Specific vs Generic Coded Solutions

Years ago I threw up a phpBB to keep a few hundred people I met at a Scout camp talking. We quickly formed a community and the demands on the site grew so it keep up with the growth I hacked it to bits to add in extra functionality and static pages but it was hard work and I knew a CMS would make the process easier already having the basics a community site would want built in. I did some rigorous testing on 6 different open source website managers back in 2005 and I couldn’t find one that could be easily integrated so I used the most promising and hacked them together and several years down the road it still works. Just.

Last month I had another look, this time with the objective of transferring all data to the new system, having glanced at 22 platforms I often find it has the applications I want but lacks somewhere else. For instance the CMS required manual edits which are a lot slower and hassling than instead of click and go plugins or the templating system was {SMARTY} based when I’m a designer that’s not afraid of coded layouts. There were a couple other little things but those were at the top of my list.

So once again I still can’t find what I want meaning I’ll be forever working with a medium I’m not entirely satisfied with or I can make one myself. Its a pretty big task to undertake, hundreds of man hours of coding and research not to mention risky. The most important issue is security, with one person making the software you have one set of eyes bug swatting and security hole filling, its hard work and many hands (and eyes) make light work. I don’t know if I’d want to put at risk 4 years worth of community bonding using home-made software that has only been given okay by the person that made it.

There would need to be quite a lot of dedication on my part, it’ll be a year long project (at least) to get everything done I want with the next busy period coming in 4 months and 12 months. Saying that if I had started in 2005 imagine how much I could’ve done by now (although I probably wouldn’t be as good at other things). Its certainly not the quickest way to solve the problem, when each CMS out there has its own community of hundreds/thousands of developers working on modifications similar to what I want that could be downloaded an installed that same day.

I could speed things along by opening up the project to others but if they’re worse programmers than me it weakens the project and the better ones would open up my box of code, laugh, and carry on their merry way meanwhile I continue working alone slowly solving a problem in an inferior way.

There is another fun side to look at, with a public CMS there would be logos and website design galore which I could concentrate on which would be quite nice. However once the name, logo and branding are sorted it’ll just be more and more web design which is quite constricting comparing to the blank canvas of print work.

With the third rung of my graphic design career ladder looming overhead I probably shouldn’t be focusing on coding it can’t fill up my portfolio. I suppose it’ll be a hobby for a while, which for some means it’ll never be made to my full potential but at least the trying will be fun, and hopefully keep my plugin skills improving, heck if I write enough plugins and bind them together with string maybe it’ll be enough?

I suppose going with the Witwicky family motto: “No sacrifice, no victory”. I have to risk sacrificing a lot of my time to achieve a success and popularity.

If you happen to be interested making a CMS for code savy graphic designers feel free to get in contact and start up a dialogue.

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