In this post I'll describe changes that were made to Lottery Post this morning, as part of a huge web site update. It is the culmination of about a month of programming I have been doing since the last big release, on Dec. 11, 2007.
(As always when a big upgrade is installed, the first thing I recommend doing is clearing your browser's cache, to remove all old script and style files from your web browser. If you use more than one browser, the cache should be cleared on each one, since different browsers use separate caches.)
The upgrades that were implemented today include the following:
IMPROVED: Vast usability improvements for users of Safari and Opera, including the new Safari 3.0 web browser. If you are a user of one of those browsers you will notice perfect main menu bar appearance and functionality and better popup menus, and the pages overall should give you nearly the same experience as a IE7/Firefox user. If you use Safari or Opera, always upgrade to the latest release, which are currently Safari 3.0.4 and Opera 9.25. (See note below about Opera and Safari, and supported web browsers.) And again, clear your browser cache to enable all the latest compatibility changes to Lottery Post on those browsers.
IMPROVED: Appearance of Lottery Post on the IE 5.0/5.5 web browsers, even though they are NOT currently supported. The fonts now appear the same (in most pages) as they do in IE7. However, this does not change the fact that major functionality is missing in IE 5.5 (and lower) due to the fact that it cannot handle the AJAX technologies that modern web browsers can. Lottery Post STRONGLY URGES IE 5.0/5.5 users to upgrade to IE7 (a free upgrade from Microsoft). According to Microsoft, IE7 is compatible with Windows 98 and Windows ME, so you should not hold off upgrading over a concern of compatibility, even if you use an antiquated, outdated operating system like 98 or ME.
NEW: Event Calendar. Maintains a calendar of important events in the lottery industry worldwide. Use the Event Calendar to see upcoming game changes and additions, special drawings and events, personnel changes, and Lottery Post events. Online help is provided on the page to assist with navigation between months and other features.
NEW: Suggest / Correct Event forms. Use these forms to send suggested additions and corrections for the Event Calendar. Government lotteries are encouraged to send us your upcoming major events for inclusion on our Event Calendar. Access these forms by clicking the links at the bottom of the Event Calendar, or you can also access them by clicking Contact Us and navigating to Suggestions.
IMPROVED: Greatly reduced the size of Lottery Post cookie file, which reduces the volume of network traffic to and from any given PC. This will produce the benefit of faster page loads, as well as faster in-page AJAX calls. The cookie file is sent back & forth to Lottery Post each and every time data is requested — even for each image file. (This is the way all sites work, not just Lottery Post.) Thus, the cookie size has a definite impact on page load times.
FIXED: Main menu bar now renders perfectly in alternative web browsers, such as Safari and Opera. Previously, the menu tended to move all over the place in those browsers, and had other strange behavior.
FIXED: Main menu bar no longer shifts a few pixels to the right in browsers such as Firefox and Safari, eliminating the horizontal scroll bar that would be generated as a result at the bottom of the page.
IMPROVED: IE7 now shows the top-level menus and popup menus with the same partial transparency and fade features that are visible under IE6. Transparency effects may be added to other browser platforms in the future.
IMPROVED: Updated emoticons page (for editor) to streamline code with better techniques and faster performance.
IMPROVED: Greatly enhanced PNG graphics support on IE 5/6, which is utilized to a small degree in some pages now, but will really open new graphical abilities for future features.
IMPROVED: Faster data handling/manipulation on the web server for key workhorse pages such as thread pages, lottery results, and jackpot listings. Translates into faster page generation times, and ability to handle larger volumes of traffic.
NEW: Added animation of DHTML popup windows (for example, the popup window that displays ratings, or the popup window that displays calendar event detail when a date is clicked.) Animation shows clearly which item on the page was acted on, or is generating the window.
NEW: Event Calendar RSS feed, for subscribing to new events as they are posted on the calendar. (Use with web browsers that directly support RSS, such as IE7, Firefox 2, Safari 3, and Opera 9, or with dedicated RSS feed reader.)
FIXED: The left navigation area is now consistent across all pages. Previously, several pages used an old version of the navigation.
NEW: Added "Event Calendar" to the left navigation area and to the Resources menu. Moved "Delete cookies set by Lottery Post" from the Resources menu to the Options menu.
NEW: Added calendar popup control to any input spaces on the Contact Us form that are used to enter a date.
NEW: Added new Contact Us topics, including a Suggestions topic on the first page that provides quick access to any type of suggestion.
IMPROVED: Numerous other visual improvements, usability improvements, performance improvements, and bug fixes. Overall, the site is much faster and more stable across a wide variety of web browsers.
Opera is emerging as a very good alternative web browser to use with Lottery Post, thanks to big improvements in their latest browser release, 9.25. Lottery Post may soon add Opera to its list of supported web browsers, after more thorough testing has been completed. Going forward, Lottery Post will test all new pages and features to ensure compatibility with the latest version of Opera.
Following the addition of Opera as a supported web browser, the list of officially-supported web browsers at Lottery Post will be:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 (IE7)
- Firefox 2.x
- Safari 3.0.4+
- Opera 9.25+
Since Safari 3 is being targeted by Apple as a standard across all of its new products, Lottery Post has raised its level of compatibility with Safari 3, and will test all new pages and features in that browser. Safari is available on both Mac and Windows. As it stands right now, Lottery Post is very stable on the Safari 3 browser platform.