FrontierAstro - 20 years

On 19th April 2001 FrontierAstro made its first appearance on the World Wide Web

This website is dedicated to astronomy and Frontier Elite 2/Frontier First Encounters
Elite copyright Acornsoft Ltd 1984
Frontier Elite 2 and Frontier First Encounters copyright David Braben/Frontier Developments 1993/1995
Hubble Space Telescope images courtesy of NASA / STScI
Last update 04/09/02
Star DataMonthly Star Maps
September 2002
HighlightsPronunciation Guide
Planetary GuideHubble GalleryHubble Archive
What Is Frontier?Military InfoMission GuideMission Problems
Official FictionStar SystemsWinamp SkinsDistant Systems
From FE2 to FFEFrontier Ships
About FrontierAstroE-mail FrontierAstroLinks

On the left is how the website looked approximately 18 months after launch. For the purposes of this page I've removed the hyperlinks although most of them would still work. It covered the two aspects which brought about the site's existence in the first place: astronomy and the Frontier computer games from the mid-1990s (Frontier Elite 2 and Frontier First Encounters).

Early in 2001 I bought a HTML reference book and just ploughed straight in to developing the site. Probably not the best way of going about it and it did result in some bad coding habits! The main thing, though, was that the site worked in the web browsers of the day, which were principally Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Mobile browsing was still a long way off; the first iPhone didn't appear until 2007. Another consideration was keeping the image sizes as small as possible as internet speeds were much lower then. Dial-up internet connections at 56k were still commonplace!

To begin with the site was hosted by BT on the webspace that came as part of their internet package. The following year I registered a domain name and moved the site to paid hosting with Low Cost Names (now known as LCN), where it has remained ever since.

Although not intended as part of the site initially, I started to collect the various editions of Elite - both 8-bit and 16-bit - and decided that a third section would be added so that the site would cover Elite, Frontier and astronomy. The reason why Elite wasn't originally included was because that game was set in a fictional galaxy, whereas the Frontier games featured many star systems which could be located in the night time skies of Earth. It was the astronomy side of Frontier which attracted me to the game in the first place, having had a long-standing interest in astronomy as well as science fiction.

Over the years I've updated parts of the astronmomy section at the start of each month, plus occasional additions to the Elite and Frontier sections as new material becomes available. Another time-consuming aspect is ensuring that the site displays correctly on all the new devices that access the internet, such as tablets and smartphones. As I don't own any Apple devices I'm not 100% sure how it looks in their browsers; I do know that it works on Android machines!

I am planning a facelift for FrontierAstro some time this year; nothing major but probably a new colour scheme to freshen things up. Less likely is a mobile version of the site. It's possible... but I would have to figure out how everything would look and what type of menu system could be employed to navigate around the various parts, which sounds like a lot of work! The site was always intended to be low maintenance and finding the time to make big changes will not be easy.

It doesn't seem possible that this website has now been around for 20 years but it has been an very enjoyable experience which I hope to continue for many years to come.

It's also hard to believe that I got it all coded and running when I was just five years old...

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