Yes, I finally did it. Welcome to the new bythom.com. Only thing is, byThom is now five sites, not one. The site you're looking at here is the core of my work, though, and represents a re-do of most everything that was still on the original lone byThom site.
Yes, everything old is now new and it took a long time to get here. That’s because I tacked three times in different directions before settling upon how I wanted to structure my sites. At one point, I had almost everything all in one database-driven site. But the sprawl this created made navigation difficult. I’m covering too many subjects in too much depth for it all to fit into a single site and be manageable. That’s why I spun out the mirrorless cameras to sansmirror.com, put compact cameras and a bunch of oddball gear and articles into the new gearophile.com site, and spun out the old film SLR info into filmbodies.com. Given how much was still left on bythom, I decided to spin out at least one more site from it. Don't worry, there's method in my madness.
You want to know what’s new and how it’s an improvement. Let me list and comment on a few of the differences you’ll find with this new site:
- The dslrbodies site now concentrates on Nikon mount DSLRs and general photography advice. These were the primary focus of the original site, and that continues. Coverage of mirrorless cameras, including the Nikon 1, moved to sansmirror.com. Coverage of compact cameras and gadgets moved to gearophile.com. Coverage of Nikon film cameras and film news moved to filmbodies.com. If you want to just know what's new on all the sites in one place, just go to the main page for the old site: bythom.com.
- Everything’s driven by CSS now, so page styles, font usage, and everything you see can be reformatted more easily. The old site was all hard-coded HTML, which meant that changing almost anything in terms of style meant I had to go on a code goose chase through every page of the site. One downside to the new system: Internet Explorer 6.0 and earlier users are going to find the site may no longer function perfectly for them, as the code I’m using is not compatible with the oldest browsers. But you shouldn’t be using IE6 any more, anyway. The site should work fine in most modern Web browsers: current versions of Chrome, Firefox, IE7+, Safari, etc.
- Structure is changeable, too. The way things are coded on all the sites, I should be able to move articles within the structure if need be, develop new sub-sections, combine sub-sections, or do other organizational things that were impossible with the old site. Indeed, I'll be doing that from time to time as I have on sansmirror.com. Warning: if you link to a News/Views item, these get moved into a monthly or yearly archive, so your link may break on the 1st of the following month. After that, it should remain stable.
- I’ve added social sharing tools on most pages (Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.), and the ability to email pages. This should help the site be more visible to others. How does that help you? Well, it’ll be easier for you to reference anything on this site to others, for one. But the bigger win is that if these sites start getting even more traffic, it’ll increase my ability to add even more content to it. I see this change as a win-win.
- RSS is now available for individual feeds from various sections of the sites. Choose to get as much or as little as you want delivered to your RSS reader. Note that the way I’ve currently implemented RSS doesn’t allow you to add a master “just give me everything Thom writes” ability. There are also things on the site that aren’t driven in a way that RSS will find them (the various FAQs, for instance). I still believe that people should browse a site, too, as you often find things that you overlooked before, even when the RSS feed told you about them.
- The site structure—driven by the menus—is richer and deeper. The old five-tab design is now divided into many more menu sections, most of which have even more sub-sections. It should be easier to figure out where an article you’re interested in lives, and get there quickly. Because these menus can get long, generally the top pages of menu sections have a link list (sometimes at the bottom of the page), so if you can't get to the page you want, try clicking/tapping on the page that contains it (which may be the main tab itself!).
- And speaking of finding articles, there are now two site-wide search functions (one on every page, a more elaborate one on its own page) that’ll get you Google-icious results for just this site. If the new structure didn’t reveal what you’re looking for, surely the search function will.
- Every article that appears here or on the other sites has been “refreshed.” In the process of getting the old content into the new structures, I looked at everything. I can’t guarantee I caught all the grammar, spelling, and factual errors, as there’s a lot of material here for one person to slog through with tired old eyes, but I know I fixed a ton of things. But more important, I’ve attempted to make all articles and reviews more “current.” That means that ratings and conclusions have been brought up to the level of what I know today. Given that there are hundreds of articles on this site that moved from the old site, all that rewriting of articles was a monumental task, and took some time to do.
- Funny thing is, there are many new articles, too. Believe it or not, as I was working on this and the other sites I added things that weren’t on the old site. The most obvious of these are the FAQs scattered through the sections. But there is much more than just that. I’ll leave it to you to find all the new stuff. Consider it a giant Easter Egg hunt. Again, I think that browsing is a good thing, at least if the content is rich enough to warrant it. I hope you’ll find that here.
- In conjunction with the new design, I’m changing my book offerings. byThom is (mostly) getting out of the physical copy business. As soon as the current supplies of printed editions are gone, those books will begin to transition over to eBook only status (my eBooks have always worked on Kindles, Nooks, iPads, etc.). In the future with books I'll have a new strategy: books will appear initially as eBook only. At some point a few months after that, I'll make a one-time print offering to eBook owners.
- The new sites have the ability to do a few things I haven’t done before, such as video. None are present in the initial iterations of the sites, as I felt it more important to get the old content up in the new form first. But once things get settled with the new structure and on the new servers, I’ll be adding some goodies I’ve wanted to add for a long time and have been working on behind the scenes. The level of site visitation byThom gets means that I’ll be chewing up some serious bandwidth when I add video, and that doesn’t come cheap. So I’ll be moving into video cautiously and with some experimentation. There may be short ads at the start or end of videos, or I may have to institute a paywall for them. As I wrote earlier, I’ll be moving into that realm cautiously.
- That imho stuff? Well, it’s no longer here. This site is now more tightly focused on Nikon DSLRs and photography and things that impact it. You may wonder what happened to that old imho stuff. Well, if you have the old URL, it should still work. I’ve stripped the navigation off those old pages, so they’re all basically dead ends now, but the content should still be there should you have a link to it. Archiving, as it turns out, is not something that is all that easy to do on the Web. Perhaps I’ll eventually figure out the right place to put that material. Gearophile has some related material and is more gadget-focused, for instance.
- What about other possible features, such as commenting? Commenting adds issues of its own, including rejection of spam, whether it is moderated or not, dealing with hate and bullying, and so on. I don’t want a site filled with bickering, spam, sniping, or worse. Instead, I want a site that has useful and vetted information, as well as carefully considered opinions. Thus, I'm not turning on commenting at this time, and if I do ever turn it on, it will be heavily moderated. That said, note the "user experience" pages in the Nikon menu: feel free to send new experiences to be posted there.
I hope you enjoy the complete site re-do. I’ve tried to make the new sites better and more useful than the old one. If you have any further suggestions on how to improve the sites, I’d love to hear about them. But please, I don’t need validation. So keep your comments about the new design related to things that’ll help me improve byThom even more.
Welcome to the new byThom. Thanks for your patience.