Web Devout tidings

Archive for January, 2008

The pyramids weren’t built in a day

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

I have a confession to make: I haven’t actually been working on the new Web Devout that much lately. In my previous post, I mentioned somewhat in passing that I was developing a to-be open source system to power the new Web Devout. That’s what I’ve been busy working on, and for some good reasons. I’m not going to give too many details about the project just yet, but I thought I’d share some of my motivations for it and what I hope to accomplish.

At my job, I have to maintain a lot of different types of web apps. We have three installations of WordPress, about a dozen of Moodle, one of MediaWiki, one of Drupal, Two of Joomla, and other various systems. When a new update comes out for Moodle, I have to manually run the updates for each of the different sites, each of which usually involves a number of steps. It can end up taking several hours out of my day, and the other systems aren’t any better.

Website platforms are too hard to update.

We recently had a meeting to discuss the future of our web development efforts, particularly looking for some way to standardize all of our future endeavors on a single website engine. We looked at WordPress, we looked at Joomla, we looked at Drupal, we looked at a number of other systems, and we concluded that nothing out there could adequately do a good enough job on everything. Each app was good for certain types of sites or users, poor for others, and they would each stretch only so much.

Website platforms aren’t flexible enough.

I built the California Virtual Campus website using WordPress, which really impressed me with its extensibility to handle a site like that. However, as time has gone on and people have requested some changes here, some changes there, it became apparent that although you can build a lot of things on top of its base, it’s hard to remove things that are part of that base. WordPress provides a lot of helpful functions and a solid page management system, but it’s sometimes a little too helpful or a little too solid. In other words, it’s easy to scale a project up from WordPress, but it’s hard to scale a project down from WordPress.

Website platforms have layers that are difficult to remove.

What I want is a website platform that really makes me feel like I’m king. The king shouldn’t have to do the grunt work of manually downloading and installing an update every time a developer forgets that mysql_query($_GET['q']) probably isn’t the wisest thing to do. If the king wants his entertainers to start tending animals instead, they had better do it. And the king’s power shouldn’t be limited to just the living halls of his temples, but also to the underground dungeons, boiler rooms, and warp cores (depending on the era we’re talking about).

The system I’m developing is intended to make you king over your website. With diligence, elegance, common sense, and a striped hat, I hope this project ends up making web development just a little less stressful and a little more empowering.

There is not yet a guestimate on the release date, but it will definitely be free as in beer, free as in freedom, and free as in fat if you so desire.