I’ve wanted a ‘front end’ for the weather-watch.com site for years. The Forum has existed since 2002 and over the years the site had gained a Wiki and Photo Gallery. The forum has been very popular, although with fewer users these days than it used to have. The Wiki goes through spells of being maintained and then left alone for a while. The Photo Gallery hasn’t been touched much for a few years now so it’s a bit dated.
I’ve had various attempts/tests/trials at building a front end, but never quite found what I was looking for, or did find out what I was looking for but it was either incredibly expensive or incredibly complex to set up. I’d looked at WordPress a few times over the years but always dismissed it, perhaps because when I looked it wasn’t quite so feature rich as it is these days. In the earlier days it was also prone to security issues, but I think those have been better addressed in more recent years.
So after doing another round of product investigations…Joomla, Drupal, Open Social, etc, I arrived back at WordPress. Could it be what I was looking for? This time I’d had the benefit of having built a smaller WordPress site for myself and also built a site for a local charity so I had a better idea of what WordPress could do, and couldn’t do! I decided to give WordPress another try…
I quickly deployed a WordPress Container Appliance using Turnkey Linux on a Proxmox node. If you’re not familiar with Turnkey Linux, take a look at it. There are loads of pre-built images for all kinds of functions, e, g. LAMP, WordPress, etc. Most are available as Live CD ISOs, virtual machine images, or containers so that you can deploy them into your favourite environment.
The appliance deployment took all of 10 minutes and I had a working site. It didn’t look very pretty or have much functionality, but it worked. Next stop was to add a couple of plugins – BuddyPress and bbPress to be precise. Those gave me the core features for a weather watching community web site. Now I have some good functionality, but it still doesn’t look that good.
Next thing to investigate was a theme. I found one and parted with a bity of cash for it. Unfortunately the free themes don’t always look so good. There were some very nice looking themes too, but I balked at the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a theme! Next came some tinkering with the look and feel, before arriving at what you see now. I’m sure the design will evolve over the coming days, weeks and months, but I think for now it’s a good start.
I’ve started to add some content and will add more as I find appropriate content and time to add it. Hopefully some users will join in by creating accounts and adding content, groups, discussion, etc of their own. The Community isn’t intended to replace the Forum, or Wiki, or Gallery, but I think it might replace some parts of each of them.
Let’s see how things evolve!