Welcome to Rob Hall Online, I am Rob Hall and this is my website.

It was originally designed as a demonstration of my web-development skills for the benefit of potential employers, but I like to think the site has become much more.

The site features a blog, guestbook, chatroom, forum, tutorials, and code samples, all written from scratch by me.

Anyone can view the blog, view/sign the guestbook, view the chatroom, forums, tutorials, and code samples, but only registered users can post chat messages, and add forums threads / posts.  Registering requires only a unique name and a password, after which you're automatically redirected back to the page you came from (or the home page if that fails), only now you have a couple more features.

So enjoy yourself, laugh at my poor design skills, and sign the guestbook!


18th September 2005 00:21:32 GMT
A messaging feature has been added allowing users simple communication with one another.

An interesting feature is something I call QuickMessage.  This allows users to quickly send short messages to users in their contacts list by making a selection from two drop-down lists, then clicking a button.

I actually copied this feature from my mobile phone, but I believe it's a first for a website!
5th September 2005 00:04:26 GMT
Users can now comment on blog entries.  A special thread is automatically created whenever a blog entry is made, with the blog text as that thread's first post.  All the threads reside in a forum entitled "Blog Entries".

The number of comments made is displayed beneath each blog entry.  This works by subtracting one from the number of posts which belong to that particular thread.

Also, the two are (hopefully) linked: editing the blog entry or the thread's first post will update the other, and deleting the thread or the blog entry will delete the other.

Finally, users cannot add threads to the blog entries' forum.  I should probably add a way lock forums / threads from further additions by users.
4th September 2005 20:49:21 GMT
The top menu has been removed from the main page.  This way it looks like the left menu has been re-ordered for the remaining pages.

The Most Active Threads link in the menus now actually lists the most active threads, assuming there are any.  Previously, it was just a header for the items underneath, but now details of recently-active threads are listed in the Forums Main Page.

The most active threads are calculated diferently, too.  Formerly...

SELECT t.title, t.id, COUNT(p.id) AS postCount
FROM threads t LEFT JOIN posts p ON t.id = p.threadId
WHERE p.date > ".(time()-(60*60*24*14))."
ORDER BY postCount DESC, t.title
LIMIT 0, 5;

In English: the top five threads with the most threads in the past two weeks, in descending order.  This has now become...

SELECT t.title, t.id, AVG(p.date) AS averageDate
FROM threads t LEFT JOIN posts p ON t.id = p.threadId
ORDER BY averageDate DESC
LIMIT 0, 5;

In English: the top five threads with the highest average date, in descending order.
2nd September 2005 00:54:48 GMT
The entire site has been (hopefully) brought up to XHTML v1.0 strict specifications.  This has meant that a couple of features have been sacrificed:

1.  Hyperlinks cannot open in different frames.  I've had to bend the rules slightly to allow the "Return to the homepage" link in the chatroom to redirect to the parent.

2.  <font> tags are not allowed at all which means that the rich-text in forum posts, and the guestbook and blog entries, are now <span>s with in-line stylesheets - something I've been keen to avoid for compatibility with Netscape v4.

Finally, the userinfo page has been broken up into a profile page and a settings page.  The profile page lists threads started / contributed to, and the settings page allows a user's avatar and signature to be changed.
22nd August 2005 13:08:49 GMT
The tutorials begin...

Currently there's only: Overview, Data Validation, and Guestbook.

Each tutorial ends with a link to a comments thread.
18th August 2005 10:51:16 GMT
Ensuring images are okay is slowing the site down too much.  Getting header information for each image, each time a page is loaded, seemed like a really good idea at the time, but just proved too costly in terms of site performance.

Consequently, this feature has been moved to the posting section of the site.  Whenever a forum post, guestbook entry, or blog entry is made, embedded images are checked for format and size.

The URL for the too-big image in the previous blog entry has been purposefully damaged to stop it disrupting the layout of the page.
15th August 2005 21:30:21 GMT
One small addition - ensuring images embedded in blogs, forum posts and guestbook entries are valid.  Images must be valid jpegs or gifs, and no larger than 640 pixels wide and 480 pixels tall.

For example, the code...




...generates the following...


The first works because the image is a valid gif and is only 81 * 79 pixels.  The second isn't a valid image file, and the third is too large (828 * 1,024 pixels).

I should probably implement some method of entering mark-up tags without having them turned into HTML.  It'd save me having to fool the parser by placing a space in the opening tag.
14th August 2005 20:04:33 GMT
Some major changes this time...

1.  With the help of those nice chaps at HTMLforums the site's design has been reworked.

2.  Mad props, max respec and etc to hammerstein05 for the logo which now adorns the top of each page.  Though I'm still not sure whether its purpose is to turn heads or stomachs.  Visit his site, or I'll bite your legs off.

Below is my attempt at a logo.  It took me about two hours.  Now you know why I called in outside help!


3.  The site's finally been given a decent name.  I hate to admit it, but probably the only reason the old name (roberrtdhall.com) lasted so long was because I had my name as an Internet domain name.

4.  The forums default to flat, too.
10th August 2005 20:58:19 GMT
The much-missed chatroom makes a welcome return.  It differs from the old version only in that messages more than one day old are removed.

One reason for putting this feature back was to have something else for registered users to use, aside from the forums.
8th August 2005 10:36:28 GMT
A fault was discovered with the drop-down menu which seems to stem from how IE5 processes its JavaScript.

I've altered the external JavaScript file from:

  if(menu[a] != undefined) ...


  if(menu[a]) ...

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