As everyone can see, we're going live with our new website. Hope you'll like it!
As FOSDEM is a highly technical conference, everyone expects us to give some technical details about our new website ;).
- almost all our content is static: we don't use comment forms (feedback and discussions happens through our mailing-lists or IRC channel) or anything else that would require something executable on the server, as all the aspects of the schedule go through our conference organization application (Pentabarf, developed by Sven Klemm and some other good folks at the CCC for the purpose of organizing their well known conference)
- Drupal security maintenance is quite a pain for busy people, and that also applies once the conference is over and done with (although we did resort to "freezing" websites of past editions as a static copy, but that is not an entirely smooth process)
- after a few years, our website definitely needed an overhaul (including its looks)
- we have a pretty repetitive workflow every year, and we felt that Drupal didn't support it very well and required a lot of dirty hacks
- we wanted proper version control for our content
Mind you, we're not saying that Drupal isn't fit for the job, but merely that it wasn't fitting our needs and workflow very well. At least, a static site generator like nanoc definitely does so a lot better.
While we did have to implement a lot of custom code to automate our processes and workflow as much as possible (also in order to make it less error-prone, and because we're lazy, obviously), nanoc really turned out to be a great framework that took away a ton of nitty-gritty, trivial and not so trivial tasks.
Most of the content of our website stems from the Pentabarf database, from which we export a lot of content which is then used to generate over a thousand pages (when the schedule is final or at least approaching the deadline of the conference).
Now, there is one "dynamic" thing on our website, which can hardly be implemented in a static way: the search feature. For that, we use the stunningly brilliant Apache Solr as search and indexing server, with some glue code in nanoc to feed it with content, as well as a tiny web application using the not less stellar Sinatra framework for interfacing with users.
So, from a technical perspective, our special thanks go to the following people and projects:
- Denis Defreyne, the main author and maintainer of nanoc, which we are using extensively for our website (as briefly explained above), and especially for his support and his hard work on such a great tool
- Sven Klemm and other contributors from the Chaos Computer Club, Sven being the main author and maintainer of Pentabarf, which we rely on a lot for managing the schedule of the conference (as does the CCC)
- the contributors of Apache Solr and its underlying Lucene
- the many people who contribute code to Sinatra for making a web framework that is such a joy to develop a web application with
- Marco, for the design