Using version control and forking, reviews are now overviews, SS Polaris delayed (again)

So I haven’t been making good on my Sunday updates in a while. In fact the last update was the 5th November! However, there are some big updates for today (Tuesday since I was busy this Sunday).

The website’s development is now being tracked and controlled with the version control solution Git, which in the simplest terms allows me to log every change I make to the website and reverse them if I made a mistake. It’s a huge safety net that gives me more peace of mind in case something goes wrong and effectively allows the core files of the website to be mirrored in the cloud somewhere. Git also allows me to branch the website into two separate solutions where I can work on multiple things without them interfering with each other.  When its time to compile the final product, these branches would be merged into one with the differences of each branch carefully accounted for.

Traditionally branching is used to allow multiple people to work on one project at the same time, but I have used it to fork the website into two branches:

  1. master: main website source. The layout and design of master is considered stable and I can add new website content without fear of issues.
  2. designDev: design development source. Here I am free to experiment with layout and design changes without fear of messing up the content. When a compiled change is polished to the point I want to apply it to master, I can merge the two branches’ stylesheets so the changes can be rolled out to public view.

The GitHub repository for Starfleet’s Path to 2265’s complete code and assets is hidden (a necessity since the PHP code of the website contains sensitive information such as the MySQL database password etc.), but you can view master as it is by simply using the site as normal or view designDev‘s progress by navigating to it via the link under “Site development” on the homepage. Whilst version control for the website was not necessary, I think its a cool thing that can really help the website’s development in the long run! Practicing version control is also an industry gem for software and game development.

In other news; Ship Reviews has been renamed Ship Overviews, a decision made in order to reduce any “authoritative” connotations from my opinions. These overviews are intended to give a brief about the ship in canon or non-canon, some basic background information, my opinion on the ship, and (if applicable) how I integrated the design into the website. To launch the change, the overview of SS Valiant is now up! SS Polaris has also been delayed again due to time constraints.

There are a few upcoming changes/fixes as well. A gallery of the website’s development progress will be up in Articles soon, intended to showcase how far this website has come! The search results are kinda messed right now and grossly out of date, so that needs fixing. Some layout fixes and improvements to the side menu will be rolled out soon as well (some of the first major things to come out of designDev).

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New site colour, upgraded search, SS Polaris delayed

First thing first: weekly updates will be on Sundays now since my week is getting busier and busier.

So after finally realising the issues with contrasting red and blue, the side colours are now red and medium grey for the time being. For now I think the colours look nice and modern, but it is likely going to change in the future.

20171105_desktop

A change that you will not notice from looking at the site is the upgraded search. I finally upgraded to using PHP data objects (PDO) instead of using raw MySQL calls. Chapter 1 has gotten a few updates too with the inclusion of UESPA-9 (FINALLY) and ship sideviews packed with the narrative.

UESPA-20 (SS Polaris) designing has been delayed for a week or so whilst I make changes to the website elsewhere. I am also working on my personal portfolio website as well, which is taking up some of my allocated website development timeslot within my week.

That’s all for now anyway. Have a good bonfire night everyone!

My first original ship

15th October.

That’s the date my Star Trek-themed website will be fully launched and online. As that day approaches, I will be continuing to refine the website’s design and adding launch content. Today, I am currently working on my first original ship design for the website. But before we get into that, I think it is about time I brief what this website is all about.

“Starfleet’s Path to 2265” is as nerdy as it sounds. It is mainly a creative written piece on the subjective fictional history of starships belonging to Earth and Federation design. It’s based around the Star Trek’s prime universe and conforms to canon (mostly). My biggest intention is to fill in the blanks in the timeline between Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Enterprise. Over a year ago, I wrote a small piece about SQL and PHP (In the deep end: MySQL & PHP) that demonstrated an older project called the “Federation Starship Database”. It is kind of like a continuation of that with a refined goal and scope. Pre-TOS and TOS ships are my favourite from Star Trek, and this website is dedicated towards them.

Now, the ship design.

This first of many starship designs I am creating is an early explorer of the United Earth Space Probe Agency, SS Voyager (UESPA-9). I have designed and written the ship to be an early ambitious failure – a complex deep space explorer design in a period of Earth’s history where it is still suffering from the effects of a World War. A recipe for disaster. The design is largely based on a successful canon design from the same period, SS Conestoga (which I have given the registry of UESPA-8).

SS_Conestoga
The canon SS Conestoga, the ship my design is largely based on. Image from Memory Alpha, used under Fair Use.

In order to explain my process, I have briefly documented the design process here. The first thing I did was sketch up some small low detail forms for the ship based on a few well-known references from the same period (SS Valiant of 2065, SS Conestoga of 2067 and DY-500-class of 2076).

uespa9_stage_1

I found that the last form I did was the one I liked the most, as well as the most unique. So I took that form, refined the details, and did some basic annotations on the design.

uespa9_stage_2
Correction: the size measurements should read “145 (length) x 20 (width) x 30 (draft), 50,000 metric tonnes”. In hindsight, the width is far too small anyway and should logically be around 50 to 60 metres.

I then roughly recreated the form on a CAD software (I use TechSoft’s 2D Design V2) so that the design would be confined to a proper scale. I then made a copy of the form and revised the layout of the ship to better suit the length and draft I specified in my annotated drawing (although my specified width of 20 metres will likely cause problems and I am now presuming the width to be around 50 to 60 metres to accommodate the “wing” span of the nacelle pylons).

uespa9_stage_3

Finally, I produced a colourised detail basic render of the ship as a current progress preview for this blog post.

uespa9_stage_4

I hope to have this design completed by the end of the week, and it will be included in my next week’s blog update for the website. Have a good day!