Two Shropshire based companies have recently established links with the Far East after developing a brand new website for one of the only Vespa rental companies in Thailand.

Launched earlier this year VESPOi offers the latest Vespa scooters with GPS in Thailand’s northern capital city, Chiang Mai. With well over 200 Buddhist temples and over 2 million people living in the city, VESPOi believe that the best way to enjoy and explore the busy medieval city is on an iconic Vespa scooter.

A number of accessories are also available for hire with the Vespa scooters, including GoPro cameras with SD cards, Nancy Chandler map packs, and extra helmets for pillion-passengers.

Simon from VESPOi said, “After launching Nam’s Guesthouse earlier this year we wanted to offer something different to visitors to Chiang Mai, so we decided to offer GPS Vespas – something that hasn’t really been done in Thailand before.

“These allow our guests and customers to create their own itinerary, discover whichever part of the city they want at their own pace and never get lost in the complexity of Chiang Mai’s myriad of Sois and bazaars.”

With the summer season fast approaching, VESPOi approached ERUP Creative and The Web Orchard to develop the new website in preparation for visitors to the city. The new website is fully responsive to mobile and tablets, as well as desktop computers, which means users will be able to use the website and book rentals in advance during their travels around Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand.

Ron Gale, Creative Director at ERUP, said, “When VESPOi first approached us to design their new website I was excited by the challenge of creating new branding and a mobile friendly website for such an exotic location. I think that we’ve been able to achieve the perfect website to suit their new, contemporary brand.”

Peter White, Director at The Web Orchard who worked on the website, said, “We love working with a diverse range of customers – whether they’re from Shrewsbury or from further afield! Our expertise in Drupal gives the perfect combination between usability and ease of website management.”

Simon summed up the final site “Thanks to ERUP and Web Orchard the VESPOi e-commerce site came in on time and on a tight budget.

“Developing an idea into a new e-commerce website or transferring an existing business into an online model takes skill, vision and technical ability. You also need a team that takes time to get under the skin of your idea or business and also your customers. This is what they did from the get go. Once they understood our “pitch”…their ideas just kept flowing.

“The result is a visually appealing e-commerce site that enables our target audience in the UK and Europe to book a holiday rental through our Thai based business using a credit card.

“Together ERUP & Web Orchard worked to deliver a new business for us. We just sit back and watch the bookings come through like magic. I recommend these guys very highly, it was fun as well.”

A Shrewsbury based web-development and IT company is celebrating this week - along with their client, who successfully received funding on Dragons Den.

It’s been a winning combination and partnership for The Raw Chocolate Company who enlisted the help and assistance of The Web Orchard when it came to designing and building their web presence.

The new website received over 60,000 hits within the first 30 minutes after the pitch by The Raw Chocolate Company on this week’s episode - and the site stayed online and live during this surge, thanks to the planning and implementation of The Web Orchard team.

The Web Orchard built a Drupal 7 website allowing The Raw Chocolate Company to fully promote their product range, fully manage products and content ‘behind the scenes’.

Kris McGowan Customer Insight Manager said "It was great working with Pete and his team. We were really up against it and they put all their resources into getting the website ready and functional on time. The Dragons Den team said we would not be able to keep the website running due to shear volume of hits, but the WebOrchard team did it brilliantly. We couldn't be happier."

The Raw Chocolate Company received £72,000 in funding from entrepreneur Deborah Meadon.

Pete White of The Web Orchard said “This has been a fantastic week all round. It’s been great for our client who have received the financial backing of Deborah Meadon and TV exposure - but also superb for The Web Orchard, demonstrating our professional ability to create truly winning website designs with top quality technical assistance and planning.”

For more information on The Raw Chocolate Company and to visit their new website: www.therawchocolatecompany.com For The Web Orchard and an overview of their portfolio and services: www.theweborchard.com

A Shrewsbury based web-development company is proud to have recently unveiled the latest in a long line of new websites for clients. The Web Orchard has been working on a new website for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, which is now live!

The new Shropshire Fire and Rescue website is a Drupal 7 based website, utilising the best technology in terms of functionality and usability. The Web Orchard are Drupal specialists and believe it is one of the most adaptable and scalable content management systems available.

Speaking of the work, Pete White of The Web Orchard said “We're certainly proud to have developed the new website for such an important organisation and public service for local people, as Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.”

He added “Their new website offers a professional, efficient and easy to use portal for people; with in-depth information for public safety, as well as incident reports, events and integrated social media.”

Ian Russell of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said “It was a pleasure to work with Web Orchard on this project. The professionalism, creativity and depth of knowledge shown by everyone on the development team was very impressive.”

