1000th Drobe article published By Chris Williams. Published: 1st May 2004, 21:49:13 | Permalink | Printable
A 'woo yay' for us and youLast month drobe.co.uk published its 1000th article, marking five exciting years of publishing RISC OS related news, features and sarcasm online, all for free.
Way back in 1999, Peter Price, along with two other RISC OS programmers from Worcestershire, UK, came up with the name Drobe for a suite of applications that were, at the time, in development.
drobe.co.uk was to be its online home, hence the name 'Drobe Launchpad'. The software in question was never released, however the website thrived and Peter became its web master and news editor. Peter also developed Just4You, the online publishing software that drives drobe.co.uk. J4U continues to be used, updated and customised by the current site maintainers. In 2001, Chris Williams became Editor as Peter moved onto other ventures and in 2003, the site served over 2.2 million pages of articles.
Commenting on last month's achievement, Peter said: "I hate to ruin your picnic, but I had got to about 300 articles before I changed the database to the current one and we started again at zero. Also, before that database, we reached well over 1,000 headlines because in the first incarnation of the site I had syndicated headlines from other sci/tech and entertainment websites. Anyway, it's still a massive achievement, especially with the number of comments - that's taken off much more than I thought it would."
Fine, make that the 2,300th article. Recalling how it all began, Peter continued to explain: "I started Drobe Launch Pad because I was frustrated by the utter incompetence of the Acorn Cybervillage. In 1999 it was the only source of RISC OS news on the web even though it was poorly designed and updated very slowly. My aim was a simple one; to create a homepage for RISC OS users. It was intended to be set as a browser's homepage and so was carefully designed to work with all RISC OS browsers and was kept up to date with daily news headlines.
"It's wonderful that the site is still going strong. I check up on the current editors' work every week and am pleased to say that Chris and his team write far more words than I ever had time to. They are a very talented group and Chris in particular is a journalist with great potential.
"When I started Drobe, I intended for it to become the biggest RISC OS website in the world. I'm delighted (and saddened in equal measure) that it's beaten the pants off the Cybervillage, RISC User, Acorn User, seen off new competition from riscos.net and the Iconbar and is still going strong. It's a victory for youthful entrepreneurship - energetic and flexible, Drobe Launch Pad has been able to grow rapidly and change direction at a moment's notice. Long may it continue."
Peter is currently a presenter at Lancaster University's student radio station, having previously acted as their BBC award winning webmaster and also as head of publicity. He hopes to graduate this year with a degree in Business Studies, before moving on to becoming a trainee studio manager at BBC World Service. Drobe's current editor is studying electronic engineering at Warwick University, but can be found writing news and sub-editing for his university's student newspaper. Drobe is also co-edited by Peter Naulls, who contributes to and maintains various RISC OS projects, including the Unix Porting Project and GCC, as well as his ARM Linux efforts. The day-to-day running of the website's server hardware and software is managed by Ian Hawkins, who sort of has this thing for Smartcars. And last but not least, we'd like to send a big thank you, in particular, to drobe.co.uk writers Ian Chamberlain, Martin Hansen, dgs, Mark Stephens, and everyone else who has written or helped research articles over the years.
The website design of Drobe has also changed over time - pictured is an early design from around 2000 when the site used to syndicate headlines from other news websites and registered users could fully customise the layout of the front page. Nowadays, users can choose which layout they prefer - either the standard columned view, a single column view with article previews or a no-frills layout for those using slow 'net connections or old web browsers. A full archive of previous drobe.co.uk designs can be found lurking in the wayback machine.
Maintaining Drobe has been and continues to be a rewarding learning experience and we'd like to thank you, dear reader, for reading this site. If you want to contribute articles, feel free to get in touch. Alternatively, you can donate cash via PayPal to help pay for our web hosting and hardware costs. Love us or hate us, here's to the next 1,000 articles.
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