The History Of The Dive-Oz Website

The idea for the Dive-Oz website started back in November 1998. As a regular visitor to many websites that are updated daily on many different subjects, I started looking around at Australian Scuba related websites for a site just like what Dive-Oz is now, but could not find any. I found plenty of sites with dive sites and some images, but nothing that was up-to-date at all. Since I was a programmer and designer of websites, I set out to create a new site that would be of interest to as many divers, Australian and foreign as possible. From that initial idea, the Dive-Oz domain name was registered and Dive-Oz Mk I was created.

Dive-Oz MK I

Dive-Oz MK I took a few weeks to put together, and now, I don't really remember what it even looked like. It had a number of the same info directories as we do now and it even started to attract visitors. Dive-Oz MK I lasted I think about 6 months, before I sat down and laid out a number of changes and expansions until Dive-Oz MK II appeared.

Dive-Oz MK II

Dive-Oz MK II had a new menu system, was better looking, and had a lot more info and took a couple of months to make all the changes. By this time, the site was getting quite popular, not only with Australian Divers, but with divers from Overseas as well. It was starting to become a well used resource for news and info on Australian scuba diving. Dive-Oz MK II lasted maybe a year, and in that time, more new areas were added. We also had the merger into our site, one of Australia's best resources on Nudibranchs that is run by Wayne Glaskin. But, it wasn't long before the bug hit me again, and armed with suggestions from the regular users of the site, plus my own ideas, Dive-Oz MK III was unleashed.

Dive-Oz MK III

Dive-Oz MK III was almost a complete re-design, one of the biggest changes being the scrapping of the menu system on the lhs of the screen and moving to a slimline Javascript driven drop down menu system at the top of the screen. More features and areas where added and our first Discussion Forums were opened up for the first time not long after MK III went live. The discussion forums attracted a new group of regular visitors to the site, and it was not long before the forums were racking up large numbers of posts on many different subjects. Again, during the life of this version of the site, many changes were made to many areas of the site. A search engine was created for many of the areas, including; discussion forums, nudibranch gallery, all info directories and the news areas. I also expanded the news areas into a number of new sections and started checking around 70-80 websites every day looking for news items that scuba divers would find interesting. As with all good things, it was time to move on and start looking at MK IV of the site. By the time I had started to think about MK IV of the site, it was nearly 3 years since it all started and I had spent around 2,500 hours, of my time, designing, programming, chasing news and generally looking after the site. it was time for a MAJOR change!

Dive-Oz MK IV

Dive-Oz MK IV of the website saw a TOTAL re-design of every area of the site, including a total re-write of the underlying code bases in each page. The whole look and feel of the site was changed dramatically, a new menu system was implemented, a whole new discussion forum was integrated and a whole slew of site updates, additions and features were made to produce the site you see now. The whole look and feel of the site was finally standardised with a new colour scheme and theme. The total time to put this new site together was around 200+ hours, and even now, I still continue to tweak and change things all the time. As I write this, it's almost the sites 3rd birthday, and in those 3 years, I have seen the number of visitors just keep getting higher and higher and have made many great friends along the way. I think this version of the site will be around for a while yet, but after that, who knows what Dive-Oz MK V could be!

Dive-Oz 2014

Launched at Easter 2014, is a complete and utter re-design, there was a conversion away from the old hand-coded design and now very dated look and we moved into a CMS which has both its limitations and benefits. This process started actually back in 2012, but I lost interest and the drive back then due to life events, and it was not until December 2013 that I seriously got the drive and inclination to want to see this done. I scrapped the look I had created back in 2012, created a new "water" based template, the colour made it very tough to integrate every system into the site and make it still blend and look like part of the site. I think we have come close, but not perfect.

We paid a commercial company a hefty sum to do the conversion of the users and discussion forums from the old site, into the new site, that was not without it's headaches and issues, including them losing me a week solid of conversion work from the old site. In the end, it was worth it, the forums are intact, the users are intact, well, with minimal issues. The new forums are VASTLY more powerful than the old. I installed instant messaging into the site, Tapatalk will make an appearance shortly after launch, so long as it does not affect the performance of the site.

We moved hosts and have managed to cut our yearly hosting costs a bit, so we hope that the new spec server has enough grunt to power the site, it can be easily upgraded as it is a virtual sever, but the costs start to jump quickly.

A number of the old areas of the site were not migrated as they just were not popular enough to warrant me spending the time to migrate them across. A large number of areas are sitting hidden away, pending final formatting and tweaking to become more powerful and user friendly.

We added a new online store and from time to time will add new products in there, the small profits we make helps to keep the site going and pay for hosting and occasionally new software systems that help power the new site etc.

I added a new automated news feed, this grabs news from all around the world, without the need of someone to go search it out and post it up.

We added 3 new moderators to the "crew" to help with running the forums, and we welcome back the original admins who have been helping me run Dive-Oz basically since the site started. I just could not make this site work without their help and encouragement.

The old Buy, Swap & Sell has been replaced with much more powerful classifieds area, I think you will love that!

There is a lot more, but you will just have to go find out what is new yourself.


Moving Forward

I will continue to migrate the remaining data across from the old site, but it will now be much slower as I will no longer have the old site online to be able to copy and paste, it now has to be pulled from the raw databases, stripped of the html and re-laid out, a much slower process.

Dive-Oz is a labour of love, and an attempt to continue to create the biggest and most up-to-date scuba resource about Australian Scuba Diving available on the web today. I hope that I have achieved what I set out accomplish with this site, in my mind, there is always room for improvement, but that's another story. This site is not run by a team of people, it's done by a single person, with the help of some amazing friends. Dive-Oz is here because of the support of it's advertisers, sponsors and most importantly, you the visitor, for without you, there is no point.

Neil Miller (AKA Webguy)