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Big anniversaries this weekend…

June 29, 2013, 4:36 PM

So this weekend marks a couple of big anniversaries.  First, tonight marks the anniversary of the big derecho that came through the DC area.  That was a rather interesting time.  I remember that Montgomery County looked like something had hit it, with power out and tree branches down all over the place.  Lots of traffic lights were out as well, which snarled all of the traffic as people had to actually be courteous on the highway.

But as far as I was concerned, that derecho couldn’t have come at a worse time.  See, the next night was the night that I had announced a major upgrade to Schumin Web.  That was the night that the final cutover to WordPress would occur.  That work was the completion of a project that I had codenamed “Falcon” (after a JMU student web server) that converted the entirety of the site to run on the WordPress platform.  Prior to that, the site was a mishmash of different systems put together to make one website.  Some of the site was static HTML.  Some of it ran on a MySQL database.  Some of it ran on a different MySQL database.  Some of it ran on yet another different MySQL database.  And there were some dependencies between the main site and my other sites (in “Major Areas“), where material was shared between them, including one shared database between College Life and the main site (historical note: College Life was part of the main site until October 2004 – thus the shared database).  Thus with the final conversion, that changed some things.  First, it rolled out a single, unified system for the main site, as I could now edit the entire site from a single place.  And second, it broke all of those dependencies with the old site.  On that latter point, I had to do quite a bit of prep work, since the goal was to cleanly “divorce” the main site from the others, while not breaking anything on either side.

Not breaking things was key there.  And I was more worried about the side that wasn’t the main site.  I wasn’t worried about Schumin Web proper.  Everything was being reworked and moved around over there, and so things were not going to be broken because everything was being placed new again, and checked over multiple times.  But the other sites were being left as they were, and needed to be fixed.  Whether they would be converted to WordPress or another CMS would be a different discussion based on each site’s needs.  But I had to make sure that the shared databases were separated.  I had to make sure that any images were brought in-house for the specific site (i.e. no more cross-hosting).  I basically had to make sure that each site was completely independent of the other, which I should have done from the get-go, but for whatever reason, didn’t do back then.  But I managed to get it all working.

The transition was a real pain, though, because of the derecho.  My original plan was to do the launch work from my desk at the house.  However, there was no electricity at my house.  So I had to pack the whole show up and take it on the road.  I ended up doing the upload from the office, since the power was on there, and there was an Internet connection as well.  I orchestrated the whole thing from my netbook, removing the old site and uploading the new site, removing the old databases, etc.  It worked, because the entire new site was in the cloud.  I just had to download it off of the development location, make the necessary modifications to change the URL, clear out the old production site, put in a temporary “down for maintenance” page, and then swing the new site into place.  I think the whole job took around two hours to complete.  Then I went back home to no electricity.

And now, with the new version being in production for a year, it feels like the most natural thing in the world to me.  I can edit any page from any place.  It used to be that I could only update certain parts of the site from home or else have to make sure to sync everything back to the masters for the page so that I didn’t inadvertently undo an update.  Not anymore.  I would never go back to the old way of doing things.  Not in a million years.  After all, now I can update the site on my phone.  If you see me tapping away on my phone on the Red Line one morning, I might very well be writing a Journal entry.

I’m also surprised that, with a year’s now having passed since I originally did the conversion, that two out of three of the other sites are still in their original form.  College Life was converted to WordPress in November 2012.  The Today’s Special site is in the process of a major overhaul, converting it to a wiki-style knowledge base about the show, but don’t expect to see any results from that for a long time.  Transit Center had a massive update in the last few months, but there are still no definite plans about what to do with it.  It is kind of a clunky site to update, but I’m not sure how I want to handle it just yet.  I’ll figure that out in time, I’m sure.

So there you have it.  One year into Schumin Web under a CMS, and things are great.  May things continue to go as well in the months and years ahead…

Categories: Schumin Web meta, Weather