The maintainers of the CUCC website are acutely sensitive to the difficulties of our users on a variety of platforms. Indeed, most of the editing is done on an Acorn platform (using !Zap), the website on cucc.survex.com is served from an OpenBSD server, and pages are most commonly viewed on an expedition PC running some shade of Linux or Windows (and now we have at least one Linux Laptop). On the plateau, the pages live on a Psion. Pages may come from local disc, flashcard, CD or over a network from a server which may (or may not) be running Apache.
In keeping with the aims of the Any Browser Campaign, we aim to make the pages work on any browser, on any platform, degrading gracefully when used with no images, old browsers, tiny screen resolutions and/or no colour. We have also aimed to keep transfer and rendering times to a minimum, especially for entry pages which new users will see first.
On the other hand, we think the site is improved by the use of bits of cave survey, photographs, maps and data laid out for legibility. Images, imagemaps, tables and even frames are all used on the site where the content is significantly enhanced. We have endeavoured to provide links for non-framed browsers, text alternatives to imagemaps and descriptions which make sense without accompanying photos or diagrams.
Sometimes this has failed - for example we have not found a good way of indexing the survey data. The way that those pages should work "intuitively" is not actually supported by current html. Methods which overcome this when the pages come from a server don't work when the pages are browsed locally, and you may see this symbol in a few places as a consequence:
Our readership is international, and in particular we are an English group writing mainly about activities in a German-speaking area. We cooperate with cavers who are and have been active in the area, from Austria, Germany, France, Belgium and elsewhere. Some of the material here has been translated from publications by these other groups. Some of it has been translated from English into other languages. We are trying to build a scheme under which you can easily see when translations exist, and which will also let Apache serve you a version of the page in your preferred language where this exists.
It is another aim to support speech-synthesising browsers by flagging the language of every phrase which differs from the base-language of the page in which it is embedded, so you don't get joke pronunciation. This is proving to be a lot of work, invisible to most users, and still not fully supported by html itself (eg. we can't find official language codes for Mallorcain, nor Pidgin, both of which appear in articles in Cambridge Underground).
The CUCC pages are typically tested on the following platforms, via net connections (LAN, and very occasionally dial-up) and on local disc, except where stated:
and with the following browsers:
That's not to say that every page gets looked at with every combination of browser and platform every time it is changed ! A few pages have been tested with HotJava and !BookWorm, and Opera might be on the list in the near future. We don't have a platform that runs BeOS. Notable by its absence is the Mac and any browser that runs on it. I haven't got one, and the last time I had the chance to use one, it was a little 12" monochrome screen model with a single-button mouse, before the world-wide web was invented. Things have moved on a bit since then ...
Index to Cambridge Underground
Site Genesis article from CU 1996 (how this web site or CD came to be created.)
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