Visit www.shropshirefire.gov.uk/ to see the website for yourself. For further information on other projects which The Web Orchard have been working on, take a look at http://www.theweborchard.com/

Smarter Web Development

By Pete | @kingpetey | 02 Mar 2014

Over the past year we’ve significantly changed the way we develop Drupal websites, we’re using newer technologies and more efficient workflows to ultimately achieve better quality websites. Our web team has gone from strength to strength growing to five people plus outside contractors, agencies and partners.

Drush

In February 2013 I attended Drupal Camp London, it was my first Drupal specific web conference and it was fascinating to see how other companies managed similar Drupal workflows as to what we did. One common denominator was the use of Drush, the Drupal command line tool.

Since then we completely changed our setup from developing on shared hosting accounts to developing on our own internal Linux virtual machine. We wrote scripts for setting up development areas using Drush to install Drupal, a base theme and common modules we used. Once the site was then ready to go live we had further scripts for uploading the files and database to whatever hosting the customer wanted to use.

Drush has the added benefits of being able to update modules, it meant that we could quickly and easily test updates before making them live. 

The overall result is that we could very quickly create development areas with up to date modules and any other common assets we use. 

Trello & Basecamp

Project management tools have become essential as we’ve grown and worked closer with external agencies. With services such as OpenAtrium, Trello and Basecamp we can setup projects and assign tasks and tickets between each other. With email you can quickly get into a mess with hundreds of emails but with a project management tool its easy to stay on top of the job.

Creative Cloud

One common theme for a lot of the other web companies I’ve spoken to recently is the uptake of Adobe Creative Cloud. I’ve always been against renting software in this way however I seemed to be in the minority so we finally decided to sign up. It’s a jump I’m glad we made, having access to the same software that our partners use has a lot of advantages and the new tools its introduced us to has helped enhance our workflow further.

LESS

We’ve played with a lot CSS extensions over the past year and finally decided on using LESS. The tools fit in well with our Linux development server and our Drupal workflow.

YAML & Twig

Two of the big changes in Drupal 8 have been making their way into some of our other projects. We’ve been writing custom applications by writing configuration files in YAML and theme files in Twig. It’s given us a great head start for when we start developing Drupal 8 based sites later in the year.

2014

We’re already putting our enhanced skills to work on a number of projects in 2014. If you’re interested in a website from The Web Orchard or working with us then email grow@theweborchard.com or call 01743 343411

It’s been a busy year at The Web Orchard, we’ve worked for a lot of companies, charities and agencies. Here are some of the projects we’ve been involved with that we can talk about:

PSDC Iraq

One of our showcase projects of the year has been for the World Bank, the website we developed helps promote private sector development within Iraq. We worked closely with the PSDC staff from the World Bank complex in Baghdad to develop a Drupal 7 based website in both English and Arabic. We provide training and ongoing support for the project.
www.psdc-iraq.org

Friends of the Earth - Shrewsbury Green Guide

The Shrewsbury Green Guide is a directory of local organisations that provide environmentally friendly products and services. We designed and developed a Drupal 7 based website and provided training so that the volunteers could easily manage the website.
www.shrewsburygreenguide.org.uk

Mowgli

Mowgli provide mentoring throughout the UK and MENA (Middle East North Africa) regions. We developed their website in a phased approach throughout 2013. The sites striking design and use of Drupal’s custom content types and views has made it one of our favourite projects of the year.
www.mowgli.org.uk

AAIB

We’ve worked with AAIB for a number of years and in 2013 we assisted them with updating their website with their latest branding.
www.aaib-insurance.com

Shropshire Unison

Our second project for the trade union Unison has seen us build the website for our local branch. Communicating with their members was one of the key goals to the site.
www.shropshire-unison.org.uk

Visible Recovery

Spreading our work even further than the Middle East, Visible Recovery based in Australia help people overcome addiction problems. We developed the responsive WordPress website to help attract patients to their Adelaide based treatment centre.
www.visiblerecovery.com.au

Love Shrewsbury

Our Love Shrewsbury site has gone from strength to strength in 2013 and we’ve been busy developing and tweaking it’s features. We went for some ground breaking ways to display our monthly archives that have been a huge hit with our visitors.
www.loveshrewsbury.com
www.loveshrewsbury.com/monthly


ShropGeek

We’ve been heavily involved with ShropGeek this year, helping organise (R)Evolution conference in September and taking parts in a hack day in March.

What’s in store for 2014

Phone/Tablet Apps

We’ve recently become involved in iPhone/Android app development, and with a couple of projects on the horizon it looks to be an interesting area in the new year.

