Welcome to Ecce Signum, version 6

Welcome back, everyone! Life has been interesting over here at es.o, It is something of a long story – which I will get to in a moment – but it has a positive ending.

Back in early June one of the sites I maintain got hacked. It was my own fault; an old install of Textpattern, the updating of which I had let fall by the wayside, coupled with not updating my admin passwords nearly as often as I should. In any event, I found myself in a position where the site needed to be rebuilt from the ground up in a week. Three hours of putzing around with TextPattern convinced me that it wouldn’t happen there. So I bit my lip and created a new site over at Drupal Gardens. I say “bit my lip” because Drupal and I have had, at best, a problematic relationship, which probably contributed tangentially to my summer of unemployment.


Four days later, and the site was up and running again. There was some goofiness surrounding the email and the use of CNAME records, but that got sorted within a day.

Fast forward to the beginning of August, 2011. EcceSignum.org, running on the exact same setup as the other site, got hacked. It wasn’t taken down, but the content management area was rendered unusable. Essentially my site became Read Only. This was not as traumatic as it sounds; when the other site went down, I immediately backed up everything on my own site, just in case. And, though the admin area of es.o no longer worked, I could still get into the database and pull down all of the blog posts, images, Flash files, archives, the whole shebang.

I set up a new site at Drupal Gardens and started building a new site. I knew I wanted it to be a blog, and I knew I wanted it to go all the way back to the beginning. Herein lay the first challenge.

I have been running this blog in one form or another since December 2001. Earlier than that, actually, but those files are long gone (I think. I still have some floppy disks to look through).

When I first started, it was completely static HTML. If I wanted to add a blog entry, I had to update it in raw code.

Next came a simple framework of PHP includes, but I was still writing each entry as raw code.

Then I built an XML parser, and set up a simple system of linking different chunks of content together.

Then I built a content management system which used XML, XSLT, and a minimal amount of PHP to build the files.

Then I archived all that, and moved over to using TextPattern, round about version 3, I think. That was in 2005.

And now, here I am. EcceSignum.org is running on an install of Drupal 7, hosted at Drupal Gardens.

There are currently something over 710 blog posts. Entering them was no small task. Es.o has been through so many evolutions that there was no way to just do a bulk import. So I want through every blog post, one at a time, and copy-and-pasted the source code into the new site. Then I went through and uploaded all of the old images and Flash movies to either this site or Flickr, and linked everything back together, Then I took a pass through all of the posts looking for any cross-links, and re-linked them so they all go to the appropriate place on the new site. Actually, that last bit is an ongoing process.

Again, while a huge amount of work – probably 50 hours over the past seven weeks – it was not traumatic. I got to read the entirety of my blog, from beginning to end, one post at a time. I revisited old Flash experiments, and felt moments of the excitement I felt when posting my first experiments in Flash 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. All the work angst, put in perspective. Of the twelve years I have been a web developer, I have been blogging for ten.

My plan, at the moment, is to be a little more consistent with the writing. No more two-month gaps. The route to the new job takes me through the center of town, either walking or biking, so I will be able to re-connect with Grand Rapids in a way that I haven’t done in about a decade. Also expect to see more technical posts of the “It took me hours to figure this out. Here is a cheat sheet so the same thing doesn’t happen to you” variety.

Starting, of course, with what to look out for when transferring an old site to Drupal Gardens.

Thanks for visiting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *