Oh wise monks. The five months since initially posting this I've learn a lot, but not achieved that much. Past the very few instances where multiple copies of code could be centralised, it turns out there's too many design flaws in this behemoth of an application. Upon further inspection there is an unwieldy spider web of possible calls and entry points between the scripts, the use of the wrong data structure and mixing of code, data, and presentation. For any little challenging situation, yet another additional url variable was invented. It's a right, royal mess. Any meaningful further fixes all seem to lead to basically a complete rewrite. To top it off, the self taught programming author of the app is still keeping his fingers in the pie. Often negating any useful fix by unfounded fear arguments against specific fix.
So i've resigned myself to putting in less effort into this, as i can see it doesn't deserve all my attention. When it does fall over, I won't take it too seriously...even though the app is used by select few, instead of the masses.
i'm now spending at least some time in desktop publishing and info-graphics. There's potential for programmers to follow some of Edward Tufte's ideas when generating data graphics.
the hardest line to type correctly is: stty erase ^H