This is basically the 'blog' of the page, providing updates about the most recent changes and updates I made - plus some personal comments on the development.
News and Updates also available as an RSS Feed, on Twitter and on Facebook. I update the feeds whenever I work on the page.
Quite a load of updates.
- KML: Massive design improvements, among them new icons, new places panel design and revised balloon style.
- KML: Google fixed a problem in Earth where very long route lines were not clickable, as technically their hotspot was not following the earths curvature but instead went trough the earth.
- Runways: FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY fixed the f*** problem where the individual views for marked runways were not oriented horizontally.
And now I should get moving on some more contribution options..
Return to Production! Well, I was not entirely lazy all the time, but there were no major improvements or changes.
- All: Amended the page redirector to now point to the search if the URL seems to be unknown.
- All: SEO-Optimized all pages. However, that only resulted in Google dropping more than 90% of the pages from the index. Stupid @&$%#..!
- All: Changed the formerly capitalized ICAO codes in the URL to be lowercase. Both cases are still accepted however, its fed into a DB query which is case-insensitive.
- Statistics: Removed the statistics for international and domestic passengers, as there is hardly any solid data provider for these.
Only minor updates today
- All: Continued improving the Google Pagespeed scores. All but one page are above 80 now, most even "close to" 90. The remaining 10 will be quite difficult though as they're either not in my hands to be fixed or caused by the internal page setup.
- Routes: Completely rewrote the underlying DB query, which is now much more performant (usually around 1 second). But I still need to do something about the engine that produces the HTML, this still consumes too much time.
- All: Provided the page details into the DMOZ/ODP, Yahoo, Bing, Gigablast and Ask search engines. Using the Bing/MSN Webmastertools is about the most gruesome process I have ever seen so far: You have to go to the US site, from there go to Help, from there go to Webmaster help, from there sign up for Windows live, THEN you have to sign up for the Developer Community, and THEN you have to install Silverlight. The page you then get is actually nice, but OH MY. Why not submit your DNA structure as well?
Using suggestions from Google Pagespeed for Firebug I implemented some changes..
- All: Activated gzip compression, resulting in a considerably faster data transfer and rendering. Its really nice!
- All: Split up CSS into separate files for each resource, and made them compress- and cacheable. Again, I can not see any beneficial effects, but Pagespeed likes it.
There is more to come, Pagespeed still has a lot to complain about.
I installed Google Page Speed for Firebug. It gave me quite a lot of recommendations, but most are based on introducing things that can only be set up via the web server - whose setup I can not change myself. Aww - but at some later date..
- All: Straightened some URLs, reducing the number of DNS queries.
- All: Fixed a problem where some airports would not have a correct HTML header.
- All: Using a new Firefox plugin I now validated ALL pages to HTML 4.01 strict. HAH.
- Search: Introduced new airport search fields for IATA and ICAO codes. They could also be used in the big search bar on top, but more generic search terms like "HAM" for Hamburg will give you a whole lot of results using the main search field.
- Search: Introduced new airport search fields for runway length, width and surface. The search allows for the greater-than and lower-than operators to be used. Nice!
- Issue: Google recently introduced a new feature to Google Maps: Auto-Panning. Means, the map automatically starts to move if you drag a marker close to the edge of the map. Beeing a nice feature in general, this causes problems in smaller maps like I use. Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about this - I talked to Google, and they're aware and working on it.
- Credits: Slightly changed design.
- KML: Removed superfluous placemark elements for the runways.
I took some days off in programming, and did not do too much over the other days - but there was some progress. In total I guess I'm waiting for the millions of users to come and use the page.
- All: Again some design changes, but hardly visible this time.
- Runways: Probably the most important update of all - editing runways is now open to the public! Only one person apart from me has done that so far, but fingers crossed..
- KML: The KML-page now contains a direct link to open the KML in Google Maps, which works out quite well.
- KML: Minor changes to the KML files.
- Stats: Statistics now include runway-based stats.
- New: Introduced a list of ALL airports. Its actually nice from a design perspective, but I need to spend some more time time thinking over wether it's a good idea to actually belch out an entire 6 MB page to users without their explicit consent.
