Calgary Scrabble Group


Happy Birthday

Posted by Paul S on Tue April 23, 2002 at 0h00

It just occurred to me that this month marks five years since I first opened this site. I don't remember the exact opening date, but I remember one of the things I did shortly after opening the site was to collect and post the April 1997 mini-tournament results (yes, they're still available!). Since the April 2002 mini-tournament is this week, this seems like a fitting time to look back on the past five years.

It's amazing how far the site has come. The original site was purely text-based, and was mainly a collection of a few pages about the club with some results thrown in. Back then the WWW was only just starting to become known to the general public, and I wondered how much interest the site would generate.

Things started slowly but by the end of 1997 it was clear that there was at least enough attention being paid to the site to make it worth enhancing. Features like the Ladder Archive were added, so-called because it simply stored the order on the ladder after each night's play. Through 1998 more tidbits were added and by the end of the year the site was really becoming a mess. It was basically one big index with a whole bunch of links to pages, some of which also had sublinks, but without a very good structure. To save my sanity and those of the site's users, I decided to conduct a major upgrade.

In January of 1999 the newly renovated site opened. The site featured graphical navigation buttons down the left side in the form of Scrabble® tiles on racks. I remember painstakingly doing these graphics by putting the tiles face down on my flatbed scanner and then putting a rack on top and hoping everything stayed together enough to look like the tiles were actually sitting on the rack. The new site also had a better organization which made it easier to know where to look for information, and in fact the site's general structure hasn't changed too much since then.

Also in the renovated site was the new all-encompassing Club Results Archive (still called the Ladder Archive at the time), an improved section for tournament results, and the Ratings Tracker. One of the other large enhancements for the site was to add a bunch of content to help Scrabble® players new to both the club and competitive Scrabble® in general. While the site may not have become "_the_" resource for new players like I was hoping it to, I know these pages have at least helped some people.

As the site got bigger more things got added and of course there were problems. The notorious 16-month-long upgrade of the Club Results archive was probably the worst folly. Other difficulties included the moving of this site from my personal web space to its current host, a ratings tracker program that almost self-destructed, minor squabbles with the other directors over what I could and couldn't post, my inability to update the site as I got bogged down in University, and of course a bunch of technical glitches. Most of you have stuck with me during all of the troubles, and I wish to thank you greatly for that.

Last July I finally completed a makeover to the site to make it look as it does now. The impetus for the makeover was to make information more accessible (i.e. fewer clicks, less scrolling), and to restructure the site internally. Having 100-and-some odd web pages in a single directory made things very hard to manage, so it was vital that I get things tidied up before I got buried under my own bad design. From a technical standpoint the site has held up very well. I'm still not satisfied with the way the site looks, though - in fact I said this the day I put up the redesign. But hey, at least it works.

When I look back on the last five years, they were interesting and exciting times. In many ways now the site is rather mundane, in that most of the work in keeping it maintained comes from adding results, making routine page updates, etc. There are still some nice features to be added, but all of the exciting stuff is already done I think. Nevertheless I look forward to continuing to work on this site. Despite all the changes to the site's insides and outsides, the one thing that hasn't changed it that I still very much enjoy working on this site, and I don't expect that to change any time soon either.