The Website

New Site Design and Model Ship Kit Database

May 22, 2018

From time to time, I get bored with the design of this site.  I can’t help it.  So today I’ve updated the site with a totally new design and a few new features.

Since this site is dedicated to talking about model ship builds, there were some things I really wanted but was unable to find in any existing themes.  I wanted it to be obvious which ship an article was about as you scrolled through the posts.  I wanted you to be able to click on images to view them larger.  I wanted an easier way to get to all the posts about a specific ship.

So, I wrote my own theme from scratch.  This let me implement all the things I was looking for, and add a few all new toys to the site like the Model Ship Kit Database.

What’s New

Better Categorization of Builds

You can now access the full build log for each ship right at the top of every page.  This makes it fast and easy to get to all the posts for a specific build.


Improved navigation.

Ship Name Listed for Posts

When browsing the home page (or any page that lists a bunch of posts), the name of the ship a post is about will be listed right above the title.  This makes it easier to keep track of what you’re looking at when there are multiple ships being posted about.


The ship is noted for each post.

New Image Viewer

Clicking on a photo in a post will now open an image viewer (desktop only – not available on mobile devices).  The new image viewer shows the photo full screen.  You can zoom in using the slider in the lower right, and pan around by clicking and dragging the image.  You can also use the next/previous buttons (on the left/right of the window) to cycle through all the photos in the post.


The new image viewer (click on any image to try it).


You can now search all the posts for a specific term.  Use the search field at the bottom of any page.

Featured Posts More Prominent

With the old layout, all posts were listed the same, except for a few that were ‘featured’ and shown at the top.  This made it hard to spot anything except the first featured post.

With this new update, the big post at the top of the page is always the most recent, and featured posts are highlighted inline on the page.  For example, on the home page, the posts for the completed Bluenose build and the start of the Fair American build are featured, and appear a little larger in the list than the other posts.


Featured posts, like the ‘Finished’ post appear bigger.

New Model Ship Kit Database

The biggest addition to the site is the new Model Ship Kit Database.  This was impossible to include on the old site because it requires a bunch of custom code.

The database is a project I’ve been working on in my spare time for a year or two.  It started when I wanted to know what model ship kits were popular.  I decided that a good way to answer that was to analyze the build logs on the Model Ship World forum.  I copied all the build log titles into a text file and wrote some custom software to process the titles.

After a lot of work to fix typos in the titles, normalize ship and manufacturer names, lookup actual model kits on vendor websites, etc., I had a pretty good set of data.


The new model ship kit database.

The kit database doesn’t necessarily include every kit from every manufacturer.  It focuses more on what has actually been built (although for some manufacturers I did go grab a list of everything they currently offer).

You can use the database to see what is popular (click on Kits, Ships, or Manufacturers, then click on the ‘Builds’ column header for the table until it is sorted).

Looking for a kit of a particular ship?  Maybe at a certain scale, or in a certain price range?  Use the filters at the top of the page to find all kits or ships that match your needs.

The model ship kit database does not currently have links to the manufacturer websites or places to buy the kits.  This is mostly because assembling those links takes a lot of time, and they are subject to change at any time.  If you’re looking for more information on a kit, copy the manufacturer name and ship name and do a Google search.  I strongly recommend only buying kits from the actual manufacturer or an authorized hobby retailer.  

The database lists the number of times a kit has been built, but it doesn’t tell you who built it, or provide links to the build logs.  That information is available on the Model Ship World forum, and I don’t want to use their information improperly.  Visit their site (free to sign up) and use the forum’s search tool to find build logs for a given kit.

A Note on Browser Support

This new site design uses HTML5 and other ‘newer’ standards.  If you are using an older web browser (any version of Internet Explorer, or any browser older than about 2 years), you will likely have problems viewing this site.

You should update your web browser.  Newer browsers have tons of security fixes, support for newer technology, and better privacy settings.  Browsing the web with an old or outdated browser is not only going to make websites look bad, but its dangerous.