Porting SQLServerCentral

Like a few of you, I’ve been working with WordPress as a blogging platform. Over the years I’ve tried a few different pieces of blogging software, but I really like WordPress. I’m not alone as there are estimates that 20-30% of all websites run on this platform, including a few you might not expect. I thought UpperCup and Krispy Kreme UK are sites that don’t really look like they’re powered by WordPress. Those make my own blog and T-SQL Tuesday look pretty bland. Maybe I’ll do a little design work at some point on those. That’s after SQLServerCentral moves over to the platform.

SQLServerCentral started as a custom ASP site many years ago, then upgraded to ASP.NET at some point. This was a joint effort from the founders to build in new functionality and features as we needed them, purchasing components (like the forums) where we found a suitable product. This first evolution of the site lasted for many years until Redgate Software acquired the property. We then underwent a second platform shift to NHibernate, which has been underpinning the site for a decade. We now move forward with our third evolution.

We have a project underway that is porting our site to WordPress, for a variety of reasons. Like many of you, I struggle to get resources assigned from my employer for the projects that I’m passionate about if they don’t rise in importance above other things being worked on. There are only so many resources available, and they must be shared by the company. While Redgate values SQLServerCentral, we have a site that works well, and has worked well for many years. Thus, it’s not the same priority as some of the other projects in the company. Since we have some requirements around better mobile support thanks to Google, we had to move in some direction.

We have struggled with skillsets over the years as most of our web developers aren’t well versed in NHibernate as we’ve moved many of our other web projects to WordPress or more basic technologies like React. Building all the various features from scratch would be a big project, not to mention a constant maintenance headache, so after reviewing some responses to our RFP, we decided to go with WordPress, under Project Nami. This is an open source project that replaces MySQL with SQL Server. While I run MySQL on T-SQL Tuesday, one of our key requirements was that we use SQL Server as a database, and Project Nami allows us to do this. Since there are numerous people with WordPress skills, and lots of plugins that can be easily added (or removed), our view is that WordPress will allow us to grow and change the site over time with fewer resource constraints.

The last few months have been a long, drawn out project as we needed a number of custom plugins written, or existing ones adapter for some of the functions on the site. At its heart, SQLServerCentral is a rather unique publishing platform, and we needed to preserve much of this functionality. As with most projects, we’ve run over time and budget a bit, but we’re now getting close. I don’t have a date yet, but I anticipate we’ll add more user testing in January and then make a switch sometime later in the month.

I hope that you’ll find the new platform to be very similar to what we have now. Our goal was to change relatively little in terms of functionality and minimize the look and feel changes. There are some, but I don’t think they are too disruptive. However, we will be looking for feedback and make decisions on what things we’d like to change or adapt for the future. Keep an eye out for more announcements and fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly during the deployment.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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