So this post is the first on this website using WordPress blogging software, not that special announcement really but comes with a slight tear in my eye as it replaces my custom written blog application.
In the beginning… of my web skills, I learnt a bit of HTML and CSS, I was amazed to find I could make things bold, move images around, draw boxes but this led me on to be amazed that there was a whole other world of languages and web applications – and so the first of many of my blog itterations was born.
This sounds stupid now but back then I remember thinking, how can I type something into a text box, click submit, and then that text appear on a blog page, how can I update static files without FTPing from my desktop? It took me a bit to grasp the concept of some code to recieve my input text. And so after research, I learnt PHP and wrote my first blog application.
I didnt know much about databases so I wrote some code that took my text input and wrote it to flat files in a directory. My blog page then looked at the files, counted them, checked the dates, read the last 5 and displayed the articles on the page. Even had comments functionality. Crude but it worked and I was proud of it.
After a year or so of that, I decided to upgrade my hosting solution and use something else relatively new to me, a database. By now I had other little applications going and ideas for more, so I needed the database for many plans and projects as well as blog mark II. After numerous evenings, coding away, I produced an application that saved my articles to the database and again read the data back to display content, it had a search function, sent emails, had a tag cloud, categories, RSS feed – everything WP has. I’m not sure that many would have been able to tell the difference between my custom blog and anything else… on the surface that is.
The problem I had recently was the maintenance, although it worked solidly, whenever I needed to change anything it was time consuming – the code was just a lot of functions really with little structure. I hadnt considered data models, object orientated design or any kind of planning or structure which meant if I changed one variable for one reason, I might have broken another function. And so with regret I decided to drop my blog in favour of WordPress where someone else had done the hard work leaving me to work hard on my other projects.
I started running WordPress with just a basic theme with a small bit of design, the important thing was getting it up and running quickly, the styling could come later (lets hope it has!). Understandably this wasnt the hardest thing, the trickiest part of the switch was migrating my data into the WordPress database. But this was where WP is so good, there was a plugin for this – CSV Importer – I just had to get the data out of the old DB and into the right format in a CSV file and import. I could get most data, even some of my custom fields and the rest I could manually enter afterwards.
And so here we are, the long story behind this post and the work to get here. I’ve learnt a lot and I have the time to learn more now.