We are very pleased to unveil the new look for oorail. A lot of work has taken place behind the scenes to deliver a better experience for our subscribers and viewers. I wrote this article to explain the changes and the benefits behind them...
New look video intro
Last September we started to experiment with faster video intros on YouTube. Our new look video intro keeps with that concept while incorporating an animated oorail logo. The new intro was created using The Gimp (https://www.gimp.org) and Blender (https://blender.org). The new video entry is quick and hopefully interesting, while still maintaining elements of the oorail branding.
New video techniques
Improvements have been made to our entire video workflow from filming all the way through to rendering for YouTube. On the filming side we have optimized the advanced camera settings for the different shots and films that we shoot. We have determined the base iso settings for each area of the layout and for different types of videos. We have returned to filming and editing in 24 fps. For certain videos we are filming at clips at both 24 fps and 120 fps for new video techniques. We have changed how we film and process colour across all our videos. You won't see these changes in our existing videos, but you will hopefully notice some improvements in upcoming videos. We have also upgraded our software to the latest versions to pickup new features and enhancements.
New Look Website
You have probably noticed the new look website. This is a change that has been in the pipeline for quite a long time. The last website update we did was the first phase and this builds on that. Technical enhancements should provide for a faster and secure user experience. The new design and enhanced theme should make it easier to find and navigate all of our content. The next phase of the project is an on-going effort to enhance our existing content while adding new content to the site.
Easily navigate through all of our content
The old theme did not have the capability to enable viewers to browse through all of our content. The new site enables you to easily navigate through all of our content using the next and previous buttons at the bottom of the home page.
Comments and Likes on articles
We have added support for comments and likes on all of our articles. While YouTube has a good commenting system, we have had a lot of people ask us to support commenting on the articles we post to the site. So we have added support for discussions around our articles.
Exploring the new site: Top of the Page
The new site features the same top navigation menu as the old site. As we move on to the next phase of updating existing content while adding lots of new content, this menu is going to change. Over the coming weeks you will see more layout focused content, enabling you to explore and learn more about the layout here at oorail. As new content is added and existing content is updated, we will update this menu to further enhance your experience with the site. The left hand side of the top menu has an icon to share oorail on various social media platforms. The right hand side has a new search feature, simply type in what you are looking for and browse through the results...
The new website has a featured articles carousel. These include a mix of new articles, trending, popular and some of our favorite articles. The site should display five at a time, and there will be between 10 and 15 articles on the list at any one time.
Currently below the featured articles is an advertisement bar for Trackside3D (our downloadable 3D printable model shop). This advertisement is temporary, over the next couple of weeks we will be replacing this with some layout focused content instead. We have a pretty neat idea for what is going there, so check back for updates.
Breaking News and the Main Page
The new site features a 'breaking news' bar which contains recent announcements from oorail.
The rest of the page is made up of three columns, the left most column is the recent articles which you can browse page by page (see above). The middle column contains several featured article sections:
- Train Control
- 3D Printing
Information will contain pinned guides to explore different types of content on our site based on your interests (eg. explore our layouts, start your own layout, research etc).
Train Control features articles related to DC, DCC and computer control topics like Digital DC.
3D Printing features articles related to 3D printing.
Projects will feature updates from our many projects from the Class 66 RHTT to the APT-P project.
The right most column has links to our social media content such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. The tag cloud enables you to quickly do searches for our tagged content. We expect to leverage this column more in the future.
Another feature we have added to the site, primarily for the Digital DC and our Train Control System, is the ability to easily highlight blocks of code like this, which we hope will make it easier to explain:
case OORAIL_LCSTATE_APPROACH: digitalWrite(OORAIL_LED_CENTER, HIGH); delay(oorail_lc_timer_approach); oorail_level_crossing_active = OORAIL_LCSTATE_WARNING; oorail_level_crossing_approach = 1; oorail_level_crossing_count = 0; Serial.println(" [##] DEBUG - count reset"); oorail_core_zero_lock = 1; oorail_core_zero_active = 1; oorail_core_zero_lock = 0; break;
Problems, Suggestions and Feedback
If you run into any problems, have suggestions or feedback for the new site. Please use the new comment system below for this article. One thing we are aware of is that by default the new system uses the three column design while our old system used a single or double column design. We will be manually reviewing and updating the older content to use either two, one or no sidebars depending on how things look. So please be patient. Over the coming weeks we will be synchronizing our website content with our YouTube channel, so we are aware of videos that do not have articles on this site, most are from 2012 - 2013. These will be added, along with additional article text, links, tags and downloads as needed.