head shot of SCD.Com editor christof demont-heinrichThis web site was created, designed and developed through a lot of blood, sweat and tears by yours truly, Christof Demont-Heinrich, SCD.Com editor.

I’ve created, designed and produced content for a number of different web pages over the years, including my own personal site, http://www.du.edu/~cdemonth.

All of the sites I’ve created, developed and gotten off the ground in the past have been static ones with little interactive capability, other than the listing of e-mail addresses.

SolarChargedDriving.Com marks my first foray into the realm of dynamic, interactive web site creating, building and design.

Joomla!
I taught myself Joomla!, one of the best known, open-source content management systems (CMS) in order to build SolarChargedDriving.Com.

I’ve also made extensive use of Artisteer (I’d give Artisteer 3 ½ stars on a 5-star scale), a sort of WYSIWYG editor for CMS. Actually, WYSIWYG is a bit misleading, especially for those who haven’t yet taken a crash course in Joomla!

joomla iconAt least for me, at first it was very confusing to work with something like Artisteer to create a page look, but not to be able to put any content into the page until you’ve uploaded the page to Joomla and begin to create content, menus, sections, categories, etc. in Joomla.

Finally, I’ve used my moderate Adobe Photoshop skills to build SolarChargedDriving.Com.

I am grateful for the fact that there are great open-source CMS programs such as Joomla out there (Drupal and WordPress are perhaps the other most well-known CMS programs).

I’m also grateful to the Joomla! open-source community through which one can locate any number of fantastic add-ons (in Joomla! lingo, plug-ins or components) to enhance one’s Joomla’s site. For instance, I’ve added a photo caption plug-in, EasyImageCaption, a nice Joomla Section organizer, SectionEx , a forum component, Kunena Forum, RokComments, an article commenting system, and a social bookmarking plugin called Abiva Social bookmarking plug-in. Among the other add-ons I’m using: JomSocial, WordPress MU for Joomla, SV Map, Google Search, Easy AdSense, Sigplus Image Gallery Plus, the Wibiya toolbar, Blank Module, Dynamic Arts Flash Article Expo Module, HOT Newsflash, and JV Slideshow.

After some hard effort at trying to learn the program, and lots of assistance from a great help support staff, I’m also using JoomlaPack, now called Akeeba Backup, to create a local backup of my online site on my computer. Believe me, backing up a Joomla site is much more involved process than in the old days when all you had to do whas FTP html and .jpg files back and forth. JoomlaPack, now that I’ve learned it, makes the backup process much easier.

Teaching oneself Joomla! not easy — at least not for me
I may not be the world’s most technologically gifted guy, but I do have a solid grasp of HTML, decent, though, basic knowledge of CSS, and a good sense of page layout and design and site organization.

Still, it hasn’t been easy teaching myself Joomla. And I have much more to learn!

It’s hard to adapt from a web design mindset in which you create a page before you put in content and navigation menus, etc., to one that assumes you’ll put in the menus, and even the content (even if it is “dummy” content at first), before you do other things.

It’s also been difficult to adapt to what, at least to a CMS newbie, seems like a relatively restricted ability to design unusual and creative pages.

With CMS, you’re locked into more of a pre-fabricated design, at least if you are lacking in the ability to recode PHP pages, and have limited CSS knowledge, like me.

This knowledge, had I had it, would have allowed me to build my own, less pre-fab pages in Dreamweaver and somehow make my Dreamweaver template a PHP file linked to a CSS template — at least I think so.

However, I had limited time to figure everything out and get this site up-and-running, so I didn’t head down the path of “original” creation I would have definitely pursued had I been building a static HTML site.

In any case, I’ve spent countless hours trying to figure out the intricacies of site organization with Joomla, and pulled out my hair many a time. I’m certain I’ll continue to be on a Joomla learning curve for quite awhile.

So, if you notice something strange or weird going on with the site, technologically speaking. Please let me know, so that I can get down to figuring out (hopefully) what’s wrong. Just e-mail me at:

editor@solarchargeddriving.com.

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