DIY - How I created my blog

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I thought it would be interesting to some visitors to read a bit about this website from a do-it-yourself perspective. I am a 20 year web professional. You could call me a Veteran I suppose. I've worked as the head web person at my day job for many years now. I do have many websites that I've made from scratch running around out in the web ether as well. My own websites were originally written in a very old unsupported language and finally last summer when my host upgraded to new servers, they died, literally. The new server technology was not written to allow this old code to run properly. I was mad at first, but honestly, my sites were long overdue for an update and after so many years my interests and hobbies had changed. This particular domain has been in my possession since 2001. I paid for hosting using a multi-year option that gave me the lowest monthly pricing. Years later Go Daddy emerged as a prominent basic host provide and I bought a second multi-year hosting account with them. Last January I transferred this domain from that old host to GoDaddy, but kept the DNS mapping the same, so that the domain still pointed to the other hosts content. 

Finally, I decided it was time to create a shiny new web blog last November. I had any number of choices for the code base. I knew I would be hosting the code with Go Daddy, not hosting at a blog service host like a Blogspot etc. I based my final decision on what would help me out professionally. Because my day job was getting very close to embarking on building a new platform using an Open Source solution called Drupal. At my day job, we have multiple platforms, one is an older Drupal 6 platform and I am quite familiar with Drupal having supported it for 4 years now. I've also attended two Drupalcons which of course are always a blast! Nerdy people get very excited about their code, that is for sure!

So now lets get to some specifics. I needed to create a plan, and set some realistic expectations for myself. I only have so much free time being that I do work a day job. In addition, I do not write PHP and am not very interested in extensive CSS. Given these limitations, I chose a free "responsive" design and have limited the page layout to what it provides by default, fonts, sizes everything. I will be doing NO theming to my site. Drupal itself is a modular system based on community contributors. So when I mapped out the non-design elements of my new blog, I had to research which contributor modules I would plug in and configure for whatever functionality I wanted to put into place. So far i've added about 15 modules ranging from something as simple as Capcha (I actually use two of them) to more technical things like a special database module that enables me to set "view distinct" on a field to prevent repeating data more than once. 

Here's a short list of what I have configured so far. I chose to list modules that visitors can "see", I also have many modules not listed to handle backend or behind the scenes activities:

What was my biggest challenge with this site? By far the biggest challenge was when I decided to show examples of work where I'd used a supply on a project. This was soooo hard for me. It ends up that my experience with using databases directly and knowing how to make calls for any data I want, is not how Drupal works natively. I spent at least a week (each evening an hour or two) trying to get a reverse relationship view that would display blog entries that show how I've used a particular supply. Finally I ended up doing double entry which was in essence, me giving up. I tried three different Entity Reference modules, one throws an ajax error, and the other two don't provide the answer I was seeking. I did achieve my end goal, that is when you click on a particular supply, a die for instance, you are presented with a bulleted list of projects where Ive used it.

Would this be a good platform for someone to start out with? No. Not unless you are web tech savvy and like a challenge. A beginner should start with using a hosted blogging service like Blogspot, Bloglovin etc. If you insist on learning to do some technical work yourself, perhaps host a wordpress site. I hope you've enjoyed this article, Thanks for visiting!



Thanks for stopping by, please feel free to leave comments or questions, I am here to help!


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