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Forum: Web Site
Topic: Diary of a Webmaster

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LTSV is 10 years old
Tue 01/10/13, 20:01
6 Replies
LTSV is 10 years old today. However, it has not significantly changed since the database was added in October 2005. I have lots of plans for an upgraded version of the site but I would also like to know what visitors would like to see. Is there much interest in the allocation histories of LT vehicles? Should the design of the site be updated (getting rid of those grey pages)? Would maps of locations be of any use? What don't you like about the site? What is missing? Have your say, either by replying to this posting, or by e-mailing me at tom@ltsv.com.


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Articles on LTSV
Thu 17/10/13, 23:53
Ref articles, I too would like to see some more added, and I would welcome any contributions or suggestions. A list of buses converted to service vehicles would be very easy to produce so long as it only considered those vehicles given new fleetnumbers in the service vehicles series. However there are other vehicles which perhaps should be included. These include the T-type single deckers used as snow ploughs, the Green Line coaches converted to canteens and USA ambulances during WW2, numerous B-types rebuilt as lorries, etc. This would obviously require a fair amount of research....

Why there are no recent fleetlists in the Articles section
Thu 17/10/13, 23:52
Ref the lack of recent PDF fleetlists, I hadn't intended to produce any more of these for the following reasons:
1. The PDFs had to be manually set up and were out of date almost as soon as they were created.
2. Printable versions have been added to the main database list pages (click on 'View Print - Page' to print the current page or 'View - Continuous' to print all selected entries).
3. New editions of SUP24 are being produced every couple of years.
4. My choice of list layout may not suit everyone's tastes.
However, LTSV3 will take into account people who want to be able to print lists, and there will hopefully be some customisable reports for this purpose.

LTSV is 10 years old
Mon 14/10/13, 21:02
My personal feeling is the present layout of the pages works well, why spoil it. I would like to see more up to date printable lists and some new articles written on LTSV topics, like a list of Bus conversions to service stock, I would very grateful of any lists there might be. As to photographs, they look fine to me as well. This web site fills a gap not covered by other Societies that I belong to. Brian Elvidge, Tilbury, Essex.

20 things I don't like about LTSV
Sun 13/10/13, 13:36
Below is a list of some aspects of LTSV that I think need improving (in approximate order of importance). Since these are the things that I have thought of, they are the ones that I am trying to address in my work towards LTSV3. If you can think of anything I have missed, please let me know.

1. Changing data (eg liveries) is not well covered
At present all information about a given vehicle (apart from its allocation/s) is stored in a single table. As such, there can only be one value for fields such as the livery, operator, registration number etc. However, a lot of vehicles do see changes to one or more attribute during their lives. For example, Ford van 710F carried three registration numbers during its time with LT, but searching for PXV350 will not find it. Similarly, Bedford 826B started out as a lorry but spent most of its life as a tanker. If you search for tanker, 826B will not return since it is listed as a lorry. More recently, you can't search for Grey Green vehicles if they are listed as Arriva London.

2. Assigning IDs to vehicles is problematic
For the purposes of the database each vehicle is assigned a numerical ID. For central fleet vehicles, the ID is the fleetnumber, while others are given IDs in approximate registration order. This raises two problems. Firstly there are a few instances of the same fleetnumber being assigned to 2 vehicles. One of the 2 vehicles then has to be given an ID in the 'un-numbered' range. Secondly, when assigning IDs to un-numbered vehicles, I leave gaps to allow for later additions. But sometimes these gaps get filled and subsequent additions have to be given out-of-sequence IDs. This may only be apparent when using the 'previous/next' links to move between vehicles.

3. Some vehicles appear twice
Due to the limitations mentioned in item 1 above, some vehicles have two entries. These are mainly vehicles that passed from LT to LCBS, from LT to the privatised bus companies, and some bus company vehicles that were re-registered. Although this solves the problem of finding the vehicles, it raises problems with sightings and photos, which may then have to be 'tagged' to 2 vehicle entries.

4. Withdrawn vehicles are treated as sold
The database does not distinguish between withdrawn and sold. If a vehicle is marked as withdrawn (for example due it being delicensed), it will no longer appear as current with the owner, even though it may be still owned. Recently Abellio and London United have hung on to redundant vehicles for some time.

