This website is in fact the third iteration of LTSV. The first version was launched in 2003 and was 'flat' (i.e. with no options for viewing, sorting or filtering data and photos). This was replaced with a database-driven version in 2005, and now by this latest version.
The switch-over from the current LTSV website to this new version took place on 1st April 2022. Once the last few sightings are copied across, the old site will be de-commissioned (log-in will be disabled but the pages will remain in place for the time being).
Although entirely new, this site is based on the same principles as the previous version, so users will hopefully be comfortable with the methods for navigating pages and viewing information. There are however a number of significant differences, and these are listed below.
1. All photos are now at the larger size of 1200-pixels wide, with some also available at an 'extra large' 2400-pixels wide.
Photos on the previous site were mainly at 900-pixels wide, with some smaller and a few larger. The existing files have not simply been stretched - I went back to the source images for all 7,000 photos! In a handful of cases, the original image was less than 1200-pixels wide. For some of these, I have done a small amount of stretching, while in others I have simply added blank padding.
2. All thumbnails of photos are now at 300-pixels wide.
Thumbnails on the previous site were at 150-pixels wide. The larger size allows more detail to be seen without viewing the full-size image. Gallery pages have also been improved to make better use of various screen sizes.
3. Icons are being progressively enlarged.
Icons (colour side-views of vehicles) have been used on both sites as a means of making it easier to identify particular vehicles when looking at lists. Icons were previously 125-pixels wide and had a grey background. The new icons are 375-pixels wide and have a white background. When looking at lists, the icons are shown very small, but a larger view will pop-out when you hover your mouse over the image.
4. Options for photo filtering and sorting have been improved.
The new photos
page has several new options. Added to the existing filters are 'Model', 'Caption contains', 'Tag', 'Photographer' and 'Month added', while you can also now sort by date added, date taken, subject ID (fleetnumber), registration or make/model.
5. Previous/Next links are now contextual.
When you looked at a particular vehicle or photo on the old website, there would be a link to the Previous and Next vehicle/photo as appropriate. However, these links did not take into account any filtering that had been applied. With the new site, if you filter to see just (for example) red Ford Transit vans, the Previous and Next links will take you to the Previous or Next red Ford Transit van.
6. Page jump controls are no longer blind.
When looking at a list of vehicles, photos, sightings or whatever, only up to 100 records are shown at any one time. Controls are provided to navigate to the first/previous/next/last pages as appropriate, plus a control to take you to any numbered page within the set (e.g. page 15). On the old site, you would not know what was on page 15 until you got there. With the new version, the page jumps give an indication of the range of items that will be found on each numbered page, making it easier to get to particular records. Note that this works whatever sorting order has been applied.
7. Documents are now integrated with vehicle records.
Having published a large number of official LT archive documents recently (see the LTSV-LTA
website), the new version of LTSV provides links to documents containing information about specific service vehicles.
8. News items now include photos.
Photos covering recent vehicle changes will now be shown on the news page. Note that these will sometimes be applied retrospectively, since we often learn about a new vehicle (for example) before we receive any photos of it.
9. Highlighting of search results has been improved.
Various pages on this website allow you to search for particular words or phrases. In most cases, the results will be highlighted, making it easier to find the search results.
10. Keyboard navigation between individual photos and vehicles has been added.
When you are looking at a particular vehicle or photo, you can use the n or p keys on your keyboard to move to the next or previous item. As mentioned above, previous/next links now take into account any filtering and/or sorting that has been applied.
11. Operator details have been added to vehicle history records.
The vehicle history event table has been amended to now include the operator as well as the location, department, etc. In due course this will enable the provision of more comprehensive 'fleet at date' enquiries.
12. Vehicle licensing data has been split to a separate table.
Vehicle licensing checks provide useful clues as to when vehicles change ownership or are withdrawn from use. To enable older licensing data to be preserved, the data now sits in its own table. This means that, when looking at a particular vehicle, you will be able to see all recorded changes to licensing dates.
13. A timeline of related events has been added.
This function was added to provide some background information and context to a series of planned articles reviewing the service vehicle fleets in various years. It may be of more general interest so it was made into a stand-alone feature. Note that inputting of timeline events has not yet started and only a small number are included at present.
14. All pages now have side menus and 'breadcrumb trails'.
As well as the main top menu (as featured on the previous version of LTSV), the standard pages on the new website have side 'sub-menus' to access related pages, and a 'breadcrumb' trail across the top so that you can re-trace your steps. There is also a further menu at the foot of each page, providing the most commonly-used links.
15. Pages are more responsive to different screen sizes.
The new site features more 'responsive' pages, meaning that they (should) work across a variety of screen sizes. For example, the number of thumbnails displayed across each photo gallery page will vary depending on your screen resolution.
16. All pages are now more secure and standards-compliant.
My coding skills have improved considerably since the original LTSV website was built. The pages on the new site are more compliant with standards (which should reduce the risk of compatibility issues in the future), and are more secure (hopefully eliminating the chance of malicious users causing damage).
17. Log-in names are now e-mail addresses.
The method of logging-in on the previous website was somewhat insecure (showing a list of all usernames). On the new site, you log-in using the e-mail address associated with your account. Once you are logged-in, your chosen username will be used - e-mail addresses will never be visible to other users.