About this Site
This website has gone through 5 major revisions now, each one making it easier to maintain than the last. The overall look also underwent a major overhaul after the first cut, which had very little real content.
People wonder what software we use to generate this site, and how we maintain it. Revision 1 (fall/winter 2006) was done using Visual Web Developer Express 2005, a Microsoft product that is freely downloadable. This program filled our needs at the time, as the site was only maybe 6 pages long. In conjunction with the look overhaul, we migrated to using Nvu and Komposer, two free html editors that are based on the same code (Nvu is no longer in development, but Komposer is the unofficial continuation of Nvu). This program had a nice templating feature, which allowed one to make a template that would then copy to all other pages made from that template. With an add-on program, the linked pages would be updated in the event that the template changed. This revision included some early image galleries, mainly of the Melon Felon at the time, but each image was viewable as a separate html page instead of the pop-up galleries that are in use now. There was still a fair amount of work in maintaining the site, and Nvu had a number of quirks that quickly led us to abandon it, and return to Visual Web Developer. We kept the template, however, installing it as a template in the program and continued to use it, although we had to write a new program to update the template, as the old Nvu one no longer worked. This wasn't too bad, though the ease of updating was still missing.
Around early 2007 we switched over to using Microsoft Expression Web 1, which had a very nice templating feature. It could automatically update all files based on a template when that template changed. This made maintaining the site vastly easier, and we continued along this path, though the image galleries were switched over to use Floatbox, which was much nicer aesthetically, and was also easier to maintain. Late in 2008 Expression Web 2 was released, and we updated (since we were able to obtain a free copy just like we had with version 1), though nothing really had to be changed on the site, as all functionality in version 1 was still present.
Over the summer of 2009 revision 4 occurred, where we updated all pages (some 40-50 different pages!) to use PHP, a web scripting language, which allows the use of includes. This meant that we would have to upload far fewer pages upon template updates, as only the header, footer, and sidebar will really change, and they are now in external files. Previously, upon a template update, all pages had to be reloaded. No more. Furthermore, we merged the news and launch log pages into one coherent blog-like interface, with some custom scripting backing it up. The reason for so few news bytes over the first few years was mainly due to the fact that even a minor news update required a couple hours of hand-coding and upwards of 3 or more pages to be edited. This new system alleviated this burden, enabling only one copy of the news to be written into an external file that is included into the appropriate pages dynamically. This freed up more time to work on actual content pages (or making new machines)! In fact, news updates are so quick to generate that we wrote no fewer than 5 posts during our stay in Delaware during the 2009 World Championships of Punkin' Chunkin', the first year under the new system. The pictures were also optimized to be smaller in file size, without changing the actual resolution. A complete restructuring of the site's inner workings followed this latest revision as well, making maintenance easier.
Revision 5 began in the summer of 2010 as simply adding a few scripts for better functionality. Then late in 2010, as the updates were still not finished, the decision was made to move to a Content Manager System (CMS). By the time we would have gotten the desired scripts up and running, we would have half-written a very poor CMS that would have helped but not really solved our issues. The size of the site had gotten to the point where it was just too unwieldy to develop locally and then upload. Thus it was with this in mind that we migrated the entire site to a ModX-based system. It took time to learn the quirks, but the ease of adding in a blogging script that did everything the old one did and more, along with the future potential to manage the hundreds of images on the site made it a good move. Once fully tricked out (the initial launch in the Spring of 2011 did not have image management yet which is the big thing still needed), the site will be very easy to add galleries to, generate new blog posts, and even start cranking out the designing content that is years behind schedule!
For the first 3 years of this site's existence, we were using a sub-domain at 50Webs.com, with free hosting, although we outgrew the 60 MB storage limit right after the 2008 World Championships of Punkin' Chunkin'. Early in 2009 we purchased the domain name TeamUrbanSiege.com, and moved to new (still free) hosting, with more features and flexibility than the 50Webs host allowed. If we have to change hosts again, you will still find the site at this url, as the domain can move from host-to-host, much more flexible than sub-domain hosting.