This website, my website, is finally rebuilt and I’m happy with how it is built now and for the most part with how it looks. There are always improvements to be made, but I am most happy with how I put this site together – like a software product – which should enable me to make a lot more changes rapidly in the future. Please let me know what you think about the redesign in the comments.
In this post I will talk about what changes specifically have been made to the site, how it is reborn, and what plans I envision for it in the future.
This was a long time coming, my contract with Site5 will end at the end of this year. It took me a while to realize that though Site5 offers great prices (and Dreamhost has become highly competitive in the last two years) Dreamhost has a much better written Panel and features that I want are better implemented. For example:
- Ease at setting up Google for Email – modifying the DNS is a snap using Dreamhost (even when Dreamhost wasn’t the registrar yet).
- SVN – this was literally two clicks on Dreamhost – it involved reading a wiki page on Site5 and even then it wasn’t configured for anything but svn+ssh connectivity (where is the support for http://svn.domainname.com?).
- MySQL management – easy to understand the configuration for databases with web servers.
- Domain management overall – clearly defined what the subdomains are, what the fully hosted domains are, and everything in between.
- Much much better shell support. Obvious that Dreamhost is a Debian system with a much better shell than anything Site5 offers.
- Ruby on Rails support for mod_passenger. Though I haven’t tried it yet I have heard good things – Site5 is still living with FastCGI, sort of (or maybe I just can’t read the Site5 documentation).
I know that Dreamhost has problems as well – as will all cheap-first-reliable-second tier of hosting solutions. I don’t expect anything better when I’m paying for the cheapest hosting around with significant features and support. I am willing to give up on reliability and availability for now (though it hasn’t been a problem yet with Dreamhost on my particular box and it was a problem a few times with Site5 over my tenure with them) as long as the features I use everyday are well documented, easy to follow, and well written. It is a joy to use the Panel on Dreamhost.
WordPress upgraded to 2.7.1, Gallery upgraded to 2.3
These were minor updates but I installed both by hand on Dreamhost – far easier to maintain in the long run vs the one-click installers I had used at Site5 (Fantastico seems great but blows once you start modifying the apps). Migrated my posts and my photos from Site5 to Dreamhost – was really easy to get all of that working together – far easier than I expected.
Updated Look and Feel using Modified K2 WordPress Theme
The previous version used WordPress with a custom DXX theme that I had hacked together and modified in more ways than I could remember. The biggest thing missing from it was support for WordPress widgets. This made adding new plugins mean PHP code modification. I was anxious to be done with that. Sunil suggested K2 and off I went.
Read more about K2 here to find out more about it – but from my research – it is exactly what I wanted – a highly modular and beautiful WordPress theme that took care of the ‘hard’ stuff for me using AJAX with jQuery and left the ‘easy’ stuff easy for me to modify.
Once K2 was plugged in I took a couple quick swabs at configuring a more integrated Gallery 2.3 (using WPG2 still) and got WordPress sidebars working correctly with the WPG2 plugin for WordPress and Gallery.
What is it Made Of?
Overall the site is still WordPress and Gallery driven, however WebSVN has been added for repository viewing. There are many new WordPress plugins being used now. A sampling include:
Where can I find out More?
I’ve set up a project page for this site in which the details of how it is built, modified, and coded are described. In redoing the site I spent a lot of time turning it into a ‘semi-serious’ software project – with a development environment and deployment procedure. Using this improved process I should be able to add features to the site much more rapidly.
Follow along or drill in deeper at the project page.