Rob's Ramblings

Friday, 22 January 2010

Making old data visible, easily!!

Many years ago I was heavily involved in the viewdata industry - working for Micronet 800 and then producing software for other Prestel ISPs, running my own viewdata BBS, etc. I therefore accumulated rather a lot of viewdata pages, and managed to recover these from an old backup a few years ago.

As part of a separate project, I wanted to display these images. As they were saved using a BBC Micro, I loaded them up in a BBC Micro Emulator, under Windows, took a screen capture, pasted that into Photo Editor, cropped it, saved it out as a GIF, and finally uploaded it to the web server. I then had to add the image to whichever gallery it belonged in. As you can guess, this is fairly labour intensive, and gave rather variable results.

Being a firm believer in "let the computer" do the work, I started this side project to condense all this into as little work as possible. What I wanted to acheive was to reduce the steps to: 1. Upload original saved screen file to the web server. 2. End.

I think this has now achieved this, and more so! There are currently two scripts in the suite - vl.php (viewdata lister) will scan a given directory and construct a web page bsaed on the files it finds. vv.php is used as an image source for each file, and this reads the files and constructs a PNG or animated GIF, as appropriate, and returns it to the client.

As a side-benefit of having the original save file available, it's also possible to provide a text-only version of the frames! I hope this will make things more search-engine friendly.

You can find the files here.

At the time of writing, you can find a sample page here that shows the results that can be acheived for a random selection of pages from Prestel, Teletext and some LAN based services.

Please add any comments or suggestions below.

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