- Why this website?
This web site grew out of frustration with using the NOAA Washington mountain telemetry data web pages, and an idea that a better way to navigate through those pages could be created. The mountain telemetry data can be incredibly useful to the backcountry skier because, with some practice, one can learn to make good predictions about the likely weather, snow, and avalanche conditions in different areas of the mountains, and thus make a good choice about a destination for a backcountry outing. With NOAA's navigation scheme, a lot of backtracking is required (using the dreaded "back" button), going up and then down menus to get to all of the current and archived telemetry data pages.
A "frames" version of the telemetry pages was created, and it seemed to work well; it was easy to zip through a lot of telemetry pages and quickly get an idea of what was going on, weather-wise, in the mountains. But then new ideas kept popping up. Why not add weather forecast so that they wouldn't have to be pulled from the browser bookmarks? What about satellite and radar images? Why not mountain road and trail links that are so useful during spring and summer? Then, why not add some photos? And so on.
Along the way, a need for a place to post backcountry ski trip reports arose, so in 2001 a Trip Reports section was added to the site. At first, all posting of trip reports was done manually: e-mailed trip reports were added to a monthly page, which was then uploaded to the server. After a while, this became a bit tedious, so in 2002 an electronic bulletin board (forum) was set up so that people could not only post their trip reports themselves, but also respond to trip reports posted by others. This has turned out to be a great addition, saving time and spurring more people to send in useful backcountry skiing information. As of March, 2006, there are now over 2500 backcountry skiing and snowboarding trip reports, organized by month for easy browsing and searching. Along the way additional boards have been added in response to user suggestions: lift-assisted (non-backcountry) reports, partners wanted, and gear for sale or wanted to buy.
- About the use of frames:
The use of the HTML frames commands for displaying multiple HTML pages in a single browser window (as in the "Weather Links" and "Access Links" sections of this web site) seems to have gotten the thumbs down from many web site designers and critics. Jakob Nielsen has a good discussion of frames, as does Slarti, and also the Web Design Group.
A big objection seems to be that in frames it is impossible to bookmark a browser-displayed "page", because each "page" in frames is really multiple HTML pages displayed together, and there is not a unique URL (address) for each frames "page" the browser displays. Another objection to frames seems to be that people can use the technique to "frame", or "steal", pages from other web sites ; that is, they can display a page from someone else's web site in one of the frames of their own page, thus making it appear that the content of the "framed" page is their own. When the "framed" page is copyrighted by someone else (as it often is, since copyright protection is automatic and immediate), this can result in copyright infringement.
Frames are used in sections of this web site because the technique allows for the creation of a smaller navigation window (typically a menu of links along the left side) which can control the display of many different web pages in the larger main window. The big benefit of frames is that the navigation menu can remain constant even as it is being used to display many different pages in the main window. As an example, go to the "Weather Links" section of this site and explore some links in the left-hand navigation menu and its sub-menus.
With the use of frames in the "Weather Links" and "Access Links" sections, it would appear that this web site is guilty of "framing" other web sites. The justifications are as follows: first, most of the "framed" pages are in the public domain and not, in fact, copyrighted, because they are produced by government agencies and are the property of The People. This web site's duty is simply to inform you, the viewer, that such pages are NOT copyrighted by this web site (there, it's done). Second, in the few instances where a non-public domain page has been "framed", it is because the information contained therein is both very useful to backcountry skiers and not available elsewhere from government sites on the web. In the instances where such a page is framed, the entire page has been framed, not just the graphic of interest contained within it, so that it is viewed in its intended context. A continuing effort is being made to eliminate the use of all framed non-public domain pages.
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