If you're a regular visitor to the site, you'll have noticed some changes since the site moved to a new server. These are the most significant changes.
The new site improves the presentation of individual monument entries, combining the multiple map options onto a single page, improving the presentation of photos and removing the standalone comments page. The primary mapping now uses Open Streetmap, although options for Google still exist.
The original comment system wasn't really fit for purpose. It was originally envisaged as a means of allowing people to provide additional factual information about scheduled monuments. In fact, it turned out that most people wanted to use it as a discussion system.
So we've switched to using Disqus to handle comments rather than an in-house system. This makes it easier for us to moderate and administer comments, and allows you to add replies to existing comments as well as adding new ones.
All the existing comments have been imported into the new system, so nothing has been lost. It's just easier to use now.
The old site used a rather crufty authentication method for signing in to upload photos. The new site replaces that with Disqus, so that you use the same login details to submit photos as you do to make comments.
The photo display system has been improved, with each photo now having its own page rather than only being accessible via an overlay. This also means you can now comment on individual photos, as well as making it easier to read the captions and descriptions submitted by the photo uploader.
As a bonus, we've also been able to make full size images accessible for the first time. Clicking on the large photo on the photo page will open a lightbox containing the largest size image we have available. You can zoom in on the photo or open it in full screen mode.
We've also changed the upload system to use a more intuitive photo uploader that works better on mobile devices as well as desktop and laptop PCs. So you can now upload photos direct from your phone or tablet.
One of the biggest problems with the old site was that the allocation of individual monuments to localities was inconsistent. In many cases, the official listing data hadn't been updated to account for changes in local authority boundaries since the monument was first listed. This meant that there were buildings which ended up being allocated to places like "unknown parish", because it didn't match any current reality on the ground. There were also issues with mismatches between shire counties, traditional counties and unitary authorities.
The new site uses a more consistent two-tier system based on current administrative counties and localities within them. Rather than attempt to allocate localities in unitary authorities to their respective traditional or ceremonial counties, the new site uses the current highest level administrative county, whatever form it takes, as the basis for the primary navigation.
For the benefit of those who prefer them, the historic counties are available as a secondary navigation route. These are, however, an approximation only, and do not include detached parts of counties or counties corporate. And, since even the traditional counties did change their boundaries from time to time, they are only a snapshot. The boundaries used are those supplied by Ordnance Survey based on the state of the counties in 1888.
For those curious about the underlying technology of the site, it is written in PHP using MariaDB as a backend and the Foundation jQuery framework for the front end. The original site, as written in 2010, was hosted on a server which ran PHP 5.2 at the time. The code has been upgraded piecemeal over subsequent years, but always within the PHP 5.x branch. The new server, on the other hand, runs PHP 7, which is not fully backwards compatible. Rather than try to shoehorn old code into the new site, the new version has been fully rewritten from the ground up using an entirely new database structure.