Yes, that's right! The new site design is finally online! This has been long in the making. I think I started coding this new design way back in October.
Now, obviously not all the features are complete. There are still quite a number of things I'm in the middle of coding. What you see before you is simply the new design in a complete enough stage that I can put it online for others to see.
In order to see the real features of the site, you will need to sign up for an account. Signing up for an account lets you do several things. You can change the coloring of the site. You can choose a different webcam to showup on the right. Your settings will be kept when you leave, so when you come back you won't even have to log in again. Most importantly, you'll be able to post in the forum.
I should give you some information about the forum. The forum is directly integrated with the news. This means that a news post is simply a forum post with a little flag set to make it show up in the news as well. This means the commenting system for the news is also directly integrated with the forum. If you add a comment to a news post, it also shows up as a reply in the forum, and vice-versa. No other site I know of does this. Most sites have a commenting system that stores the comments separately from their forum. I integrated the two for good reasons.
One perk of having the news and the forum integrated with each other is that I can then set a member status between "General Member" and "Moderator". This new member status is that of "Reporter". A reporter is just like a regular member, except that he or she can flag posts they write as news. (And unflag their own posts, of course.)
How do you become a reporter? Well, just make good, informative forum posts. If a moderator finds he is flagging your posts as news a lot of the time, well, you would be a good person to be upgraded to the status of reporter.
Another feature I have added is a rating system for posts. Basically, you set the audience of your post. Would someone who's not too computer literate care about your post? No? Well, then set your post to "Computer Literate" and people who don't know that much about computers won't see your post. Is your post really hardcore, using words that only a total geek would understand? Yes? Well, then set your post to "Total Geek" and even the people who are only moderately computer literate don't have to read your post. You can set your own rating in the settings page. If you set it to "Everyone", you will see only those posts that would be understandable by just about anyone. I think you get the idea. Again, this feature applies to both the forum and the news. If, however, you don't have an account, or are not logged in, you will see all posts and have no choice in the matter.
There are of course, many more features that need to be added to the forum. One major feature, for example, is the ability to edit your posts after you make them. Another feature I am working hard on is creating a way for you to add links and formatting to your posts. This feature is what I am working on right away, since it is such an important feature.
Finally, I should add that I have only tested this in Internet Explorer 6 so far. As soon as I get the above mentioned feature coded, cross-browser compatibility will be implemented. That is an important issue for me, so I want to make sure it's done well. Why didn't I make it cross-browser compatible from the start? Well, frankly, I was more interested in getting the actual engine of the site created. The whole site comprises some 2,500+ lines of code, and it's only half done!
So have fun! Sign up for an account, head on over to the forum and let me know what you think!