Drupal 8

The top discussion at both Drupal Camps we’ve attended this year has been Drupal 8; expected to be released sometime next summer, it is an interesting and highly anticipated overhall to a rock-solid framework that we are looking forward to tackling in the new year.

Lots more projects

We have several big projects in the pipeline for 2014 which promise to be both challenging and rewarding.

To find out more visit www.theweborchard.com or call 01743 343411

Drupal Camp North West

By Pete | @kingpetey | 24 Nov 2013

Had a really good day at Drupal Camp North West in Manchester yesterday. Lots of very good Drupal 8 talks and a lot to discuss back in the office tomorrow.

Drupal Views is one of the most powerful modules available, paired with the automation service IFTTT you can post to Twitter in some fancy ways.

Read more on petejwhite.com

It's rare that I get some free time to update our companies website but I finally had a day this week where I could make all the changes I've been planning. I built The Web Orchards site when we launched over two years ago and due to the unprecedented demand we've had in the time since I've had little availability for updates.

One of the new services we are offering is Drupal Consultancy, when I started using Drupal almost three years ago I didn't realise I would be able to use it for every site we have built since. The issues we've had to overcome for some sites has given us excellent experience in this field which is why I feel we can now offer consultancy services.

One of my recent projects was to build a timesheets system for an Intranet, while we looked at modules already available there were none that provided the functionality that was required. Therefore I built a custom timesheet, administration and reporting system to provide exactly what the customer wanted.

Equally as ground breaking was the work I completed for various major car manufactures last year building a communication tool linking customers and suppliers within the car manufacturing supply chain.

My experience in migrating Wordpress to Drupal on ImAFish came with its own issues but was a total success and gave ImAFish the flexible and powerful content delivery platform it has today.

If you need any Drupal assistance in custom module development, theme development, site migrations or upgrades then visit The Web Orchard's website. I've updated our portfolio too with some of the other exciting projects we have been working on!

Shrewsbury Web Design

Over the past month ImAFish has been experiencing a number of issues with server performance, pages were often slow to load and 'MySQL server has gone away' errors were becoming common. At first I thought it was an issue with the server but after discussing it with my hosting company it turned out ImAFish was using over 10% of the server CPU/Memory power.

I made the following changes to my Drupal install to improve performance:

Remove as many modules as you don't need. 

ImAFish is primarily a blog, I had additional modules for user profiles, currency conversion, flash charts and plotting time lines to name a few. This huge bloat was my main cause of problem, by disabling the modules I didn't need or could do without I made instant performance boosts. Drupal makes it very easy to add additional functionality to your site, unfortunately its very easy to bloat your site.

Rerun the Cron Job

My cron job runs every 24 hours however because of the amount of work it had to process (mainly because of the activity stream module) it was often failing with mysql has gone away errors. After removing a number of modules it took a further three runs of the cron job to clear back all the necessary maintenance (such as deleting spam comments in the akismet queue and clearing the watchdog table).

Update Drupal and all Modules

Once I was happy with my modules I updated the core drupal 5 install then the modules one by one - running update.php each time. It's important that you run the cron job before doing this as I was getting further mysql has gone away errors on update.php before I ran the cron job. A set of updated modules also reduced mysql has gone away errors because of various bug fixes.

Reduce the Number of Blocks on a page

I had about 15 different blocks running down the right of a page, I cut this down to 9 to help reduce server load.

Enable Drupal Page Cache

Simply done in performance settings, there are additional options in Drupal 6. 

Disable Statistics Module

If you can do without the statistics module and rely on outside services such as Google Analytics then this will make a small difference.

Further Updates

Upgrade from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 to make better use of the performance features such as block cache and javascript aggregation.

I had to repair a number of database tables as well in the process, this in turn caused some quite serious data loss on the node_revisions table and I lost a number of my recent blog posts. Fortunately I used the Google Cache to recover this data.

The end result has been a much leaner and faster loading ImAFish site.

Comment Luv for Drupal 6x

By Pete | @kingpetey | 07 Oct 2008

I'm happy to announce that the Drupal port of Comment Luv is now available for Drupal 6.

It can be downloaded from the Comment Luv page of ImAFish or directly from the Drupal site.

http://www.imafish.co.uk/commentluv

http://drupal.org/project/commentluv

Comment Luv for Drupal 5x has also been updated fixing a number of issues from the initial release.

Many thanks to Lomz for his hard work in updating the module.

When someone posts a comment on your site Comment Luv attempts to find their latest blog post and add the title and link to the bottom of their comment. Comment Luv is great for attracting people to comment on your blogs and a great way to build back links to your site.

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