We finally did it! An update to our site has been long overdue and we could only succeed thanks to a few great tools we found and our site is now using.
Originially, back in 1996 when we started to work on our website, we hardcoded our HTML with a text editor and that was it then. With a bit of planning and some hard work we were actually able to whip a site – Waterways – together we were happy with.
Things have changed since then…
Since then things have changed a lot for us as well as for the internet. We
both ended up with jobs in the IT sector related to internet technologies and
others and web sites became a lot more complex. For our relaunch of the site we
wanted to introduce more content and more features for our visitors. But we
still only have a limited amount of time to work on the site and also a limited
amount of money to spend.
In detail we wanted features like simple maintenance,
powerful search across the content, registration of users, newsletter and
notification system, private content, tweakability for look and feel as well as
functionality and also an open framework that allows us to add further features
whenever we wanted to. One thing was for sure – from a technical perspective we
had to move to a database driven site powered by a scripting language.
Most of the features on this new website are powered by a Free Software package
called PostNuke. PostNuke is a
very powerful content management system. It allowed us to save a lot of time by
not having to reinvent the wheel of content management systems and instead being
able to focus more on look and feel, content and tweaks here and there.
PostNuke is written in the PHP scripting
language. PHP is easy to learn and both of us are able to fix things up here
and there and work on the system where required.
All the content of PostNuke is stored in a MySQL database. PostNuke supports other databases as well but MySQL is
easily available at a lot of web hosting companies. This also applies for PHP
All these systems are Free Software licenced under a <a
licencecreated by the Free Software
Foundation. Practically this means that the software is available for free
and we are able to change it at will. The only restriction is that if we
distribute the software we also have to licence the changes under the GPL. Since
we do not want to sell anything this fits us perfectly. We can have a look under
the hood, tweak as much as we like and have the whole sytem running at home on
our Linux machine for free. More about Free Software in future stories though.
Back to our web site.
For the image gallery we use another Free Software project. <a
href=”http://gallery.menalto.com/” target=”_blank”>Gallery is another PHP
based system that allows for an easy integration into PostNuke and is a very
powerful system by itself.
These are mainly the tools we use for the site itself. To work on various
aspects of the site we use a variety of tools from the Free Software world.
As a matter of fact I am currently typing here on my <a
href=”http://www.suse.com” target=”_blank”>SuSe Linux machine using a HTML
editor called Quanta
and checking everything is alright on the site with my preferred web browser –
Mozilla. And the photos for
the gallery have been edited by GIMP before they got online.
Anyway, enough said. We had good reasons to choose these tools. But that is a
story I will tell you another time.