Greetings one and all, today we’ll be taking a look at another bit of concepting/messing around from the start of 2015. This follows on from the settling snowfall effect (“Mimas”) I’ve covered previously. This project was started directly after Mimas, but never reached the same level of completion. Following the years theme of moons of Saturn, this project was called Iapetus.
In early 2015 I was given a brief to create a mobile sales app for my employers travelling salespeople to use when they visit customers. Despite the relative simplicity my 4 day deadline was still insane, although I did make it with something functional, ugly and full of bugs. What I present below is a complete rewrite of that code over the course of a few weeks, still a few feature gaps and such but all the important stuff is there.
I’m the IT Manager for Jadecliff Ltd, a UK-based wholesaler of Christmas trees with plantations across Europe as well as at home. When I joined their IT systems were outdated or non-existant, but there’s been a steady encroachment since I joined and one of the first parts was building a modern website to represent the company.
After the madness of Christmas 2014 (trust me, this industry is madness) we settle in to the quiet period… Lots of general concepting and out-of-the-box thinking, and other manager buzzwords. I generally get a bit of free time here to play with some things on my own – usually working on website designs.
One of the projects I toyed with this year was an element for a future design rather than the design its self. I tend to name everything according to some system when I’m sprouting concepts like this, and for this year I settled on moons of Saturn (essential trivia: in the past I’ve used Shakespearean characters and bars in Sydney), so this project is known to me as Mimas.
When I interviewed for my current job I had hacked together a prototype based on a brief sent to me, in the header was a simple snowfall effect, with the snow settling on the bottom of the frame. I decided to revisit that idea, but go upscale, and borrow some code from my work wrapping text in php with imagettftext etc.
Today’s post covers the website I built for Marldon Christmas Trees, my workplace, for the 2014 festive season. The basic website is built on WordPress, with a slew of custom plugin code to handle two booking forms and a customized letter from Santa designer which we’ve seen before. So, let’s dive in.
Before the current Nerdshack, and before the previous Nerdshack, there was the original Nerdshack – the same site really, blog, portfolio and random drivel, but in a more designed shell. I recently found this single screenshot of the old design and figured I’d publish it for posterity. I still like it – those boxy headline backgrounds were based on the window frames from the Watercolour theme in Windows Whistler (XP) builds 2410-2419, and the boxy layout of the sidebar complimented it nicely. In the final iteration, the lower boxes on the sidebar contained links to recent blog posts, and clicking any link in to the blog triggered a smooth transition to the identically laid out but much darker design of the blog. I’m currently investigating building a similar theme for the current site – the grey is nice but it is a bit depressing after a while!
I regard Pixita as my first “real” programming project, way back around 2006/07. I had been experimenting with Visual Basic since about 14 (although how much I understood what I was doing is questionnable) but trying to make sense of other languages made my head spin; It wasn’t until University started teaching me Java that suddenly everything clicked in to place, and now I can understand most any language thrown at me.
In 2008/9 I visited a bar near where I lived called The Indie Lounge frequently. Friendly staff, live music and cheap drinks beckoned me in, but after a while I began work on an altogether more professional project with them – creating a website.
There was some interest in having an online presence which could be customized and styled, unlike the bars most prevalent means of communication at the time, Facebook. So I went and built a design I felt reflected the bar, grungy and dark. From there, things got a little strange…
As a teenager I was very active on technology discussion forums, and became the in-house developer for several. Modifying themes for Invision Power Board (now IP.Board), and tweaks to any external web sites or front pages were my general jobs, although I did make a few skins from scratch way back when.
The largest project I ever undertook was for a large community of over 30,000 members – the site had previously had a web site front end linked to their forum, but lost it during some upgrades. I created a new portal for them which linked in to their forums and displayed the top news posts, as well as most recent posts across the whole board, popular downloads, and a custom poll widget. I also created an extensive admin panel allowing admins to control exactly which forums the top/most recent posts were drawn from and set the poll.