RapidWeaver sandwich files. Adding a totally new section or anything else that affected menu bar content, required changes to all 5 RapidWeaver files. Don’t even get me started about all the work required to find and correct all of the links for the various Indexes or links to Blog Entries. This was an ongoing nightmare and I am sure over time the amount of broken links due to site changes was constantly growing.


The new slide show has the captions along the bottom edge and controls for manually changing the slides forward or backwards by clicking your mouse on the left or right side of the slide (left). Mousing up to the right top corner of the slide brings up controls for a self-running slide show, a Help pop up and a Close Box (right). Clicking the area outside of the slide also returns you to the image gallery.

For those of you wondering: What’s in it for me? The answer is quite a few things actually. To implement image warehousing on my photo pages I had to use a third party add on called The Ultimate Warehouse Gallery. So the photo pages on the site have a slightly different appearance than the built-in RapidWeaver Photo page I had been using. The slideshow player that comes up when you click on an image thumbnail is a different player. I think it looks a little better personally. You will find controls to advance the pictures forward or backward one at a time. There are also controls to start a self running slide show. The biggest improvement you should notice is links should be more accurate going forward. Assuming I get the link right the first time, it should stay right forever going forward. With a single site and single RapidWeaver sandwich file, all links are internal links and they should track and accommodate any future page name or page location changes. Faster updates is another benefit to me and you if you enjoy seeing new photo or blog entries. Posting blogs is so much faster and easier because I only have one place to go not 2-3 RapidWeaver files. If I decide to add a new section that requires moving existing pages, it is not a major undertaking. I don’t have to get new URLS for these items Index listing or to fix their links in other Blog or Photo pages. Since creating new content and particularly new sections is easier I may do more of it.

So while this portion of the site overhaul was originally all about me, There are benefits to you with a better slideshow (IMHO), more accurate links and faster time for upgrades. It was a huge undertaking for me, but I am glad it has benefits for me and you.

Here are the links to the other entries in this series as well as the link to the RapidWeaver utility used for infinite blog scrolling.




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