History of the WindyWeather Site

History of the Windy Weather site and the tools used to build it.

I’ve had my website for maybe 10 years. I’ve gone through several stages in building my site over those years.

DreamWeaver and Netload
I began to build it with Macromedia DreamWeaver 2 once upon a time and at that time FTP in DW was a mess, so I used netload to update the site. Netload is out of print now, but it was a fine shareware program built by an aussie that kept track of the file dates on a site and only uploaded the files that had changed on your local drive.

Enter Frames
Over the years DW MX has gotten better and FTP functions now work.
In an effort to update the site, I rebuilt everything using frames and style sheets to attempt to separate style from content. I found that this worked ok, but didn’t really change anything. Not very much style could be changed – colors and fonts only. And there are no real modern features that are available with this method. No site wide search and no scanning of articles by date or cross referencing based on content. And no easy way to add an article without using FTP. So it’s still a dead, static website.

phpBB Forums
The tyranny of FTP has been a drag and over the last couple of years I’ve studied and used some new tools. Of course, separating content from presentation is all the rage, and this is usually termed content management. My first foray into the world of content management was installing and using phpBB, the free bulletin board software based on php scripting. I developed several themes and learned about adding the extensions, especially for uploading attachments. And along the way I learned to keep content management software up to date so that script kitties couldn’t break into my site and either destroy it or add users and spam posts.
But I found that my friends weren’t really interested in participating in discussions. So after about two years, essentially the only posts on the site are mine and the forums are separate from the main site, which is unnecessary and cumbersome.

Power Tools
About 6 months ago I took another trek into the world of content management tools and studied PostNuke and WordPress. At that time I tried to run these tools on a local apache webserver with a MySQL database.
I was very successful running PostNuke. I added some themes and found that it’s installation and customizaton was even easier than phpBB in many ways. But I also found that PostNuke was not what I wanted to use to build a private site. PostNuke, and it’s cousin phpNuke, are suited to build portals for fan sites, for games, or other areas of interest where file and picture uploading and discussions are the intended activity. The site manages large number of users and allows each user to have their own customized experience with a different theme. It is not easily possible to dumb the portal down to allow only one or a few registered users and to restrict every one else to just a read-only participant.
At that time, I was not able to get WordPress 1.5.x working on my local web server. Apparently there was some quirk in the wordpress code that kept it from working, even tho phpBB and PostNuke worked without a hitch. So at that time I gave up on WordPress. Since I couldn’t run WP, I didn’t go on at that time to learn whether it would work to build a website.
Photo Galleries
I’m sure there are several photo gallery packages with this name. I studied several and found that they all were intended to build portals for photo galleries. Again these tools provide multiple users and are not easily customized to allow only one or two users. Another problem is that uploading pictures is a very manual process with activity required on the site for each picture.
I have settled on a photo gallery strategy that involves a local tool – ReaGallery – which builds a directory with web pages and resized images – and then using FTP to upload a gallery to the site. I intend to continue to use this to build photo galleries and will like to these galleries from the pages in WP.

At this point, I have come back to WP to build a site for my daughter. She is finishing art school and needs to build a site to publish her artwork for prospective employers. I have built the site using WP and will customize the theme for her before turning it over to her to add content.

I have decided that a WP based site will work for me as well, so I’m starting to move the WW site to WP and over the next few weeks, I expect to complete the transition. YOu will be able to follow the process and problems here, since as I do it, I’ll record my experiences in the site in this category.

A work in progress starts…