Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dark Mercury 4.0

Welcome to the 4th edition of my website.  This version is based on my twitter page and powered by Expression Engine.  EE is the successor to PMachine, which powered my old site.  I know I just did an update to my site in August so you’re probably thinking, why another major update so soon?  Well, the short answer is that I have plenty of time these days.  I’ve been running the same old pmachine website for over 5 years and had the color scheme for a year before that.  So sometimes you just feel like a refresh is in order.  While the August update was an evolution, this update is a revolution.  It is hopefully the answer to many problems I have come across in the last 5 years with the old site.  Rick was talking about drupal limitations when I offered up Expression Engine as an alternative CMS to both Drupal and Wordpress.  I think at one point EE cost money for all but a demo, but these days you can download the core version of the site for free as long as you don’t use it for commercial use.  I had a default installation on my site but hadn’t touched it in months.  Well about a week ago I went back and reinstalled with the latest version and set out to see what the successor to pmachine could do for me.

Importing my posts from Pmachine was the most important and also the easiest thing to do.  While I’m sure tools exist to import wordpress, moveable type, ets blogs, the pmachine convert utility was built right in and easy.  From there I had to modify a template for a good design and usability. Thanks go out to Jo, Rick, and Alison for design feedback, ideas, and tips. 

A severe limitation of my pmachine site was that each post could only be put in one category.  EE allows me to put posts in multiple categories and is one of the biggest reasons I stuck with the upgrade.  EE seems a lot more flexible than pmachine too.  On the old site the menu on the left kept getting shorter and shorter.  I liked the collapsible sections on the side, but to keep them across all the other pages I had to use a function that prevented me from showing posts by months and other tasty features, so the new install gives me that capability. 

Another huge improvement is the URLs.  While some people may not care, I like the new readable URLs way more than the old way.  An old link to a post I made might show up as:
http://www.darkmercury.net/comments.php?id=23_0_1_0_C 

WTF is that link about?  Now The same post is represented by:
http://www.darkmercury.net/site/Six_Flags_Worlds_of_Pain/

Likewise http://www.darkmercury.net/index.php?id=C0_5_1
can be shown as
http://www.darkmercury.net/site/category/rants/

I’m pleased with how well my friends and news pages integrated with the new site as well.  I stopped using colors for consistency.  Each entry on the friends page looks very similar to a post if I made it, except it will have your RSS image in place of my categories, the title is clickable, and a link to your site is at the bottom.  Once again if you don’t set your RSS icon, it will default to one I pick for you.  If you want help changing it ask me, its quite easy.  Last time I’m talking about that. 

My pages that load in an iframe, such as my calendar and gallery are a little quirky but usable.  There was some sort of permission error with my old gallery so I reinstalled from scratch.  Pics will go up as I have time.

If you want, the old site is available at http://www.darkmercury.net/3.0/
I’m looking at getting even older backups of my site archived with the help of Jo sometime.  Guess that’s all for now

Posted by eclipse on 11/29/2008 at 04:47 AM
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