Oh, and some good news: The pageview and visitors number are climbing constantly. The bad side of this? It's only the various Googlebots..
I had some HTML experts look at the page and give feedback about what they think. While it was a bit of a comedown to hear that they don't really understand what the page was about, they provided some good ideas how to improve it. Thus, a bunch of changes.
- All: Various changes, including a slightly changed background color and a little less blue.
- All: Yet again changed the menu, which I really like a lot now - and it's HTML conform as well.
- Main Page: Added some stuff so it can actually qualify as a main page, not just a stub.
- New: Modula statistics page, providing all kinds of nifty statistics. Some of them make good sense - some maybe not.
Well. Over the past two days I worked quite a lot on the site - but unfortunately, my performance was rather poor. It was like in the starting days of my programming skills, nothing seemed to work and I made the most stupid errors. However, I got some nice stuff done.
- All: The menu design is now MUCH nicer. Unfortunately, this is not exactly HTML 4.01-strict-conform, but oh well - there is always some kind of tradeoff.
- Search: The search window design changed slightly, as I couldnt get the boxes arranged properly. Unfortunately this doesnt work in IE6, but I'm not designing for IE6 anyways.
- Search: The element order and CSS of the result window is completely rewritten, which leads to a more stable rendering.
- Search: A new search option arrived, the great circle search. You can search for all airports in a certain distance around a given point on a map. This works real nice, and can of course be combined with all other search options.
- Search: Each search result can now be viewed as a KML file from a small button under the search result list. This was quite a head scratcher to solve, but it works nice as well.
- KML: The Runways in the KML now provide information about length, width and material, but are, for some reason, misplaced.
- KML: The Routes in the KML now provide information about the airlines serving this particular route. And I still haven't got a clue why Google Earth won't attach the hotspots to the actual route lines..
- KML: Since the KML script was not working the way it should I had to rebuild all 5700 airport files. A lot of fun, I tell ya..
- Routes: The tables element order and CSS changed. There is no visual change, but the rendering is more stable now.
Quite some updates today, including a new feature. If I only had some more visitors who would see!
- New: There is now a KML file for each Airports features. A new file with KML data for all airports is coming up.
- Routes: The new route data provider is now implemented, the number of available routes rose from some 11,000 to over 25,000. And there are another appx. 4,000 waiting to be implemented.
- All: Changed most of the backend to use ids instead of the ICAO codes, which is usually a lot faster from a database perspective - and also scales a lot better!
After a break over the weekend I only submitted a smaller amount of changes. I have to admit that I try to shirk from adding the editing functions for the amount of work this is going to cause.
- Images: Tested the image code replication with adding Picasa - worked like a charm, added the whole thing in under an hour.
- Search: Removed the Simple Search, as there is no real advantage of having or using this over the advanced search.
- Search: Rearranged the search page layout. I'm not entirely happy with this, and also need to change some functionality here, so this is just an inbetween-step.
- Issue: Obtained a new source for route information, now I need to add them, replacing the old route information DB. This will add quite an amount of routes that are not currently there, but it'll also cost a lot of work.
- Weather: Added code to supress the weather box if the METAR information is older than 24 hours.
- Runways: Slightly improved colour scheme.
Wow, seldom before have I been THIS productive. The log below tells it all.
- Routes: Major design change: The smaller boxes are now replaced by two major table boxes, one for routes and one for airlines. Much better this way.
- Routes: Added various new tooltips.
- Routes: Airport destinations now clickable, opening the respective airport.
- Routes: Changes to the page generation cut the load time down to 1/3.
- Issue: Although the changes to the page generation machine allowed for some new features, I had to (temporarily) disable the popups in the map, as they were creating problems.
- Runways: Hovering over the runway polygons on the map now highlights them, as well as the corresponding runway box. Nice for identifying runways. I still need to come up with a different page layout though, the current layout is horrible for small screens (or airports with a large number of runways).
- Runways: Further improved the load chaining for the Google Earth plugins, making them yet more stable.
- All: All pages, the CSS and the Feed are now (that is, currently) validated against HTML 4.01 strict and CSS 2.1.