5. The hash sign on livery details spoils the searching
A while back I started adding a hash sign to the livery of vehicles that were unmarked (eg 'Red #'). However, this means that you can't easily get a list of (for example) all red vehicles. There are some other inconsistencies regarding liveries. For example, some dark blue vehicles are listed as 'Dark blue', others as 'Blue (dark)'. LBSL IRUs are listed as 'Red' but should perhaps be 'Red/Orange/Yellow'. New LUL vehicles are listed in the database as 'White/Blue/Red' but photos of them are tagged as 'White/Blue'.

6. The back button causes problems
This is an old one and is due to the way the webpages pass information between themselves. If you look at a list of vehicles, and then look at the details of one of them, you might then want to use the browser's back button to go back to the list. However, if you do you get a message saying the webpage has expired (!), although you can refresh and resend the information.

7. There is only one editor
The majority of the vehicle data can only be edited by me, hence it may not be as topical as possible. I could easily grant permissions to others but the editing pages really need to be made easier to use first.

8. You can't easily view sightings at a given location
If you were thinking of going to Brockley Hill Farm (or wherever), you might want to see which SVs people have reported seeing there. At present, the only way to do this is to view the sighting list sorted by location name. But, there are over 60,000 sightings in the database. Also, since locations are entered as text, some people might have put 'near Brockley Hill Farm', 'Staff car park at Brockley Hill Farm', 'Broklee Hill Form' or virtually anything!

9. Allocation histories are still not available
A couple of years ago we obtained documents that provide full allocation histories for virtually all LT service vehicles, but this information is still not in the database. I wanted to get the structure right before starting on the data entry.

10. Trade plates and pre-1939 numbers are not sortable or searchable
Related to items 1 and 9, this is information that is now available but is not yet included. Some information is included in the notes fields but this is obviously not sortable or searchable.

11. The date on the Notes field can be deceptive
A fairly minor one this. The notes section shows when each note was added but not when it was last edited. This can be confusing, for example if a note dated 2008 says a vehicle was withdrawn in 2013!

12. The forum is rather untidy and overly complex
Can't really expand on that much!

13. The automatically added 'Edited by' notes are annoying
If you add a note or a comment, then need to edit it (for example to fix a typing error), some text is automatically added to show who has edited it and when. If you have to edit more than once, these notes multiply! A simple time-out would be better (eg edits by the original poster within 10 minutes would not generate notes).

14. Can't filter/sort vehicles by your seen/unseen
When you are logged in, vehicle lists have a green tick next to any vehicle you have logged a sighting of. However, you might want to be able to see a list of just vehicles you have (or haven't) seen.

15. Links in Notes are not links
If you post a link into a notes or comments field, it does not behave as a link.

16. Inconsistencies in Other Companies
At first, vehicles of various other companies were included (eg contractors responsible for bus recovery or ticket machine maintenance) as were vehicles that were hired. There is no clear policy on what is included, while many of the vehicles remain current in the database although are long gone.

17. Inconsistencies in unused fleetnumbers
Quite a few central fleetnumbers go un-used. Up to number 5833, these were included in the database as 'blank' entries, making them more visible. Since then, unused numbers have not been listed at all.

18. No help
I like to think that LTSV is easy to use but some people have mentioned being unclear on aspects (eg how to add a sighting). There should be some guidance notes for common tasks.

19. Some text areas are too wide to be easily read
Blocks of text can become difficult to read if they are too wide (your eye loses the line when you scan back to the left), especially if the text is small. This page here is a good example.

20. Some page jumps are tricky
Where results are spread across many pages, buttons are provided to navigate between pages. On the photos page, these only allow you to go to the next or previous 100 photos (ie you can't jump right to the end of a large selection), while the data pages have first, last and five pages either side of your current page. Both could be improved.

Thanks
Sun 13/10/13, 13:34
Thanks for the positive feedback Robin.

Happy Birthday!
Fri 04/10/13, 16:53
Happy with the site, easy to navigate as it is, especially fleet data.