Subdomains, IIS, URL Rewrites and web.config

Over the past several weeks and months I have had a rather turbulent time of sub domains. I don't know what it's like on a Apache Server, but on the IIS server I've been on I've had precious little luck with getting sub domains to actually work. I could get it to work for the home page but never anything past that. It sucked just a lot.

It turns out that the problem I was having was with the approach I was taking to the URL rewrites. Apache servers typically use .htaccess rewrites to turn URLs from some large and nasty string of text into something that actually makes sense. IIS Servers typically make use of a file called web.config which does things differently. One of the rather awesome perks of my current hosting is that it is set up in such a way as to be able to use either. Some of this, however, doesn't play nice with my current configuration.

The end result of all of this was that my URL rewrites needed to be changed from one format to another to make it work nicely on my own hosting. Just one tiny little step that had helped me make my CMS friendly with both IIS and Apache Servers.

Designing for Students Part 3

Things have been entirely too quiet on my site for a while now. Between finishing up my placement and responsibilities to others I haven't had much time to actually sit down and write any new content for my site. Today I'm finally able to do something about that, and I'm going to start by writing the final installation regarding the posters I have been designing for Write on Time's end of year Musical Event.

My last post on this topic finished off with me saying that I didn't feel that the Animals in Dangerous Situations poster really matched up to the image the band wanted and the members of the band. This resulted in a complete redesign of the poster to bring it more in line with the image they wanted to portray and also to blend it in better with the rest of the printed media that I had produced for this particular project.

Revolution also required very little change, and most of it was done to ensure that the actual content was more noticeably visible against the background of the poster rather than blending in too much, which I believed was the case.

In contrast to this the Cat Attack poster required virtually no modifications to the design. The group poster was modified slightly to differentiate it from the Cat Attack poster. Previously both had been using the same background and I felt that should change. I also reorganised the order that the band logos were portrayed, as it was apparently misleading people into thinking Revolution was the main selling point of the event.

The hardest part of this set of final tweaking was getting the flyers to people to get the OK for them to be printed. This involved a rather hefty amount of uploading of files. Media designed for print really doesn't transfer quickly, and I had to make minor alterations to the pieces and re-upload them before they were given the OK.

The final pieces can be viewed below.

Animals in Dangerous Situations Gig Poster
Cat Attack Gig Poster
Revolution Gig Poster
Write on Time Event Poster

Friday 5th June, Final Day

So today was the final day of my Work Based Learning Placement with Thriftway Travel. I've spent this week performing minor tweaks to the site to get it working as smoothly as possible. Today saw me working on something with a bit more substance to it, getting the Blog section of the site up and running for use in the future. Turns out that it was a LOT easier than setting things up with flutter was, probably because Wordpress is meant to be used as a blog.

I've learnt a lot during my placement at Thriftway Travel Will has helped improve my graphical work and typography a great deal in the time I was there and I think I've helped him with his PHP, even if only to reaffirm his hatred of coding.

So with my placement having ended I'll find myself with a lot more time on my hands... I'll be using this to actually put some updates on the site, I have some stuff to talk about that I just haven't had the time to site down and work over. I'll also be working on my own Admin Panel/CMS section to get the functionality I need fully functioning and then work on extra extensions to the code that I know other people will want to use.

Friday 29th May

Yesterday I worked on finishing up some more of the little details of the Thriftway Travel Site. The Round-the-World fares layout has been finished off, and a few changes to the front page have been implemented, in a manner that alerts the user that there are more deals than just those listed on the front page. I also added some flight deals to the site, something that has been lacking for a long time.

I'm thinking that I'm going to try and wrap up my placement over the next week. I honestly don't have much to do and most of it will be completable within a week. The main thing left needing done is some way to rotate deals displayed on the front page. I'm thinking I should be able to implement that in some manner using some smart php coding.

Wednesday 27th May

Today was spent doing not a whole lot. Late in the day I had a bug brought to my attention by a member of staff. He had noticed that the text in the categories had gotten rather big in the majority of the posts. The browser in question was the dreaded Internet Explorer. Most people who work in web design that I know dread bug-testing sites in Internet Explorer, especially Internet Explorer 6. It can throw out errors for the most silly of reasons. As a result of this I went in expecting it to be a fault with the browser rather than anything else.

