Something Must Be Done

Behind the photo galleries sits a database that controls everything, creating the links between the pictures and the text and ensuring the right images appear in the right galleries. It was fine when there were only a few hundred pictures but had been struggling to cope with the 5000+ images currently on the site. In particular, site updates were taking longer and longer and the process was regularly failing before it completed, requiring time consuming manual interventions almost every time it ran. Something had to be done.

The solution is a brand new database, set up from scratch, taking into account the lessons learned from the last one. Indications are that the new set-up is much faster and more reliable. The opportunity was taken to redesign the photo gallery pages at the same time, adopting a flexible layout that adapts itself to the size of the browser window. Whether you're using a phone, a tablet or a large desktop screen, pictures should display at an appropriate size in a layout suited to the window dimensions and orientation. The Austria, Cuba, Denmark and UK galleries have already been converted to the new format and are available to view. The new pages have been tested on Safari, Chrome, Opera and Edge browsers so, hopefully, will work for everyone. Smaller pictures, 750 pixels across have also been replaced with 900 pixel versions. More enhancements will follow once the remaining galleries have been converted.

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Austria : New Photo Gallery

The Schwarzach-St Veit - Wörgl line is a very scenic east-west link between the Vorarlberg and Tirol and the rest of Austria but most expresses and some freights normally take the shorter, faster, “Korridor” route via Rosenheim in Germany. These photos were taken in the autumn of 2014 when the Korridor was closed for engineering work and everything went through the mountains.

go to Schwarzach - Wörgl gallery

Railography Derailed

Just over a year ago I wrote about how new technology was being used to automate the production of Railography photo galleries, only to find the whole process starting to derail less than twelve months later. Apple announced that their Aperture photo library app had hit the buffers and wasn’t going to be updated. No problem at the moment but it’s likely that it’ll stop working with some future version of the operating system. The whole thing came off the rails when the RapidAlbum plugin for Rapidweaver stopped working with the latest version of the program and it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be updated either.

What made both Aperture and RapidAlbum special was the way they made use of the data contained within an image file, making it easy to find individual pics in a library of many tens of thousands of files in one case and using that data to produce whole web galleries by simply selecting a folder of image files in the other. Titles, captions, technical details and everything else was included in the file metadata and went everywhere the image went. A search for alternative software with similar capabilities revealed nothing suitable.

Time for a rethink.

Instead of embedding the relevant data in the photos, why not embed the photos in the data? A few weeks development and the result is a Filemaker Pro database where the photos, details, captions etc are all brought together and then exported to the website. The galleries themselves have been simplified by the use of PHP code, which creates the individual pages on the fly using the photos and data supplied. For now it all looks the same but the scope for improving the functionality of the site is considerable. To prove the concept, the Austrian photo galleries have been republished using the new process. Look out for more improvements over the coming months.

Any problems with the new pages, please let me know - they should work with almost any reasonably up-to-date browser as the PHP works on the server and the code your computer or tablet sees looks much the same as any other pages on the site.

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Austria : New Trip Report

Temporary closures of the Traunstein - Salzburg line, followed shortly afterwards by the Rosenheim - Kufstein line, led ÖBB to divert trains that normally run via the German “Korridor” from Salzburg to Wörgl for more than a week at the end of October 2014. This report covers the 3 days I spent photographing the diversions and normal services on the Wörgl to Schwarzach-St. Veit line.

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Austria Photos : A Day on the Westbahn

A selection of pictures of the Salzburg - Linz line, taken around Weng and Pöndorf in April this year, has been added to the Austrian Photo Galleries.

Salzburg - Linz pictures

Austria Trip Report : A Day on the Westbahn

My last visit to the Westbahn, the main line east of Salzburg, was almost 10 years ago, when class 1142s and 1144s predominated and class 1010s and 1110s were still fairly common on freights. Things are very different today, in the era of Taurii and Railjets, but there are still plenty of loco hauled passengers and quite a few freights, even on a Sunday. This report details a day trip to the line during my April 2010 visit to southern Germany.

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