A new button (again) and the first Star Trek: Discovery ship review

So,the website has a new logo (again)!

testing_tablet_20171005

I’ve also been experimenting with colours. I want the Red/Blue theme, but I want it to be easy on the eyes too.

The biggest addition is the first starship review, which is of USS Shenzhou from Star Trek: Discovery. All things considered, I gave it a weighting of 6.3/10. I should have the rest of the Federation background ships from the Battle of the Binary Stars done soon. Other than that, not much to report really.

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Just a new button image, really

Due to starting a new semester this week, I will now be confining my time for everything in a schedule. 6PM to 10PM on Thursdays is dedicated for this website, which gives me 3 and a half hours of actual work and 30 minutes to write an update on this blog. Since I have been busy trying to quickly get back into the routine of university life, I have not done much this week.

The only noticable change is the new home button image. It’s just a plain white version of the “UFP” text from the 23rd century Federation banner. The favicon has also been updated according (albeit black instead).

testing_desktop_20170928
The size of the “UFP” button image is subject to change.

Chapter 1 is mostly complete at this stage, only requiring the addition of my UESPA-9 design. Ship information on Bonaventure is complete, and Friendship is almost complete. In preparation for Chapter 2, a DY-732 database entry will be worked on soon. Chapter 2 primarily focuses on the development of the Earth Cargo Service (hence the chapter title “Space Boomers”), but it will also include UESPA and civilian ships from roughly 2080 to 2110. Already there are database entries for some of these ships; Emmette (from the Star Trek: Enterprise title sequence), aforementioned DY-732, and Declaration (which includes Enterprise XCV-330). There will probably be more ships in the chapter as well, likely including some of the later DY series ships.

Well, that’s it for today!

Adding a basic search feature (repost)

(This is actually a repost since I made an mistake before. Whoops.)

The last three days were about considering and mastering the search feature for Starfleet’s Path to 2265. I write this blog post whilst I ponder ways to made the search feature more powerful and intuitive.

As it currently stands, it is a basic search function. When a viewer submits a search query, and SQL query is searches a database and returns an array of results. An if statement checks to see if there are any results. If there aren’t results present, a ‘no results’ message is echoed. If there are results present, the code proceeds to a while loop that iterates until there are no more results to echo out.

In pseudocode, the operation needed to make a search currently looks like this:

  1. Connect to MySQL Server
  2. Select MySQL database
  3. Create variable for the query string received from the search request
  4. Create variable for the SQL SELECT query that searches for matches within two fields of a database table.
  5. Create variable to store the raw results from the running the SELECT query, and handle possible MySQL errors
  6. If number of raw results is more than zero:
    • While able to print out raw results:
      1. Echo a tile containing the data for the result (includes a hyperlink, page name, category, description, and an optional image)
  1. Else:
    • Echo a tile containing a ‘no results’ message

FYI, a “tile” is the CSS class name I use for the layout element that contains a result or message.

Following that procedure, you can generate results like this…

testing_desktop_20170905

…from a search box like that:

I have clearly broken the statement I made on my last post about this project saying that I will not be doing any more serious non-styling code! But a search feature is something I should have had from the get-go. There are refinements that ideally need to be made before the website goes onto the internetz; a more advanced search algorithm that can intelligently display relevant results instead of echoing the results in the order they are stored in the database, a more space-efficient results page with filters, and compliant code for when I switch to PHP7 which also requires I use mysqli_* functions instead of just mysql_* or PHP Data Objects (PDO).

Now. Before I end this blog post, below is an example of an implementation of that pseudocode that should work with little modification. Starfleet’s Path to 2265 uses code that is very similar currently. It might be basic, but it works for now. I am more focused on other parts of the website. So if I run behind schedule, I at least have this to fall back on.

Example PHP code:

phpSearch

Example HTML code of a search box that works out of the box with that PHP code:

htmlSearch

Enjoy!

Ironing out “Starfleet’s Path to 2265”

After an interesting birthday on the 27th where a bunch of friends and I had a debate about the merits and dangers of artificial intelligence, it is time to get back on with life. My Star Trek-themed website is nearing the point where it is polished enough to go on the interwebz. Hopefully, it should be online around the middle of next month once I have purchased the domain name I need.

I have made some considerable chances since my last post about the website (Library, Rain & ul/li menus). I rebuild the code and styling of the website in a complete mobile-first approach, implemented the ul/li menu, and generally added more content ready for launch. For this week, I am currently working on refining the style of the website. As it currently stands:

So far, creating content has been thought-provoking and fun to do! Whilst it may take years to complete everything I want to do, the motivation to do this has allowed me to create a fair bit of launch material ready for next month. Here are some examples:

(Please ignore any spelling, grammar or word flow issues. Everything will be proof read eventually before launch.)

Developing the design to suit the content has been interesting too. As shown by the example of a ship report above (and below in far more detail), I have been developing these ‘boxes’ for different types of content to give the page an LCARS-like (the interface of TNG-era Starfleet computer terminals) feel. I avoided completely copying LCARS due to the fact that this website is based around pre-TOS and TOS content (the similarities are just a ‘tip off the hat’). These boxes do collapse on mobiles and tablets in order to free up space for words.

So that’s about it for this update! Most of the changes from here on will be refinements and additions to the CSS stylesheets and adding more content. One thing to be revised is the colour scheme – the blue seems too intense on some displays. Adding more HTML (except when headings and paragraphs are needed) and PHP code is unlikely.

Library, Rain & ul/li menus

Wow. It is really wet today.

I love the rain, yet even I resorted to running into the library for cover today. Inside the PC lab area, the rain is giving its full force unto the windows. Have a look:

 

Note: it was louder in person.

It is actually being a rather nice distraction here as I have woes with redesigning the menu bar for my upcoming Star Trek-themed fan site. Although there was nothing wrong with the menu before, I am currently rebuilding it on an offline test page using lists instead of modified anchors. There are pros and cons to this approach of course, with the main pro being it will naturally suit a multi-level list in the rather likely event I implement one in the future.

Here’s an interesting read on the subject:
https://css-tricks.com/navigation-in-lists-to-be-or-not-to-be/

The current issue is not being able to get the <ul> to float right. Observe the links being rendered over the logo that is floating left:
Capture

Whether you are for or against these lists, please note that currently I am only exploring my options.