September, 1999

Shakespeare Resource Center screen shot from September, 1999

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This was a design created in anticipation of moving from the /~feiffor/bard/ site to its own domain. The Shakespeare Resource Center had existed for over two years on a free membership site as a framed design. Part of the idea was to get away from the frames, and part of the idea was that it just seemed wrong not to tinker with the site design when the site was going to change its Web address. That's what happens when you work with HTML design for a living—it's a quick-to-publish medium, and it's far too easy to tinker, which in turn can lead to constant tinkering with the look and feel.

At any rate, I contacted Earthlink in late August/early September and started talking about one of their site packages. Fortunately, I was making enough at the General Board to absorb the extra $20 a month that a unique domain was going to cost me. I had also picked up a few tricks here and there with CGI and PERL (just enough to be dangerous), so I was eager to test just what I could do. After some research (and the realization that just about every domain with "Shakespeare" in it was taken), I settled on "bardweb.net" as a good compromise.

Having a unique domain meant a number of things:

  • An easier to remember address than home.earthlink.net/~feiffor/bard/
  • Site logs, where I could actually begin to determine accurately visitor statistics and the like.
  • The chance to incorporate my own CGI scripts into the site.
  • FrontPage server extensions to make changes a little easier. *

* Again, I don't want to seem like a shill for Microsoft. I am, in fact,  in favor of most measures designed to take Mr. Gates and his company down a peg. With regard to FrontPage 2000, it is a good product, but I designed the first two versions of this site with nothing more than SimpleText on a Mac Performa 637CD. Just in case anyone tried to accuse me of being an MS tool jockey.

The other most notable change in this design was the JavaScript pull-down menu. I was always concerned whether or not people got the hang of this, but I never received any specific complaints about it. Besides which, every page on the site had a text link equivalent in the page footer, so it seemed to work out fine.

I was also finally able to ditch the JavaScript search page in favor of an actual PERL search engine, and I could at last ditch the Earthlink guest script for e-mail processing for another PERL script of my own. Great days were ahead, except that my girlfriend/future wife and I were also, in September of 1999, in the process of hunting down a house in which we could live. She convinced me (with a minimal amount of violence) that the house hunt would take precedence over my website. This delayed the initial release of bardweb.net a bit longer than I preferred, but saved me immeasurable emotional and physical pain.

We closed on our house October 29, 1999, and the site went live at www.bardweb.net on November 15, 1999.

By the way, if you're wondering what is the significance of the 11/22/99 news date, that's the largest single content upgrade to the site. That's the day that I released 34 of 38 play synopses to the site. The rest came within the two weeks after that. I had been debating for some time whether or not to include synopsis information about the plays. Some unscrupulous types try to get by on tests without having read the actual plays; I know because I used to be one of them. However, in the end it's your conscience—and your grade....

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