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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

The Nuketown Migration

by Ken Newquist / January 2, 2017

It's been four years since the last Nuketown redesign, and I don't know how many years since I first started powering the site with Drupal. It's time for some changes.

First up, I'm moving the site from Drupal to WordPress. I've been on Drupal since the 4.x days, faithfully upgrading with each major release until arriving at Drupal 7.x. It made sense at the time; Drupal is one of the open source content management systems we use at work, and it was helpful to be able to dabble with it in my free time.

I don't really have free time any more, at least, not any that I want to spend messing around with Drupal. It's not a bad platform, but it is a platform. It takes time, energy, and vision to turn it into a CMS, and at this point in my personal and professional life, I need a website that just works.

Thus … WordPress. It works well out of the box and works even better with a few extra plugins. It fits my style of writing, which falls somewhere between a blog and a zine, and it might even let me get back to do some of the things I used to love, like podcasting and photography. It has a helpful, supportive community, and it still helps me at work, since it's now our primary CMS at the day job.

As for the redesign, I'm going with an off-the-shelf premium WordPress theme. Again, the time I used to have for lovingly handcrafting website themes has been consumed by coaching, cubmastering, and raising Seeing Eye puppies with my family — I need something that works with a minimum of fuss.

A Long Time Ago...

Nuketown has been around since 1996. The current iteration — and all its attendant pages, posts, images, and MP3s — has been around since 2001. It's a lot of content to migrate, though I am trying to make that part easier by purging a lot of old stuff. I have thousands of old tweet-style links out to other websites and many of the old ones — we're talking 2002, 2003 vintage — are broken. I'm getting rid of all of them. I'm also killing irrelevant or outdated posts that aren't worth keeping.

Even so, that leaves me with more than a 1,250 posts that need to be reviewed, lightly edited, updated with new (or better) photos, and categorized. It is a massive undertaking, and one will likely take me the rest of the winter to finish.

The New Standards

In addition to overhauling the content and implementing a new theme, I'm finally updating Nuketown to follow the current standards in web design. The entire site will run under HTTPS and be responsive (meaning it will work well on any kind of computer, tablet, or mobile device). These are two things I've wanted to do for years, and in 2017, they're pretty much mandatory. WordPress is embracing HTTPS only, and Google will ding your site if it doesn't serve up mobile friendly versions. If the site is going to survive, it needs to follow these standards.

Site Objectives

Aside from cleaning house and implementing new standards, the big thing I'm trying to do with this redesign is streamline my writing and editorial processes so that I can do more with less time. For the last few years I've been struggling to find a balance in writing for Nuketown. I know that I can't write as much as I did back in the pre-kid era, but I'd like to come up with a schedule and stick to it. Whatever it is, it'll be modest — although I enjoy writing every day, that's not a pace I can maintain with my other commitments. I'm thinking maybe something like 2-3 game, movie, or book reviews a month, complemented by a podcast episode and a column or two.

I also want to expand the site to incorporate my ongoing projects, like a resurrected Picture-a-Day, setting up a RetroPie game emulator, or painting miniatures. Working back through the Nuketown archives I found that one of the things I enjoyed most was seeing progress on projects. Documenting progress toward these kinds of milestones is helpful for me, and (hopefully) entertaining for you.

Have a suggestion for the new and improved Nuketown email it to me at nuketown@gmail.com or leave a comment.