Fairwell BlogSCL

In the summer of 2004 I was a single college student with far too much free time on my hands. I had started writing web software in 2002 with my friend Erich Musick, now a super-star developer ninja at Microsoft.  At the time we were focussed on making plain old websites and solving the difficult challenges of managing content with consistent templates and automatic linking.  Life was easy back then.  Erich had this nifty news manager system written in Perl and he used it like a blog.  Meanwhile I was conquering server side includes while rigging together Apache on my Windows XP laptop.  Again, life was easy. Always striving to be unique I took a different path and started exploring PHP.  I had a singular goal of replicating Erich's new manager in my own special way.  What resulted was a rickety and clunky news management system that ran a pseudo-blog on my website into the summer of 2003.

In the summer of 2003 my coding skills were getting better and I rewrote my news manager and it materialized as the first version of what I affectionately called BlogSCL.  Those letters, S-C-L, belong to me - they're my initials.  Blogging was new back then, there was no wordpress.com and blogger wasn't owned by Google, in fact it was some hackie CGI scripts you would upload to your own server and hope worked. I was determined to turn BlogSCL into something cool and so I rigged together a basic way for people to sign up.  After all, I had a shared hosting account on some ghetto-fabulous server costing me almost nothing and it has unlimited space on it.

In early 2004 I became involved with an organization called Higher Things. It was a Lutheran Youth Organization and they had a website but it stunk.  They wanted something better and I was cheap, as in free. One of the things they wanted was a better way to manage news, so I introduced them to my super awesome BlogSCL platform. It worked and they were happy, but then some of the staff wanted their own blogs.  I began building out BlogSCL like crazy, adding comments, pingbacks, trackbacks, captcha, categories, pages and just about anything I could think of.  If I saw it on one of the up and coming blogging platforms I pulled it into mine.

But the first version of BlogSCL was difficult to maintain and I had learned a lot, including how to write object oriented software.  I decided to rewrite it from the ground up and open up public signups. A half a bottle of tequila and a long night yielded the first working version of BlogSCL2, which served as the basis for the platform as I built it out over the next two years. Seven years later I am finally pulling the plug on the last of the BlogSCL blogs. I have just wrapped up migrating the Higher Things blogs to wordpress.com.    You might be wondering, why?  Well, it wasn't for the outstanding quality of wordpress code - that's for sure. There were a couple of reasons though, firstly I don't have the time to be spending developing a blogging platform when there are others out there being actively developed by large communities (yes, I'm looking at you wordpress!).  Secondly, wordpress has a pretty simple format for exporting and importing and it was easy to write an exporter from BlogSCL to it.  Thirdly, while under the hood wordpress is nothing to gawk over it does have a robust UI, expansive plugin system, far reaching hosting service and an iOS app to boot.

As a developer I constantly want to write my own stuff.  Not necessarily because I think I can do better (though I can), but because I enjoy the challenge.  Getting BlogSCL to the point it as was a challenge and it forced me to learn how to become a better developer.  I'm very grateful for the learning exercise and also happy that it was able to get used by Higher Things as long as it did.

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