How It’s Made

A pretentious heading for such a droll topic, but you did click the link.

My first web site (not this one) was built in 1995, from lovingly hand-crafted HTML full of FONT and TABLE tags. Back then CSS didn’t exist; arbitrary placement was done with complicated table layouts and writing a piece of code to do that automatically helped me get a job.1 Web sites where everything was different with every request were considered obscenely lavish; only huge companies had money to burn on enough servers to power that kind of site.

This isn’t my first web site. Today, web application frameworks are standard equipment, content management is the norm, bandwidth is cheap, and storage is cheaper still. These are good times.

Normally, here is where I’d talk about all the technology choices that went into this site, the pros and cons of those choices, and so on. But this whole site is in a transition right now. Previously I built this site using PHP, with a custom, medium-weight framework on the back end, custom CMS, Smarty for template rendering, MySQL for data persistence, and some custom JavaScript on the front end for the interactive bits, built on jQuery, served through Apache.2

I’m moving to a new stack, running Python, Django, Redis, custom CMS, served through nginx, with jQuery, jQuery mobile, and more custom JavaScript. During the transition, bits and pieces of the new stack may show up. And I might change my mind about any of those pieces.

These really are good times. Web developers have lots of choices, lots of them are even good choices, depending on how much the developer wants to do themselves and how much they’re willing to leave to a framework. This site is very much my opportunity to have a “playground” where I can try things without serious repercussions, but also have a real-world site. So don’t assume that because it appears here that this is what I assume is the “best” way to do things. Especially since what’s “best” varies with the site’s requirements, anyway.

1 It also earned me the nickname “table god.”

2 And before that, a custom static-file build system I built in 1999, sort of like today’s Jekyll site generator.

Photo Credits: the underside of a sink: Damien Jones