Central New Jersey Area Rocketry Society Website
A website is an internet phenomenon that permits individuals, a group of individuals, organizations, companies, etc. to present information to the public about aspects of their interests, functions, business mission or other pertinent information. Collectively, websites connected via the internet has become known as the World Wide Web because the content on a website can reference content on both its own website and on other websites using a web of interconnections referred to as hyper-links. As citizens in the 21st century, we are now quite aware of and accostomed to this technology. We access websites daily via our computers and mobile devices. We use websites to find information to make our day to day plans and decisions, and we even use them to purchase goods and services. We interact with other persons and even our appliances (IoT — Internet of Things) through websites too. It is difficult today to imagine our modern daily existence without them.
CENJARS has had its own domain registered before its inception and the website followed shortly thereafter. However, that website was not very dynamic nor was it very inclusive. Content creation was restricted, and the club members could not interact with it or with other club members. That was commonplace for websites of a decade and half years go. This website was designed with those limitations in mind to create a more interactive experience. It has also been designed without the overly-busy, everything-on-one-page, layouts of far too many websites. The purpose of this page is to detail some of this website’s features and design considerations.
The Home Page
The CENJARS website’s landing or home page is simplicity. It’s design is intended to generate and to hold the interest of visitors to the website as well as to quickly present information that is most pertinent to the club’s membership and inquisitive website visitors; specifically, when is the next club launch? This information is presented in the middle of the home page and it is also presented with some eye-candy animation in the Come Fly With Us banner at the bottom of the page.
Along the top of the home page is a menu linking to other pages. Two of the menus there are called hubs and those link to pages which contain other links. One hub maintains links to informational pages specifically related to and about CENJARS, and the other hub has links to rocketry specific information.
The Event Calendar
One of the long desired features of the CENJARS website is its Event Calendar. Monthly club launches, school and scouting launches, and outreach events are now listed in this event calendar. Links which can be followed in the calendar will provide further information about time and location, and its event entries even link to the now familiar Google Maps to obtain specific travel directions to an event’s location. This calendar dynamically drives other aspects of the website such as the home page launch announcements. Code, specifically developed for this site, obtains the most current upcoming launch information from the calendar database and generates the presentations on the home page.
The website now has its own Gallery to publish and share launch and event photos and videos. The Gallery albums have been organized by the type of launch or event, and then by date. This allows visitors to view photos and videos that have been published by the date of said launch or event. Videos are not directly stored on the site. Videos are linked from YouTube or Vimeo posted content.
The Gallery contents may be posted by any CENJARS member in good standing. It is not open for the public to post their multi-media content for fear that the Gallery might be used to post undesirable or inappropriate content. CENJARS members wishing to post their photos or videos to the must request multi-media posting privileges.
At long last, the CENJARS website has a member inclusive and member interactive feature, a forum. Members and visitors may post questions and comments in the forum after creating an account, an on-line persona, for themselves. There are sub-forums in the forum created for and set-aside for specific discussions. Club officers have special privileges which permit them to create new sub-forums, edit and delete posts to forums, and to ban users which have abused their posting privieges.
After creating a forum account, the user can opt to add biographical information and select their own image to serve as an avatar in the forum. This is all optional but it can help others to get to know more about the member posting in the forum with the hopes that interactions can be kept on a civil and friendly basis.
Login|Register and Logout
As previously mentioned, the Forum and the Gallery require a user account to interact with the website. This one menu item serves three purposes. For those without an account, it it links to the registration function of the website. For those already holding an account, it links to the login function for the website. To the casual eye, these two links are the same. The default is login; select the register tab to create an account. Once a user has logged into the website, the menu item becomes the logout function of the website. One does NOT need an account on the CENJARS website to view its published content. An account is only needed if one desires to interact with others within the forum.
The information that is collected to create an account is minimal. The user must select a username which is unique. If that name is taken, well, sorry, you were too late to the party. Select something else for a username. Then, your, the user, must create a password which only you should know. These two elements, username and password are the unique credentials which establish your account persona on the website. Do not share this information!
During the registration process, you are requested to provide an email address. This is the minimal bit of information the CENJARS website maintains about you. Your email address is used should you need an account reset. Your password is stored using a one-way, irreversible, encrypted hash; thus, CENJARS does not and can not know your password. If you should forget your password, a new password can be requested but CENJARS can not tell you what your password was. Don’t ask, it simply can not be done!
Many groups and organization reach out to CENJARS for one reason or another. To facilitate contacting the club, a contact form is now available. This provides several simple functions. First, all contact messages will be similarly formatted for the club’s recipients instead of a hodgepodge of user composed email content. Second, this contact form keeps the email addresses of club’s officers private. Not that you can’t be trusted but there are far too many nepharious malcontents on the internet that could exploit that information. Third, the contact information entered can be accessed by club officers whereas a single email contact address would require one person to contend with any requests. Fourth, the contact page has a dropdown menu of subjects which are the most commonly sought requests. The subject entered can still be user composed if the menu of subjects does not contain an appropriate selection.
Website Link Hints
Scattered throughout the CENJARS website are many hyper-links. These are shown in an orange color, a color chosen for the website from the exhaust flame of the CENJARS logo. To further distinguish these many links, there are mouseover or hover icons that appear to denote the type of link. Hyper-links which open other pages on this website or on other websites will show a link icon. Hyper-links which refer to the website’s Event Calendar are depicted by a calendar icon. Hyper-links to location information are depicted with a compass icon. Also, on this website there are many forms which can be downloaded. Any hyper-link that leads to a downloadable form will use a download icon.
Website tooltips are typically brief bits of text that provide contextual help or information about a term or a link to aid the user to better understand what is being presented. The CENJARS website links with a third-party glossary of rocketry terminology and, when a term is first encountered on a page, a definition in the form of a tooltip is presented. The term’s definition is presented with an engaging popup. It is this external linking to the glossary site which may impede the responsive loading of some pages on the website.
One of the features of the CENJARS website is the specific weather data collected and displayed for the CENJARS launch site. This information was added to allow the club’s members to quickly obtain a weather report for the launch. It provides the current temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, air pressure, visibility and even the sunrise and sunset times. All important information for deciding on what rockets to fly and what motors to fly them on. In addition to the launch site’s current weather conditions, there is a link to the extended outlook for the launch site.
The extended outlook page maintains five (5) days of weather forecasted for the CENJARS launch site. Five days lookahead is about as far ahead as can be reasonably trusted for weather forecasts. When this page actually contains the date and time of the next scheduled CENJARS launch — information driven by the CENJARS Event Calendar — that fact is depicted in the forecasted weather table.
Website sounds are not necessary when navigating most websites but they can augment the experience. A minimum number of sound files exist on the CENJARS website. The original idea was to use sounds like Easter Eggs. Easter Eggs are typically messages, images or some other amusing feature hidden in software. One of the earliest known Easter Eggs was found in DIgital Equipment Corporation’s TECO editor for its PDP computers during the Summer of Love. The command to create a new file with TECO was: MAKE. If a user entered the command: MAKE LOVE, the editor would respond, “Not war?” before creating the file LOVE.
Sound is usually not a problem on websites. If the user elects to play a sound file or video, it is usually via some interaction with button or link, so the sound will play. However, automatically playing sound files found on a website are typically disabled in modern browsers. To hear these sounds, the user must consciously elect to have them played by their browser. If you didn’t hear any sound when you moved your pointer over the Come Fly With Us banner at the bottom of the home page, then your browser will need to be explicity enabled to play sounds on this site.