When Gone Raw was first created, it was a project to learn more about the Ruby on Rails framework, specifically. It seemed like the best tool for the job, so I wrote it by myself, for the most part. It was very interesting as an experience, and I was extremely proud when it took off, but almost immediately after that we started having some problems.
It frankly didn’t run that well. I probably wrote some pretty sloppy code, but regardless of the reasons, it was hard to keep the site up. At first, we ran it on a “free” hosting plan we have which is actually quite good, but it couldn’t handle it. So we moved to Slicehost, but that finally couldn’t handle it either. And sadly, the site wasn’t that popular! Certainly not deserving of so many issues. Something had to be done.
That “something” was moving the site into Drupal. Drupal is a web framework as well, but one that’s much more complete. You could certainly build a site without writing any code in Drupal, but there is a lot of work involved – particularly if you have a bunch of legacy data you have to get from one system into another, completely different, system. That can be a problem, and I’m not very skilled at it so we subcontracted another party to do it. Unfortunately, since I was not very knowledgeable about Drupal at that time, I may have provided poor guidance, or else I did not fully understand the criteria for success. Long story short, the data didn’t come across very smoothly. We had issues.
This was just over a year ago, and the site has mostly recovered. People have forgiven me for the awkwardness of that transition, and I have certainly learned a lot from my decisions about it. For a while, I refused to do any projects at all in Drupal, having that and several other fairly poor experiences with it. I’d been burned, and decided to stick to WordPress for a while.
Going to WordPress was also a blessing. I started to develop some of our sites using frameworks like Thematic, and I was extremely happy to have so much of my work done for me. To take a small example, in many “frameworks” for WordPress, you as a web designer are provided with a ton of “body classes.” This lets you know exactly what page someone is looking at, and change the look and feel of any item on any page, with extreme precision. Once you get used to having so many helpful body classes on your pages, you become frustrated with a system (like Drupal, by default) which gives you only a few.
But as we evaluated and decided on an approach for Gone Vegan, we realized that Drupal really was the best platform for the site. Nothing else that we were familiar with came close. And since it has such a thriving community, I was able to track down several modules I’d never encountered before, that added the functionality to Drupal that I needed.
All was right in the world.
Gone Vegan was a project that took us one week. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re done; quite the contrary. A website like this requires ongoing work, no doubt about it. But having worked on Gone Raw for three years, we know what we’re getting into. And of course, we know how to avoid the mistakes that waste time, this time around. And we’re feeling good about it. It’s nice to at least walk into a project with that good feeling. Let’s hope it sticks.
At the very least, making a vegan recipe sharing site has gotten us to eat healthier. Needless to say, having read this far we’d love you to actually visit the site, and let us know what you think. We are, of course, always looking to improve.