DarkBee Into Darkness: Part 2
Written on 01/29/15 at 10:08:02 EST by Darkbee
InternetBack in part 1, I stumbled through an article, kind of feeling my way as I went and really started to open my own eyes as to what I wanted from a new DarkBee website and the types of features Iíd be looking for. †First, I wanted to look at what I have and definitely rule out the need for certain features. †Here are some of the key features that my site currently has and whether I want them or not:

Members
First and foremost, my site allows users to register. †Letís be honest, itís pointless. †Thereís no community here. †Thereís no interactivity going on. †At most, Iíd like/need comments to articles but beyond that everything else is just unnecessary. †Aside from which, the nature of the Internet landscape these days is that people interact online through third-party tools such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
Forums
See above. †Thereís simply no need for forums at this time.
Calendar
I have it, Iíve barely used it. † Sometimes I might use it to call attention to highly important international events like Talk Like a Pirate Day, but thatís nothing I canít do over Twitter or even on this site via a post.
Shoutbox
Forgot I even had it. †Shouting to myself kinda sucks. †I think it can go.
Galleries
I kind of use these. †It was always my intention to upload some of my finest gaming moments or other computer happenings but it never quite took off. †I think Iíd mark this one as a Carlie-Rae Jepson; ďmaybeĒ.
Links
I think a links section is pretty useful. †Even today, I could probably make better use of it than I do, putting links in there from all the articles Iíve written (hey, thatís not a bad idea!). †I could probably live without it but itíd be a nice-to-have.
Downloads
Yeah, not really feeling this one. †Again, such grand intentions never coming to fruition. †I thought that I might perhaps get back into making music and have downloads to my music but yeahÖ didnít happen. †This is a ďmaybeĒ at best but I could probably live without it.
Poll
I love polls! †Theyíre quick, theyíre easy and theyíre a sneaky way to get people to interact with your site because who can resist clicking? †Even if itís a poll about which hand you use to wipe yourself after a number two, people canít resist clicking. †(For reference, I donít use my hand, I use toilet paper. †The old ones are the best, amirite?). †The poll would be a firm nice-to-have although not super critical.
Clock
I put this here only to mock myself. †I did it because I could but dudeÖ come on? †For real? †You canít look at your watch or the clock on your desktop? †Youíre seriously deluding yourself into thinking that visitors to your site are going to lose hours and hours of their lives if they donít have a clock in their faces? †Okay, the clock goes. †*sad face*
Widgets
The clock actually represents something more serious and important; widgets. †In fact, enhancements in general. †Having the ability to pull things in externally or expand upon the functionality of the existing site framework. †This is definitely something I would want.

Thatís the features that I do have (and possibly donít need), but what about features that I donít have but would really like? †From my time working with this website and the Web-App portal software thereís definitely some things Iíve come to want/need:

  • Seamless Editing/Text Entry experience
  • Publish/Unpublish Date
  • Staging Area
  • Media Management


One specific criticism of the Web-App software is that the text entry modes are not WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). †In itself, that isnít a huge problem. †As a more technical person, I can live with writing text in BBCode style markup to achieve basic text effects like bold and italicizing. †To me though, what is unforgivable is that the text entry boxes are often different. †You have different options available to you if youíre writing a news article, versus writing a forum post, versus writing a comment. †Now I get that writing a comment really doesnít require much in the way of making it look pretty but still, there should be in my humble opinion, a consistent user experience across the site. †If it uses a WYSIWYG editor to do that, then all the better. †Letís not forget here, content is king. †The goal is always about getting the content out there, not spending half an hour trying to make one paragraph look right.

The next item, the publish date is not really that big of a deal but there are instances where I might post articles that are time sensitive or relative to only a window of time, after which their existence kind of ceases to be important. †From my work with other CMSís like Tiki, Iíve come to know such features that allow you to specify when a given article might be displayed (based on a date and/or time) and if it can stop being displayed after a period of time. †As with some other wants, not super critical but definitely a nice option to have (remember Talk Like a Pirate reminder articles?).

Staging has definitely been something that has bothered me. †There is currently no where on my website where I can write and store article drafts for later publishing. †If I have ideas for articles or am half-way through writing one then I have to keep them elsewhere and essentially copy and paste them in when Iím ready to publish. †In fact, Iím currently writing this in Google Docs (and itís been sitting here for a while!). †The ability to house it all under one roof, as it were, would be really nice. †It would just stop me from having to go to two places, when I really only need be in one.

Media-Management is kind of a way to permit me to be a little bit lazy. † Perhaps lazy is a tad harsh but why ferret around using an FTP client and organizing my images and other files manually, when I know CMSís exist that offer easy ways of managing my files right in my browser? †All while Iím working on my site! †In addition, Iíve noted that CMSís that offer this kind of media manager tend to have easier ways of integrating images, thumbnails and other nice effects directly into content. †Doing that by hand is okay, but why make that effort if you donít have to?

So, weíve covered what I have, what can be thrown out and what Iíd like but is there anything else Iím missing? †Off the top of my head I feel like these are the other salient points to consider:

  • Security/Spam
  • Look and Feel
  • Activity and Reliability.

