Short history of webdevelopment for Uisge Beatha

Around 2005 I had a growing interest on content management systems, initially from a profession point of and later also personally. The main thing for a content management system is: content. When I came to a point in live of buying my first boat  (Hanse 311), my content question was solved. The boat would get it's own site. Since there are numerous content management systems available, either closed source or open source, an investigation started on what to use. Open source was a prerequisite. I read various tests on content management systems and to cut a long story short, I decided to start using CMS Made Simple.

Since I have a profession different from web developer, a learning curve started. In those days there was an active forum where people willing to help a so called 'newbe'. The out-of-the-box site as a start was sufficient enough, 'only' had to do some lay-out stuff. By learning on the job, and trail-and-error, I managed getting a first version of the site Uisge Beatha live, and could start writing articles.

Website development is just like a house, sometimes you want a new wall paper of new curtains, and one knows that starting with redecoration there is always more work involved. One of the changes after a couple of years was to get the site responsive. Not an easy job because it requires a change in the fundamentals of the site. With some help the site got migrated from a static lay-out to a responsive lay-out, changed some colors, and it all looked new. This is one of the advantages of a content management system: lay-out and content have separate relationship.

The 2017-version was based on a pre-fab template I bought and customized by me afterwards. It had a fresh look, but had no 'woh'-effect. It also had a very complicated way on how the templates where build. No template inheritance for instance. Customization was a cumbersome process, and after a while I started to look around for a new lay-out. Although my knowledge of HTML and CSS grew overtime, I don't consider myself being a webdeveloper. I know the principles, understand front-end and back-end interaction, can read code, but writing PHP for instance is way-out of my comfort zone.

The 2019-version of the site is build on a totally different approach. Just like a building a house, there is a variety of frameworks available that give you a skeleton as a start, and some of them even have 'clothes' on. Tried some of them as a start, and finally decided to use Bootstrap version 4. In the meantime I had an e-mail conversation with the owner of Frontend Studio who was working on building a build tool, and as he states in his in-depth Manual CMS Builder:

The CMSMS Builder is a tool to help you develop and optimize CMS Made Simple (>= v2.2.3) themes, it is made by a developer for developers.

I you like an automated file based work-flow this project might be for you. It is usable to kick-start a new CMSMS project or it can be applied to existing ones. Repetitive tasks and optimizations are automated by Gulp and Webpack. While developing- and testing you can lint your source-code. All file changes and interactions are synchronized between multiple devices using Browsersync.

Since I never used build tools or what so ever, this process was quit a challenge. "Why go this route?", you may ask, well this was more out of curiosity to see if I can develop a new site for Uisge Beatha that is more inline with today's standards and also benefit the advantages of the available code. I must say, it's been a long way and I do respect the patience he had in explaining the buildtool and the tools it makes use of to me. Questions I raised are to be find in the manual, and the documentation that comes with this tool is very broad.

Still there are some items on the to-do list for this version, but that's minor compared to what has been done so far.

Enjoy the articles, although written in Dutch, there is a Google translate option for some foreign languages.