John Topley’s Weblog

We Are One

It's hard for me to believe, but it's a year today since I first clicked the Publish button in CityDesk and uploaded this site. Actually, that's not quite true because I did have a preview site hidden behind a teaser for quite a while, which John Conners managed to pick up from his referrer logs when I inadvertently clicked on a link to his site! This first anniversary is going to be an unashamed opportunity for self-indulgence on my part, although I will reveal some facts about this site that may be of interest…or not!

My discovery of Joel on Software, downloading the trial version of CityDesk and deciding that I wanted my website to be a blog and a bit more, all occurred sometime in the summer of 2002. I had some reservations about whether having a blog would be too self-indulgant, which led to the decision that it should mainly be technical content. Then I fretted about what an earth I was going to write about, which I still do!

I started to think about what the site should look like and I decided that it would be a good opportunity to have a go at creating a DHTML flyout menu as featured in the wonderful Dreamweaver 4 Magic. By then I had a rough idea of which areas of content the site would feature and headed over to Corbis to pick up some royalty-free images that roughly corresponded with what I had in mind. These images were manipulated using Fireworks and Paint Shop Pro.

Although initially I used Dreamweaver to do the HTML coding of the CityDesk templates, I eventually switched over to Windows Notepad because Dreamweaver was reformatting my code slightly. I validate the pages for XHTML compliance using A Real Validator. I use TopStyle to create and edit the site's CSS files. All of the PHP coding on this site is John Conners' and not mine, as I don't have time to learn it and thanks to John's generosity, I don't need to.

I started to write articles using CityDesk, thinking that the site would be up and running very quickly and that I'd have a nice backlog of content, thus giving me some breathing space for coming up with new content. Boy, was I wrong! Incidentally, some of those articles have never seen the light of day, but that's because they're short/out of date/not very good, or all three. Others were heavily re-worked before publishing.

I started work on this site using CityDesk version 1.0 and first checked the file into Visual SourceSafe on 17 September 2002. My recollection is that it's the CityDesk 1.0 version that went live, but according to my SourceSafe check-in comments, I actually upgraded to the CityDesk 2.0 beta just before going live! Of course, I had a backup of the 1.0 site but fortunately didn't need it as the beta was rock-solid. I spent the odd hour or two working on the site between September 2002 and May 2003 and finally took three days off work at the end of that May to get the damn thing finished and out there! I started work on converting the site from HTML 4.01 Transitional to XHTML 1.0 Transitional on 29 August, which was quite a daunting undertaking, but I managed to finish the job the next day. I've been making incremental improvements ever since.

The CityDesk file has been checked into SourceSafe 396 times in total so far. I've written 55 weblog articles, 35 knowledge base entries and nine media reviews. I always worry that I don't write enough media reviews and there's still nothing in the website reviews section. In retrospect, I should have made it a section for software reviews. The most popular month so far has been March 2004, with 166,245 page requests. The majority of visitors to this site are viewing it using Internet Explorer 6.0 and Windows XP. The most popular search term is “Struts”, as in Jakarta Struts. The worst thing that has happened was when the site was down for four days in July 2003 and I lost all the article comments up to that time, some of which were from friends commenting on my new site. I religiously back up the comments now.

Why do I do all this? It's part aide-memoire and part journal, although I've never felt the urge to keep a paper journal. If I said that I wouldn't be bothered if no one else visited and read what I wrote then I'd be lying, because the feedback I've received has been one of the most gratifying aspects of the whole experience. Some of my favourite comments are reproduced at the end.

The wonder of the Web has enabled me—in a very small way—to reach people who would normally be out of reach. Now I've told you all about the site, I don't know what I'm going to write about a year from now, but they'll be plenty of content in-between!

I love your blog - knowledgable tips, witty language, a joy to read. Thanks for sharing your views with us!

Oliver Scheck

I really like your site - you put a lot of work, energy and enthusiasm into it and I really appreciate that. I like the design very much and wish I could have done it. Also your knowledge base is great (I wish I would have that too).

Peter Monadjemi

I just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your weblog. I get happy whenever Outlook tells me that you've written something new. You write about things that I find interesting and you do it well. Keep on writing. A smiley emoticon

Henrik Jernevad

Comments

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This first anniversary is going to be an unashamed opportunity for self-indulgence on my part.


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