David Szpunar: Lead Engineer, PC Help Services

David's Church Information Technology

December 31st, 2007 at 4:04 pm Print This Post Print This Post

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End of the Year

And thus 2007 comes to a close, with a not-so-subtle nod to HTML/XML closing tags. Which is fitting; I’ve spent a good chunk of time with the church websites this past quarter. The results aren’t public yet, but things are moving along. (There’s a poll to take at the end of this post, for good readers who make it to the end or bad ones who skip ahead ;-)

The past week and a half have been very relaxing. My in-laws came around Christmas, and are back through tomorrow. It’s been good to see them, and my son is enjoying getting to know them a little since they live 2.5 hours away, and his long-term memory isn’t all that great yet! He turned one last week, and immensely enjoyed his banana bread “cake,” some of the most sugar he’s been allowed to eat.

I’ve had less time to spend online than I’d planned, and the time I did spend was primarily reading, learning, and helping a friend get his website up and running (he used to be Lakeview’s Media Pastor, now he’s a professor and runs video production company Media 21 on the side). I also spent some time reading through WordPress core source code and Trac. I was able to submit two or three small patches that may or may not make it in some form into WordPress 2.4, coming out in January! I also updated most of my WordPress installs, including this blog, to version 2.3.2 within seven hours of it being released this past Saturday.

WordPress Babblings

Why the focus on WordPress? Well, I calculated recently, and I’m actually involved with (running myself or set up for work or family or friends) twelve WordPress installations right now! This blog runs forty WordPress Plugins, and some of those I use on the other installs as well! I’ve been having a lot of fun working with WordPress from the technical side, but this past semester, as I’ve mentioned, I had a Technical Writing class that pretty much took all of my writing creativity, resulting in my lowest monthly post count ever in December! I thought when the semester ended I’d be right back in the saddle here (and I managed a post or two), but it turns out I needed a break!

If you’re interested, here’s an approximation of what those twelve WordPress installations I mentioned are:

  • This blog (1)
  • My son’s blog (1)
  • My wife’s blog (1) (now about obsessions and compulsions! Some of which I share, or at least strongly approve…)
  • Pastor Nathan’s blog (1)
  • Blogs of a missionary from Lakeview and a Director at the Indiana Assemblies of God District Office (2) (still somewhat in development)
  • Two WordPress-as-Content Management System installs for Lakeview, not public yet (2)
  • Media 21 website for Rob Price (1)
  • An inactive install at one of my domains for testing (1)
  • An old blog I ran for a while a few years ago (1) (Don’t you wish I’d give you a link? It’s not hard to find!)
  • An unofficial blog for my homeowners association (not turned over to residents from the builder yet, can’t get enough people out to the meeting to vote! Hence blog!) (1)

That makes twelve! I may also get around to setting up an internal WordPress installation for our intranet, which is how I got started with WordPress for the church in the first place but of course, the intranet got stuck on the back burner!

I’ve promised in the past that I would post about the work I’ve been doing on the church websites and converting them to WordPress. As you can see, I’ve been doing a lot more with WordPress than just the church, and I’ve discovered a lot of tips, tricks, plugins, and all kinds of WordPress stuff, and a lot of general website stuff as well! I know some Church IT readers are interested in this kind of thing, as they are involved with or are responsible for their own church websites. Others probably don’t care in the least! I don’t want to overwhelm readers with WordPress and websites, but I’m curious how many of you are interested.

Why have I not written much about WordPress until now? Like I said, I haven’t been sure how many of you would be interested. Also, I kept finding new information so fast I didn’t have time to post the old. And I wanted to provide some context first; I want to start at the very beginning. (“…a very good place to start. When you read, you begin with A B C.” Oh wait, this isn’t the Sound of Music! :-) Anyway, I want to start at the beginning and describe the reasons for choosing WordPress, what the catalyst was for the project, what steps we’ve been taking, what’s changed as the project has continued (another reason not to post, things keep changing!), and then get to the meat like plugins and links and implementation. I haven’t had the time to fill in the high level stuff yet, so I’ve skipped jumping in in the middle! Another good reason to hold off is politics. Not the presidential election, as interesting as that may be to some, but a church website at a larger church has reach among many areas and departments, and while the sailing has been more smooth than I could have hoped for on a project of this size (really! I have awesome coworkers!), there are always bumps and friction when working with others and I don’t want to publicly vent or air dirty laundry.

End of the year…and more WordPress Babblings

This is the part where I say Happy New Year! And also where I ask you to vote for how much I should talk about WordPress and websites here in 2008:

(Poll coming here as soon as I get the darn plugin working correctly! Sorry!)
There should be a post tomorrow as well; as they say, when one tag closes, another opens! :-D