RTH looks mostly the same, but under the covers it's running an entirely new code base. We took advantage of the cutover to add some badly-needed features.
By Ryan McGreal
Published December 14, 2009
Well, it looks like the RTH website cutover was successful! Aside from a few minor hiccups (and thanks to the RTH readers who pointed them out to me), the site seems to be up and running on the new web server.
The site still looks pretty much the same, but it has some new features that I'd like to point out:
Registered RTH users can now employ Markdown syntax to format their comments. You can read our Guide to Comment Formatting for more details. (Markdown for RTH is provided by the Python-Markdown2 library.)
A common problem in website commenting is to post a comment and then notice that it contains a typo or other error. For a five minute window after posting a comment on RTH, you can now edit or delete it. At the bottom of your comment next to the "Permalink", you will see an "Edit" and a "Delete" link.
For some time, RTH has allowed registered users to post upcoming events to our event listing. You can now format the event details using the same Markdown syntax as for comments. (See "Comment Formatting", above, for details.)
A glaring omission in RTH event posting has been the inability to edit events after posting them. We've finally fixed this as part of the website cutover. Click on the page for your event, and you will see an "Edit this Event" link at the bottom. Note: you can only edit an event that you posted.
When you visit the site, the menu under the header includes a username/password form for you to log in, or a Register link if you don't already have a user account. Once you log in, the login form is replaced with a Manage Profile link containing your username.
Note: the first time you visit the site after the cutover, you will likely be prompted to log in again.
From your Profile page, you can still update your user profile as before. The only change is that the change password function is now in a separate form. More on passwords in the next section.
Your user account password is now encrypted (with a salted MD4 hash, if you're interested in that sort of thing). If someone manages to hack into the RTH database, it will be difficult to obtain user passwords in plain text.
Why this matters: Passwords are hard to remember, and website users are notorious for using the same password for several different user accounts - including, sometimes, sensitive accounts like webmail and even online banking. The obvious weakness here is that by cracking someone's user account on a 'weak' application, it becomes possible to obtain the same password used on a more important, critical application.
On the comments page, you can now view the highest voted comments and most commented articles from the past day, past 7 days, past 30 days or overall.
It's frustrating to re-visit a previously saved link only to see a message reading, "This site was recently redesigned and the link you followed no longer works." With the RTH site redesign, the old legacy URLs (e.g. "index.asp?id=200") should all still work (with an HTTP 301 permanent redirect to the new URL).
If you notice any problems with the new site or think of any other features you'd really like to see included, please feel free either to email me or post an issue on the RTH issue tracker. RTH reader Ryan Danks has kindly posted a guide to bug reporting so you have a better idea of what information to include.