Why I’m Moving to a CMS

For those of you who have been following the adventures of the #digimeth community here at the University of New Mexico, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been doing an awful lot of coding. The truth is that I don’t mind; there’s a kind of simple elegance to making useful code that does what I want it to do, and I can enjoy the act of creation when writing code like that.

The problem comes when not all code is like that. I’m not talking about the part where one wrestles with the code to make it do what one wants it to do, nor even the part where it’s difficult to integrate one part of one’s code with another part. I’m specifically speaking to the difficulties of maintaining code once it has ceased to be on the front burner. I’m talking about all of the ridiculous changes that need to be made just to move a collection of web pages to a subdirectory. Hand-coded websites are great and they show a dedication that is worthy of recognition, but let’s face it; if one is going to maintain a hand-coded website, it is highly unlikely that one will have the time to do anything worthy of mention on that website.

DrupalIt’s for this reason that I’ve decided to move justinlarsen.net to a web content management system called Drupal. The fact is that I’ve been so impressed with the way that the folks over at Reclaim Hosting have integrated WordPress (what you’re reading now) that it only makes sense to shift a few things around and install another piece of software designed to make life a lot easier, at least as far as upkeep is concerned.

I do, of course, understand the value of making people learn to code their own HTML, and I believe that there is a great deal to value about doing things the hard way at first. Once that lesson is learned, however, it stands to reason that we should not reinvent the wheel. More importantly, there are a number of things one can learn from using content management software that one can’t learn when one is elbows-deep in angle brackets and hrefs. As this is the kind of software most of us will use once we leave the context of the course, it stands to reason that gaining experience with this software would have a real benefit. It’s also important conceptually; the way that CMS systems handle processes like publishing and editing is different in important ways from the methods we’ve used to simply upload text files.

Thus, sometime in the next two weeks I’ll be backing up everything (including this blog) and converting over to the new system. The truth of the matter is that I’ll be doing nothing much over the Christmas holiday, anyway; this should keep me occupied for at least a little while. I’ll document how it all goes here, of course, too.