By Jim McCloskey
It is with no small pleasure (and even more relief) that I can announce completion of the digitizing of WaterShapes magazine: Every one of the articles and columns printed in the 131 issues we published between February 1999 and July 2011 are now all available online in .html format.
It has indeed been a monumental task – one that started early last August and has been with us daily since then. Every single article and column – including the appropriate text, images, illustrations, captions and biographical notes – had to be tracked down and extracted from production files and, often, from the .pdf versions of the whole issues we had previously released.
Why go to this monumental bother? It’s simple: In moving to fully digital operations, we discovered there were distinct advantages the .html format had with respect to searches, sharing, speed of access and indexing. We were also keenly aware that these wrinkles were working very much to the advantage of the new, all-digital information we’d already placed on the web by the time our revamped site launched in February 2013.
Further, it was obvious that, graphically, the .pdf versions of the printed editions took no advantage whatsoever of today’s web-publishing technology – no quickly enlargeable images, no video inclusions, text that sometimes involved awkward scrolling, limited linking. It was as though we were leaving material from the printed magazine (which was and is our foundation) behind in a sort of technological limbo – and it was clear to us that this wasn’t the way to go.
So now, after ten full months of effort, approximately 1,200 articles and columns from the old magazine now appear alongside nearly 500 all-digital articles we’ve published through our WaterShapes EXTRA newsletters since 2010. Everything we’ve ever done (or ever will do, for that matter) is wide open to search engines and available at no charge whatsoever to a global pool of readers – watershaping professionals as well as consumers, more of whom are finding us every day.
It’s a massive web presence, and I’m happy to report that the site has been remarkably free of hiccups and glitches as we’ve moved along and built a user base.
While the .pdf-to-.html conversions were progressing, I also took time to link each newly digitized article to the Author Index under the MAGAZINE pulldown menu at the top of our home page (click here). In the past, this index was linked only indirectly to the .pdf version of a given article. Now, a link with every single listed item provides a direct connection to a fully digitized version of the targeted article – a trick that’s saving even me plenty of time when I need to chase down an idea or reference.
I’ve written and said it before on many occasions, but I want to emphasize it once again: The thing that has made WaterShapes so special for so many years is that people in the watershaping trades have always been so willing to share what they know in the forum we’ve provided. The new WaterShapes.com bears testimonial to the depth and genius of their contributions to the industry we’ve all done so much to define, and I am grateful all over again for their generosity.
So now, let me remind everyone of our mission: WaterShapes.com is about centralizing and organizing information on the processes by which water-containing vessels and their surroundings are designed, engineered and constructed. For 15 years, we have served as a forum on how these environments can best be assembled – practically, properly and profitably.
To that end, WaterShapes.com is a constantly growing, constantly evolving resource filled with solid, practical information. For professionals, that means access to state-of-the-art materials, tools and methods used to achieve ambitious results; for consumers, it means awareness of questions they need to ask as they aspire to own or improve their watershapes and aquatic environments.
We’ve always been about access to information, in other words, and in completing this project, we have taken a gigantic step up to a whole new playing field.