It started when my old camera conked out. No display in shooting mode, no images recorded. Ah, we had some good times these 4 years, but I guess nothing lasts forever. So I bought a new one. And then I started thinking more about photos, and the work I have to do to put them online. And creating a new gallery is indeed a pain: besides setting up the metadata, there’s resizing (3 sizes! sometimes 4, for pics embedded in posts, like this one), cropping, and uploading. Surely there’s a better way? Flickr seemed a good choice, so I looked into that. Popular, easy to use, with plenty of tools and a wide knowledge base. But the automated tools to blog photos only worked with established blogging software. And me, all I had was a few scripts I wrote myself.
So I thought, hey, if I’m going to use Flickr, why not go all the way and use proper blog software. It so happens that Dreamhost will install quite a lot of software on your webspace with the click of a button, including WordPress. So I installed it. And played around with it. And read the documentation. And played around some more. And I thought about how my existing content would fit in WordPress. The history project, quotes and links, older posts (which don’t have a precise date assigned to them). They’d have to be pages instead of blog posts. How to organize it all? What categories to use? Do I need a hierarchy? I checked out the dozens of available themes, and it was like looking at the CSS Zen Garden all over again (except, of course, not quite as awesome).
Boom. Another site redesign has begun.
I’m still in the preliminary stage, figuring out how I want to organise my site and exactly how to make WordPress do what I want to do. Fortunately there’s lots of excellent documentation and examples to use.
As for photos, I think Flickr is out—at least as far as my main galleries go. The problem is that I wouldn’t be able to keep the old URIs, I’ve got very little control over the presentation, and I’d lose access stats. But Gallery 2.2 is also available through Dreamhost, and that looks more promising. There doesn’t seem to be any way to apply my own styles to the galleries, and that’s annoying. But I’ll keep looking. Part of me feels happy with the little scripts I’ve got now, which maybe just need to be spruced up a bit. But no: half the point of this exercise is to try out new technologies. There’s a learning curve, sure, but a smaller one than if I tried to develop all these features on my own. And in the end I’ll have learned some useful skills, kicked my site up a notch, and joined a growing community of WordPress users. And that is a very good goal to work for.