JTMU . org

Client: JTMU (Japan Taiwanese Medical Union)
Not a union in the American sense, rather a kind of club/group for Taiwanese medical professionals working in Japan. Website is in Japanese.

Project dates: Mar.2002 - Apr.2002
By far the shortest webdesign time so far (for me).

System & Server: RedHat Linux 7.1 with Apache 1.3.24
I built this server completely from scratch. The hardware is mostly used parts, which I purchased relatively cheaply in Akihabara in Tokyo. The motherboard is a dual-processor mobo made by iWill ("DVD 266"). Both processors running it are Pentium III 800Mhz. Memory isn't as cheap as I thought, so at the moment there is only 256MB of RAM, which is enough for server activities. The harddisk is a Seagate Barracuda STxxxxx xxGB (I don't remember the details..).

{This website is currently (since ~2004, as of 2011) hosted by GoDaddy. The server side technology has also been changed to be more like those of Quartertone/ColumbiaPMA.}

BBEdit 6.5
mi 2.1 (Japanese HTML editor)
TextEdit (MacOS X)
Macromedia Freehand 10
Adobe Illustrator 10
Wacom tablet 6"x9" (to trace logo --see information about logo below)
VNC Dimensions (VNC client - for remote testing on windows machine)


Technologies used:
XSSI = EXtended Server-Side Includes
I began (and finished) writing this site while working on www.theeventide.com, so there is a definite similarity in the way both these sites make use of XSSI.

Perl (cgi scripts)
I wrote three scripts for this project. The first was for the page title. I wanted the titlebar to show the page name in Japanese, getting its cue from the QUERY_STRING, like the XSSI. Basically, this script takes the page name in English as a query, and returns the Japanese "translation".
The second script is for the one-liner/tagline that appears on the first page. There is actually a file full of various tag lines. The script takes a number as a query, and returns the tag line at that line number.
The third script is just a simple hit-counter. Right now the output (how many hits) is hidden, because I think hitcounters are a little tacky. The script is still counting hits, so it will display the correct number of hits if I choose to do so. The script also records unique IP addresses in a separate file.

CSS = Cascading Style Sheets
Well, not so much the cascading part, but I did make use of style sheets throughout the site. In particular the client (my dad) wanted a frames-like layout, where the top logo area and the navigation menu remained stationary while the visitor scrolled down the page of information. The problem was that I didn't want to use frames to create this layout, mainly because that would require separating the sections into frame sources, which I find very tedious to maintain. Also, I think frames can be tacky if they are not implemented well (which is pretty difficult), so I chose to avoid them.
The alternative to frames, I discovered, was fixed or absolute positioning. By using style sheets to specify behavior, I could force certain sections to remain stationary in the browser window, or to scroll according to the user's request. The problem, which I discovered very soon, was that different web browsers interpret tags and styles differently. A set of styles would be perfect for browser A, but would absolutely jumble everything on browser B, and would hide everything on browser C, while being completely ignored by browser D. And don't even get me started about browser E! After several days of racking my brains and hacking around, I finally decided I had to combine the power of CSS with the flexibility of XSSI. Basically, I wrote code which would recognize the browser's type (through the HTTP_USER_AGENT string) and manipulate the style sheet to match the browser's ability. While this works for the browsers I was able to test, there still are older browsers that would not be able to handle the style sheets, and will therefore not display the page correctly. This is also an extremely messy method, of which I am not proud. If I could have one (internet-related) wish, it would be that all browsers follow the exact same standards, and interpret tags/styles/etc in the exact same way so that all this mess could be avoided altogether. (But ... it ain't gonna happen ...)


The Logo:
(Some info about creating the logo: coming soon)

2011-06-21 18:20
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