BEGINNINGS: America Online
I am Josh, and this is my web page. As you can see, I can't do this because I'm so pathetic. Vote for Bob Dole, and soup is good for you.That's as far as I got and never published it on the Internet but, being the determined lad that I was, soon found an easier way to do it. At the time I connected to the Internet through America Online and they provided an easy-to-use webpage builder called Personal Publisher. With Personal Publisher, I was able to make decent looking web sites in a matter of minutes which led to, on 11 April 1998, the creation of Vegisaurus' HomePage – "Vegisaurus" being my handle on AOL. Oh boy, I had a URL, a guestbook, a page counter, and hyperlinks and I thought I was hot stuff! I wasn't, it was just a green background and some text, but I was proud of my initial effort.
The site stayed pretty much the same for the next four years. On 21 June 1999 I changed the address from /index.html to /home.html in order to use /index.html for an overall directory that I was creating called the General Index. Scrounging through my old files while writing this page, I found a copy of an old version of the site. It's from the /index.html days, though I don't have the exact date. In the early days I didn't keep a log of each update so now I have no idea of knowing when this is from except that it predates 23 December 1998 when I removed a bunch of material from the site. Maybe three of the links might still work in the archived version, which is just for show at this point.
Since day one the Jurassic Park Velociraptor had been at the top of the page, welcoming visitors with a snarl. Some months after opening the site, Bryan MacAfee churned out his own batch of pages. Needing material and being a friend, I linked to them and to clearly mark off the MacAfee area from the rest of the page, I used a pair of cute little spinning radioactive signs that I had found somewhere.
On 13 July 1999, I created the sister site, Vegisaurus' HomePage II, where I felt a little more freedom from the self-imposed restrictions of what could be posted on the main site. I never did much with it, as it served little purpose existing alongside the main site, though it did gave me a chance me to create a new graphics to bridge the two. These were some of my very earliest graphic design work and oh, how it shows.
At one point, a graphic was posted informing you that the site was brought to you by JG Enterprises. This was before I knew how to make transparent images so the green background was the same as that used on the site itself.
I wasn't hosting from America Online for very long. Just enough to get my footing before moving on.
Versions 2.0 & 3.0
Vegisaurus' HomePage's function changed slightly when it launched on Angelfire. When it first began three years earlier, the HomePage was my base-of-Internet-operations and thought process dumping ground. All of the sub-sites were linked through it to serve as a library. When I opened the General Index in June 1999, the HomePage's use as the library was rendered moot. At this point the HomePage finally began to serve as my personal home page with off-topic meanderings being diverted to a growing collection of satellites to host them.
Come 3 November 2001, exactly one year since I began to rebuild the HomePage on Angelfire, I decided it was time to change things up. The minor redesign resulted in Version 2.0 of the website and during the process "Vegisaurus' HomePage" became "Josh's HomePage" with some new graphics to back it up. Out of this revision the site became known as:
This would turn out to be only a brief intermediate phase.
This mockup was more or less to test the mouse-over script that I wanted to add. When you pass the cursor over the graphic, it "turns on." The center was green because the page's background was still green. The design was improved upon (specifically increasing area of the red "lights") to produce the final version of the graphics that were arrayed along the left side of the screen:
When I made the second version of the graphic above, I had decided to change the whole site's background to grey. Not only did I change it to match the JG Enterprises grey/red color scheme, but it also made things easier to read. The original black-on-green green style was simply hard on the eyes. In the first graphic, I was also trying to favor the Jurassic Park theme that was carried over the years. I dropped that in favor of the JG Enterprises theme, meaning that the one thing that I'd kept since day one, the Velociraptor picture, was removed. The font face was changed from the default Times New Roman to Arial and every page now uses a graphic for a title, with an Arial Black typeface:
With that redesign the HomePage melded almost seamlessly my personal and professional styles to produce a much more pleasing aesthetic and user-friendly result. The new-and-improved HomePage was recommissioned on 11 April 2002, on the site's fourth anniversary.
The time spent at Angelfire was nearly up.
Versions 4.0 & 5.0
Revision 2004 produced Version 4.0 of the site and slightly sleeker form of the 3.0 site, especially in regards to the navigation buttons. Transitioning my vector graphic design from CompuWorks Draw2 to the far superior Adobe Illustrator, the revised navigation buttons gave the site a smoother look all around. They were also smaller, granting more open space:
In regards to the title graphics, they remained very similar to their 3.0 predecessors except for being overall smoother and sporting drop shadows to help them pop. Where all of the 3.0 titles had been done in Draw2 alongside the more complex graphics, the 4.0 titles were all created in Adobe Photoshop.
One new gimmick that only existed during the six years of Version 4.0 was the use of a Java image rotator for the title banner on the index page. There were thirty unique graphics, each with a different message under the "Josh's HomePage" title, where the above example says, "Your Internet friend." Every visitor to the page would have been greeted with a different, randomly chosen banner. This was something I decided not to keep into the next redesign.
The front page for this version had a dedicated link box for all of the separate sub-sites. While it was handy having everything in one spot, this maybe wasn't the best place to put it. When the time came to redesign in 2012, the contents of this box were moved to the repurposed Links page in order to keep the length of the front page within one screen height. Placing them on a separate page makes it easier to manage the sites as they come and go.
Another change made during this revision concerned the subpages, or those pages like articles, the Mini-Bio, and this history page, that link off of the main topic pages that appeared in the side navigation buttons. Where the 3.0 style carried the layout of each page throughout the entire side, navigation button column and all, the 4.0 style relegated that only to the main pages while giving the subpages a slimmed down format with more prominent back buttons. Moreover, where 3.0 provided unique title graphics for even the most insignificant subpages, 4.0 changed to general all-purpose headers with the individual page's title appearing in the page text.
Version 4.0 was completed and introduced on 3 November 2005, exactly four years after Version 2.0. It would last until 11 April 2012, the HomePage's fourteenth anniversary, when the entire site was redesigned again from the ground up.
Neither of these were working so I kicked the redesign further down the road, for another year and a half.
For what became Version 5.0, the most recent redesign, I kept the basic feel that was introduced in the major 3.0 overhaul but kept no individual stylistic element save for the background color. For the first time in ten and a half years the HomePage was given a complete facelift that began with a new title design that had been developed during the 2009 tinkering:
The typeface is still Arial, only this time just regular, vanilla Arial rather than the heavy Arial Black. The design trend is a nod to the previous syle, just slimmed down and streamlined. Take the navigation buttons along the left screen. Gone are the complex sci-fi styled gizmowhatsis buttons and in their place these simple titles:
Yet they're still the same idea. Hover the mouse over and the red light comes on. The on and off shades are also the same as before. The new buttons take the principles of the old and streamline them. Unlike their previous incarnations, these were made entirely in Photoshop. For the first time, no vector graphics software was used in the site redesign.
Redesigns sweep throughout the site, including extensive rewriting of text on this history page and the biography page. On a minor note, the "Background" section was renamed to "About" in the hopes of expanding the content in that area.
That brings up to today, so in summary...
That's the history of Vegisaurus'/Josh's HomePage. Hopefully there will be much more to come in the future.