Oct 112012

What About the SVWM Casualty Data?

In a perfect world, everyone would speak the same language using the same characters–shades of the Tower of Babel! But, we don’t live in a perfect world and it took computers and the Internet a while to sort this all out. Although the data itself did not change from the previous version of SVWM, the character set used to store and present the data needed to be converted.

It all has to do with character sets. Each language has its own group of accented characters and symbols. Until relatively recently, each of these groups is represented by a computer and in a database by its own character set. The previous SVWM data used the “LATIN1″ character set because it included all the accented characters and symbols needed for the names of individuals and places that would be stored in the database. Not long ago, someone came up with the bright idea that all characters, special characters and symbols could be included in just one character set. For our purposes, this is called “UTF8″. WordPress (and most Internet web pages and software) as well as themes and plugins now use “UTF8″ as the default character set.

You’ve probably guessed by now that “LATIN1″ and “UTF8″ are not quite the same. Character sets are like a very large wall covered by little pigeon holes, each of which contains a letter, number, special character or symbol. “LATIN1″ only has 256 pigeon holes while “UTF8″ has millions. (Did you know that there are over 40,000 characters in Chinese?) Most of the common letters, numbers, symbols and accented characters in “LATIN1″ happen to be in the same corresponding pigeon hole in “UTF8″ but not all. Because of this, the SVWM database, tables and all the fields in the tables had to be converted to “UTF8″ so that they would be compatible with WordPress. The PHP programming code also had to be adjusted slightly to make sure the data comes across correctly from the database to the displayed page.

With SVWM using UTF8 encoding, it is now in step with the rest of the Internet!

What Happened to the Wiki?

The Wiki feature of the old SVWM web site was completely different complex software that provided features used to allow web site visitors to create, maintain and view pages related to the main theme of the Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial. These pages were not integral to the overall web site but sat in a different database. The Wiki look-and-feel could be approximated to what the main web site looked like but any changes were difficult to incorporate.

In the WordPress version of SVWM, the Blog feature provides web site visitors the opportunity to create, maintain and view pages externally created pages with more control on who can change what. Because the Blog is an integral part of the overall web site, everything fits together perfectly.

Everyone can view blog posts and pages. A registered user who is a Subscriber can leave comments. A user who is an Author can create, edit and delete their own blog posts and respond to comments left regarding their own blog posts. A user who is an Editor can create, edit and delete web site pages and all blog posts and respond to any comments. Casual web site visitors can register to be either Subscribers or Authors. Only assigned individuals can be Editors–usually blog moderators.

What About Moodle?

Since the SVWM web site was launched two years ago, there has been absolutely no activity on Moodle. As such, the Moodle component was removed.