stay tuned

Those of you who visit the website have probably been thinking lately, what’s up with the site? It’s got a very generic look at the moment. is in the midst of a slight technical meltdown. As a result of that, and just a lot of months of frustration in trying to manage its CMS, will soon be sporting an updated design and a new back end.

Basically, I’ll be shifting the site from a Joomla platform to a WordPress platform. This is a bit of an undertaking and some of the old content may be lost in the process, so I’m taking my time and making sure everything is backed up, accessible, and can be loaded into the brand-new platform without any glitches.

Why the shift? When first went live, true content management systems were expensive, custom-made, and out of reach to most small businesses and individuals. The choice was either a blog, or a static HTML site. The blogging format wasn’t a direction I wanted to go in at the time. But then open source CMS entered the picture: Drupal and Joomla (Mambo, at the time). With just a little technical knowledge and enough time on one’s hands, an effective CMS could be built relatively quickly. I sat down, compared the two, and went with Joomla. The learning curve wasn’t as steep as Drupal’s–the hardest part for me was designing a functional template, not figuring out the CMS. So while Drupal in my opinion was and is vastly more flexible for developers than Joomla, my goal at the time was to get a CMS-driven website up quickly.

Joomla was in a great position at the time to grab small business owners like myself who had almost no web budget, and did a great job of it. Its community was enthusiastic–I attended at least two of the New England region Joomla workshops in the past four years. But I think the competition has caught up, finally.

The original site from way back in the before time.

One of the really annoying things about the Joomla CMS is that to really make it work, and to really make it secure, you have to really love tinkering with the works. The CMS, like any other, constantly needs upgrading. But for people like me, who just want to turn the CMS on and go, upgrades are difficult and annoying. Having to stop the business of creating content in order to learn how to install the latest upgrade, and then do it, and then fix everything that went wrong during the upgrade, is just incredibly annoying. If you don’t upgrade your CMS, you’re opening up the system to any number of security risks, as well as having bugs and glitches creep in.

The last attempt at an upgrade for me was pretty much the last straw. The site melted down and disappeared several of my templates, though fortunately not my data. I got the default template to work by downgrading to the original Joomla 1.5 install. And I’m sure it’s a fixable problem. But– Dammit Jim, I’m a writer, not a coder, and I want to focus on writing and editing.

Right now, WordPress is pretty much ruling the world when it comes to easy-to-set-up blogs, but for more than a couple of years now it’s also been a pretty great platform for developers as well. Upgrades are basically 1-click deals. Content backup is pretty easy. Database backup is 1-click. I’m sure that installing more modules into the platform will present its own set of problems but the basic version is so much easier to deal with than Joomla. has evolved in a different direction than I thought it would, and in many ways it’s a better direction. I think its redesign will better reflect that direction–hopefully. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on when the site returns to a better and more stable version of its old self.

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