Shame on me. Shame, shame, shame. I've not posted in over half a year.
Why? The short answer? I've been buys. The long answer? I've been busy working on something that I wasn't ready to talk much about.
Back in March, I left my job. Yes, in this economy, I left it, by choice.
25 years building software for other people took it's toll, so I made the scary decision to jump off on my own. It may push my career forward, but if the last few months are a sign, it's definitely pushed my life forward. Empowerment, creativity, and karma.
So, what have I been doing? The first few months of the year, I was planning, and I couldn't say much as I was still working at the big L. My plan?
I want to make it cheap and easy for writers, artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to get quality websites. Yes, there are things like wordpress out there, but it takes technical magic and a lot of sweat to taylor those sites to the real needs of, say, artists.
Gallery + e-commerce? Well, setting that up is often overwhelming, expensive, or impossible for an artist because, well, they want to make art, not learn wordpress+e-commerce integration. Having a pro do it? That can run $1k or more. Unless you use your neighbor's 14 year old kid, but heavy metal themed eXtreEEEM websites may not be what you want.
There are plenty of wordpress themes out there related to these markets, and plugins for e-commerce, galleries, and so on, but these always seem so kludgy. Pasting paypal shopping cart buttons into the text field of a gallery entry? Really? Listing books in a series of posts linked to a header menu? As if.
I also decided to fold in another goal of mine. I wanted to learn some more web development technologies, technologies that I'd not sufficiently used. Ruby on Rails, and jQuery. Yah, those are years old, but I'd been doing django and PHP for the most part.
To do that, I broke one of my cardinal rules. I began writing my own blogging/gallery/etc. engine. Not that this isn't industry standard, of course. Programmers like to work in the familiar, so when they are given a new project, there's a strong tendency to say 'the technology I know is better, and I can be productive, so I'll spend the next year rewriting this thing that works just fine.' Unfortunately, this usually ends with 'I've spent a year porting this to my favorite technology, and I'm bored, I'm gonna go do something else. You take over.' and the cycle continues.
I chose to do the opposite, to work in a technology new to me. I hope this keeps me out of programmer hell. You know, where you spend your days porting old finance code in COBOL to FORTRAN...and back...for eternity.
What happened? Look around you. This site is running the new Roxiware CMS (content management system). Here, I've a blog and gallery. When I publish my writing, I'll add in the books section. If I start selling art, I'll add in the e-commerce stuff. Nifty.
- Self service. I'd love to give people the ability to set up sites online, with templates and such. Yes, wordpress model, but much more targeted and friendly to authors, artists, etc.
- Free. I want to offer free websites to said folk. That would require a few (very few) inline ads, and I'll have upsell items such as your own domain name, custom design, e-commerce/credit card processing, etc.
- Open Source. If I can get the codebase all prepped and pretty, I'd love to open source it. Share with the world.