I know I’m not a world class chef – nor a world class nerd, for that matter – but I have a long history of “rolling my own” when it comes to almost anything. I was raised to be very self-reliant and self-resourceful. When I see something, I analyze it and wonder, “could I make that myself?”
More often than not I answer myself with a confident, “Yes, I could,” but never get around spending the time, money, or effort on making it. It’s a flaw, what I can saw?
When I came into my own as a computer programmer, I was able to write my own software instead of using someone else’s or (gasp) buy one. My programming skills are limited but have been honed well – my realm is the web. If it’s on the web I can make it, at least I think I can.
I’ve made web sites, publishing systems, billing software, reservation systems, timesheets, hell, even an entire corporate intranet with dozens of applications and services. But now all of a sudden I find myself ready to just take the easy way.
Fortunately this easy route is free and has to do with this very web site.
From the first incarnation of Moogman.com to the Morning Toast you read today, each has been driven by a publishing system I made from scratch. Every version had been better that the previous version, with additional features and enhancements. My first version was meant for me and me alone. The second version was aimed at forming a community. The most recent went back to the single model.
Now I’m at the point where I want to upgrade again, but I don’t want to take the time to make my own, or roll my own, as it were. Maybe it’s lack of motivation, or maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve been making publishing systems for years now and I’m never happy with the ones I make for very long. Maybe finding one already made will let me target my disapproval at someone else.
The biggest factor is simply time and pay off. Any side business I do will be for web site design (making it pretty) or custom software that is very industry/market specific – not generic publishing systems. The only benefactor from the system is this web site, and what does that bring me? Only entertainment and satisfaction from writing?which aren’t bad, but aren’t worth the hours and months of headaches trying to get my publishing system just right.
All that being said, I’ve pretty sure that the next publishing force to drive the Toast will be WordPress, an open-source publishing system aimed at bloggers. (Although I do have a hard time calling my web site a blog. I don’t believe it fits the true definition of a blog, but it does share some similarities. It depends on where the line between blog and web site are drawn. But I can elaborate on that later).
I initially went to Moveable Type to try that system out, but it required some technical setup I wasn’t prepared (or excited) about doing. So I went around to a few of the blogs I regularly read to see what they used. Eric Meyer’s site pimped WordPress, so I checked it out.
Wonderfully enough, WordPress is written in PHP, my programming language of choice. I gave it a whirl and found installation incredibly easy and within 30-minutes I was making test posts all over the place. Then I spent a few more hours learning the design and templates. Before the night was out I had a reasonable copy of the Toast in WordPress templates – and I have the testing on-line right now.
In fact, I ask anyone that reads this far to check out the test domain for the new system and give it a whirl. Anyone can sign-up for this testing period and help me put WordPress through its paces.
Now WordPress isn’t some fringe publishing system, it has quite a following and a lot of support all over the place. But as I didn’t make it, am I still testing the waters before I go at a full blast conversion.
WordPress will be used for composing articles, links, and all those wonderful text-based content items. The media gallery is still on the to-do list. I might end up rolling my own gallery unless I can find a good third-party one that works as well as WordPress does for text.
So a working demo of WordPress is available for you to try. Please give it a shot and post an article or comment on the demo site with your thoughts and review.