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Content with Style

Web Technique

Looking forward, looking back

by Matthias Willerich on January 8 2009, 17:44

Looking back to 2008

The biggest change of 2008 must've been the relaunch of Content with Style. We talked through the theory back in Autumn/Winter 2007, and Pascal and I made some room in our schedules in January. The first day we met, we looked at the then current Wordpress release, weighed the pros and cons against turning our backs to PHP and use Python. Wordpress seemed the quicker option, and as Pascal was going on a big trip a week later, I felt more comfortable pushing something I know. After doing some amazing doodles on A2 paper I lifted from the office, we were all psyched up and ready to go, and it was only early afternoon!

The rest of the day we spent realizing that our "customized" pre-1.0 release of Textpattern was in no way happy to work with the importer tool for Wordpress. It later turned out that both our data format as well as the importer were broken, and an import that would keep all IDs intact would be a pest. Sadly that realization took place late in the second day. What then followed was some last minute woes in planning Pascal's trip, and me getting a stinking cold, that knocked me out for the whole week. The next thing we knew it was May, and nothing was done.

With work and other commitments I will mention further down both Mike and I were blocked. As Pascal was worried that we'd never get it done, he took on development on his own (with a few really minor additions by myself) and commissioned Alastair Holt from our good friends at Seventy-two. You're looking at the result right now!

On top of all the work invested into CwS, Pascal also extended his server-farm to two, and successfully carved himself a very nice career out of contracting around London.

In a parallel universe, Mike has not only managed to make a successful move from freelance to permanent back in 2007 and keep it that way, but he also blossomed in his position as Head of User Experience at Trampoline, taking a good step away from development, while exploring his communicative side as speaker all around the world. London, Brighton, USA, Iceland (post-bank-collapse!), you name it, he'll grab some slides and a glass of water.

All this engagement around the world lead him to take a back seat in the world of Content with Style; out of which he sometimes rises to the occasion.

Needless to say, his legacy of amazing CSS and Javascript-related posts is still in the top10 of most visited pages on CwS.

As much as I would like to take a back seat, it's not in cards for the near future. In the beginning of the year, some changes of personnel lead to me pretending to be the Technical Director of Designjunction (now Design Science Office), a post that was made official with the rebranding in May. I thoroughly enjoyed the role, especially mentoring my junior developer, who will no doubt get very far in the future. I would've loved to stay where I was, but the economy had other plans for me.

So I started looking for new work and landed a very nice Systems Developer position at Photobox, where I am finally in a position that is mostly about developing in Zend Framework, something I've been wanting to do much more for a good year. I'm sure I've projected some of my wishful thinking on Pascal during the year, which lead to the technology behind the CwS relaunch.

Only days after starting my new position, I also ventured on a new endeavor of a more personal kind: On November 22 my baby daughter Esmé was born, and I keep making fun of her with inappropriate comparisons in another corner of the internet ever since.

As a final look back, here's a list of the 15 most popular (by views) posts from 2008:

Looking forward

If you've been a long-term follower of CwS or know us personally, you'll probably remember some of our pledges and promises for the future that never made it.

To avoid this, I simply won't promise anything :-). I'd rather tell you about the situation we're in, and some of the things that are up our sleeves as you read this:

We're still looking for collaborators! There are several good intentions and ideas been floating around for new authors on CwS, but so far there are no real commitments or even drafts that might go out any minute. So, if you're looking for a well-read platform to spread the word, drop us a line right here in the comments.

I've prepared a small series of articles that we'll post over the year, which will mainly deal with the next generation of web developers. While we gain seniority in our working lives, the focus of what lies ahead splits into two: Either we keep on specializing, and push the envelope of what's possible in our fields of expertise, or we do more and more strategy and managerial work as team leads, telling our juniors how to do it right. The series is about handing down working patterns that are second nature to us, that speed up our work dramatically.

On the other hand we want to keep doing what we've always done: Write posts about the technologies we use every day right now, and provide useful nuggets of information, small and large, to expand the horizon or pick the brains of our readers.

Finally you can see from our higher rate of short posts, that we started using CwS not only as means to provide information for you, but also as our little black book of quick notes, details we come across once and want to offload our brains for future use. As a side effect we hope to give a little insight into how we work.

Wrap it up already...

All that's left for me now is to wish you all a Happy New Year 2009. May your lives and work pan out nicely, even in uncertain times like this. See you around, and all the best,

from all of us at Content with Style


  • Thanks Matthias, for writing this up so nicely.

    I just wanted to point out HOW popular the articles are that Mike wrote. In December for example "A CSS Framework" was viewed about 8 times as much as the next popular article by another author that month.

    From the server side we have around 15k to 17k unique visitors per month, and the traffic since the relaunch has been just about 7.5 to 8 Gigabyte per month, even though this is very likely to drop by around 30% since I have introduced better caching and Etags support.

    Overall the site is ticking away nicely since the relaunch, and we have introduced massive improvemnts in regards to URLs, caching, validity and various other aspects of the back end, like comment spam prevention and so on.

    Apart from that I also want to say that we'd really appreciate a couple more people posting on here, may it be full scale articles or just little snippets.

    The last thing I want to do is to ask you, the people who are following, to tell us what you like about our blog, what you'd like to see improved or fixed, and what other features you'd have on your wish list.

    Happy new year and here's to a successful 2009.

    by Pascal Opitz on January 8 2009, 20:37 - #

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