The Language Testing Resources site was first published on 1 May 1995, and the first frames version of the site was launched on 20 July 1996. Both of these sites were basic, and so the second frames version with much improved navigation was released on 26th March 2001, and was substantially upgraded in March and April of 2004 and August 2008. The use of frames started to go out use in web site design from around 2005. I didn't abandon frames quickly, as I liked the consistent look and feel that it provided. But when I built a much improved search engine for the site in 2009 the frames version really did become obsolete. So the current design was introduced in April 2009. Here's a screen capture of the site that most people were used to using from 2001 to 2009. I'm including it to remind myself as much as anything else; I still keep the older designs and may dig them out at some point.
So, May 1995 when this site was first set up wasn't all that long ago! Take a look at this before you read on.
Browsing history: Deja Vu
The first part of the site was the list of links and reviews of testing websites. The list of links is still there, but the reviews page was removed in 2010 because it became too time consuming to maintain: web sites come and go so quickly, and those that remain are now updated on a much more regular basis. So reviews were out of date almost as soon as they were written. The Language Testing Database started life as a searchable index of articles published in the journal Language Testing. This became a general search engine for the site in April 2009, and shortly after that the database was brought to an end because the journal owners maintain their own database. Duplication of work was no longer necessary. The current zoom search engine that can index dynamic php pages in addition to html was introduced in 2012. The Articles and Reviews section was added in 1997. In 1999 the Video FAQs was also added under the ILTA pages, following a project to provide introductory information on this discipline free of charge on the web. The video section has been updated periodically since then, and now forms a separate resource on languagetesting.info. The 2009 update also saw the introduction of flash video in place of the older formats. To create these the older videos were re-rendered to improve sound quality, and for some I managed to improve the image as well. If this goes the way of previous cross-platform formats such as vivo and real media I can always resort to wmv again. Adding videos to the site is one of the more time consuming tasks, but more are coming on stream all the time.
The first of the Features was added in February 2009, and these suddenly became some of the most viewed files on the site. I plan to add three or four per year from now on, depending on what is in the news, or what my own students are interested in. Also in 2009 I added the bookstore, which is an Amazon affiliate. This is a great feature from Amazon, allowing specialist websites to select products from Amazon and basically allow Amazon purchases through that website. Amazon remains totally responsible for the order and delivery.
In late March 2009 I added the Forum, which was an interactive discussion area. As anyone could join and it was not moderated, the Forum was hit by spammers in no time at all. Suddenly, I was spending a significant amount of time just removing unpleasant advertising; soon I had more on the banned list than I had serious members, and participation was low. I eventually had to pull the Forum in June 2009. This period of experiment was useful though. It was during this time that I also learned a great deal about many of the newer web technologies that allowed me to set up the journal content information and the jobs section, both of which were added in June. The period 2009 - 2010 saw the gradual rebuilding of the site with the addition of a variety of RSS based, and dynamic information services. During 2010 the LT.info Bulletin was created, and I added webslices to some of the pages with very frequently updated content, particularly the employment and articles update pages. The news webslice was added in July.
Also in 2010 I created the 'what is language testing' page after running a competition to see who could create an appropriate 'dictionary defintion' of language testing. In May I added the scenarios to this page, as a resource for studying test purpose. A major addition in June was Language Testing Bytes, which is the official podcast of the journal Language Testing. As co-editor of the journal I was asked to get this going by SAGE, and it is also available on iTunes and from the SAGE website. When I cease to edit the journal, I hope that SAGE will stil allow me to offer the podcasts on this website.
In July 2010 there was a fairly radical overhaul of the home page, with the creation of the dual column layout that you see now. With the move away from static html to a dynamic php page it was possible to have the news on the home page, rather than 'revealed' through an iFrame. The scrolling 'most visited websites' was also added, which is dynamically updated from a number of the major search engines by looking at which web pages they put at the top of a key word search relating to language testing. These features mean that the news and links on the home page are updated every four hours, and users can be alerted when there are changes to content - but only if they use an up-to-date version of Internet Explorer.
The scenarios were developed over a two year period and the first set of six finally completed in 2011. These are now widely used in teaching language testing, which is precisely what they were designed for. These pages are self-maintaining, with all links fully updated on a weekly basis.
For a while my web site and the ILTA web site were part of the same package and I managed both, but they were separated when ILTA obtained its own domain in 2005. I have links to the ILTA web site in various places.
From 1995 to April 2003 the Resources site was on the server of the University of Surrey. From April 2003 to March 2006 it was on the server of the University of Dundee. It then moved to the server of the University of Leicester until February 2009. The ever increasing need for server space forced me to set up the languagetesting.info domain on 6th February as a permanent home for the resources.
In May 2010 the language testing resources page was 15 years old. It would have been difficult to predict what it would have been like when I first started it in 1995, and it is just as difficult to imagine what web technology will be like in 5, 10 or 15 years time. But hopefully, both the website and I will still be here.
If you have any comments or suggestions please use the feedback form which you will find at the Contact tab. All constructive criticism gratefully received!