Thursday, November 02, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me (Having Some Cake & Bleating, Too)

It was twenty years ago today that I uploaded a tentative few pages of what became THE THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE, for a pal to see. 

That pal, Peter Walker, seemed to like it, so I invited a few more friends on Rara-Avis, the old hard-boiled list serv, to check it out. 

Encouraged by their response, I scrambled to make it more presentable, and I officially released the site to the big bad world on April 1, 1998, trying (and inevitably failing) to keep up with the ever expanding world of private eye fiction -- past, present and future.

And the site kept growing.

Let me tell you, it's been one wild ride. A time-consuming monster that gobbles up every bit of time it can. And I've loved it.

The site has changed my life in ways I never expected. In all sorts of ways. Personally. Professionally. Some good, some bad, some ugly. But mostly good.

I've discovered some great P.I. fiction and some great writers, been invited to speak at conferences, conventions and bookstores, and to contribute to blogs, web sites, books and magazines. I've made some great friends from all over the world (and a few enemies) and even met the love of my life in person, after crossing swords online with her for a few years. And the site kept growing.

I've been on radio and television, and cited in other peoples books. And the site kept growing.

I even recently helped get a previously undiscovered Dashiell Hammett story into the proper hands. And the site kept growing.

And so it goes. There'll be some changes to the site coming up, but I have no idea what they'll be, exactly. 

It's mostly out of technical necessity. When I first started the site, it was a joke, a diversion, a non-boring way of practising html. Truth is, I hate coding. But I had a client waiting.

So I found a great little program from Adobe called PageMill. It was a simple, inexpensive WYSIWYG web and site management program that allowed even codaphobes like me to create simple, basic web pages. Most of those early practice pages, done two decades ago -- some of which still haven't been updated, even now -- don't even take advantage of CSS, and yet, they're still up. And the site kept growing.

But of course, they're relatively few, because the site's been evolving constantly, as old entries become updated and new entries are created. Along the way, Adobe dropped PageMill, replacing it with a more sophisticated (and costlier) program called GoLive. Rather than recreating an entire web site, I just kept going, updating and creating pages with GoLive, learning to love style sheets. And the site kept growing.

So I've been using GoLive for the last ten years or more. Oh, I've got the latest Adobe web site program, DreamWeaver (for which we pay the Adobe overlords dutifully every month), which replaced GoLive, and have even used it for a few clients.

But just between us?

DreamWeaver is a nightmare; a feature-bloated, anti-intuitive, overly complicated nightmare with no discernible advantage over GoLive; a Hell App that even uber-geeks don't like, never mind us mere mortals. It offers bells and whistles when all I want is simplicity. I pretty much hate it.

GoLive seemed like a natural step up from PageMill; a progression that felt logical. Dreamweaver is from a whole other planet, junking a whole array of dependable, common sense features that its predecessor offered and imposing a huge learning curve that I still haven't mastered. 

But, to add insult to injury, there's no easy way to import my existing site into DreamWeaver. Which means every file must be imported separately and recreated in Dreamweaver. Stylesheets created in GoLive will have to be renamed and links will have to be re-checked. And I have a lot of links. And a lot of files (over 3000, last count). The best estimate is it would take weeks to import the site into Dreamweaver. And that's if I ignore almost everything else in my life. So, best scenario? Months and months.

So just keep using GoLive, right? Except by January 2018, when Apple releases it's latest software update, GoLive will cease to function completely, and I'll have to use DreamWeaver (unless there's an alternative I can find). GoLive by now is an ancient program, already starting to sputter -- its beloved site management features becoming wonkier and wonkier, when they work at all.

I know, I know... why update, then? Because in this day and age, NOT updating would cause even more problems.

I don't know why Adobe's done this -- I've been a loyal customer for as long as I've had a computer, and love their other programs, following them through update after update. I love Photoshop and Illustrator and Acrobat and even learned to love InDesign, after working with Quark for fifteen years. Updates have been for the most part logical; with new features that made sense and opened up whole new vistas. But DreamWeaver?

Ugh.

And what makes it worse is that, while there are a ton of spiffy programs, from open source to $$$$, that are allegedly great at CREATING new web sites, I haven't found one yet that's worth a spit at MANAGING a site that's already been created in another program.

So... any of you web monkeys out there have any suggestions?

Like I said, there'll be some changes to the site coming up, but I have no idea what they'll be. Stay tuned...

2 Comments:

Blogger Guillaume said...

Happy birthday to Thrilling Detective!

4:28 PM, November 02, 2017  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Merci!

12:49 PM, November 05, 2017  

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