Much of what is written here is pertinent to the CD version of the work but there is plenty of information on how the construction was done and the design considerations of the collection. A lot of effort and work went into providing something that could be expanded and have some degree of future-proofing.
I have included this section for those who just have a deeper interest into what's behind the CD and for the benefit of those who may take up the challenge and add to the work later.
Why choose a CD? Simply, this is cost. Producing a book of the work is not feasible however much I would have preferred to do it that way. I would never have been able to get it published and even if I had the money to pay for it myself, I would never recoup the outlay.
Electronic publishing does offer a very cheap alternative and is flexible. It does have certain creative advantages over the printed page and enables the work to be added to very easily. The downside is that as of the time of writing, not everyone has a computer to access the information. Another major drawback is that the average computer system today does not produce a high enough screen resolution really suitable for displaying photographs and is nowhere near the quality of printed work. Having said that, the print output from today's computer systems is truly excellent with resolutions and print quality that are hard to distinguish from conventional photographic processes. If you want to see the photos from the CD at their best - print them!
The Display Software
Why choose a browser? There are many reasons for this. It is generic and supplied free with just about every computer in the world, courtesy of Bill Gates. Everyone is familiar with the interface as it is used so widely for Internet access. It offers great flexibility both in design and construction although an absolute pig to work with compared to a 'slap-it-on-the-page' DTP package!. It will be around for years to come hopefully and makes updating the CD easy. Finally, creating what is a local website on a CD which is what I have done, means that without any modification whatsoever, the whole thing can be uploaded to a server on the Internet for an instant website. I have even included meta tags in every page ready for such a time. Mind you, because of some of the file sizes involved it will not be worth doing until everyone has broadband access.
The structure of the main index page relies heavily on the use of tables to produce a tight layout with multiple selection options. The two large graphics 'pillars' on either side are collages of images taken from various photos in the collection and created using layers and marquee effects in Adobe Photoshop.
The top four buttons Author's Notes, User Guide, Credits and Tech Notes open up half size, centrally located browser windows that are stripped of all navigation and controls apart from a vertical scroll bar.
The thumbnails on the image display pages were created automatically from the main pictures using a program called ThumbsPlus. It saved a tremendous amount of work as they were batch processed. However, they still needed to be individually processed to create the bevel and shadow effects and this was done using Macromedia Fireworks.
The scanned images were individually cropped and processed using a variety of graphics packages. Some required extensive work to achieve anywhere near a decent display quality. Quite a few were tiny prints of only about three inches by two inches and were scanned at an average of around 400dpi.
Most of the images were scanned at between 150dpi and 200dpi. This was done purely from a space point of view and should provide a reasonable quality for printing. I tried to keep file sizes to around 1MB as this meant in the future that the collection could be uploaded to the Internet once broadband access was widespread. I could have made the image sizes smaller for display and put a separate copy of the full images on the CD. This would make life more complicated and again cause space problems so all the images that display enlarged are scaled versions of the full size file.
I have mostly used PNG as the file format for the images. At the time of writing this is the best that is available and is a 'lossless' format that sadly has not gained widespread acceptance. The pictures of current views were taken using a digital camera and are in JPEG format.
THE BASIC EQUIPMENT USED:
Generic PC compatible computer (built by myself)
Umax Astra 2100 USB scanner
Yamaha 4416S CD Writer
Hewlett Packard 970cxi printer
Paint Shop Pro 7
Thumbs Plus for thumbnails
Neato Mediaface for CD labels. Files for these are in directory 'labels'.
Adaptec Easy CD Creator for CD creation.
Many of the above packages were trial versions.