This page is for all those people (both of you) who are interested in
birds and also in the technical details of how this web site was constructed.
This web site was originally hosted on OneNet, a Cincinnati internet service
provider. But when they were bought out by a national company, the services available became more
restricted, and I had been thinking about wanting to have access to a real database (which OneNet
didn't have), so in May 2003, I registered the cincinnatibirds.com name, and moved the site to
The web site was written entirely with various text editors, ranging from
Notepad to Microsoft Word to vi. I'm currently using 1st Page 2000, a free HTML editor from
EvrSoft. It does nice things like color HTML tags,
and has buttons that insert code for things like tables. I've tried using various WYSIWYG
editors, and have found them to be more trouble than they're worth; they tend to produce
nearly incomprehensible code, which is practically impossible to edit.
The web site uses PHP scripts a lot. The blue navigation bar on the left side
of each page is produced by a script. Each page
calls the script, using variables which identify the page
to the script. The script begins by making a random choice among a number of images which
are stored on the web site. All these images were scanned from The Birds of Indiana,
by Amos W. Butler, published as the 22nd Annual Report of the Indiana Department of Geology
and Natural Resources in 1897. The script then builds the table of pages, using the variable
which it received to determine whether to include subpages, and to highlight the current page.
The "New on the Web Site" entry will display in red if 1) your browser is
set to accept cookies and 2) I have changed the page since you last looked at it. The link on
the navigation bar is to a script, rather than to a web page. This script sends you a
cookie which records the present date and time, and then displays the web page. The navigation script
reads this cookie, compares that time with the date and time that the web page was last
modified, and displays the entry in red or normal according to that comparison.
The sightings log was originally based on the Guestbook script by Matt Wright,
available at Matt's Script Archive. When I shifted
the site over from using Perl to using PHP, I rewrote this script, using the same basic structure.
The sightings database contains records which I have kept on my
computer at home for many years, using Microsoft Access. The web version of the database
used to be constructed from tab-delimited text files. The Perl database script on
the web site accepted input from a form on the database page, searched the text files
for matching records, sorted them, and built a web page which was then sent to the user.
This worked OK when the database was smaller; but as the database grew, it became way too slow.
With the change over to cincinnatibirds.com, I now have access to a MySQL
server, which now holds the new version of the sightings database. Besides being faster, it's
allowed me to add a lot more features relatively easily.