UKCIA gets a facelift and a new home

UKCIA is 25 years old sometime in 2020 and stuff has been added to it over all that time. Although a lot of items were time specific and got taken down, the content has grown to make a huge site

Back in 1998 when I was asked to look after the site, it had been tinkered with by several people and was in a bit of a mess and so it had a make-over, but it was really only a patch -up.

For some time after that the updating was entirely done by me as the other people either drifted away or worked with the now defunct Legalise Cannabis Alliance.

UKCIA has been reflecting my view on the cannabis law reform debate since the early 2000’s

The wordpress blog came, along with new hosting in 2008 and new items were added that way which worked well for a while, but the main site got a bit neglected. It was given a new look around 2010 but that was only skin deep and now even the new page layout looked small on modern desktop screens and impossible to read on phones.

Earlier this year the the inevitable happened and site was hacked, redirecting visitors to dodgy adverts. I soon noticed and had to pay out for technical help to solve the problem, but that was a wake up call, something had to be done “under the hood” as Americans say, the code was, frankly, a mess.

Most of the pages were in a mess, but the main problem was to do with a database of medical testimonies, that was what got hacked. The code for that had been written back in 2000 or so and was full of holes. It hadn’t been active for some years and was just receiving spam submissions, so I decided to drop it entirely. That was a pity, but although most of the claims made were undoubtedly true, some were suspect and of course, there was no way of checking. Maybe it can come back in a better form in time.

But that wasn’t the only issue, there were dead links all over the place, terrible html and other stuff that really had to be sorted out. To add to all this it was time to change hosting, so the bullet had to be bitten, the whole site needed a root and branch spring-clean

I decided to keep the old site as archive and to concentrate on the commentaries using the WordPress blog. The first stage in doing that was to update the way the wordpress site looked and worked, that happened in early summer, then summer happened, not the time to sit indoors and play with html.

I set up the new hosting and started looking at the new site back in September, it was a daunting job to go through each page and sweep the worst of old coding away.

So at last, the job was done. UKCIA has a new home and I’ve been thorough the entire site. Job done? No of course not.

Now the site is online and actually works I’m finding lot s of other issues. Most importunity although some of the stuff there is pure archive, most of it isn’t but it is in need of updates, not to mention containing examples of my dyslexic writing style. The idea of simply keeping the old site online as an archive isn’t good enough.

There are still large sections that are chaotic (see the research library) so there is still a lot to be done.

But the site is working now, better than it has done for a very long time. The job isn’t done, but it’s past an important landmark.

There is a lot of interesting and valuable stuff here, take a look around. UKCIA was set up back in 1995 in the hope that people would use the information to fight for cannabis law reform and that’s still the idea. I hope it’s easier to do now.

Derek
December 2019

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