Today is a big day for the site. For today is the day that I finally stop using Movable Type to publish the News Blog, and debut the custom CMS that I’ve been working on. I’ve been doing a ton of programming behind the scenes, all because I’m too picky to install something easy like Drupal or WordPress. No, I had to have all these special ideas about what I wanted the publishing system to do, so I really had no choice but to write my own. I’ve been writing, and debugging, and rewriting, for what seems like months, and now the time has come to unleash it on my five regular readers and see if it all holds together.
There are a couple of things still missing, like a good archive page, and RSS feeds. But those can come later. And I haven’t imported the old comments from MT yet, although all the entries I’ve posted over the last ten months are in the new system.
So what’s new? Now, instead of just one blog for the site, there are three. The Around Carson Blog is the general, catch-all blog that most of the articles will go into. It deals with news, events, opinions, and things happening around town. The Construction Blog is something I want to start doing more of (and that’s why I separated it), keeping track of all the construction projects going on and posting updates on their progress. And finally there is the Site Updates blog, which keeps track of when I post new updates to the site itself, like a Then And Now article or an addition to the Dining Guide. And I built the system so I can add more specialty blogs like this down the road, if the need comes up.
There’s also a blog on the homepage that basically combines the Around Carson and Construction blogs into one, so you don’t have to click through to read the latest articles. And the Site Updates blog has its own little home in the right-hand sidebar. Since everything is stored in a database, I can just find dozens of ways to sprinkle the data around like this.
I also have member blogs built in to the system, where you can keep track of everything that one particular author has written. This will come into play more down the road, when this becomes a multi-author site (as I’m hoping it will). For the now the only member blog is my own, and it’s identical to the main blog.
This all also ties into the new login system I have, where you can post anonymously if you want, but you can also create an account and have your name attached to everything, have your own blog of everything you’ve written, and have a profile page that ties everything together.
It also links to the photo database, so attaching a photo to the article is point-and-click easy.
And there’s more to come of course. I want to have some kind of keyword/tagging system, so you can read all the posts about Minden, or everything about the V&T. And as I use it, and if I get any feedback from others, I’m sure parts of it will be streamlined or changed. But at least I’ve got it finished to the point where I can use it day in and day out, and that is the huge milestone I was shooting for.
The other big news about this system is that finally (Finally!) other people can post to the site. There is a link on the left, “New Article”, and if you click on that you get to the new article page where you can publish something to the homepage just by filling out a form. This is what I’ve wanted the site to be since the very first day I thought of it, but I didn’t have the tools to make it happen. Members can post, of course, but you can also post anonymously. Which is exciting and scary at the same time, and I’m going to have to keep an eye on things to make sure it doesn’t start getting out of hand. I’m sure it won’t at first, but as the site gets more readers I’m sure there will be plenty of unexpected challenges.