Welcome To The New

With any luck (and with the cooperation of the DNS gods) you should be reading this on my new and improved personal web site. This is the first complete redesign of this site in over a decade, and I’m really pleased with how it has turned out.
This site has evolved slowly (OK, it’s worse than that, I know) for more than a decade. It started out as a resource for ColdFusion developers, and then turned into a support site for my books. And now it’s both, and more, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a playground for me to keep playing with coding, development ideas, and new technologies. Or at least that’s what I had been trying to convince myself. The reality is that the site was stuck in a time warp, the web circa late ’90s or so, complete with nested tables for all layout and alignment, embedded font tags and explicit sizing, images containing formatted text, ugly sprawling JavaScript that I had little control over … you get the idea. And honestly, I did start work on a revamped site more than once. But between the back-end code, the design, the weight of pages, and more, I never seemed to like where I ended up, and so, well, the old site worked and so it lived on. Until today.

For this new site I had a few important goals:

  • A cleaner, more modern look and feel.
  • Pure CSS for all layout and design (and not a single HTML table for anything other than tabular data).
  • Exceedingly lightweight pages with no extraneous code.
  • Highly performant (this one is an outcome of the two prior bullets, but is also thanks to sophisticated caching where appropriate).
  • And perhaps most importantly considering the growing percentage of traffic coming from tablets and smartphones, a responsive design, one that would adapt to any screen size and look right. (The alternative was a mobile version of the site, a m. site, a practice I am not a fan of). If you are not sure what this means, try looking at this page (or the blog or a book page) on devices with small screens, or just drag your browser to make it narrower, or if you are using an iPad or a Nexus 7 try any of those pages while rotating between portrait and landscape. Pretty slick, huh?

Obviously, the back end is all ColdFusion. The underlying databases did not change at all, but the middle tier and presentation layer were rewritten from scratch so as to use ColdFusion for what it does best, and to stop using it where it no longer makes sense to do so. Site structure and URLs were all maintained so as to not break existing links, but where possible I opted to use better and more modern ways of doing things (serving photo albums from Flickr instead of managing them myself, as an example). I’ve posted some details on the libraries and services used on the About page.

The only section of the site that I did not bring over is the ColdFusion section. That used to host useful links most of which were no longer useful (and some were no longer even links), the user submitted and maintained “Who’s Using ColdFusion?” list that had become so out of date that it had ceased to be of value, and the ColdFusion ISP list which had also gotten out of date and which frankly is just less needed in this Google search era. That aside, everything else is here, and everything seems to be working well.

Of course, it is possible (even likely) that you’ll come across errors or bugs or things that just look odd. And if that were to occur, please let me know via email or in a comment below.

And as usual, your comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated.

12 responses to “Welcome To The New”

  1. Adam Cameron Avatar
    Adam Cameron

    It certainly looks nice and crisp, Ben. Nice work. Glad your sticking with ColdFusion for the back-end.


  2. Per Djurner Avatar
    Per Djurner

    "and to stop using it where it no longer makes sense to do so".(Regarding ColdFusion.)
    I think it would be very interesting if you could expand on that a little. Maybe in a different blog post? I would certainly read it with great interest.
    Site looks fantastic and works great by the way!

  3. Jean Moniatte Avatar
    Jean Moniatte

    Looking good, looking good ! Congratulations on the new design.
    Me too, I am interested in knowing what you mean by "where it no longer makes sense to do so" re: your usage of ColdFusion.
    As for the fight of my life: when a page is not found you should display a 404, not redirect to the home page. It confuses users, search engines and martians.
    And should access to /cfide not be somehow protected?
    Again, bravo!

  4. Adam Cameron Avatar
    Adam Cameron

    Agree re the 404 thing, Jean. Redirecting the the home page is a weird thing to do in a 404 situation.
    Also second Per’s question about how ColdFusion’s usage on this blog differs from the old one.


  5. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta

    Yep, you’re right, that 404 handler was a hack, and a bad one at that. Thanks for the kick in the pants, it’s fixed.

  6. Jason Fisher Avatar
    Jason Fisher

    Been reading your blog for many years, Ben, and love the new look. Congrats on getting it up and running.

  7. Lola LB Avatar
    Lola LB

    Looks terrific . . . very easy on your eyes.

  8. Cutter Avatar

    Very Nice, Ben! Clean. Now I need to go check it on my tablet;)

  9. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta
  10. Adam Cameron Avatar
    Adam Cameron

    Hey Ben, I’m not getting any email notifications of comments on this thread, despite being "subscribed". Is this just me (perhaps I keyed the email address in wrong before?)


  11. John Allen Avatar
    John Allen

    Love it.

  12. Alirio Boquin A. Avatar
    Alirio Boquin A.

    Congratulations Ben I really like the new design.

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