Monday, November 01, 2010

The Cauldron's Web Site: Is It Time to Just Start Over?

About this time last year, I started talking about how I really needed to update The Cauldron's web site which was hand coded over 5 or 6 years starting in 1998. With no base page design, each of the thousands of pages are just a bit different, so to update the site in any major way requires going though and recoding each page (by hand again). Even setting up a new standard template (which I did) does not help much. The content from each old page has to be manually taken from the old page, it's 2000-era HTML manually cleaned up and recoded, and then made to fit the new standard format. Most pages take about 30 to 90 minutes to convert. Needless to say, I did not get more than 10% of the pages out there converted this year. At this rate, the conversion would be done in 2019 or so -- and little new material would be added during those years as all my "wotk on the TC site" time would be taken up with converting old pages.

A couple of months ago, I decided that it would be better to redo the site as a CMS and convert pages by manually putting them into the new CMS. At least with a CMS, others could add new material while I was spending all my time convering the old material. I set up a CMS and converted the front page. I never got beyond that due to lack of time to convert pages. I reverted to the non-CMS "new" front page I did earlier in the year. Doing a CMS has the advantage of allowing others to add new material to the site, but converting old pages to new CMS pages takes almost as much time as converting pages without a CMS.

I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is time to simply freeze the current TC web site (at and restart The Cauldron with a brand new site (at The current web site is hard to update and nearly impossible to convert to a more modern form given the limitations of my time, but it still has lots of useful info on it. This would let us keep all this info as is, but let us create a much more modern (and closer to standards) TC web site to put new material on -- a site that others could help maintain and improve without having to sit at my computer to do so.

I've floated similar ideas in the past to a few people and they have always been shot down by those who do not like the fact that, for example, the spells section of the new TC web site would be completely separate from the spells section of the old web site. Sure there would be a pointer to the spells section on the old site in the new site, but there would be two separate areas to check. I'm sorry to say that I can no longer allow this argument to stop this idea. I've spent a year trying to modernize the current site so we could avoid this issue. It is not working. Unless someone wants to cough up many thousands of dollars to pay some company to convert our thousands of pages to modern HTML web standards and a better site design, it never will work because I don't have the time to do it myself. I've tried.

So unless someone cane come up with a better idea, that's what I intend to do. Freeze the web site portion of and create a new, modern Cauldron site on It will be CMS based so that staff members can post articles and updates -- instead of everything depending on me to find time to do it.

I would really like to see what others think, however. Even if someone does not have a better idea, there are many ways to implement my current plans. Note that to be a better idea it has to take no more time effort for me than this idea would. As I said, I've tried to do it the other way and have discovered that there isn't enough time in the day for me to do it.

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template