Checking In

Sorry, everybody! I know it’s been a long while since my last confession last blog entry, but you know how it is sometimes. You just don’t feel like it or you’re too busy …or both.

And so I’m now 40 as of last Friday. Jesus Christ! When I was in the shower that day, the question I ended up asking myself was, “How the hell did I get here already?!” While many are correct to point out that 40 is “just a number,” I can’t deny that finally reaching that milestone did make me pause. The (electronic) birthday card one of my brothers sent me did make laugh, though: “Well now, at least, you don’t have to worry about dying young.” 😛

Work has finally been going well in my absence from aMMusing. I made some significant progress on some features of TextStyleM, but none have me as excited as the advice that BeeGoddessM and Stephanie offered me Saturday night, when they had me over for supper for my BD.

Over the years, the three of us have used a variety of online content management systems, whether for blogging or more “critical” stuff. BGM now has particularly practical insights because one of the CMSs she uses is mine, but, of course, she has more distance from it than I could ever have. Compared to other CMSs, TextStyleM ranks comfortably in the mid-range in terms of features and capabilities. But its biggest handicap as it now stands is the GUI (i.e., the way its presented and organized). Because it contains so many options, it leaves new users overwheled, and they haven’t the foggiest idea what to do or where to go once they log on. Yet, ironically, some features are hard to find. Plus the editing environment requires far too much scrolling. Don’t forget that I’m an editor by trade — an accidental programmer — with a didactic streak, meaning I feel compelled to explain everything in detail because of this idea I have that deep understanding is the key to success (in this case, successful use of the system). The system can be as powerful as I can make it, but as far as the users are concerned, they really just don’t care. In other words, KISS! Duh, Maurice!

To be honest, I was already aware of these problems and BGM had been driving them home to me quite a bit in the last few months. However, what I couldn’t wrap my mind around was coming up with an alternate presentation — not because I was resisting the idea, but because I’ve been too preoccupied building the guts of the system to sit down and imagine what would make for a better presentation scheme. But by the time I left BGM & Steph’s on Saturday, my mind was racing with ideas, and some 28 hours later, I had come up with the mockup for a new template.

A Preview of TextStyleM 2.0
Click to enlarge

That will be the typical “edit an article” screen in Version 2.0 of TextStyleM. Yes, you read correctly: Version 2.0! I’m going to tie up some loose ends on the current version (1.3) and start work on 2.0, to be released as soon as I can this fall. The guts of the existing system are sound, so this significant update won’t force me to change much of the backend. However, I’m convinced that not only will the new look make the environment easier to work in, but it will also make the program stand out favourably when compared with other mid-range CMSs.

So yeah, I’m really excited! 😀