Content management

You're reading Mikko Saari's blog Life and opinions. This entry was written 03/30/2005, at 15:13.

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I find it hard to believe that I haven't written on this topic before, but if I haven't, it's about time. I'm gone completely mad on content management systems. I just love Movable Type - starting my first blog was a huge impact on my web site and all of my web site creation, really.

In November last year or so I started a project I had thought about a lot. My game site would get a content management system. It's just too weary to write HTML pages with an editor, FTP them to the server and so on. Making changes to the layout of the pages requires changing every page, one at the time... That's something I just don't find that interesting. It also binds me to one computer, if I want to change my pages I must be on my computer where I store them.

That's all different now. Instead of my computer, the articles I've written (game reviews and other related stuff) are now stored in a MySQL database. Instead of serving the pages dynamically from the database, which is the standard option, I adopted the mechanism used by Movable Type. After I've finished editing a page, I build it from the database. Building creates a HTML file that can be accessed as usual.

This approach has certain advantages. Rebuilding is a pain, kind of, but I can control when the changes I make appear on the public site. If a database is down for some reason, the pages are still accessible. Also, as the contents of the pages change quite rarely, building the pages saves time - serving static HTML pages is faster than building the same pages on the fly every time. I'm not sure if processor time is really an issue, but neither is disk space.

Updating the pages is a breeze, now. Writing new reviews is more fun, as I just fill a template and I don't have to worry about doing the HTML stuff, I can focus on the content. Playing with new layouts is also more fun, as I can apply the changes to all hundred or so reviews I have at the same time.

Because I'm using completely custom-built software, I can do whatever I want. If I need new functionality, I'll just whip it up. Adding something is often done in no time, as writing stuff in PHP is fairly straightforward - I've had lots of practise.

Most of the additions work towards more automation. Recently I, for example, reduced the amount of HTML coding I need to do by adding easier wiki-like codes for creating headlines in the reviews. I'll probably remove most need for HTML code eventually. I also made the automatical creation of indexes possible, so I don't have to maintain them by hand.

I just love my new system. Actually, I love it so much that my once-so-important music review site is slowly dying - it's been a year from last update. Well, there are other reasons, but lack of content management system is one of them. Why I haven't done such a system is another thing - there can be seen my lack of motivation to do anything with that site. I did add an ad banner on the site, though... Anything to make my creative work create money.

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