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Thar She Blows Cap'n

Date:  19th April, 2004


I did it! I finally got the new templates and code online.

Welcome one and all to version 3 of the Urban Mainframe...

She's leaner and meaner than ever before - content / presentation seperation is now around 95% (my estimate). The pages are lighter, better structured and more semantically correct.

Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of work to do, but I'm happy enough to release the site as it stands.

I'll write in more detail about the new design in an upcoming post (maybe). For now, I'd like to draw your attention to a few of the changes:

White Space

One of my biggest gripes with my previous design was that the pages seemed cluttered and "heavy". There was a busy right-hand column that was loaded with links and gizmos and it was very distracting. Also, I used a background image that just added to the noise. This new design features a lot more white space - it's so much easier on the eye (in my opinion at least).

All of the facilities that we're available on the previous incarnation are still there, they are just more discreet now.


There are four major areas on this website (Project Iceberg, Urbex, Distractions and the Weblog). These are pretty much distinct from each other with their own audiences. My previous version didn't really accommodate this - every visitor (hitting the front page) was presented with the weblog with only discreet links to the other areas. This resulted in my receiving several emails from confused visitors.

I think I've addressed this to a large degree with the new front page, which draws attention to all four major sections. I have also adjusted my DNS to service sub-domain access to these areas, so now you can get directly to your prefered section.


The changelog is, as its name suggests, a log of changes. This page lists new and revised content in an easily digestible (no, you don't eat it) format, so you can quickly navigate to items of interest.

Site Map

I have improved the layout of the site map, hopefully making it a little more logical and comprehensible.

Search Engine

I have optimised the search engine with a complete rewrite. Most searches are now completed within a few hundredths of a second. Boolean logic, wildcards and scoping are all supported. The search engine is able to index all regular content, the forums and a couple of the image galleries. I will add support for user comment searches in the near future.


I have added my Captcha system to the contact form and to the forums, in addition to its deployment in the comments system. Registered users, who are logged in, are not presented with the Captcha.


There's more people, much more. But it's late, I've been up all night and I need to catch some z's. Rest assured, now that I'm happy with the design, I will be able to spend much more time focused on content - I've got some big plans for the site!

Update (24-Jan-2005): Screen capture of the "Aston" template described in this article.