The Webcomic Archive Update

Last Edited – July 17, 2010 by Randall Crock
Filed under: Comics, Graphic Design, Programming

Right, I have this blog thing I should update, yeah. Anyway, I have been pretty busy with work at the Helpdesk and finishing my classes so I haven’t had time to blog as much. However, before work picked up I did a redesign on my comics archive site and did some rebuilding of the base code as well. The first big change is that I created a real design for it, not just a really basic 1990’s era text only design. Please let me know what you think. I also converted all of the display code to PHP so it runs a little faster and will do layouts much better. I was also smart enough to put it on a basic template system I came up with so I can change designs simply by editing one file rather than having to dig it out in a bunch.

The Webcomic Archive’s new look.

On the back end of things there I set up the update as a cron job on my web server. For those unfamiliar with cron it is a way of scheduling things to run and it works really well. Currently all of the comics are updated every hour, but I am having some problems with formatting download strings so they are not always up to date. I also tried to streamline some of the download code only to discover that I did a good job the first time around. All told the download script (in perl) is about 120 lines without comments which is really good considering my first effort (in C#) was close to 1000 and was for very specific archive formats.

I have also extended the number of comics I am keeping in the archive to 25 and the list is still growing. All told I read around 60+ comics and I may one day have all of them up there, barring any major difficulty. If you have any comics you would like to see there, please click the link over on the Archive and let me know what it is. If you have a suggestion of a comic I should read I am always willing to hear about it, but be warned, I may have already read it.

The freelance work front is also going OK and I have a couple jobs in the pipe that I am still working out details on finishing. One would be an e-commerce site which would be great for me because that is one of the areas of web I don’t have as much experience with and would really like to do. If you know anyone looking for web design services, point them my way and I’d be happy to talk to them about their needs and hopefully work something out. I am also finally getting used to CS5, and let me tell you it is awesome. The new features make it easier to work with and give a designer many more options and much more power. I still can’t get over Content-Aware fill in Photoshop; it is a dark magic.

For anyone who remembers Vector Hammer, my tutorial series, I am thinking about doing more with it (read: I haven’t done anything more yet, but I plan to) so any suggestions for what you would like to see would be awesome! I am starting with Illustrator tutorials but I am willing to do them on just about anything I am good at. Programming, Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash, Dreamweaver, whatever. Well, that is all for today so I leave you with a little design project of mine that I had piddled with for a while. Enjoy!

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