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Scrapped Plans

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 under Code Design News | No comments

Secret Friend Society
Secret Friend Society by DraStudio on Zooomr

In light of the recent Dra Studio re-design, I thought it might be fun to share some of my ruminations and recent thoughts about back-end content management systems and such that I saw as possible solutions for both the this site and the Illustrative. site, but for some reason or another, abandoned. I also wanted to share some of the more influential sites that I found inspiring me into making the latest revisions to the Studio. So if code is your thing and acronyms like XSLT don’t scare you, read on!

For everyone else, I humbly offer you a site that always bring a big smile to my heart; The Secret Friend Society. There isn’t a bad day I have had that a few minutes with Jellaby hasn’t cured. ;) Enjoy!

Ruby on Rails
For the longest time, because I was so enthralled by the varying capabilities of the Ruby language and the easy of use it provided, I planned to simply extend the already powerful blogging system that is Simplelog. With pressing deadlines and schedules for my freelance work, as well as my FS teaching, I never got as far as I needed to with researching additional aspects of the Ruby on Rails framework.

In an attempt to speed up the update process (since months passed before any updates were made to either site), I decided on relegating at least the portfolio section of the site to a framework I was more familiar with, i.e. CodeIgniter's PHP framework. I had already implemented it on several projects before and I have a decent handle on the PHP language, so usage would be more straightforward.

CI is currently being used for the entire Illustrative. site, though I have yet to add on some additional features I wanted to, namely these plugins:

  • SPAW - Visual editor for text elements
  • Jeditable - For in-place page editing ... very excited!

I also wanted to eventually integrate font-replacement for some of the heading level tags on the site, using the sIFR technique, applied through jQuery. Here are two examples of it in real-world usage that I really liked:

At one point in my content management/framework search, I had this one day epiphany of using a different structure/technology for each section of both sites ... as a way of keeping myself well-rounded and to be able to offer it as a teaching aid to others. As I said, the insanity of that thought thankfully only lasted one day.

While the thought was present though, I contemplated using the intriguing XML and XSLT-based system called Symphony to maintain the pages for Jodie and myself ... using the Microformats concept to maintain our contact information. The thought was quickly stifled when I realized that my XML knowledge is not up to snuff and it would require even more research to prepare content for this system. I still plan on using it for something in the future, undoubtedly because of its open-source-ness and simplistically appealing administrative control panels.

Overall, I have tons of sites that I have visited that inspired some of the current revisions to both sites, and in some cases, additions to be made in the near-future. Here are a few of them:

  • Beanstalk - I don't use Subversion at all, but I love the subtle wild uniqueness that is this site. Specifically, the light background pattern is an element that continually draws me into the site.
  • Southcreative - It is definitely the strong visual navigation that first caught my eye, but the strong separation of areas using simple borders and coloring is great.
  • MacBook Pro - Wireless - Apple continually inspires me to stop thinking in such a "web" mindset and at times, look at projects from a completely print-level layout perspective. Excellent.
  • Elitist Snob - Simple, yet wonderfully elegant illustrated elements and a consistent sense of color make this site just adorable. The faux wood-paneling doesn't hurt either.
  • Web Design Beach - The unique visual style is great, but their nice use of the varying technology logos (i.e. WASP, Apache, etc.) at the bottom of the pages is what really caught my eye.
  • Alexandru Cohaniuc - Stand-out colors and a layout that feel loose yet well structured.

I will leave you with an old snippet of copy I found on an older version of the Illustrative. site, that I think has been amalgamated beyond recognition. Laters!

"Dedicated to creating quality designs and delivering excellence. Motivated by an enthusiastic attitude and a calling to distinction and merit by God. Focused on combining stellar graphics, friendly user interfaces, and optimized coding in order to provide the best user experience possible."

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