As far as security goes, no software is without its faults so I donít lose any sleep on whether a software is Pentagon-tight but what I do look for is whether the software is being actively developed. †One of the concerns with my current software is that it isnít being actively developed, which means that things will likely never be fixed (or improved upon). †In the worst case scenario, you donít want to be stuck with software that is a potential security hazard but no possibility of it being secured.

Another security related item is that spammers are a thing. †Iíve learned this the hard way with DarkBee.com. †Theyíre annoying. †I hate them and I wish them all ill but they are here and you have to deal with them. †So having software that recognizes that and gives you the tools to deal with them is important. †Even simple things like having captchas on comments and possibly even moderation of comments is important, sadly. †Being able to deal with these nuisances in bulk seems to be an absolute must and having mechanisms to block chronic offenders is also important.

For the look and feel, letís be honest, †Iím no Pablo Picasso of web design but I certainly like to make a site my own. †Having tools or the ability to customize a website fairly easily is a must. †I donít mind learning new template languages if I absolutely have to but Iíd at least like the ability to tinker with a few things in HTML/CSS to bring my own DarkBee flavor to the show. †In an ideal world, Iíd like the ability to almost do a Twitter/Facebook style makeover, changing backgrounds, logos and colors in a few simple clicks. †Furthermore, the ability to rearrange headers, footers and other site-wide text areas with a few drags of a mouse, right from within my browser would be fantastic. †I think the reality is that Iíll have to settle for something in between and Iím okay with that.

By activity and reliability, Iím not just talking about the reliability of the software which should be as bug-free as possible. †Iím also referring to what I touched upon in the security paragraph; reliability of developers and the development community around the software in question. †Itís no great secret that Iím a huge fan of Tiki groupware (which is total overkill for my needs by the way). †That is a great example of software that is regularly developed. †Improvements are made and community members are on hand to assist with difficulties. †The even have ďlong term supportĒ releases! †I donít need someone to hold my hand the whole time but I need to know I have resources at my disposal for when the inevitable problems arise. †In other words, I want to use popular software that doesnít seem to be going away anytime soon. †Of course, nothing lasts forever but some things you can tell are going to be around for years to come, even in the open source world. †There are plenty of successful projects like Mozilla Firefox that you couldnít imagine not existing anymore. †I donít need a CMS that has millions of users like Drupal or Joomla but I do want something that isnít dead on arrival.

Iíve waffled on long enough, so in summary, and further to part 1 (hey, itís a process!), I think that weíre narrowing down what Iím looking for:

  • Open source with an active development/support community
  • Flat-File preferred but MySQL database not out of the question
  • Primary function is blogging. †A nice front page with chronological listings is pretty much par for the course
  • Blog functionality should include a staging area to allow me to work on posts before actually publishing them. †It would also be nice to have a publish date such that if an item is ready to publish but I donít yet want to release it into the wild, I can specify when that happens.
  • Iíd really love it if I could have moderated comments, preferably with a captcha of some sort to cut down on the garbage that I invariably have to wade through.
  • In addition, tools for dealing with spam in bulk, including blocking of IPs and such is a must.
  • Itíd be nice if I could just use a WYSIWYG editor but Iím okay(ish) with using markup like BBCode.
  • It would also be nice if I could manage media (mostly images) right from within the CMS but Iím not completely opposed to doing it the old fashioned way i.e. via FTP
  • I need a CMS that has some extensibility or plugins options to allow me to add functionality like site links directory †and other little widgets.
  • I continue to insist on using ďbeeĒ colors so Iíd better bee* able to make the site feel like home with some relative ease.

Some criteria is a emerging! †The question is, what is out there and how does it fit in with what Iím looking for? †Iím thinking that for part 3, Iíll actually start getting my hands dirty and take a few CMSís Iíve found †out for a test drive.

*Fear not, I will punch myself in the face, hard later for using such a terrible pun. †Youíre welcome.

Comments on this article:
 
 Entregreeneur says Hi!
Written on 02/07/15 at 01:34:58 EST by Bradley C Hughes
Hello Darkbee,

I humbly opine you ought to use WordPress

It meets all of your bullet point criteria, except its MySQL not flat-file.

I can help you with any setup, plugins, configs, plus I can give you a professional theme for free from my developer license memberships in Woothemes, StudioPress, etc.

Let me know if you'd like that.

You can find me on Facebook or Twitter /Entregreeneur, or back over in good olde weewar.

cheers,

Bradley

 re: Entregreeneur says Hi!
Written on 02/09/15 at 11:44:14 EST by Darkbee
Hey there!

You actually still visit my website? LOL.  I appreciate the support!  

I've toyed with the idea of Wordpress, and I believe there's even a flat-file version (Aptly named: Flatpress).

Thanks for the offer of help.  I really must getting around to testing some of the options I have lined up!

P.S. Sad to say, I don't really frequent Weewar anymore.  Just fallen out of the habit I suppose; lost interest.  Maybe I'll take a peek some time

Take care!

DB

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