Today we are happy to announce the re-launching of RateVegas.com, our parent site that features user generated reviews and ratings of Las Vegas casinos.
The site is, as always, at: http://www.ratevegas.com though until things are all settled, the browser will be doing a bit of forwarding and you might see other URLs in the menu bar.
It is possible that some folks might not see it right away. Due to the geographically diverse nature of the Internet, some updates to the Internet naming system, DNS, can take longer for some than others.
Thanks to the users that provided feedback during our beta phase - we made a lot of improvements based on your useful comments.
In short, the new site features an all new-design with a focus on simplicity. We've made it easier to send in ratings and reviews as well as reader questions for our 'Ask the Experts' area. Submitting reviews, comments and questions no longer requires an account! We still approve all comments before the go live to make sure they are legitimate but we hope that removing the registration requirement will make it easier to add your thoughts.
Don't worry, all of the great ratings, reviews and reader questions have been moved over to the new site.
Keep reading after the jump for more info on the new site as well as some technical info for those interested.
The new site, almost a year in the making, features entirely new code. It has been totally re-written from the ground up. Some folks may have noticed the recent instability with the old site - you would come and visit and half the time the site would be down. Well, that should now be a thing of the past. The new code is much more robust.
As I mentioned above, the site no longer requires user registration to submit items like reviews, ratings and questions. We will still ask for your name when you make your submission, just so we know who you are.
The new hotel page features an improved layout with larger type that should be easier on the eyes. We now indicate hotels that are nearby as well as allow easy search for stories on the blog or entries on VegasLists.com. We allow viewing of all hotels from a single owner which can be interesting in today's environment of massive consolidation.
The hotel pages allow for a special 'Editor Review' for the hotels. None of these have been published yet but I have been working on them and they will start to appear soon. These are my take on a certain hotel that can be used to contrast against user comments and ratings.
The reviews for each hotel are now also easier to read and they support some basic formatting, similar to basic email formatting. To make something bold, enclose it in asterisks: *bold* or for italics, use underscores: _italic_. We may add more formatting in the future. For those in the know, we are using the Textile formatting language.
The new site features RSS feeds, which we also had on the old site. For those new to feeds, they allow you to add some of our content, such as recent photos or reviews, into other sites, like MyYahoo or MSN, as well as through special 'feed reader' programs. Apple supports feeds in Safari, Microsoft will support it in the upcoming Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox also supports them. You will see an RSS link in our navigation bar that goes to a page with all the various info - we provide feeds for photos, reviews and more. We'll probably add more feed options or expand the current feeds in the future.
Our maps are now integrated with Google Maps, which include nice satellite photos.
The photo site was previously a separate application and that has been integrated into the main site better and more fully. We will continue to add photos on a regular basis.
Another benefit of the new site infrastructure is that the new site is easier for us to modify and make changes to. I have some cool ideas for stuff down the road - not quite ready to talk about it but I see a lot of opportunity to make it easier on folks that are planning Las Vegas vacations.
Beyond the site code changes, all of the data in our database has also been verified and updated. This was a major undertaking but with all the changes in Las Vegas, some of the older details had gone stale. I plan to keep site updates happening on a regular basis to keep everything fresh.
For those interested in technical details, the site is built using Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL 8, running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4. We use Apache 2, Mongrel and various other tools. Even though the new site has more features, the use of Ruby on Rails allowed us to reduce the amount of code that was required.
We're excited about the new site and all that lies ahead. I hope you enjoy it too! There are likely some bugs that we haven't found. Feel free to let us know, either via a comment here or an email to editor AT ratevegas DOT com.