Web Projects Update

Back in January I wrote a post about all the web projects that I wanted to work on whilst I wasn’t working. Here’s an update for each of those:

This very blog – I’ve recently changed themes, and it needs updating to fit in with how I want it to look. In fact I eventually want to turn this whole garyjones.co.uk site into something that’s run completely with WordPress.

Well, the site runs on the latest version of WordPress, but apart from breaking one or two things, I don’t think an amazing lot has changed – a few bits, but nothing dramatic. The changes I did make were done to the theme file itself, instead of creating a child theme – so at some point, I’ll reinstall a clean version of the theme, and apply my changes to a separate theme – or I’ll just start with the Sandbox theme and change that all around instead.

I have recently started posting a bit more regular on the site, and I have also added Entrecard (future post to follow when I’ve seen how well it works) to the site as well. The topics are all over the place, but I consider my target audience to be those in the Gary Jones niche area.

MNNC.net has recently had WordPress added to it, so that as part of the re-design, I can use WP as a CMS. I’m supposedly using Basecamp from 37 Signals to keep track of the project.

This MNNC site got abandoned halfway through the re-design, and I haven’t felt obliged to go fix it. The front page directs to a search page, so although my SEO is probably shot to pieces, it *is* still usable. The use of Basecamp consequently got abandoned as well – I’m sure it’s of use to a lot of projects, but working on my own, it wasn’t for me.

For the Battrick game I play, I’ve developed some resources that have become popular within the BT community. I eventually want to integrate it more into the rest of this blog site with WP, as well as still develop the resources that exist.

The resources have developed little due to a potential conflict of interest (see below).

The Battrick site itself could do with some front-end code updating, so instead of moaning about it, I decided to do some investigations and tests to offer comprehensive examples and feedback on how the site could be improved.

This is where most of my development time has been spent. The powers that be and I agreed that I could become a developer for the Battrick site itself – this meant that I could implement some of the stuff that I’d been suggesting, both on my site, and within Battrick itself. Due to the dynamic nature of development, and some limitations on the setup and resources available, not all of my suggestions have been implemented, but a lot of other stuff has been done instead. Due to the upcoming 6-8 week enforced break as my PC gets shipped home, followed by having to re-join the real world and find a job etc., then my time spent volunteering for Battrick will be severely cut.

My Development section is another section I want to add to integrate into WordPress. Lots of template customisation needed, along with some CSS, so I can keep my code examples.

Some of this got done, but I still think there’s outstanding stuff.

Leovanna.co.uk is my Dad’s site that I built, but we now want WordPress to run the whole site, but only look like it’s running the news section. Some templates and static pages will help with that, once I’ve worked out exactly what I’m doing with the MNNC.net site. I’ll also need to find some suitable plugins too.

Well, it did get partly developed – it’s got the latest version of WordPress, and only the news section shows up in a chronological setting – once the CSS design and page templates are done (child theme again!), then this will complete.

I had an “epiphany” this morning, as Katie called it, and thought of a new tool that I would find useful for myself. I often review websites to give constructive criticism on how they can be improved, and this webReviewer tool (I haven’t got the cheek to call it webReviewr in Web 2.0 style) would allow an easier way of writing it up, as well as giving reminders of areas to check. I’ve drawn out some ideas, but not produced anything yet.

The last 4 words still apply.

All in all, had I not become a developer for Battrick, then a lot more of the other stuff would have been done. The Battrick stuff was exciting to me though; I’d originally started with (classic) ASP before moving on to PHP, so this was like going back and re-learning the syntax, but also in getting to see how a production server and database is set up and run. It certainly broadened my horizons and abilities, and I’ll be including it on my CV, even though it wasn’t a paid job. It’s all experience.

By Gary Jones

Husband, dad of twins, software engineering lead, and a middle-of-the-pack runner.