Hey! This is the old a broken mold. Newer stuff is at abrokenmold.net.
That being said, feel free to rummage through the archives over here. Also feel free to leave comments; we're still keeping an eye on this.

I got a business doing websites
When my friends need some code, who do they call?
I do HTML for ‘em all
Even made a homepage for my dog

-Weird Al Yankovic, "White and Nerdy"

Wednesday was a kind of milestone, or climax, or finish, for a project of mine. And that project was Matt Barley's website.

It started as a idea in Matt's head at some time or another, and he eventually conveyed to me at the New Year's 2008-2009 party at the RimRock Inn that he had been procrastinating on the project for some time and didn't get it done in 2008 and so wanted to get it done this year. I said I could help him, and so, on January 9, the domain name was registered, and a web page converted from a Word document made on Matt's MacBook was thrown up, slightly hand edited.

The first thing I did after that was to recode the page cleanly, with the help of KompoZer. Matt wanted a menu on the side, so it went table based. Yep. I just said that. It wasn't the best of designs, and later on I changed that to a menu positioned left with CSS. Praise God for CSS. Eventually it went back to plain HTML structure with a text menu below the header. Also, somewhere along the line, Matthew of abm fame gave a couple design suggestions and some code for one of them.

And then there was the photo galleries. First I did them with Web Album Generator and tried to embed them in a page, and then tried a page per album, using in iframe. That was a pain, and eventually I gave up and put them on separate pages and edited the CSS in each album folder to make those pages appear look like the rest of the site. And then Matt didn't like so many pictures on a certain album, or something like that. So, we ended up switching to Picasa Web Albums and linking to Matt's public page from his website. That worked out pretty well, since Matt can now manage the pictures all himself, which is great for both of us.

Eventually, I wanted to set up some sort of solution so Matt could edit the site on his own. I thought of a content management system first, and looked up one I recalled seeing linked from BugMeNot called CushyCMS. So I went and checked it out. It turned out to be, as one reviewer put it, more like a remote content editor. You put the proper class on div elements you wanted editable by Cushy and give it an FTP account to work with, and that's how it works. As another reviewer said, most of the time he'd probably forget to download the version from the site if he wanted to edit with something else (e.g., by hand with a text editor). So, that idea ended up being quashed before I even tested it.

I checked out three systems after that, really: Joomla, WordPress, and CMS Made Simple. XAMPP running on Windows on my laptop was my testbed of choice. Joomla was easy enough to set up, but seemed kind of complicated. WordPress looked like it might work well for blogging, but that's not what I was gunning for (although abm may be gunning for it in the future). CMS Made Simple ended up being it. The template/stylesheet system was easy enough to understand, and the use of the Smarty template system seemed nice. Not that I had heard of it before, but inserting Smarty tags seems to me a good way to insert special content into pages.

The first day of development gladdened the heart, because it seemed like it would work out great, and there was a pretty sweet little Picasa Web Albums module I found. There were some frustrations after that. A lot of aggravation dealing with CSS. In fact, that's been a thing all through the development of the website. Eventually things got ironed out and the site was finally ready for launch. The launch however, was terrible. I tried several times to upload and correctly configure the site for being on the server, and made a clean version of the site a couple times while at it. This process was highly frustrating, the least of reasons not being that I still have dial-up! Anyway, I finally got it nailed down and done correctly.

After after putting it in a test directory and then getting the go ahead from Matt, it went root, and now sits there beautifully. It's not much, but I have to admit I'm rather proud of it and am thinking that I may even redo our church website with CMSms if given stewardship of it. So, go check it out.