This weekend, the Raise the Hammer website will be cut over to a new code base running on a new web server - just in time for our fifth anniversary. We're excited about this transition, as it should provide for more stability and more consistent uptime on a new platform that will allow us to add features more quickly.
The new website will look substantially the same as the current site, albeit with a few improvements in usability and new features (see below). However, under the covers it will be running on a modern stack of web technologies.
The website URL will stay the same - http://raisethehammer.org - but the underlying IP address will change. As a result, there may be some temporary disruption in access to the site while the DNS servers across the internet update with the new IP address.
To minimize disruption during the cut-over, we will disable comments and event posting on the old website before the cut-over begins. If you load a page and notice that you can leave comments, it means you're looking at the new site.
By the end of the weekend, all the DNS servers should be pointing the URL to the new IP address.
Comments and posted events from registered users now support Markdown, a very simple and expressive text-to-html syntax.
Asynchronous comment voting - comment votes are now recorded using Ajax technology without the need for a full page refresh.
Improved user login system - login from the menu under the top logo and login status on Manage Profile menu link. The Manage Profile interface is better organized as well.
Registered users can now edit or delete a posted comment within the first five minutes after posting it.
Registered users can now edit events they've posted.
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.
Dramatically improved interface for site administrators. This is more for our benefit than for yours, but it means we can post and update articles more easily.
Better password security.
All legacy URLs (e.g. "index.asp?id=200") will still work, with an HTTP 301 permanent redirect to the canonical URL.
The right-hand menus are a bit simpler - no more long lists of archives by date and category - they're moved to separate pages.
More standardized link presentation across articles/blogs, different index pages, including # of comments.
These are changes we just didn't get a chance to include in the first version of the new code base. The nice thing is that we should be able to implement them fairly quickly once we fix any bugs that show up in the new code.
Threaded comments - I know, we've been promising these for a long time.
Ability to link author profile with user profile so authors can edit their own bios.
More usable page response when an anonymous comment form is posted with errors.
The Traffic Report won't work for now.
Proposed functionality to form ad hoc organizations around a given issue.
The missing features are all on the issue tracker and will be added as soon as possible.
We rebuilt the site, but not from scratch. The new code base is built on the shoulders of the following awesome technologies:
CentOS Linux operating system
Apache web server
Python programming language
mod_wsgi interface with Apache
web.py application framework
python-markdown implementation of the Markdown syntax
SQLAlchemy database abstraction framework
The tools we've used to rebuild the website are all free and open source software. We would like to give back a little bit by releasing the RTH code base under an open source licence as well.
We will do this once we get the site into production, fix any bugs that come up and ensure that the site is stable and functional. (We've already open-sourced some of the code that runs the site.)
While we conduct last minute beta tests on the new code base, you're welcome to see it in action. The content is not quite current, but the functionality is all in place. Please, try it out and let us know what you think.