A new ho(p|m)e

By | 2016-03-14

When I built my last site Netscape Navigator was still the rage and CSS very much in its infancy, so I thought it’s time for a slight update…

To this end I had a look at some content management systems and what people thought about them. WordPress doesn’t have a good reputation in my circles, Joomla seemed to be even worse and Drupal gave some vibes of being very difficult to use but otherwise being a professional alternative. So I went with Drupal, mainly because I was expecting a higher security level from it. This was a mistake. And I went with Drupal 8, because when you start something new, you want to use the latest technology, right? This was an even bigger mistake.

Drupal was a pain, and not because I didn’t understand it or anything but because nothing works out of the box. Nothing. Everything is almost comically difficult to do (adding text to a contact form? Who would ever do something like that?). It sees itself as a toolbox that can only be made into a working site using a plethora of plug-ins and configuration. Drupal 8 was especially difficult because it’s so young that almost none of the documentation on the web has been updated for it and many plug-ins were not available yet or at best still beta.

Anyway, I got everything to work and look the way I wanted… then the first critical security update arrived, only days after I have started using Drupal. So much to “more secure” 🙁 OK, so where is the update button? Spoiler alert: there is none. The official update path is basically “backup and then delete everything, unpack the new version and copy back any files you had changed previously”. I did this but forgot to copy back the plug-in files, leaving me with a broken site that didn’t have the plug-ins while at the same time also refusing to install them again because they noticed that there were already settings for them in the database!? Of course, copying them over at this point didn’t help either because apparently Drupal already remembered that they were gone or something like that… and I thought OwnCloud was bad when it comes to updates! And this was only a minor 0.0.0.x update!

The breaking point was when I tried to have a simple image gallery and noticed that Drupal core offered nothing of the sorts and the plug-in situation for Drupal 8 wasn’t much better. That was the point I noticed that this content management system mainly managed itself and not the content. So I gave up and installed WordPress. It also took a while to get it to look and work exactly as I wanted it to be, but at least the basics are all there or easily available and the one update I have experienced was decidedly painless.

The resulting site is probably not the most beautiful site imaginable, but Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor^Wdeveloper, not a designer. See how I got a Star Trek and a Star Wars joke, combined with knowledge of regular expressions and arcane terminal control codes, into the same post? That’s how I roll, baby. Anyway, I hope there will be the occasional post here with interesting stuff and be assured if I have nothing interesting to say this space will remain empty. So stay tuned. Or don’t, it’s your choice.

2 thoughts on “A new ho(p|m)e

  1. NormanDunbar

    Speaking as someone who used WordPress and a few plugins for my own blog/aide Memoir/notebook (qdosmsq.dunbar-it.co.uk/blog) I can honestly say that you will find WordPress updates pretty painless. IN my experience, you get an automatic update sometimes, and an email telling you so. (It doesn’t affect the visuals of the site, just the workings in the background, security etc) and some other times you get an email and/or a button to upgrade when you login as the administrative user, whatever you called it (Change it away from admin by the way, that’s a well known cracker target account).

    Click the button, it shoves up a maintenance page, takes a backup, upgrades, takes down the maintenance page all in one simple exercise. I’ve had zero problems at all. Mind you, I always/usually/sometimes take a manual backup of the backend database just to be on the safe side. I do this via the site’s control panel as opposed to through WordPress itself.

    Plugin updates are just as simple.

    Good luck with the new site, it’s looking good.


    1. Marcel Post author

      My install of the current version didn’t have a default account of “admin” as far as I can see, so it looks like they already got rid of it.
      Right on the backup, there’s a phpMyAdmin site for the shared database to do this manually but I will have to check out how to do this automatically one day. Like so many things I’ll do one day 🙂

      Thanks and cheers, Marcel


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