TWF Site Upgrade

Over a year ago, I mentioned in my post entitled Putting the Pedal Down that I was working on an upgrade to the TWF site. Well, here it is over a year later and I am finally ready to implement the upgrade. TWF is getting a new look and feel but will still contain largely the same content.

This upgrade moves the site to the latest version of the Content Management System platform, Drupal 9. The reason that this took so long is that it was an incredible amount of work. Back in 2020, I started the process and realized it wasn’t going to be quick effort. While the content of the site migrated pretty easily, the structure was very difficult to move over. I ended up having to recreate all the menus, images galleries, forms, page layouts and more.

I put that off until recently when I restarted the project and took it to completion. While I was redoing things I discovered several bugs including some with the registry statistics computations and with the VIN/VCL decoders. Those have all been corrected.

With this project largely behind me, I thought it would be cool to take a trip down memory lane with the help of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to see just how far this site has come.

1999 – It all started with an innocent sick day from work

Sometime in 1999, I took a sick day which is not something I usually do. I was so bored at home that day. I had been doing some things at work that were pushing the limits of the software I was using at the time. I was searching the Internet for solutions and was coming up empty. I ultimately ended up devising my own solutions. On that sick day, I decided to write up and share how I solved that problem and to publish it on my own web space. That web space was really just a place on the web server run by my dialup (yes, dialup – 56kbps) provider where each subscriber could host their own static web page. It wasn’t even on my own domain. It was off of their domain and something like www.ntplx.net/~jjones.

2002 – I pulled the trigger and bought a summer car

In March 2002, I pulled the trigger on something that I had always wanted – a Mustang convertible. I originally searched for a 7-up car but ended up finding a very nice 1993 limited edition white convertible. I roughly knew what a feature car was but set out to learn more. There wasn’t much about it that was online. So, with my already existing web space, I decided to add a section devoted to it in order to share what I was learning about feature cars. This was all still on my dial-up provider’s web server.

2002 – What was I thinking?!

There were plenty of bad decisions in web design happening in 2002. At work, I was part of a group of people doing mostly Web site development and the “state of the art” was using some software called Macromedia Dreamweaver to essentially create a graphical UI for a web site. The process was to take the image then slice and dice it into a bunch of different smaller images for use as clickable regions and also for mouse over effects done by swapping out image sections as the mouse moved over them. WTF, right?

As expected, this model didn’t hold up to the test of time. The screen captures seen here with their missing images are the best that the Internet Wayback Machine could provide. This is symptomatic of the design approach of the site. I am actually embarrassed to share this and would not except that there are three important things to note here about the evolution of the site –

  1. This is the first appearance of the green color that I so fell in love with. The first site had somewhat of an aqua green and this new version continued the use of green.
  2. The term “Triple White Fox” appears. I don’t know of any use of this term prior to it being used on my site by me. If it weren’t for that missing image, you’d see that the site was labeled “The Triple White Fox” done in a custom font that mirrored the Mustang wording used on fox Mustangs
  3. The running fox logo appears. Although, here it is a clipart that I ripped off from somewhere and did some color changes to get it to where I wanted it in terms of being white.

Ahhh, the broken images,…

2003 – Better days are ahead

In 2003, we still see the same old awful image-based layout. “Best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution or higher” is stated. But, if we go by the Update posted 4/4/2003, a milestone has been achieved. The triplewhitefox domain has been registered!

2006/2007 – Simpler times

In the above version from 2007, we see (subtly) that the image-based template was abandoned for a more modern, text-based approach using CSS for styling and effects. In addition to the simpler approach to styling, we see the first appearance of an original white fox art logo.

Below, in a slightly older but similar version in terms of layout which is from 2006, we still see the clip art fox. Here though, we get a sense for the layout which is still using a framed approach much like the previous did but has added a right column for additional content and notices.

Also important at this milestone is that previously the site had a section for “’93 Feature Mustangs” and now this has been broadened to “Feature Mustangs” in order to cover both years.

BTW, almost no one donated to help support the site.

2009 – A real Content Management System

Around 2009, I realized that maintaining a site of static HTML was not effective. Actually, it was probably much earlier than 2009 that I realized this! I evaluated several Content Management Systems and decided on Drupal which I’ve been using ever since. This first implementation of Drupal 6 was an incredible benefit as it allowed me to focus on content and not on code.

I still maintained the framed approach with navigation on the top and left and a right column reserved for other, secondary information.

2015 – The first Drupal upgrade – version 7

While Drupal 8 was available in late 2015, I decided to upgrade from Drupal 6 to 7. I’m not exactly sure when in 2015 I did the upgrade but I’m sure version 8 was either in beta or in early release. I wouldn’t have considered the new version a solid option primarily due to support of various add-on modules that I was using for the site.

The above screen shot is from 2021 when Drupal 7 was still running. It is very monochromatic. Honestly, I don’t know when or why the site lost it’s green theming. Perhaps this was due to an update to the Drupal theme being used which was the Professional Theme. As we can see below, in 2019, the green color was more subtle but was still present on the Drupal 7 site.

2021 – Upgrade to the most current version of Drupal

So, here we are well into 2021 and I’m doing yet another upgrade. Some content on the site has remained from that original site on my dialup provider. The site still has that photo of my car taken on a gray day at Saybrook Point in Old Saybrook, CT on its first roadtrip just after I bought it. That was back when I had no idea how that car would change my life and how many times I would modify the page that contained it.

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