To the right you’ll see the menu of the Scottish Cinemas website that I’m hosting in its incomplete form until the founders of the project can commit enough time to bring it to completion. At that time we’ll switch the domain over to www.scottishcinemas.org.uk, where their old site is currently still visible.
In 2017 I offered to help my old friends Gary and Gordon upgrade the website of their passion project, The Scottish Cinemas and Theatres Database (screenshot below). At this point, their bepoke site was around 15 years old and no longer fit for purpose.
Given that so many elements of the site’s bespoke software had become obsolete, it was by now almost impossible to make changes and it hasn’t been updated in many years, despite the continued enthusiasm of both founders (example links here and here).
I approached the upgrade as an information management project, compiling a detailed list of the cinemas the boys had recorded over the years, from the out-of-date spreadsheet on the site and exports I generated from the site itself. I then stripped out the formatting and extensively re-ordered this information on an Excel spreadsheet, making it consistent across columns.
Once I had this ‘clean’ information, I set up a WordPress site and installed a plugin to generate posts from each of the Excel rows. This successfully automated just under 1500 cinema posts, complete with title, body text, categories and tags. It took 100+ hours of work to get to this stage.
Adding photos was always going to be a big task, as no centralised media library of the old site’s thousands of photos exists. This necessitated the laborious task of saving and storing one image at a time from the front end of the old site, then importing and connecting the media to the new WordPress posts. The work I’ve done on importing images so far equates to another 100 or so hours of work.
Throughout these processes, I was doing independent research on the status of the cinemas and theatres listed, to update the site-specific information as I went. When their busy schedules allowed, I consulted the founders for further information.
Although I am very fond of Cinemas and their place in our social history, I don’t share the boys’ niche interest and I viewed my role as more of technical management than content generation, so it was important that they gradually took over – ‘Links’ is one page that Gary completed himself.
After a few months of work, it became clear that the timing wasn’t right for Gary and Gordon to contribute and we agreed to put the project on ice until they were ready. To ensure the work isn’t lost I’m hosting it myself here, hoping that we can call “ACTION!” on this project again soon. In the meantime, you can glance over to the menu and noodle around in Scotland’s Amazing Cinema Heritage!