Welcome to Transformers At The Moon - Version 9! Yes, I have finally completed the work I started 26 months ago which was re-writing the entire Transformers At The Moon platform from the ground up. The only thing that is the same is the server. I've re-engined the database, redeveloped all of the libaries, the website is entirely bespoke, re-jigged the look-and-feel of the website and have introduced a new message board.
My professional career lead to the significant delay turning what was originally a 6 month project into something that has taken over 2 years. For that I am sorry, but these things happen.
One of the first changes you will notice is that we have moved back to using a drop-down menu for navigation. This is to help group the content we have created since the site first launched back in late 1999 so that you all will be able to, hopefully, find the content much easier. It also helps highlight all of the content we have to offer from News Services, through toy galleries, trademark databases, instruction sheets, concept art, character models to videos (an area that we will be expanding with a back catelogue of convention videos we have taken over the last 10 years), events and our much over looked community.
You will also find that we have introduced a "tab" system into the "introduction area" of every page. For instance, on the home page you will notice three tabs under the welcome section. Clicking on the tab will display the content on that tab. These tabs come into their own within the News and Resource and Toy image gallery sections of the website. Within those areas of the website, you will find that these tabs contain alternative ways to search for content. Most commonly you will find a tab that lists each of the categories as well as a tag cloud and a tag index. The tag index works just like the index of any reference book you may have read. Simple choose the letter and all of the words starting with that letter will be displayed. You can then click on the work to filter the section by that word. Give it a go, the tag indexes are cached locally ensuring they performance improvements once you've clicked on a letter.
You will also find that every news article, gallery or resource article now contains the ability for logged in users to post comments as well as rate the toy / article / news story. Those of you on Social Media sites will find shortcut icons allowing you to easily share pages and galleries with your friends.
As part of the change we have also upgrade our exclusive and popular In The News section, now called "Other Sites News" which now contains even more sources of news that have been freshly categorised and sorted into alphabetical order.
Another major overhaul is the way that the image galleries and "other sites news" stories are displayed. Image now use a lightbox-esque feature rather than opening in a new tab or overriding the main site. Once the image appears you can quickly browse through the rest of the images within the gallery be using the navigational arrows or using the cursor keys on your keyboard. The images are automatically scaled but you can switch to the full size view by clicking zoom or by pressing the down key. Pressing "up" will then re-scale the image.
There is another handy keyboard shortcut you can use whilst looking at our image galleries and that is to press the ctrl key on your keyboard and then type in the page number of the image you wish to view. For example is you want to jump to page 2 simple press ctrl and then press 2. The page will automatically jump to page 2. If you want page 14, just press ctrl then type in 14. Simple! You can test if be clicking on the images within the additional image section of this news article below.
We have also including a series of Easter Eggs into the website as well, let us know if you find how to access them.
As well as the layout changes I have also improved the performance and scalability of the website by introducing more caching which should speed up your browsing.
You will also notice that the URLs for all of the pages have been cleaned up but do not worry most of the old links will still work and will simply load the new version of the content.
New Look Message Board
We are no longer using PHPBB, which will please many of you. PHPBB is the most popular free PHP / MySQL message board on the internet. It's also one of the worst written and bloated message boards you will find and is often targetted back exploiters. It also has some rather annoying interface issues which I was fed up with so we are no longer using it.
The new board is very much a work-in-progress and over time will be re-skinned so that it can be fully integrated into the main website. All of the posts have been copied over as have the user accounts however we need to re-instate the moderates as those permissions were not carried over in the change.
Mobile / Tablet Users
I realise that the new layout of the website is not suited to a lot of modern smartphones. Do not worry, a mobile version of the website will be launched soon that will be "thumb friendly".
So take your time to explore the new look site, I'm sure you will discover you never realised we had.
Steve - AKA Quartz