1 May 2006
A kick in the pants
I hate deadlines. I said I would reboot today, and I did. Like Keith I’ve been getting kind of sick of the old digs. I’m not done with the redesign I had planned, but I probably never will be. If I’m never going to be satisfied, this deadline is as good as the next one. So here it is. It’s not finished, but it’s out the door. There are rough edges, unfinished and downright broken pieces, and lots of cleaning up to do. Time to get started.
On the surface
It’s not a drastic change really, more of an iteration than a redesign. I’m sick of looking at the last design, but there are lots of things I like about it. The overall concept of the original design (which I’ll get into in a later post) is still where I want to go, I just don’t think I’m quite there yet.
Which makes sense. I didn’t start this site as a publishing platform, I just wanted a place to experiment with a design. So I’m still trying and failing and trying again. It’s all the same design really, just different, partly-failed attempts.
Behind the scenes
The big changes with this relaunch are under the hood. I’m not the only one who’s getting tired of Movable Type lately. It was a great tool in the beginning when I just wanted to publish some blog posts and the occasional photo. But the more I wanted to do with my site, the more I felt like I was stretching the original tool too thin.
Last year, I left this site alone for a while for a lot of reasons. But when I wanted to start posting again the reason I was most reluctant was that I didn’t want to come back to Movable Type. By the end, I’d built up so many hacks and plugins and templates just to do what I wanted it to, I didn’t even want to touch it for fear I’d have to fix something.
So this time, it’s Django all the way down. I’ve been using Django at work since before it had a name, and I’ve always wished I could take it home with me. I’m not a programmer in the slightest, so I never really thought it would be possible for me to move away from the prebuilt systems like Movable Type and WordPress. But thanks in no small part to Django’s generic views, other people’s code, and lots of help, I’m free. And in the end, all the code I had to write to build this site from scratch with Django was less complicated than all the Movable Type templates it took to power the old one.
I owe a special debt of gratitude to Jeff for setting the example. If you want to see what Django can really do in the hands of a self-professed non-programmer, you need look no further than Jeff’s new site. When he came to work for World Online last year, I taught him everything I know (literally) about Django. He took it and ran with it, and quickly stole my title as the Leading Expert on Django Who Isn’t a Programmer. Now I’m stealing from him.
I couldn’t have done it without Jeff, or Jacob who wrote the app that hauls in content from Flickr and del.icio.us, or Matt who wrote the script to import all my old posts from Movable Type, or Adrian, or James or pretty much anyone who’s ever contributed to Django since the beginning.
Where did everything go?
Most of the content here is the same as before—I’ve just moved some things around.
I’ve grouped the recommendations together and moved the “Meet” section (interviews with friends) back into the blog where it really belongs. I might do more of those later, but there’s no reason for it to be more than an occasional feature of the blog. I’ve got some ideas for doing more with the recommendations too, but I’m trying to get something out there instead of doing it all at once. Very Real of me.
I’ve really slowed down on taking photos since I started including them on this site. From the beginning, I was always toeing the line between trying to be “artsy” and just shooting snapshots for the memory bin. This time I’ve cut back on the photos that are published on this site to just my favorites. You can still find all the rest on flickr along with the snapshots, inside jokes and screenshots.