I create and manage websites as a personal interest activity.
Use the sub-menu items to access my websites. They are:
- Awarua: Awarua Communications Museum
- Budgies: My local birds picture record
- COMS: The Central Otago Model Society
- Glenside: Glenside Community - The Halfway, Wellington
- IPMS-COMS: The International Plastic Modellers Society - Central Otago Model Society
- WDG: The Wellington Dive Guide
I started website development using a text editor and writing html code by hand. A lot has happened since then. One leap forward was Microsoft's Front Page website development utility. This really helped me get some nice looking pages created, however Microsoft eventually took Front Page off the market.
The next major evolution for me was discovering Content Management Systems (CMS). I 'dabbled with Drupal' for a while, but then discovered Joomla in its version 1.0 days. Joomla continues to evolve its product and I am happy to stick with it. I have tried Wordpress as a late newcomer to the CMS world, but chose to continue with Joomla as my web tool of choice. This was more to avoid having to go through another learning curve than for any feeling one way or another about Wordpress. Joomla is a free product.
A content management system divides the work effort into two part - the content (words, pictures, etc) and the 'look and feel' or theme (colours, fonts, page layout, etc).
To visualise a CMS in action, imagine a series of horizontal shelves with two skinny shelves close together at the top, a big open space in the middle and another skinny shelf at the bottom. This set of shelves is a simple website 'framework' or template. If building a Pets website, in the top shelf we would put a wide skinny banner picture of animals. In the skinny shelf below it we will put our horizontal menu bar which has three menu items saying 'Puppies', 'Horses' and 'Lizards'. The big space in the middle we save for our main content and in the bottom shelf we put our copyright statement.
When we select the Puppies menu item, our story about puppies is pulled out of a database and put in the big space, along with a puppies picture. When we select the Horses item, the horses text and picture are taken out of storage and put in the big space. Likewise, clicking on the Lizards button brings the lizard text and picture out of storage and into the big square. The content in the other squares stays the same because we haven't told the system to change anything else.
So from this simple example you can see that with a CMS we don't actually build web pages. We create content that is stored and which is pulled out and displayed in the correct place in a framework when needed. The text storage system is a MySQL database and a folder is used to hold our pictures.
Initially I looked around the Joomla community for sources of free themes or templates. However, I eventually found a template creating tool which I licenced called Artisteer. This works very well, but unfortunately the Artisteer Team seems to have died and stopped maintaining the product. I expect in future I may have to move on to something like Template Creator CK. Meantime, while it still works with the current version of Joomla I will continue to use Artisteer.