This site was initially produced in 2010 through a cooperation between the Sutton Poyntz Web Group and Web Choice UK Ltd, who were contracted to produce a framework for the site in which Sutton Poyntz villagers could then generate the site material. We were able to contract Web Choice UK Ltd thanks to a generous grant of Lottery Heritage funds, bid for by the South Dorset Ridgeway Heritage Project of the Dorset AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Our grateful thanks are given to the South Dorset Ridgeway Heritage Project for their sponsorship, and to Web Choice UK Ltd for their expertise.

The village Web Group was created by the Sutton Poyntz Society in order to improve and modernise village communications and outreach. The Web Group created a User Requirement and a Site Structure for the website, negotiated with potential website production contractors, and negotiated for the grant money to fund the development contract. Once the development contract was under way, the Web Group worked closely with the selected contractor, both to check delivery against the requirements and to gain knowledge that would allow them to develop further content for the site. At the end of the contract, the Web Group delivered a Final Report to the AONB to show how value had been obtained for the grant money.

The site is based on Joomla. Joomla is an environment for developing and publishing websites, and allows a number of people to be writing different  parts of the site at the same time as other parts of the site are 'live' - available to be read by the public. Technically, Joomla is a CMS (Content Management System); what this means is that it stores the content of the site in a way that allows different people (users, authors, site administrators) to be using the content in different way, all at the same time. The site contents are not stored in the format that visitors to the site see; Joomla stores a template (or templates), and separately stores page content, and puts the two together when a visitor asks to see a page.

Joomla is available for use freely through a GNU General Public Licence (GPL). Joomla consists of a core, which provides the main functionality, plus large numbers of 'extensions' which can be added to provide more specific functionality. The extensions used by this site are listed on the Joomla Administration page of this website, which also describes how the extensions have been set up.

Joomla consists of a 'back-end' and a 'front-end'. The front-end is what all visitors to the site see; to most people, the site 'is' the front-end. The back-end is where authorised users can log in to manage and edit the site content. Because Joomla and its add-ons comprise, to some extent, a WYPFIWYG ('What You Pay For Is What You Get') system, the Sutton Poyntz Web Group has written a set of GUIDANCE NOTES to help authors to understand how to write and edit content for the Sutton Poyntz website.

In the first version of the site, based on Joomla version 1.5, some 'personalisation' of certain Joomla modules was done in order to get the 'look and feel' that we wanted for the website. Gradually, we have been able to do away with almost all of this, and all the code is now "as issued" except for one change in the calendar display code.
 


Internet Explorer 9

In March 2011, Microsoft rolled out a new version of Internet Explorer,  version 9. I loved the look of the new version, but found that a number of pages on a number of websites simply did not seem to work. On this site, for example, the photograph albums on the map pages did not work. They worked fine with other browsers.

In June 2011, we found that Internet Explorer was no longer displaying our maps. Looking at Google Maps Help, we were not alone. The maps had previously been working, but Microsoft have evidently changed something again!!! The fix was to use an IE8 compatibility mode, which forces Internet Explorer to behave as though it was Internet Explorer version 8; it is really annoying that Internet Explorer is so unstable. Other browsers, such as FirefoxChrome or Safari, all work perfectly. They are all available for you to download and use free. I really recommend you download one of them (they all work well), and abandon Microsoft Internet Explorer.

I believe that later versions of Internet Explorer are better. Please let us know via the Contact Us link if you find problems with the site.

 


Malware attack

In August 2012, our site suffered a malware attack - click for more information.

 


Joomla upgrade - your all new village website

In March 2013, after several months' work, we upgraded this site from Joomla version 1.5 to Joomla 2.5. Joomla 1.5 was no longer supported, and may have been the cause of vulnerability leading to the malware attack (see above). The upgrade proved to be extremely difficult, as the Joomla environment had changed significantly, and there were very limited tools available to automate the upgrade.

Our fervent hope is that users did not notice any differences as a result of the upgrade, apart from a couple of enhancements introduced while the upgrade was being implemented:

  • Firstly, we used the Joomla facility that allows more friendly page names; so, for example, you can now go to page suttonpoyntz.org.uk/index.php/biodiversity/newsletters, rather than the rather less memorable suttonpoyntz.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=147&Itemid=9;
  • Secondly we modified the main menu so that the site can be used by iPad or smartphone users.

In late 2014, Joomla 2.5 stopped being supported. and in April 2015 we upgraded to Joomla 3.4. This was achieved without any significant changes to the front end of the site (what most people see); the back-end, used by site developers and maintainers, was changed significantly.

 


Google Maps

When this site was created, the grant provided to the village by the Dorset AONB's Ridgeway Heritage project was given on the basis that the site would be significantly map-based. Access to Google Maps was achieved using an excellent Joomla Extension, developed by a Dutchman called Mike Reumer. This extension allowed markers to be defined and added to maps using an industry standard file type called KML; Mike Reumer's extension even managed to overcome one of the issues with Google Maps, which is that clicking on a marker defined in a KML file always opens a new browser tab to display any extra information.

This Extension is now no longer supported - presumably Mike has retired and I for one wish him very well. As a result, it was necessary to find an alternative Google Maps extension. There are a number, but none of them has anything like the functionality provided by the extension we had been using initially. The one we chose to move to is a French product called GMapFP; this was developed by a Local Authority in France for its tourism website. It works very well, but has a very difference design concept to the one we were used to, which necessitated very significant work. It can display KML markers, but only with fairly limited functionality. It expects markers to be defined as Places created in a Joomla database provided for the purpose. We have been able to generate maps with all the original functionality (indeed in some cases better functionality relying on the better knowledge we now have), but only after significant work copying all the places defined in the KML file into the Joomla database.

This all demonstrates a potential hazard of using Joomla, which is that one has a strong dependency on the continuing good-will of other Joomla users. When the author of an extension retires and the extension becomes incompatible with newer operating system software, it can cause significant work in finding and then using an alternative extension.

But of course that is no more than one would expect, given that all these extensions, and Joomla itself, are provided free. Without this, a small village like us would not be able to afford a website at all. So please do not think I am complaining in any way.

 


Responsive version

In January 2016, after extensive development work, a "responsive" version of the website was generated. A responsive site adapts its look to the size of window in which it is displayed, and allows a site to be used in a wide variety of environments from small mobile phones up to the largest desktop monitors.

After assessment by some villagers we found that the responsive concept is not compatible with some older mobile phones. After further investigation we have found how to allow users to switch between a responsive design and the old layout. We are therefore rolling the responsive design out on 15th May 2019.