If you're a regular visitor to the site, you'll have noticed some changes since the site moved to a new server. These are the most significant changes.
The new site improves the presentation of individual listing entries, combining the multiple map options onto a single page, improving the presentation of photos and removing the standalone comments page. The primary mapping now uses Open Streetmap, although options for Google still exist.
The original comment system wasn't really fit for purpose. It was originally envisaged as a means of allowing people to provide additional factual information about listed buildings. In fact, it turned out that most people wanted to use it as a discussion system.
So we've switched to using Disqus to handle comments rather than an in-house system. This makes it easier for us to moderate and administer comments, and allows you to add replies to existing comments as well as adding new ones.
All the existing comments have been imported into the new system, so nothing has been lost. It's just easier to use now.
The old site used a rather crufty authentication method for signing in to upload photos. The new site replaces that with Disqus, so that you use the same login details to submit photos as you do to make comments.
The photo display system has been improved, with each photo now having its own page rather than only being accessible via an overlay. This also means you can now comment on individual photos, as well as making it easier to read the captions and descriptions submitted by the photo uploader.
As a bonus, we've also been able to make full size images accessible for the first time. Clicking on the large photo on the photo page will open a lightbox containing the largest size image we have available. You can zoom in on the photo or open it in full screen mode.
We've also changed the upload system to use a more intuitive photo uploader that works better on mobile devices as well as desktop and laptop PCs. So you can now upload photos direct from your phone or tablet.
What this also means is that, for now, the ability to edit or delete your own photos has been removed. In reality, this feature simply was hardly being used, and rewriting it to work with the new authentication system would have been very timeconsuming. It hasn't necessarily gone away for good, but we didn't want to delay launching the new site for the sake of a feature that very few people used.
One of the biggest problems with the old site was that the allocation of individual buildings to localities was inconsistent. In many cases, the official listing data hadn't been updated to account for changes in local authority boundaries since the building was first listed. This meant that there were buildings which ended up being allocated to places like "unknown parish", because it didn't match any current reality on the ground. There were also issues with mismatches between shire counties, traditional counties and unitary authorities.
The new site uses a more consistent two-tier system based on current administrative counties and localities within them. Rather than attempt to allocate localities in unitary authorities to their respective traditional or ceremonial counties, the new site uses the current highest level administrative county, whatever form it takes and disregards the historic counties entirely. We apologise to those who feel that, as a heritage based site, we should use traditional county names, but, in practice, it's much easier to stick with current local authority names!
Within counties (unitary or otherwise), individual localities are civil parishes or civil communities, where they exist, or local authority wards for unparished areas. This can result in some lingering inconsistency, because in some cases a parish can partly overlap with a ward which also covers an unparished area. Where this happens, buildings within the parish are allocated to the parish, but those in the unparished area are allocated to the ward. This can mean that the number of buildings in the ward seems unrealistically low, because some of them (or even many of them) are to be found under the listing for the parish.
To begin with, buildings have been grouped into localities and counties based on the nearest postcode to their published geographical coordinates, rather than the textual county/parish names in the listings. In some cases, this can result in the building being assigned to a parish that is different to that in the listing text, if the coordinates are themselves inaccurate or if the nearest postcode happens to be just across the border. Identifying and correcting these errors is an ongoing process, but is somewhat timeconsuming. In the long run all the locality/county data should be accurate, but it may take a while to get there.
The big map showing every listed building in the country has temporarily been removed. That's because it was based on Google Fusion Tables, which, at the time it was created, was still an experimental system. Fusion Tables is now a standard part of Google Data, but recreating the whole-country map in the new version will take some time. This will return, but we didn't want to hold up the launch of the new site while that work was done.
The location postcode has also been removed. This was only ever intended as a rough guide to locating the building, it was not necessarily the correct postal address postcode. However, many people were confused by this, and we tended to get a lot of emails pointing out that the postcode is wrong! Also, the aim of this site is not to allow people to send letters (eg, junk mail) to occupants of listed buildings. So the postal address is unnecessary. If you really do want to write to the owner of a listed building, you will need to do your own research!
For those curious about the underlying technology of the site, it is written in PHP using MariaDB as a backend and the Foundation jQuery framework for the front end. The original site, as written in 2010, was hosted on a server which ran PHP 5.2 at the time. The code has been upgraded piecemeal over subsequent years, but always within the PHP 5.x branch. The new server, on the other hand, runs PHP 7, which is not fully backwards compatible. Rather than try to shoehorn old code into the new site, the new version has been fully rewritten from the ground up using an entirely new database structure.