State of the Site

For the past few months, I've been doing less in terms of writing pieces for and more stuff on the administrative back end of the site. That is, the boring codey stuff that makes this site operate. Not to get too technical but I'm in the midst of a platform change — well, I can't really say "midst" since I don't have a concrete end date for when this is supposed to happen, so I guess it would be more true to say that I'm about waste deep in a platform change that I realized I should have made about a year ago. More on that later. First I want to give you an update on what's happening on the more interesting front-end of this site.


Upcoming Features

I've been working on a new feature which has a working title of of "Index of Seconds" that will be something of a reference section, and will also serve as a sort of "future articles" area for the site. They will be short short short entries saying who or what was the second to do something, what was first, what was third, maybe a picture, and a couple short sentences. That way, my faithful readers can get their info fix, while I (hopefully we) get bigger articles rolled out. It will also give those of you out there with an obsessive need to know "who the second guy was who did that" a chance to see what I'm working on.

I've also been putting the finishing touches on several rather large articles. The two pieces that are in the most advanced states include one entitled "2SAS — The Second Regiment of the British Special Air Service", and "Interstate 80 — the Second-Longest U.S. Intestate Highway". Hopefully we'll get those rolled out in the next month along with a few minor blog entries that have been simmering as drafts.

That's what I've been working on from a content perspective. For those of you who don't give a crap about the technical stuff, you may stop here. For the rest of you...


Platform Change

I've been Drupal developer for a little under 10 years now, and when I set out to build, I thought it would be a good chance to build in a Drupal 8 environment to sort of kill two birds with one code. I needed a content management system for, and I wanted to get into developing in Drupal 8 since I wasn't yet familiar with it and needed to update my Drupal skills. So I figured I'd learn Drupal 8's nuances as I went. In the end it turned out to be a mistake.

I don't mean to speak ill of Drupal because it has a lovely developer community and it's been a great platform to develop in. I can honestly say that Drupal 7, despite all the gripes that most developers gripe about, was a fun environment to play in despite all its issues and idiosyncrasies. Drupal 8 however is not fun and it has a whole new set of idiosyncrasies to deal with, many of which require some significant overhead to overcome. If I were building a gigantic enterprise site with thousands of logged-in users and had a team of developers working with me, then yes, Drupal 8 would be a great platform — although I'd probably use Django before Drupal 8 to build a complex application. But gigantic enterprise sites are not what I do. And for me, my clients, and more specifically for, Drupal 8 is a bloated hulk of code with far too much back-end configuration for a site like this. If I had to do it over again, given the demands on my time, I would have done it using either Wordpress or Backdrop CMS (which is a fork of Drupal 7 for those who are unfamiliar with it). Of course if I lived in a fantasy world where I had a month to do nothing but work on, I probably would have built it using Django and had dorkishly merry time doing it.

In the end, after looking over my options and messing around with CMSs, sometime in the next I-don't-know-how-many months, I will move this site to Wordpress. If anyone out there has any good suggestions for making such a move, especially if you've ever done this, I'd love to read any advice you have for me. As it seems, I foresee some serious data exporting and importing in my future.

That's where things stand. Thank you for reading this and other pieces on the site. And thank you to those of you who have written in to ask questions, suggest sources, or to challenge me on certain points.


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