A new Bharat Rakshak site years in the making

BR2003Today 10th May 2015, we unveil a new version of the Bharat Rakshak Website . It has been just over ten years that our website front page had undergone a  major revamp. Prior to January 15th, 2005, the BR main page was a static HTML page with links to sites and no dynamic content. Behind this new mainpage and framework has been hundreds of hours of technical gruntwork to bring the BR site to the the latest specs.

At that time , It was through the help of a dynamic web UI designer - Naresh, that the very familiar webpage was constructed. That front page had a fixed layout but with sections that were dynamic - getting updated as the content of the subsites got their revisions. The front page was designed to a screen width of 800 px during a time the desktop screens were around 1024 pixels wide. Over the years, though the framework of the main page did not change, the underlying structure changed from fixed HTML sub-pages to dynamic sections when the sub-sites moved to the Joomla CMS.

Fast forward ten years later, in 2015, the site has pretty much ground to a snail pace of updates across various sites.  Over the years the BR site sufferred from 'urban sprawl'. various smaller components of the sites were started on their own pieces of custom code or static pages. There was the Liberation Times site (Static HTML), the Kargil memorial (Static HTML), the BR Monitor (Static), the Strategic Research Review (A combination of Static HTML and CMS). The Music section, the video section, the Missiles section (CMS). With the gradual lack of help around, some of the sections started withering away. A hard decision was to be taken to 'Kill the tail' - cut down on the various applications whose maintenance has become difficult. Merge various sites into one so that its upkeep was easier to do.  And in some cases simply get rid of some parts . After all, nowadays, who maintains huge video files on their site when youtube is out there to offer video hosting?


All the sub sites ran on an outdated version of CMS with known vunerabilities. An upgrade of the site was long due and without identifying a 'template' for the new sites, the migration to an up-to-date CMS version was kept getting postponed.. The IAF site had two instances of the GAllery software, a Joomla CMS and a whole section still in static HTML. The upgrade of the CMS was also delayed by the outdated versions of PHP and MySQL on the main server. Inshort the entire building structure of the BR Server was in major need of rebuilding from ground up.

It was in early March 2015 that a decision was taken to migrate the site to the latest configs and versions.  A new server was provisioned by Seetal, and I set about converting the CMS sites to the latest versions.  There was no ready migration tool that seemed to work - and a mixture of MySQL skills employed with Excel(!) had to be used to manually migrate and build the site structures.  There were over 200 history articles in the IAF site that were static and in need of migration. All these had to be painfully updated into Joomla and the images associated with itmoved to the directory structure that Joomla supports. This process had to be started for the Navy and Army sites.  A decision was taken to club the rest of the site (SRR, Missiles, Defence Technology, Space and others ) into one single CMS for ease of maintenance

And finally a new Front page framework derived from the previous 2005 version was designed.  The site provides ample representation to all the three subsites - previously the IAF site was lost below the fold even though it was the only section that used to be updated regularly. Now it gets equal prominence with the Army and Navy.  Sufficient indication of the BR site's social media presence is also provided by use of the  FB Page and Twitter blocks.

In subsequent posts, we wil provide updates on the changes to individual sites and how they are being worked on to provide better quality content to the visitors. stay tuned.