- All: The page title now changes according to the used pages, and there is some information in the meta tags in order to help search engines to better understand what this page is about.
- All: Several smaller code cleanups
- And according to Google Analytics, I can celebrate a new user record: Yesterday, 2010-10-18, a total of 30 users was counted. Yay!
With burning some midnight oil, I finally got the images page up to speed - it now provides Panoramio and Flickr photos! Codewise it really was a good weekend, haven't been on a roll like this for a long time, the solutions and ideas just kept coming. Developing is really fun this way!
- Photos: I implemented a timer that prevents the page to request new pictures from the APIs on every map move. It basically updates all 3 seconds.
- Issue: However, I have not yet create a mean to flip through multiple image pages. Right now its always 50+50 images. But there is more to come..
A great weekend - codewise - with a lot of improvements! Unfortunately, most of them are invisible.
- Runways: FINALLY managed to solve the problem regarding the Google Earth plugins failing to load in Firefox on fast computers. Yes!
- Runways: FINALLY managed to solve the problem regarding the Google Earth plugins extending the surrounding boxes vertically while loading. Yay!
- Runways: FINALLY managed to solve the problem regarding the Google Earth plugins zooming and shifting to the desired location instead of showing it right away. Yeah!
- New: As the whole splitting-things-up-into-separate-files got pretty complicated with the number of files raising and raising, I reintegrated some of the files into one big doc - which also helped to improve the page performance.
- New: I started working on improving the images page, introducing Flickr photos as well.
Not much news this week. I guess after spending quite some time with development, I just need some time off. And to be frank, I could use some more usage here, which would at least show me that some people like what I do. The ultimate return would however be an eMail - even if it's someone telling me 'Your page stinks, and heres why'. But, oh well - I guess I just have to put some more work in order to make this thing legendary, huh?
- Routes: Fixed the wikitextfetcher problem. In the end, it was quite easy to do.
- New: KML Output of all routes and airports. This is just preliminary for now, and not yet linked anywhere else on the page. I will put some more work into this to make it nice: http://airports.palzkill.de/kmloutput/networklink_world_airdata.kml. To view this, you need Google Earth.
- Issue: The good news is - I found out why the Google Earth Plugins on the Runways pages don't load correctly most of the time. The bad news is, that I have no idea in how to fix this in a way that doesn't require to rewrite half of the page. Umph!
Todays updates were a bit more laboursome, so less updates in total. However, I can now proudly present an RSS feed, keeping you up to date about updates on this page, and a photos page, showing you airport impressions from Panoramio. I chose Panoramio for the usually above-average quality of their images. Now that these two are there, I will spend the best part of Thursday getting hammered with some friends, so the next update will be Friday.
- New: The Photos Page is finally here. It's not exactly brilliant and well-designed, but its not an eyesore as well.
- New: RSS 2.0-Feed for updates on this page, available via http://airports.palzkill.de/rss.xml!
- Routes: Tried to improve the performance by optimizing the code - with hardly any measurable effect. I still need to find a way to make this thing more performant.
- Issue: Spend a lot of time researching a nice timezone conversion module, with not much result. The probably best candidate is http://code.google.com/p/tzdata/, which is a very nice attempt to make the extremely complicated tz DB available for everybody to use with ease.
Major step today: Creating this worklog! This will keep a running account on everything I do on the page, on all the issues I identify, and on all the thoughts I have alongside.
- New: Created this page!
- Runways: Re-Implemented the Google Earth Views for the runways. It was quite easy to do actually, I expected the required changes to be a lot more complicated.
- Runways: Implemented a browser detection function to toggle the Google Earth Views. It came from the PHP manual page, a nice little function.
- Runways: Finalized the setup for editing the runway details. The only thing missing is the update mechanism, which actually stores the data in the database. As this is a new module, it will take a little bit more time.
- Issue: For many airports the Wikitextfetcher fails to fetch the correct airport page, thus a lot of routes have not been identified yet. Thats going to be a major issue..
- Issue: The Google Earth Plugins still cause some issues like failing to load for the first time during a visit. Posted to the Google Earth Plugin Forum to check if they can help.