By Christian Silver on Monday January 12, 2015

K Force 2015

With the website competition deadline knocking on our doorstep, I realised a new K Force website was well and truly overdue. The key criteria was to make this one as easy to edit as possible.

When I was 13, I decided to take the K Force website into my own hands. What I created may or may not be considered an improvement, but at least I was there to help maintain it because the previous developer had left the school. I had made websites before, but at that stage I thought jQuery was some sort of networking library and PHP was some sort of application you use to make websites with a GUI. I was in for quite a learning experience, and I made a website that functioned: it had animations, AJAX loading for pages and a homemade gallery system. It had an understated beauty.

Gradients and drop shadows are mandatory

People asked me but can I edit it? And I replied sure you can! Just give me a day to work it out! And I put together my own user system, and the most state of the art CMS that the world had yet known. You click on a page name in an admin panel, and you are presented with... a plain < textarea>. I hope you know HTML! It was no wonder that the content on the website became extremely slow to update. I am proud of what I achieved, though. It looked okay, and had some nifty features - I especially liked the image galleries automatically pulling albums from Facebook.

But that was 2011. What's happened to the web in 4 years?

And now my time at this school is coming to an end, running the risk of a completely uneditable website falling into ruin, meaning someone has to figure it out, and build it all again. I wanted to leave something meaningful and useful behind. With the website competition deadline approaching fast, these past four days have been a great opportunity to frantically create exactly that. Here are the new features

Content Management

The most important feature. This website can now be edited by sane people thanks to Bolt. From all sides of the website publishing process (developer, designer and editor), this has made everything so easy. Things are already starting to get up to date - blog entries, better robot archives and now we even have space for resources to teach the robotics community.

Fully Responsive

If you're on a phone, you're already seeing it. On the desktop, you can shrink the browser window to watch the magic. The classic convention of a website changing its format to suit different screen sizes is riddled throughout this whole thing. And thanks to LESS, it was fairly trivial for putting this together.

Open Source

Sometimes I feel like programming is seen as the optional part of VEX. As a programmer, I find this discouraging. We now have a GitHub organisation to promote anything we do related to programming, in the hopes that this will inspire and teach others. This includes the website, which has been completely open sourced. It is actually just a fork of Bolt.

Code Blocks

A minor one, but still very useful

task main() {
    short speed = 127;
    motor[mLift] = speed;
    motor[mDrive] = vexRT(Ch1);
}

And of course there is the whole notion of this looking fairly nice - though I can't objectively say that one.

There is an article on the website with some more technical details if you're interested.