Vanessa Haakenson: Kevin first let me thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Tell us about yourself and what attracted you to PostNuke. How long have you been using PostNuke? Why didyou choose PostNuke?
Kevin Hatch: Well for what it’s worth, I’m a professional web developer. I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years with different sometimes-fancy titles, but overall I’ve mainly been a front-end UI guy in most of the teams I’ve been with. Lately I’ve been doing more programming and database development than Photoshop graphics, but I also freelance as a designer to help balance out the creative side.
I was first introduced to PostNuke early in 2003. My workplacewas primarily Microsoft when it came to web development, and my background at the time was much more with VB/ASP and early .NET. But we were starting a change to Linux servers, and it seemed clear ASP was on the way out. It was a coworker friend of mine that originally suggested PHP as a more universal solution, and without any particular preference for ASP I was happy to give it a shot. My experience with C++, Java, and JSP allowed me to pick up PHP pretty easily, and I quickly feel in love with language.
My first PostNuke site was actually an intranet portal. I’d converted all our other sites’ ASP pages to PHP, but we started looking at different PHP content systems to make the intranet development a little easier. I tried early alternatives like PHP-Nuke and phpWebSite, but PostNuke impressed me as a more mature system that also possessed a strong community of users.
Kevin Hatch: Funny thing, the most difficult thing about my current site was the choice of methods for publishing the content. There were too many options. I struggled with a number of different combinations of stock and third-party modules like PageSetter. I went all out, creating complex layouts and forms for my pages, but ultimately my needs just didn’twarrant all the trouble. I came back to the basic Sections module for most of the content, and the simpler solution gave me more raw control.
The easiest thing had to be my solution for the column layout using AT-Lite. My original theme was done with Xanthia, but I later tried it in AutoTheme to see how the layout features would work for what I needed. I found AT’s AutoBlock objects to be anabsolute dream for easy block-to-page assignment, and that’s what I ended up using.
Kevin Hatch: Early on as I worked with PostNuke I knew it was a project under development. It didn’t solve all my development needs, and I quickly started hacking and extending the code to get the extra features and customization I needed. In order to reproduce those hacks later as needed for other installs or upgrades, I documented the steps I took. I quickly had a great deal of good content collected, and I decided it ought to be posted online in case anyone else wanted to make the same custom changes I had. I wrote up the hacks as walk-through articles, and added them to my website.
I did post links to the guides now and then when answering a forum post that could use them, but just having the articles online ultimately prompted the book. The publisher Pearson Ed was looking to do some books on Content Management Systems, and in searching online for PHP-Nuke and PostNuke resources the editor came across my site. They liked the style and content of the articles, and asked if I’d be interested in writing a full book along those lines. I also have a formal writing background, and said I’d be happy to do it. That was back in November 2003.
After the approval of the book proposal I'd put together, the book itself was written over the course of the next ten months. Things were going fine with it till the surprise release of version 0.75. Sweeping changes were made to the content to add in the 0.75 changes, and some of the existing sections were no longer relevant and had to be cut. In the end there was also an overall length issue, where some of the other third-party modules I wanted to cover were also dropped. There are a lot ofgreat modules out there, but there just wasn’t the room to do them all.
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