SongoftheSouth.net
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Well I certainly must say that this web site has grown by leaps and bounds since 1998, both in scope and technology. And now, let's take a step back in time...

Brer Fox's Chickapin Hill (1998)

This was my first idea back in mid 1998, a few months after I started toying around with html programming. I was already collecting Song of the South memorabilia heavily (had a collection of about a whopping 15 items) and I wanted to put them on display for the public to see, since I couldn't find any web sites on the internet with memorabilia from Walt Disney's Song of the South. Unfortunately I had hardly any resources to work with and hardly any memorabilia to display, so the idea was abandoned after only designing the home page. (Alas, I don't think I kept the Photoshop file.) High school took my best interest for awhile, until...

Song of the South (late 1998 – early 1999)

I decided to revive my idea. I had gotten a few more pieces of memorabilia to put on display and had bigger and grander ideas. Instead of just memorabilia, why not lyrics? And a links page? And blah blah blah, so on and so on, until I had sort of a mini-site for Song of the South in general with a leaning towards memorabilia. This was only an experimental design as well and was dropped again because I was discouraged with the lack of information I needed to complete the task. The only copy of the homepage I had saved was posted up in my high school teacher's computer lab, and you can bet that's long gone. Anyways, I dropped the idea for a while, until...

Song of the South Memorabilia, version 1.0 (November 1999)

At last! The reason this is the first design with a version number is because this is the first design to go live. The design was simple and used hardly any images at all. If I may say so myself, it was pretty sad. But sad or not, it was online. It was located at http://www.probablypanthers.com/sos/. Not many people knew about it. I was surprised it got any hits at all; but it stayed faithfully until I got bored with it and decided to make it more sophisticated. That's when I designed:

Song of the South Memorabilia, version 2.0 (April 2000)

The first graphical design that was to be my influence for the next 9 months. This site's appearance was based completely upon a piece of theater memorabilia from the 1956 release of Song of the South. The font "Song of the South" and the blue color, in fact, was scanned directly from the memorabilia. I loved the idea of tabs, and I thought they fit well and made navigation easy. After awhile of using this successful format (designed for people even with 640x480 screen resolution), I got tired of the horizontal restraints of a fixed-width page and decided to modify it. Along came...

Song of the South Memorabilia, version 2.1 (July 2000)

My ideas had grown, once again, and a number of changes happened. While keeping the basic appearance of 2.0, I made the table resizable so it would take advantage of everyone's screen resolution. I inverted the tabs to make them look more like tabs, and I added a background of musical notes that were also taken from the 1956 re-release. Along with these cosmetic changes, I also devised a new multi-colored scheme for new sections, making memorabilia only a part of the whole (as it still remains to this day.) I discovered that there was a general lack of information on Song of the South, and I could bridge that gap. So I devised three new sections: Information, Library, and Archives. I affixed a new set of section tabs at the bottom of each page. This design was only transitional, however, and never got past the beta stage. I was already onto designing a bigger and better design, of course. And that's when...

SongoftheSouth.net, version 3.0 (August 2000)

This new design was based on 2.1, but the main section tabs were moved to the top of the page where they should be. This was the first design that was designed specifically with multiple sections in mind and not just memorabilia with other sections built around it. I took the transition from a memorabilia-specialized web site to a general Song of the South web site with a heavy leaning toward memorabilia. I had reserved www.songofthesouth.net (much to my happiness it was available) and I closed down www.probablypanthers.com. This design served me faithfully all the way up until April 2001, when I started to greatly dislike how "horsey" the tabs seemed, and the overall waste of space in design, which I felt impeded the content. So I began working on a solution:

SongoftheSouth.net, version 3.5 (February 2001, unpublished)

I decided to compact the design; get it out of the way so the reader wouldn't be distracted by it. I changed the subsection tabs to vertical and not horizontal so that I could expand the sections without limit to horizontal space. I made the top bar 33% shorter and the top tabs less huge and ugly. I also added transparency and shadow to the design (partially inspired from Apple's beautiful Aqua GUI in MacOS X.) This design was going to be what 4.0 is now, but one day I decided to start from scratch and completely drop the multi-colored section theme I had been using for the past 9 months. This design, a cross-breeding of 3.0 and 4.0, was never published; the only glory it will ever receive is on this page.

SongoftheSouth.net, version 4.0 (April 2001)

The multi-colored sections had always bothered me, because when I built Song of the South Memorabilia I had used the blue for a specific reason: it was from the memorabilia. But when I added the other sections, I had to come up with other unique colors that weren't really tied in with the movie at all. So this time I went with a more universal theme that kept with the feel of the web site: that classic Southern sunset, part of the famous publicity shot of Uncle Remus, Ginny, Johnny, and the Brers at the top of the hill, looking out into the countryside. It was perfect. I also kept the vertical subsection tabs, drop shadows and transparency from version 3.5. This time around I lost all the rounded edges of the pages.

SongoftheSouth.net, version 4.2 (2011)

Flash forward ten years, and you'll notice that the overall visual design hasn't changed a lot since 2001. I still like the sunset theme, so most of the improvements have been "under the hood": CSS, DHTML, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL have all gradually been added over the years to create a more dynamic and easily managed site.

• Thanks to the advent of CSS3, all of the drop shadows and tabs that were previously comprised of images, have now been replaced with CSS, greatly reducing each page's complexity.

• Font sizes, tabs, and images have all been increased in size. The site was initially designed with 640x480 screen resolution in mind. 10 years later, high-resolution mobile devices and larger screens are the new standard, and this means a lot more room to play with!

SongoftheSouth.net, version 5.0 (April 2017 - In Progress)

Flash forward another six years! Life has a tendency to get in the way, and I've let SongoftheSouth.net get pretty stagnant over the years, only posting a few news articles here and there.

I've seen the writing on the wall, I was just trying to avoid it as long as possible. My web site was originally programmed according to the HTML 3.2 standard (hello 1997!) but it is time for me to make the next major update to the site. Responsive web design is all the rage (or should I say, has been the rage for several years now) and it's time for me to finally dive in. This means the web site will dynamically resize according to the size of the window. While I've always designed my sites with this in mind, this takes it to the next level and actually changes the layout of the page and navigation when viewed on, say, an iPad or an iPhone. This will mean a much more mobile-friendly site, and one that I hope will be a little future-proofed as well. If the last 18 years has been any indication of that, I don't think we'll have a problem!

Long story short: this means a complete site redesign from the ground up, starting all pages from scratch and removing all traces of HTML 3.2 and 4.01 transitional. This will be a long and arduous project but I'm making it a priority this year. Look for changes soonish!



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