This was not the case however. It turns out that I had managed to leave out a / from a span tag, so rather than closing things as I had intended, I had actually opened another instance of a span. Firefox seemed to deal with this just fine, but Internet Explorer rendered it the way it read the code, and horror ensued. I swiftly resolved the error and everything works fine once again.

After this I was given some Round the World flights to add to the site. They're proving to be quite the pain to handle because of the whole Flutter thing. There was a shiny new update to it today though, so maybe I'll make some progress when I'm back in on Friday.

This will be the final entry in my Placement Log as the hand in is tomorrow and I won't have any additions to make to it before submission date.

Thursday 26th May

Today was spent without doing a whole lot of work at all. The Thriftway site is all but complete and I spent the day ironing out as many bugs as possible as well as helping Will get to grips with how to use the site to add new content.

Aside from this I spent most of the time I was there ensuring that as much of my Work Based Learning material was in order for completion of my Coursework.

Monday 25th May

Today I polished off some extra pieces on the Thriftway Travel site, mainly regarding compatibility with Internet Explorer, and updating the newsletter form.

I am also slowly working towards wrapping up my placement now I think, making sure that Will can make sense of the brutality I've inflicted upon the poor Wordpress package. Hopefully he'll be able to make some form of sense out of them.

I also managed to make an impressive amount of headway with my final piece of coursework that relates to the Work Based Learning course.

Tomorrow I'll probably be working on some more polishing of the Thriftway site, setting up the RSS feed with feed burner and other minor details.

Friday 22nd May

Yesterday I didn't do an exceptional amount of work for all the time invested in it. Things started with a lot of little tweaks to the look and feel of the site, mainly with regards to Internet Explorer. I then moved on to working with the Thriftway Travel's RSS feed. With the way we use flutter to provide the majority of our site content, the only data being provided by the feed was the Deal Title and the date posted. I adjusted it to work provide the important details on the destination as well as the description.

After this David Dawson made a visit to the placement. We spent a while chatting about how things had been and went over some of the specifics on the write-up I have to produce for next week.

After this I spent a the rest of my time working on little bits and pieces to help finish up minor details of the Thriftway Travel Site, such as the Favourite Icon which will also be used for the logo on their Twitter Profile.

That's about it for this week. I've also got Will and Mukesh working on aspects of my write-up in the form of feedback forms that I need them to fill out.

Wednesday 20th May

So today was horrifically slow. Better than yesterday by a long shot. Internet was still iffy today, so we switched to the "backup" internet we apparently have. This let us actually work on things, though it did have the side effect of taking our mail server offline.

My work today consisted primarily of procrastination, or that's how it felt. I did work on some Icons for the Thriftway site, and set up a Twitter account for the company as well. We've not done anything with it yet though. I also provided access to the Thriftway RSS feed so that people can be alerted to the latest deals as and when they are posted. I'm hoping to be able to enhance the feed by making use of some of the aspects of the flutter components we use throughout the rest of the site.

Finally I also brought the single pages more in line with the look of the rest of the site.

In other news I managed to work on an aspect of my site today for my new Admin Panel, the comments section. I uploaded it and got it running smoothly only to discover that I had approximately 900 spam comments on my site all made over the last 4 days. That wasn't a fun lunch break at all.

Spam tastic...

So I finally found some time, during my lunch break, to work on another bit of my new admin panel. It revealed something quite horrifying to me, in that I had approximately 900 items of spam spread throughout my blog. I've purged it all and set my comments to require authorisation, at least until I come up with a better anti-spam filter.

Edit: I've tentatively re-enabled comments showing by default once again. I've implemented a few basic measures to hopefully eliminate the spam, at least from the public.

Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th May

Yesterday I spent the day working on the Thriftway Site, changing the look of the front page to match fully with the new design of the site. I also was alerted to a bug on the site by a customer who phoned in. Whilst I'm disappointed that I didn't spot it myself, I'm glad that it was pointed out and resolved.

Today was spent breaking the website. How? Well today our internet connection went all screwy... whilst I was uploading files to the server. I'm not sure on the specifics of it, but there was data loss from several important files for the site, rendering it useless. I managed to get it semi-functional over a period of 5 and a half hours. I had nothing else I could be doing. The frustrating part is that even then it wasn't running fully. Within five minutes of being home though, it was all sorted out.