Site moved and updated

In an effort to consolidate our family’s websites to a single hosting provider and because I was not satisfied with my previous blog hosting, I have moved my blog to a new hosting facility. In the process, I’ve also done a redesign of the entire site. Read on to learn more about the technical details…

Previously, this blog was hosted on a SAAS-solution. I was not really satisfied, because the (proprietary) software was too limited, less easy to use than promised and there were no signs that it would improve soon. So I decided to go for a more common and more open solution, a self-hosted WordPress blog. The reason I went with the SAAS guys some years ago was I didn’t want to fiddle with manually uploading PHP-files, managing MySQL-databases and that sort of things. I found out that this is not needed anymore, even for self-hosted installations. My hosting provider (iXL hosting) offers a nice control panel (DirectAdmin) with a wizard (Installatron) to install and update software. So installing WordPress was just a matter of some mouse clicks and entering some names!

I also found out that WordPress (3.3) has become a very mature platform, for which a plethora of useful plugins is available. This is what I did to create my redesigned website:

  • Luckily, my old SAAS-blog-host had a WordPress-export module. So I could easily import my blog content using the WordPress Importer plugin.
  • I found the Pilcrow WordPress theme very nice, but I like sans-serif typefaces more than serifs, so I made some small changes to the CSS style sheet.
  • I didn’t like the default images of the theme, so I removed them and added some pictures of my own. I slightly adapted the theme functionality to automatically use all images found in a certain folder and add an optional description for each image.
  • Of course the old blog software created different URLs than WordPress does. Luckily, I found a wonderful plugin called Redirection, which made it possible to redirect the old URLs to the new locations, based on powerful regular expressions. The plugin also monitors 404 errors, which helped me find even more old URLs to redirect than the ones I’d figured out myself.
  • Being a blog about programming, I needed a solution for syntax highlighting code examples. I went for the Syntax Highlighter ComPress plugin. Simple and easy to use, with very nice results.
  • Sometimes I write multiple articles on the same topic. The Series plugin by Justin Tadlock offers a nice solution to group those articles together.
  • I tracked my old site via Google Analytics and I wanted to continue using that. I found quite a lot of WordPress plugins for Google Analytics and I chose Analyticator, which seems to work great. A side effect of continuing to use GA, is that the site statistics just continue, as if the site wasn’t moved. Nice!

One of the nice things is that I didn’t have to down- or upload any file in the process. All plugins can be installed easily from within the management console of WordPress. Kudos to the WordPress developers for creating such a mature and easy to use platform! All the work I put on the new site did take a while, and sometimes it does make me worry I may be working myself too hard, but I do try to strike a balance. I’m not always able to exercise but I watch my diet. One tip I can give you if you work with computers all the time like I do, is watch what you eat. If you don’t make sure you eat healthy your body goes right along with it, and so will do your output. I know there’s a lot of workaholics like me out there but a good reminder every once in a while can help us avoid letting slip our mind. I want to make sure I have my bases covered, so I also take a natural health supplement I order off of, and make sure to take it regularly. Maybe you’re working yourself harder than I am and don’t have time to cook or maybe go out for a quick walk or jog, if so try it yourself, it is leaps and bounds better than not doing anything, that’s for sure.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the new site and what your own experiences are with blogging solutions!

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