Of course, this site is still in development. The biggest portion of the development is the trivia section. If something's not working, if a link is missing, or if you have any suggestions or comments, please email me at werdna@pobox.com

1995 Star Trek: The Next Generation homepage

Production Notes


Credit where credit is due...
The data, raw graphics, and sound clips contained within both the old 1994 and the new 1995 sites were all gathered entirely from the Internet. By far the largest contributor to this repository of data would be Michael Brown, aka Vidiot, who compiled the Star Trek: The Next Generation Program Guide, a listing of synopses, credits, and trivia about every Star Trek episode, available freely on the Internet. Without the corpus of his TNG work, I would never have even conceived of this web site. Moreover, it was the features of his guide that inspired and facilitated all the cool elements of this episode guide---for example, the hyperlinks to the Internet Movie Database for every guest star were made possible by the guide's Appendix listing all the cast members. When it comes to source material for a site, commercial website developers can only dream of the exhaustiveness of content, the level of organization and attention to detail of his TNG guide, and that's a fact.

Other important contributors to the raw data in the site would include Timothy Lynch (who wrote all synopses and reviewed TNG, seasons 2-7), Roger Noe (TNG credits archive), Jeffrey Koga (quotes archive), Dean Adams (TNG Promo archive), Mark Holtz (TNG List of Lists) and James Dixon (Timeline).

All the screenshots & headshots in this site were obtained from the Internet. The b&w head shots of the crew, as well as the b&w group photo, were scanned by Perfect Vision Graphics (413-233-7993 14.4 v32bis / 513-233-8693 28.8 V.FC). Some of the color head shots of the crew were downloaded from Jeffrey Koga's ``ST:TNG Central'' site.

All image processing, graphics created specifically for the site and choices of colors for text/links are all my fault, so complain to me about it....

I should again thank Michael Brown, who provided all the raw high-resolution bitmaps of phrases rendered in the TNG crillee font from which I developed the titles for the site. And there's no way I could have developed the ideas for HTML constructs here without many hours of general discussion with my partners in Website Development, the other members of Creative Internet Design: Aure Prochazka, Joe Cates, and Bruce Sears. (Guys, I'll be getting back to doing CID work in just a minute...)

From 1994 to 1995...
The first version of this website was created in March-May, 1994, coinciding with the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation's seven-year life in first run television syndication. Back then Adam Curry was linked on everyone's homepage, the hottest things on the web were fill-out forms and server-side includes, HTML 3.0 was vaporware, and NCSA Mosaic was still single-handedly making the Web the Hot Item in the Internet.

Now, a year later, the rich feature set of Netscape Navigator has raised the ceiling for the potential functionality and visual impact of web documents and has redefined the standard of quality by which they should be judged. New commercial ventures on the Internet have demonstrated how the production values maintained by mainstream entertainment enterprises can carry over to the web and contribute to the creation of some of the most compelling and innovative documents yet seen in digitally broadcasted media.

I've stated before that the reason I didn't plan on developing web sites for DS9 or Voyager was simply because I didn't want to continually update a web site indefinitely to accomodate new material; that the conclusion of TNG signaled an ideal time to start creation of a comprehensive web site, a site that would age well because the raw data would be static. My naivite has become increasingly clear to me recently. While the available information for Star Trek: The Next Generation hasn't changed over the year, the standards for web sites have---and at the very least, my standards for a web site's visuals and utility have changed.

What was a new and interesting convention in 1994 is now old, tired, and over-used. My intutions about how to engineer functionality in a database of information have been sharpened and expanded by experience and inspiration from other sites. Time has given me an idea which elements of the 1994 site worked and which ones didn't, and shortcomings of the 1994 site have suggested new features that were crying out to be added. The layout of the 1995 site tries to address all these issues.

All the software, graphics, and animation for this Web Site were created on Unix machines using public domain/freely available/shareware utilties: xv, xpaint, netpbm, vi, perl, gcc, Netscape 1.1, NCSA httpd 1.4, fortune, mpeg, xanim, ghostview, freewais, wwwwais, and sh. I never went to a Macintosh except to check how Mac Netscape rendered things, though I had no control over how the raw graphic materials were created...

For example, the main logo was originally a black-and-white postscript graphic, an element of Michael Brown's TNG guide. I used ghostview to convert it to an image and used xv and xpaint to set colors for it and create the raw (843x343) tri-level image. Then, I made a perl script that called the pbmplus utilities to create the server-push animation, using pnmscale to create the zooming effect and pnmpaste to keep the images centered.

The gradients and blends were done using custom perl scripts and pnmarith.

Netscape 1.1 bugs...
A few bugs in Netscape 1.1N were uncovered in the development of this site:
  • A serious problem with horizontal scrolling in the X-windows version.
  • The Macintosh version has trouble displaying large JPEGs
  • Macintosh/PC versions don't display transparent animations correctly
  • The client pull mechanism doesn't wait for images to load before doing the pull.
  • X and Windows versions of Netscape have problems displaying a LOWSRC gif that uses transparency.
  • Windows versions of netscape don't display <HR> (hrules) correctly in Hi-color and true-color mode.
  • episodes.html tends to crash Netscape 1.0N on some platforms (like HP/UX)

Odds and Ends...
I'm often asked why I spent so much time making this web site. I have a hard time convincing people that while I do enjoy the show, I'm not really an exceptionally big fan of Star Trek. I made the site because there was an abundance of digital source material for me to work with, because the show's content naturally provided the kind of snazzy-looking graphics that can catch attention on the web, because the Internet is a great audience for anything Trek-related, and, most importantly, because the mere bulk of the Trek data provided a formidable technical challenge that was solved only through mastering a wide variety of Unix and Web tools and tricks.

The motivation for this new 1995 site adds a new dimension. Experience doing commercial web work for entertainment companies has taught me that a huge portion of the work in creating a web page for any Hollywood product involves just getting decent source material for the page. In the commercial world where power is the ability to get people to say yes, I found most of my energy devoted to getting cooperation from the Powers That Be and working out differences with the other contributers to the site (i.e. Graphic Artists...). With this TNG site, I don't need to answer to any higher authority (yet), the resources I enjoy working with are already there (for the most part), and I have complete freedom to implement any experimental ideas I want. This is a power I simply don't have when it comes to commercial work.

I hope you enjoy this site. I've had a lot of fun creating it.

[My Signature]
Andrew Tong,
Pasadena, 20/05/95

Oh, and since you're still reading, I'll subject you to my personal list of 10 favorite episodes: (please don't flame me...)

  1. Tapestry
  2. Yesterday's Enterprise
  3. All Good Things...
  4. Parallels
  5. The Inner Light
  6. The Best of Both Worlds
  7. The Nth Degree
  8. Conundrum
  9. Q Who
  10. Cause And Effect

Andrew Tong

Technical design, graphic design, interactive features, HTML & CGI programming by Andrew Tong. || All materials Copyright © 1987-1995 by their respective authors. || Document created: May 20, 1995 || Last Modified: November 09, 2010