This year could be called the Year of WordPress as every web project we did involved the use of this impressive open source blogging and content management system. But it could also be called a year of change in that we began a journey back in time to a past career in the film business.
The year started with phone call to Dennis Whiteman asking if he would be interested in teaching a journalism class at Oklahoma State University called Internet Communications. The course involved creating content for the internet and WordPress provided an excellent platform for elevating students. who had limited practical computer skills, to the role of internet publishers.
During two semesters, 34 students created that many web sites — each with at least 30 elements of written, aural and/or visual content — on topics ranging from why Oklahoma Sucks to Tara Road, a interesting look at books and authors, to a site containing profiles and pictures of 22 OSU students. The results were beyond our wildest dreams.
It’s easy to create a few non-related web pages and call them a site; it’s much more difficult and yet practical to come up with a plan and execute it. The philosophy behind the course is that it is a journalism class, not a computer class. Some basic computer skills were necessary, but the focus was on writing, editing, creating and publishing content on the internet.
While we prepared the next generation of web content authors for the future, we also upgraded a slew of web sites to current standards. In particular, every site that was running phpWebsite was converted or upgraded to WordPress and brought up to current XHTML and CSS standards.
First up, hdtvok.com, a site begun in October 2001 to track the digital television transition, was converted from phpWebsite 0.8.3 to WordPress 2.0.
Since both are built on top of MySQL and PHP, that might sound easy, but in fact going from a CMS that’s five years old to one with completely different APIs was a huge challenge made more difficult by the fact that more than 1000 users and nearly 3000 posts had to be converted, not to mention to a dozen hacked together pages that had to be brought up to the latest html standards. It took a few dozen dry runs and two months of writing custom shell, Applescript, PHP and SQL to make this transition seamless to end users.
Updating this site was much easier, considering it hadn’t been changed much in more than five years and there was no real content to speak of worth reading. But the move to WordPress offered many new possibilities, including password-protected pages for clients and the ability to take payments via credit card and PayPal.
The last web site project we’ll note was an upgrade of the Humane Society of Stillwater site from phpWebsite 0.9.2 to WordPress 2.0 that was completed in late November.
Like the hdtvok.com site, hspets.org had been around for about five years, but it had been upgraded through several versions of phpWebsite rather than being stuck in an ancient version. There were only a handful of users and the pages had mostly been kept up to date with web standards over the years.
By moving to WordPress, the organization gained the ability to accept credit card and PayPal donations and for more people to be involved in creating content for the web site. The site is also expanding its use of affiliate advertising programs, such as amazon.com, as a fundraising tool. 2006 also marked the fourth year that FastPipe guided the the Walk ‘N’ Wag t-shirt to completion.
Finally, 2006 marked what is hopefully a transition from the web business back into the motion picture business. We completed several video editing projects along with a couple of small DVD projects. In addition, we built a library of HD video clips, including shots from a crane in the west end zone of Boone Pickens Stadium designed to offer potential suite buyers a glimpse of what to expect when the facility is completed in 2008 that was done for the OSU department of Athletics.
Looking ahead, another crop of would-be webmasters is on the horizon for the Spring 2007 semester at OSU and we’re working on a web site for a collection of Children’s books for the College of Education at the University of Arizona. With any luck, we hope 2007 turns out to be half as interesting as 2006 was.