Second Site News #029
9 July 2007
Second Site Version 2.0 Released
Second Site is the leading web site builder for use with The Master Genealogist (TMG) from Wholly Genes Software. Second Site Version 1 was released in 2002 and since then, users have praised its professional results, ease of use, customization features, integration with TMG, and support.
Second Site Version 2 (SS2) is a major upgrade that builds on the fundamental strengths of Second Site Version 1 (SS1) and puts even more control in the hands of users while maintaining ease of use.
SS2 includes a new User Items facility to (1) manage the site's menus and (2) add optional site content. The User Items facility simplifies the addition of those items but provides more consistency and flexibility than the comparable SS1 facilities.
The menus on the Second Site demonstration site show some of the capabilities provided by User Items.
The Exhibit Gallery User Item creates a page with a list of image exhibits that includes a thumbnail version of the image and the image caption. The exhibits can be filtered to create logical sets of images. Exhibit Galleries are managed via the User Items feature, and users may add one or more exhibit galleries to their site. Second Site is the best way to show off your TMG exhibits.
The demonstration site includes multiple Exhibit Galleries, all of which are listed on the Exhibit Galleries page.
Exhibit Galleries only include the exhibits shown elsewhere on your site.
SS2 has a new Layouts facility to control the structure of the generated pages. The Layout determines whether page content is fixed-width and centered or left-justified on the page, and also determines the location of the main navigation menu and other content. SS2 includes over 50 Layouts, and the Layout can vary based on the page type.
The demonstration site uses multiple page layouts. The main page uses a fixed-width layout with centered content and a top menu, whereas for chart pages the menu is on the left and the content is left-justified.
More Site Menu Options
SS2 supports four different on-page menus, including a menubar and sidebar. Users can mix graphic images with text-only menu items whose appearance is determined by CSS parameters. The CSS menus support borders, backgrounds, roll-overs, and other graphic treatments.
The SS2 demonstration site features a top menu, menubar, and bottom menu. The chart pages use a sidebar.
More Page Content Options
SS2 includes ten different ways to add static content to the site. You can use the static content settings to add text, banner ads, copyright notices, favorite pictures, hit counters, or any other content you desire to the page content that is created from your genealogy data. Like layouts, static content can vary by page type. For example, you could add a copyright notice to all pages, while adding a quote of the day only to the main page.
On the demonstration site, the copyright notice at the bottom of each person page entry is one example of static content that can be added by the user. The example site includes other static content examples; look in the page headers and footers for examples.
Easy Image Substitution
Any image that is part of the look of the site, including button images, background images, and icons, can be replaced by creating a custom version in the site's Input folder. Files in the Input folder are never modified by SS2. Easier image replacement means there is no need to create a custom Theme simply to supply custom graphic files.
There are more Themes in SS2 than there were in SS1, and the definition of Themes has been simplified. Despite being simpler, users have more customization options than ever before.
Many of the changes in SS2 reduce or eliminate the need to create custom Themes, but if a custom Theme is necessary, it will be a lot easier to create and maintain than in SS1.
The Theme Gallery has thumbnail images of pages created with all the Themes supplied with Second Site.
The Person Link User Item provides a simple method to add a link to a person on the site, and provides a simple, easy way to create short lists of notable ancestors... the heroes, rogues, and brick walls that you want to emphasize to visitors.
The Notable People page on the demonstration site demonstrates a combination of a Custom Page User Item and Person Link User Items. The "Notable People" Custom Page User Item contains four Person Link User Items, one for each notable person.
SS2 pages are divided into sections, and the content and format of each section is determined by a Page Script. SS2 includes a library of Page Scripts, and users can choose a script for each page segment based on their preferences.
Page Scripts are one of the primary ways to customize SS2. Writing or modifying Page Scripts is beyond the skill level of most users, but Page Scripts are shorter and simpler than the equivalent scripts in SS1, so anyone who has modified a script in SS1 should find it easier to do in SS2. Also, I will add to the library of Page Scripts based on requests from users.
More CSS Options
The HTML and CSS in Second Site has been rewritten to be simpler and more compliant with current web "best practices." Combined with new options for specifying User Styles, users can change just about every visual aspect of a site, and all from within the Second Site user interface.
Take a Look!
I've uploaded an demonstration site that demonstrates some of the new capabilities in SS2.
The site uses a dark background with white text and looks quite different from sites built with Second Site 1. That is only one of many different looks you can have for your site.
For the first time in more than 5 years, this version of Second Site is not free for current users. Existing customers can purchase an upgrade to Second Site 2 for $21.95 from the Wholly Genes web store. Make sure you have your Version 1 serial number handy; you'll need it to purchase the upgrade.
Customers who purchased Version 1 between 1 April 2008 and 8 July 2008 can upgrade for free using an electronic coupon for a 100% discount; do not purchase the upgrade until you have received the upgrade coupon. The coupon will expire after 90 days, so don't delay. On the Wholly Genes web store Second Site Upgrade page, enter the coupon number in the red "Product Coupon Code" field.
I am indebted to the Second Site beta test team!
