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An Update on Updates

Entry 2054, on 2020-07-30 at 18:46:32 (Rating 1, Activities)

You might have noticed that it has been a couple of weeks since I wrote a blog post. Why? Well, there is so much to do when you are interested in the areas of social media, web content, and other geeky IT stuff, and I could easily spend all of my spare time on just keeping my blog up to date, or creating more podcasts, or debating with nutters on Facebook and Twitter, or maintaining my web site, but I can't fully do all of those things together. So, which should I choose?

I was fairly early in creating a web site. In fact, back in the day when my workplace was far more flexible than it is now, and I didn't have my own server, I created a personal web site hosted at work, and I believe I was the first person to do this. That was in the 1990s, so my web site dates from the fairly early days of the web.

The problem is that things have changed quite a lot since then, and by "quite a lot" I mean a whole lot! No one had mobile devices back then, screens on computers were quite small, bandwidth was ridiculously poor (often utilising dial-up modems), and most web sites were static and didn't provide many interactive or feedback mechanisms.

I have added new features to my site since the early days to keep it partly up to date, but the underlying structure was always a problem. For example, about half the pages were delivered through static HTML documents, and only the newer features were served from databases. And some of the graphics were of poor quality because they were optimised to load quickly on slow connections. And, maybe most importantly, there was no mobile optimised version for phones and other devices with small screens.

So the obvious answer was just to move all the information from static pages to a database and provide the content through optimised templates and responsive stylesheets based on the visitor's requirements. How hard could it be? Well, if my site only had a few pages, or a few dozen, or even a few hundred, the conversion task would be manageable. But my site has 5000 pages and, if it takes 30 minutes per page to convert, that adds up to 2500 hours, or about a year of full-time work!

One person suggested I convert my blog initially, which is already sourced from a database, and then do the rest when I can, but there are so many connections from one part of my site to others that even that was quite difficult to get right. So I decided to convert everything instead!

I have found a lot of shortcuts and optimisations, which means that it will take a lot less than 2500 hours, but it is still a significant task. And that's why my blog has suffered a bit recently; my new web site is taking all my time. This blog post - ironically about the subject which has stopped me from creating other blog posts - is just a short interlude in the greater task of web programming.

So for all of those people who are missing the vicious, or occasionally amusing, political invective of my blog, I will get back to it in the next month or two. And for those who are missing me pointing out the deficiencies in their arguments in on-line debates: I'll get back to you as soon as possible!

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