Reworking PhagesDB
Dan Russell
Oct 8, 2012
It's been nearly two and a half years since we at Pitt decided the number of isolated mycobacteriophages had reached a point where it was no longer desirable or even possible to use spreadsheets to store phage-related data, and thus devised and launched PhagesDB. In its first month out in the world, May 2010, the site welcomed 273 unique visitors to a limited number of basic pages.

Two years later, April 2012 would be our most-trafficked month yet, with over 7800 unique visitors.

As the number of visitors to the site has grown, PhagesDB has seen some improvements and new features, but I never had the chance to really go back and write the code the way it should've been written from the start. After all, when I began creating the site in 2010 I knew almost nothing about Web design, html, css, python, django, and javascript. Though I'm still nowhere near an expert in any of those fields, I've learned a lot, and consequently realized that I'd written a lot of the site in inefficient, cobbled-together ways.

I've always wanted to go back and give it a good rewrite, and finally have had a window of opportunity over the past couple months. Part of the impetus was that many of you in the SEA-PHAGES, PHIRE, and High School Outreach programs have begun to move beyond smeg and are now finding phages on other host bacteria. Since this site is really the Mycobacteriophage database, we needed new versions for the new hosts. I couldn't stand to see a messy product copied and pasted into new iterations, so I set to work.

So now we're happy to release a re-worked version of PhagesDB. Many of the changes are behind-the-scenes and ensure that the site runs efficiently and is easier to manage. If you've been a regular visitor, however, you'll probably notice some more visible changes as well. This blog, for example!

I'll be posting a few more blog entries to highlight some of the changes and improvements we've made over the next few weeks. In the meantime, feel free to explore on your own. If something's not quite right or seems to be missing, we're probably still hammering out some details, but feel free to give us feedback using our Contact Form or by commenting on posts like this one.

Hope you enjoy!