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About our Website

Over the years, our website has gone through many revisions, with the current version being the end result of hundreds of hours of programming and graphics design work.

It was not until the 2005 FIRST Robotics Competition season that our website first started to grow into it's current form. At the time, our previous version of the website was wiped and Arthur Dutra, a sophomore at the time, took over and created the first version of our modern site completely from scratch. That year, it won the UTC New England Regional Best Website Award.

In 2006, the website was expanded even more, and again won the Best Website Award at the UTC New England Regional. But by this time, the entire site had grown huge with hundreds of pages of content, photo galleries, and more. It was time for a better solution.

Starting for the 2007 season, Arthur Dutra (who was now a senior on the team), started work on a new revision of the website which would be a lot easier to maintain. Called a content management system (CMS), it allows anyone on the web development team to log into the website, and create photo galleries, write news articles, create events, and more without an extensive knowledge of HTML.

After looking around at the many currently available CMS's available, the decision was made to write an entire content management system for Team 228, from scratch. And so a year-long project was started, which took Arthur Dutra his entire senior year to complete.

By end of the school year, the website began to move from the advanced development stage and into the production environment of our server. The website you are now seeing is the end result of this year-long project, with the current Team 228 Web/Communications team continuing to keep the website updated.

Design

The very first thing necessary to finish before any of the coding for the backend of the website could be started was to complete a design template for the website. This template had to achieve certain criteria, which were:

With these points in mind, several different revisions of designs were created before the final version was selected. Now it was time to move into the complex ideas behind the coding of the website itself.

Coding

Now with the main design template finalized, it was time to start coding the backend of the content management system. The first thing to be done was to program a modular system, capable of determining which page the user wants, and retrieving the data for the user.

This was accomplished by storing all the storing everything on the website as "modules" in a database. Then each page has a list of which modules need to be included on that page, in what order, and whether they belong in the left or the right column.

But before the website retrieves all of these modules from the database, it first checks to see if there is a cached copy in existence. This cached copy is automatically updated every hour, and helps drastically reduce load on our database server and decrease page loading time.

From here, the modules are processed and their output data is sent into a page template which generates all the XHTML, CSS, and Javascript code to build every page. First it builds the page header, then adds the left column, then the right column, and finally adds the footer, where it then sends this off to the browser.

However, when a user with administrator privileges is logged into our website, our server has to go through a few additional steps. The first thing it does is add extra content into ever page to add buttons such as "Add News Article" or "Upload Photos to This Gallery". The other thing it does is embed an AJAX-framework library into every page, and loads in a lot of AJAX-functions needed for the dynamic web application features of the administrative backend.

On top of all of this, there are constant and layered security checks going on at all times to ensure the integrity of all data being processed.

Some other cool features of the coding of this website include:

Content

Last, but not least, is the most important part of our website. Without content, a website is nothing but wasted space on a server hard drive. Ever since the first version of our modern web site came around in the 2005 season, our team has always placed a very high emphasis on putting a large amount of accessible, relevant, and interesting content on our website.

Some quick facts on the content on our website:

Credits

The website template and content management system was designed and programmed by Arthur Dutra (Class of 2007) during the 2007 school year. Now graduated, Arthur serves as an advisor to the current Web/Communications Team.

Currently, all content on this website is created and managed by Team 228's Web/Communications Team, which is headed by Tina Dutra (Class of 2011).

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Constant Evolution

"It's something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing...and adding to."-Walt Disney

Over the years, our website, along with our robot and our entire team, has seen a lot of changes. But one thing is constant: our progress towards improving our team, improving our robots, and improving our community.

Here's a look at some previous versions of our website from the past few years:

Website Revisions