Changes and the Future of the Archives

This version of the site is in an alpha build. The complete site and archives is located at http://iowaunder.com

With the Archives turning 15 this coming year, I felt that it was time for a long over due rebuild of the Archives. Like every build of the site, I'm taking a different approach to hopefully make it easier for all those wonderful members that have contributed to the Archives over the years. This is more of a road map of what is to come because not only will there be a new structure but because of the new structure, most of the information and files in the archives will need to be manually entered into the new build. This is nothing new. I've had to do this each time but I'm hoping this will be the last time. 

So, here is the grand master plan and major structure and changes that will come. Many of them will not effect members but it will greatly effect what their user experience will be like in the future:

  • Books - In the past the sites main structure has be provided by the Book Module and though there were a number of advantages, it created an often confusing interface for new users. So, the site will no longer be using books for navigation and structure.
  • Taxonomy - The new structure of the site will be based on Taxonomy. These are terms that are then referenced using the CCK content types to display the content as a group. For example, in the past using the book module, a user would have to first locate the right book to add a child page to. With Taxonomy terms like "band", "city", "state", "decade", etc... will be selected or typed in to the listings. Once done then the site will collect and display the content on one page. Combining Taxonomy Terms will allow me to create pages or Views that all have the same terms. For example, let say I want to display all Iowa bands from the 1970s, I can create a view that displays only listing pages that have referenced the 1970s, bands and Iowa City.
  • Term Reference - Instead of referencing page names and adding Links to contributor pages and project pages, their will be an auto complete text field to add them. I still haven't found an easy way to add new contributors pages to the archives but this will make adding the links much easier.
  • Field Collection - In the past to edit any part of a listing, you would have to open the form to edit the whole listing. With Field Collection sections of the listing can be edit without opening the full page. For example, let's say you just want to edit the images. You would click on an edit button in the media section and only have the forms and file uploads for photos.
  • The Media Module - Though it had a lot of great features, it was often confusing and I didn't care for how it displayed the media. I'm still working on how the media will be handled but I'm opting for a cleaner interface and better display. 
  • Panels - Pretty much every other site I have, I use panels to place content where I want it. Panels allows custom layouts of the content that often is under the control of the theme and the basic and often ugly Drupal displays. Panels allows me to organize content differently and hopefully more pleasing way.
  • Views - Views allow me to create lists of content and control how the content is displayed. Using content type and Taxonomy terms, I can create pages that display the listings in a number of displays like full content, teasers, or only selected fields from the content. The content display can be everything from a simple list of links to slide shows and sliders.
  • Combining Content types - In the past I've had different content types for different listings. With Taxonomy the need for having one content type for band, venue, publication, promoter, etc... isn't needed. Though there might be some fields that aren't needed for some listing types, there will be a universal Project listings to cover all projects. As of right now I'm planning on having the following content types:
    • Project Listing - This will be any project or business.
    • Contributor Listing - This would be personal listing pages for those involved or contribute to an existing project listing.
    • Interview - Interviews is something that I always planned on doing more of but never seemed to get around to. As in the past any member can add an interview to the archives.
    • Scene Memory - For listings that may not be connected directly to a project or be more of an overview of the time period and location.
    • Blog - To date, no member except me has took advantage of this and I'm not sure if there is any reason for them to. I always envisioned this as way for members to post reviews of bands, places, etc... or maybe even just their own opinions that relate to the archives. I guess maybe something like the old fanzine columns.  If anyone is interested in doing this, contact me and I could set up the feed. 
    • Forum - This is something that has been a struggle since I killed/loss the Iowa Underground Archives Forum. It was during the dark ages before CMS or at least before I started working with CMS and I would have to transfer data from the forums to the archives. The main advantage is that there was more interaction between the members of the site which often sparked more memories than one gets staring at a blank form. If there is interest, I'd be happy to set it forums up but like most internet activity from 10 years ago, the forum seems to have been killed off by social networks.
  • Social Networking - This has got to be the biggest under used part of the site. I had envisioned the site becoming more of focused social network for those active and those that shared a history in the underground culture. I don't know if was the interface or the fact that most of us can't even keep up with all the social networks that we belong to as it is. At this point I will not be adding anything beyond the ability for members to send private messages to other members. If there is a demand for things like friends, groups and forums, I will add them but members need to let me know if it would be something they find useful.
  • New Hosting - I moved the site to it's own shared hosting plan which has ended a number of problems I've been having with going over the CPU limits and effecting AxiomPiercing.com's page load speeds. If you haven't noticed the pages are loading a great deal faster than before.
  • Monetization and Advertising - This site costs me about $200 a year and all the time it takes to maintain it which I do in my free time. I would be highly interested in creating enough income to at least cover my costs. If anyone has any ideas, please contact me. I've considered banner ads that fit the regoin and mission of the site, a kickstarter or donation program and even offering a cheap MP3 distrobution for independent bands. Each has it's own problem and complications. However, to expand the capablity of the site including hosting video files, it would require additional funding than I could provide.
  • Theme - At this point, I'm planning on using a basic Drupal Theme with a few add wistles and bells to increase proformance, decrease page loading times and demand on the CPU. However if there is someone out there with experience in CSS and Drupal theme that would like to create a theme for the site, please contact me.

At this point the site is way at the beginning of alpha. The domain http://new.underground-archives.com will be the development building and you are welcome to check it from time to time to watch the site develop. Until I get all the ducks in a straight line and move on to Beta, I will not migrate the content from the old website. So, if you are adding information or would like to join the site, please do so by going to the old site at http://iowaunder.com.

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