Testing Second Site 2 was a daunting task. The program changed dramatically through more than a dozen beta releases as the new features were introduced, and those changes often meant that SDF files and other assets from previous builds were unusable. Users had to build and rebuild test cases, learn new features, re-learn changed features, cope with bugs, and read more than 1,500 messages on the beta tester mailing list during the Second Site 2 development period. The beta testers stood in for average users, and questioned the design and many details about how Second Site 2 works, and as a result they helped to improve the program.
Thank you Second Site beta testers!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
FAQ for Second Site 1 Users
Update The following FAQ items apply to SS1 users switching from SS1 to SS2 or SS3.
- Q: Is Second Site 2 as easy to use as Second Site 1?
- A: Yes. Some features have been moved or changed, so SS1 users will have a few things to learn. For example, adding charts is as easy as ever, but the exact method of adding a chart has changed.
For advanced users, the methods have changed for adding complex customizations. The good news is, many changes that were advanced customizations in SS1 are built-in capabilities in SS2. It may not always be clear where to apply a customization, but once that problem is solved, it will be much easier to maintain the customizations.
- Q: Will Second Site 2 read an SDF file from Second Site 1?
- A: Sorry, no. The SDF files for SS2 are completely different and so you will have to create a new SDF file.
- Q: What's the best way to learn about Second Site 2?
- A: First, I suggest that your first task should not be to recreate your current site exactly as it is in SS1. It's a better idea to experiment with Second Site 2 and see what it will do. Use a flag filter that includes a small subset of the people in your TMG project so you can rebuild the site quickly to see the results of your choices.
Experiment with Themes. You may like the look of one of the new Themes more than what you used in the past.
Once you settle on a Theme, add some User Items, perhaps a chart or two, an Exhibit Gallery, and a Custom Page. Change the Menu property of the User Items to place some of the links in the Top menu.
Experiment with changing style properties in the Stylesheets.Theme section. Those properties affect multiple parts of the site and so they are useful for making sweeping changes.
In the Layouts subsections, add some text to the "Extra" properties. Where that text appears is partly determined by the page layout, so experiment with that, too.
After you become familiar with some of what SS2 can do, then you can turn your attention to making your real site.
- Q: Will my Second Site 1 serial number work with Second Site 2?
- A: No. As explained above in the Upgrades section, there is a fee to upgrade from Second Site 1 to Second Site 2. When you purchase the upgrade, you will receive a Second Site 2 license and serial number.
- Q: Can I have both Second Site 2 and Second Site 1 installed on my PC?
- A: Yes.
Update The answer above is correct for Second Site 3 as well as Second Site 2. You can install multiple versions of Second Site on your PC if you want. Install the programs into different folders. Some shared components stored in the Windows system folder will be updated to the most recent versions, but that should not interfere with the proper operation of Second Site.
- Q: Can I have both Second Site 2 and Second Site 1 running at the same time on a single PC?
- A: In general, I do not recommend using SS2 and SS1 at the same time. However, if you avoid using the Make Site command in either program, and only have them open to review settings in SS1 while you create a new SDF in SS2, you should not have any trouble running both programs at once.
- Q: I am using SS2 and I set the Theme to "Carla's A New Adventure" but it doesn't look like my old site. It has no border and no graphic buttons. Why?
- A: In Second Site 1, Themes controlled the look of the site but also influenced the page layout and page content. In Second Site 2, Themes are simpler and theme, layout and content are separate concepts. If you want a site that is similar to the Carla's Graphics Theme from Second Site 1, here are some settings you should use:
FAQ for Second Site 1 Theme and Format Authors
- Q: Will my custom Theme work in Second Site 2?
- A: No, but it is very likely that you will not need a custom Theme in SS2! Any users who are considering making a custom Theme in SS2 should contact me directly or send a message to the Second Site mailing list. There are hundreds of ways to customize your site without creating a custom Theme.
- If you had a custom Theme so you could use your own site images (background images, etc.), you do not need a custom Theme in SS2. You can substitute your own images with any SS2 Theme.
- If you made a custom Theme to modify the site menu in SS1, you probably do not need a custom Theme. The User Items facility in SS2 supports both simple and complex site menus.
- If you made changes to the scripts.ssi file in SS1, you do not need a custom Theme. In SS2, scripts are not associated with Themes. You may need a custom Page Script, but SS2 includes a library of Page Scripts and there may already be one that meets your needs.
- Q: Will my custom Format work in Second Site 2?
- A: Custom Formats will mostly work, but I recommend replacing them. Some new features in SS2 will not work or will not work properly with SS1 custom Formats. The best way to recreate a custom Format is to start with a Format supplied with SS2 and apply your changes to it. Please note that custom Formats are stored in a new subfolder of the User Data Folder: Scripts\Formats.
Technical Information on Second Site 2
The Help pages on this site and supplied with the program contain some technical information about Second Site, information of use to advanced users who want to create User Styles, or custom Formats, etc. I planned to provide more information in this area but ran out of time before the release deadline. I'll update the main site as soon as possible and announce when the information is available via the next issue of Second Site News.
This page last changed on 04 May 2009.