In a previous entry
I noticed that I don't know any Batverse resource that cross-references character/canon details with the comic issues, or character biographies that cite the source for every fact they collect.
Now the scary thing is, that I'm seriously thinking about starting such a site, that is at least to give it a try. Obviously the site would start very small and not that useful, but on the other hand, because I've only begun to read and collect the Batman series it might continously grow as I read the issues, and I don't have a massive
re-reading backlog yet that has to be entered, as long as I'd really update the site with any relevant Batman title I read. So at the beginning it would be very incomplete, but after all general character overviews and complete series and character appearance indexes already exist elsewhere, it's the connection between the character details and the comic issues that I'd like to see somewhere.
So last night I've pondered the best way to structure and maintain such a site to make it flexible, expandable, searchable and easy to update as it grows. I guess theoretically the best long term thing would be to create a customized database with a sound structure and then have php scripts that create and format whatever kind of output one wants from that database. However I have no time or inclination to write a sort of php/database application that is ideally suited for the task of organizing comic canon for the web. The other extreme, to create and update every page manually with each additional comic is also impractical. It might be the easiest for a few comics, but as soon as a few dozen comics are involved it would become unwieldy fast.
The main problem is that I know I won't update a site if each update has to be some massive effort in formatting and cross-linking, especially not if the aim is to simply sit down after each issue I read and compile some brief notes. That's why I'm so adverse to a completely manual site organization.
Then I thought that maybe a blog system with categories (and the potential for allowing more than one poster) like Movable Type
could be set up in a way that was at least usable for such a purpose, perhaps every now and then enhanced by manual creation of some summary info pages. My basic idea so far is something like this:
Every comic would get an entry, all those entries formatted in the same way, with certain "sections" filled out for every comic (like a section for characters so that searches for minor characters for example give as results all entries and thus comics where they appear, though it obviously needs some thought of how to best organize the info), then all relevant categories would be assigned to the entry, for example categories like "Dick Grayson/Childhood" or "Batman/Origin Story", things like that. Categories that help to organize canon/character details in useful sub-sections. Then the blog archives would be set to be based on the categories, so that then someone could click "Batman/Origin Story" and all entries with comics that refer to that would be listed. That wouldn't be the best possible organization, because inside each category the comics would be listed based on the entry date, not based on any internal or publishing chronology, though it might be a possibility to give each entry the original publishing date of the comic, instead of the date the entry is created. OTOH the disadvantage of backdating is that at least in Movable Type the entry won't show up on the index page even if it is new. On yet another hand that way the index page would only show fairly recent comics, and the others would be only accessible through the archives, and the implemented calendar functions could be utilized for publishing date searches/browsing and such.
Still, even if I decided on creating "summary pages" manually every now and then to compile the data in more specific ways, it might still be useful that this way every comic had an entry in the archive, I could link to directly.
I think one kind of category should be the series title, and since for me the main characters of interest are Dick Grayson/Nightwing and Bruce Wayne/Batman, I'd like the categories "Childhood", "Origin Story", "Romances", "Trivia" and something like "Important Character Development/Turning Point" (to mark really central issues for the character arcs) for both of them, but I'm not sure what other categories ought to be there.
So now I'm wondering whether a site design like that would be usable... Obviously suggestions and advice are welcome.