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Help Page

This page provides a bit of background history, and hints for using the new ESAA website.

Why have we changed the website?

The ESAA website was created in June 1997, at a time when there were very few websites in existence – the internet had only been around in any recognisable form for about a year. Google didn’t exist – it only came into existence over a year later in September 1998.

The only thing that existed was HTML, version 2 (It is now up to version 5). This defined a very limited set of tags to specify the formatting of characters. Pretty much nothing else existed.

PDF files didn’t exist. Broadband didn’t exist. CSS didn't exist. PHP didn't exist....the list of everything that you regularly use now, without knowing, goes on.

The free-to-use database MySQL was less than 2 years old at version 1 and was only used by a few academics – it is now way beyond version 5 and is now used by pretty nearly everyone.

Maximum internet access speeds of 56kbit/sec were only available using an expensive dialup modem. Ordinary mortals might be lucky to get 4800 bits per second... that is BITS, not BYTES...ie. 8 bits to a byte, means that high speed was less than 600 characters per second – wow...that was really fast.... then. The new home page would have taken about 40 seconds to download, you’ve downloaded it now in just a few seconds.

Internet browsers consisted of Internet Explorer and Netscape, they both had their own ideas of how to show webpages, neither of which conformed to any well defined standard, so anyone writing for them both had to use a limited subset of the available offerings to ensure that pages were displayed on both without any issues, or, if they wanted to use clever stuff, write two different versions of every webpage, one for each browser type.

The orginal ESAA website design worked well, and still does. However, it is now time to start using all the new facilities which have been developed over the years, and in particular, we need to make it more friendly for little touch-sensitive displays.

Touch-screens

Whilst touch-screens are very useful, unfortunately many of them make it very difficult to display modern inter-active drop-down or slide-out menus. These features rely on hovering your mouse over them, but with touch-screens there is no way to hover - just touch, tap, and drag!

You'll find many websites where the drop-down menus are so long that you need to scroll the page to see all the options - it is hard to scroll down a touch-screen device whilst keeping the menu list open at the same time!

What web browers are supported?

In the early years, there were only two browsers, now there are at least 8 widely used browsers and quite a few less well known.

The new website has been tested on Internet Explorer (version 9 upwards, version 8 works, but with limited graphics), Firefox, Google Chrome, and a little Android browser on the cheapest tablet we could find - if it works on that, it should work on more expensive varieties. We don't have the resources to have every browser on every mobile device available for testing, so if you come across any problems, please let us know.

How is the new website organised?

The original website was designed on a year by year basis, so you needed to select which year you wanted to look at, then select an activity from that year.

The new website home page gives direct access to all the activities for the current year, so just a single click will take you to the most important details. You will then be able to select previous years from the introduction page for each activity.

Because the old website has so many pages, it is not practicable for us to re-write everything to match the new website structure, so for everything prior to 2013 you will be directed back to the old website.

How to find your way around

Each activity is self-contained, and once you click into it from the home page, you will always have a menu available to navigate around that particular activity. In future years, you'll be able to select a different year, and the menus will give you access to everything about that particular year. That way, we'll be able to retain the historical archive without us having to do any extra work.

Once you're done reading about whatever, just click the home page button to get back to the start.