This message is just a heads up for a big change that will happen early next year.
Next month sometime, we will be revamping the entire website and changing the forum. If all goes smoothly (I'm holding my breath and crossing all my fingers and toes), your account on the forum and, if you're a paid club member, your membership information, will not be affected.
What will be different is the look and feel and, to a certain extent, the capabilities of the forum. Most of the features you're familiar with here will still be available, though perhaps in different ways. The formatting of the posts will be very different, but hopefully better. Large photos will no longer force you to scroll back and forth to read the accompanying text. And there will be some new capabilities! For example, private messages can be sent to multiple people. There will be more (and all different) smilies. The editor has a few more features built in for formatting and linking. All of the posts and private messages in the current forum should move over pretty seamlessly.
One big change is that, as a result of having moved to a new hosting service with a significant amount of space, we will be providing room for club members to upload photos into personal photo galleries. You'll be able to link these galleries or individual photos into your postings, rather than have to find space on one of the photo services.
What's in it for the club is that the forum will be tightly integrated into the rest of the website. Internally this allows us to use your club membership to provide gallery space and also make it easier and more straightforward to maintain the club membership data, and to generate the reports and information necessary to run the club and print and mail the Vintage BMW Bulletin. There are dozens of improvements internally for the volunteers who run the club.
I personally hope that the new input screens will help the indefatigable Kurt Schrader, who not only watches over the forum like a mother hen, but also is personally responsible for keeping our rallies and events and links and resources pages so complete and up to date!
The new website will also inaugurate our own online store. We will be able to automate the sales of club merchandise, and the record keeping should very much improve what has been a really weak point in how we deal with the membership. A part of moving to new website hosting allowed us to get an "SSL certificate", which will let us run a store and keep your information secure.
We will also be able to provide the information we're already displaying on the website in a more useful fashion. You'll be able to search our web links, vintage resources, and the BMW Bibliography information in new ways, ways that you choose. The rallies and events page will have a dynamic Google map to show where these rallies are in the world.
Besides all of these features, the new website will have an updated look to it that also uses screen space more efficiently. The colors and the club's signature "Broadband" font will not only remain, but be enhanced. Although the site should continue to look good on a small monitor, we are assuming that most people will have at least a 1024x768 screen. The new fluid layout will allow the website to make better use of bigger screens as well. And although I hope that everyone will soon get off of Internet Explorer 6 to something -- anything! -- more modern, it should be possible to at least read all of the content on the new site with it.
I have been working intently on this change for the last 3 months and really hope you will like it.