graphicpush

Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Brave New World

After a year or so of not learning any significant new technology, April has brought two client projects that require a trial by fire immersion into ASP.NET 2.0 and Wordpress.

Sometimes life happens just when you ask it to. The other day I was thinking about my skills as a designer, as a web developer, and the progress I’ve made over the past few years. Like many web designers, I started with tables and font tags and slowly graduated to CSS samurai, picking up a ramshamble grab bag of PHP, JavaScript and SQL along the way.

Interestingly enough, I haven’t really learned anything completely new in several years. Textpattern was my last major accomplishment, and I can now bend that system to my every whim. So it was getting a bit stale around here. I love CSS, I love TXP, I love accessibility … but it was time for a new challenge.

This month, I signed on two new projects, both using technologies never before touched by this designer.

ASP.NET 2.0

This is an interesting one. It shares a lot of surface similarities with PHP, but does some cool proprietary stuff that makes development a bit easier. Master pages are neat, as are XML sitemaps and some of the funkier controls that can be inserted.

So far, so good. It’s a very plain language, and I’ve been able to dismantle and edit scripts with success. I have not yet delved into making calls to a SQL database, but that feat is right around the corner.

Wordpress

When I chose Textpattern over Wordpress, it was after a deliberating process of examining the overall functionality, the backend interface and the community. I knew at the time Wordpress was more popular—and that it would grow to be even more popular—but I chose TXP because it felt more like a “total solution” and less like a blog-specific tool.

Well the time has come for me to know thy enemy. A new client project is being built on Wordpress (and it’s not a blog), so it’s going to be trial by fire. WP garners praise for its simplicity, and my co-worker (who uses the system on his own site) assures me there’s little to be afraid of. And he’s a smart guy. So who knows.

Jon Hicks—a fellow Textpattern user—recently wrote a brief comparative list between the two content management systems. After I complete this new project, I plan on doing the same thing.

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commentary + criticism

Derek Punsalan

wrote the following on Thursday April 20, 2006

By never before touched, I’m assuming you do have experience but have never utilized either in real projects correct Or are these projects gain experience as you go scenarios?

I’m just curious because I’m often hesitant to tackle certain situations unless I know exactly what I’m doing.

Kevin

wrote the following on Thursday April 20, 2006

When I say “never before touched,” I mean just that. I have never played with Wordpress beyond the default install for maybe five minutes, and ASP is literally a whole new world. But I am confident I can tackle these because I am familiar with similar technologies.

The Co-Worker

wrote the following on Thursday April 20, 2006

There really is nothing to be afraid of. One great thing about Wordpress is the absolutely INSANE amount of plugins that there are out there. Plugins for EVERYTHING.

In fact, you mentioned XML sitemaps when you were talking about ASP, I thought about this plugin that will create nice Google site maps automatically. It’s pretty cool.

David W.

wrote the following on Thursday April 20, 2006

Sounds a lot like what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been using WordPress for a while, but I’ve recently picked up ZenCart. I’m also starting my first projects with .NET 2.0. What language are you using? I’m happy to rid myself of any VB ties and am using C# for my .NET development.

I’m having more problems with learning to use SqlExpress—one of my clients is requiring me to use a SqlExpress db in a Classic ASP interface, and I’m not have a very easy time with the transition from PHP/MySQL/phpMyAdmin to Classic ASP/SqlExpress/Terminal Services/Sql Manager Express.

Mohodin Rageh

wrote the following on Thursday April 20, 2006

Well, I bet the average developer is just like you Kevin. Lazying around and not learnt anything worthwhile for a while. Just reading blogs after blog after blog…. whenever he or she feels bored. hahahaha.

Seriously, I have been considering which Blog engine to give a try recently and I am seriously leaning towards Wordpress. I could be pursuaded though to another blog engine. Anyone willing to offer any convincing argument??

How about Drupal? Has anyone got a real experience on that?

Kevin

wrote the following on Thursday April 20, 2006

Funny you should bring up Drupal. I am actually working on that platform right now developing templates. I was going to include it in my list of “new” technologies, but I’m not really learning the system since I’m just supplying the developer with HTML and CSS. I hear it’s fairly complex and a one-stop shop as far as CMSs go, but my hands are a bit full at the moment.

David—right now the “light” ASP frontend is in VB, but the heavy-lifting backend is hardcore C#, which is way over my head. We outsource that stuff to much smarter people. As far as DBs go, I edit a lot of things by hand in Enterprise Manager, but I’m trying to learn the system the “real” way.

Matthijs

wrote the following on Friday April 21, 2006

WP is definately a good system to build a site on. It’s the relative simplicity that’s so good about it. You have posts and pages. Posts are chronological news items, pages are just that, static pages. I have seen so many systems with all kinds of modules, blocks, profiles, etc etc which make it so hard to understand what’s going on.
One thing I personally find important when using a cms is the way the backend looks and functions for a user (maybe your non-tech client). So for a user it’s very simple. Post a post or write a page. That’s it. No difficult choices of ‘which module must I take, which block do I have to attach it to and which styleprofile??’
At the same time you as a developer with a tiny bit of php knowledge and some reading of the docs can build very flexible with multiple loops, categories etc.

Mohodin Rageh

wrote the following on Friday April 21, 2006

Kevin, I have heard that Drupal is a pretty complicated beast but it is robust and let you achieve many things, with relatively few plug-ins, if you are good at it. I need to investigate it.

The most worrying thing about Wordpress, for me, is that fact that it is mainly a blogging software as opposed to a complete content management system, which what I am after. I know each system is weighed in a particular direction and my search for the ultimate CSM may become fruitless in the end. But let’s widen the net and see if other people have real experience in other systems than Wordpress and textpattern.

Pariah S. Burke

wrote the following on Friday April 21, 2006

Kevin,

Designorati.com’s CMS is a highly customized version of WordPress. WordPress was the base, but I modified or wrote from scratch roughly 40-60% of the Designorati CMS code. It was a challenge and an education.

Depending upon what you want WordPress to do for your project, you may encounter some challenges yourself. If you get stuck, drop me a line. I’m happy to share my experiences and any solutions I devised that may help your project.