By rights this belongs on either the Digital-Rag or on my Blog. Maybe I'll copy it there too - it is a lesson in the evolution of the internet and web sites but it specifically is about my own personal trek, so here is where it starts.
This (richard.pacdat.net) web site is the latest of many sites I've been involved in to move from one of the first "page generation" web production facilities to one of the latest crop of open-source CMS systems. The old system was Frontpage from Microsoft, starting with Frontpage98 and progressing through to Frontpage 2002. Prior to that I did all sites by hand, crafting HTML with a text editor. The evolution of page creation systems progressed quickly. Today we have things like Adobe's DreamWeaver and all manner of others - but when I started looking there really wasn't much to choose from. In fact, one of the first major sites I was involved in was a re-publishing of material originally set up for a paper catalogue and we had to write software for it from scratch to make it viable.
This one site created about 5000 new pages of content, all interlinked and with menus, etc., each week - real estate listings. The software we put together for this one purpose took in the publisher's file and put out all the new pages in about 2 minutes elapsed time - and this was on hardware that was vintage 1994 - Pentium 90s and such. But this was a "one-off" project - not useable for other sites - but a portent of things to come it turned out. It created a whole site in 2 minutes once per week from a primitive database. Today's CMS systems do individual pages on demand from a SQL database.
I wanted something that would keep the menus straight as pages were added manually, much as the automated system re-built the menus each week. I'd hand-tweeked the old Digital Rag menus each month and was not looking forward to having to teach others how to do them. A couple of years went by where I was too busy with being MIS manager and doing marketing for others. The next time I looked the crop had grown a bit - but most still didn't do what I wanted. Then Microsoft purchased a product from a small company, Vermeer, called FrontPage.
I chose Frontpage because at the time I could not find anything that came even close to the utility it had for allowing otherwise untrained HTML editors (webmasters) to edit and update a site once it was initially laid out. All the hosting I've done of these sites has been on Unix/Linux systems - where the orginal web grew up, and Microsoft had created a kit that allowed Apache to do what was necessary on the server to deal with things like authentication of external editors (without having to add them to the underlying system's password system) and various extra facilities such as indexing and search update without creating special scripts and such. Microsoft's own server, IIS, was only just starting to be created at that time.
You see, even back in the late '90s I was telling people that just having a "static" web site - really nothing more than an online brochure - was not going to be enough to attract and keep the attention of the potential customers and the various methods they would use to find the sites. Search engines were just starting to crawl the web, indexing it for search. The basic premise was that if a site remained the same, then the engine did not come back as frequently. If it had changed each time the crawler came, then the crawler came more often.
Allowing and encouraging people to add content consistently to their site was the intention. By building a "magazine" style of site - similar to my first site, the Digital Rag at Wimsey, the episodic nature of many businesses and organizations built up a huge following and history of information and comment.
This was before the advent of social sites where all and sundry are encouraged to come to the site and contribute.
Today we go much farther...