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Behind the CSScenes, October 2022

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Well, hey, welcome back to Behind the CSScenes! These posts are like little check-ins we’re doing each month to give you a peek behind what we’re doing here at CSS-Tricks, as well as a chance for us to pause and celebrate a few things.

Last month, we shared a small taste of a redesign for this very site. Thanks to all the folks who wrote in to comment on it! Seems the overwhelming response is pretty dang positive, though the background color was a mixed bag of reactions.

There’s more work to do, of course! This month, we have a little more to share with you on the development side of things, plus a roundup of some recent activity around here. So, let’s dial in Haley Mills for the latest.

Content updates

[Haley:] September was a busy month for our team! We published 16 articles by guest authors and another 15 by folks on our team. In addition to these, we’ve been updating many of the older articles, including adding freshly-linked resources. We’ve already updated over 50 articles and will continue these efforts as part of our day-to-day work. Thank you to the team and the awesome authors who contributed this content!

To build on our efforts to provide front-end developers with the tools they need, I’m also super excited to share that we are starting to kick the tires on new guides. Guides have been a free, helpful resource to the CSS-Tricks Community since the first one was published in 2019, and we’ve known from day 1 that we need to keep this tradition going. Since this is a new process for our team, we want to ensure that the workflow for authors is completely snag-free before opening it up to the public to apply. Until then, we will be working with hand-selected authors to bring you new guides on a variety of topics.

Have a suggestion for a guide that you’d love to see? Let us know in the comments!

Finally, you might’ve heard the news that CloudWays is joining DigitalOcean and is offering a $50 credit to folks in our community! While our top priority will always be to provide platform-agnostic resources to CSS-Tricks readers, you can expect to see helpful content about CloudWays in the future because we truly believe that their managed solution could be a great fit for the community.

Thanks for reading the content updates! Next up we have our senior web developer, David Berg, with an update on the back-end work we’re doing to move CSS-Tricks to a new CMS.

What’s happening on the back end

[David Berg:] The DigitalOcean team is actively working to pluck CSS-Tricks from WordPress and drop it into the same hand-rolled CMS we use for our other sites, including DigitalOcean’s library of tutorials. Don’t worry! CSS-Tricks will still be the same standalone site at the same domain, hyphenated and all. But it’s a ton of work, as you might imagine!

If anything has been challenging so far, it’s been aligning the WordPress data from the current site with the structure of our internal system. Our team currently uses a properly vetted, maintained, and organized PostgreSQL database that interfaces with the client through an array of in-repository services over which we maintain tight code control and quality. The WordPress database structure is unintuitive — at least to me and our team — and has required our team to find obscure and maybe overly complex solutions to mash these things together.

That said, migrating CSS-Tricks content over to our in-house solution allows us to ensure the integrity and future-proofing of complex database relationships. Through this process, we can slim down the time it takes to query the database, improve efficiencies of three (or more)-dimensional relationships, and accurately model new relationships according to new features we might develop down the road.

In short, that means we will no longer be reliant on a monolithic WordPress instance to serve a response to every request. We can statically export all the publicly accessible content to a CDN, with the services handling edit operations only when needed.

It’s easier to submit article proposals!

[Haley:] Speaking of a more robust back end architecture, something else happening behind the scenes is a new form for guest authors submitting article proposals to us for publication.

We used a form before this one, but we had it tied up with Jira in a way that helps us manage the proposals and keep track of where they are in the editing flow. That integration was crumbling right before our eyes, so we went with a Typeform-powered version instead.

While it might seem like a fairly minor thing, it’s a big deal as far as making it easier to share your proposals and making sure nothing falls through the cracks — so we have fresh new front-end content to publish for you on a consistent basis!

Oh, and if you happen to submit a proposal (and you should!) please let us know if you see any opportunities for us to make it even easier and more helpful.

Passing it back to Geoff with my favorite part of these updates: author highlights!

Some fresh new faces around here

[Geoff:] The articles you read here at CSS-Tricks are written by folks like yourself. It’s amazing just how gosh darned smart this community is and all the ideas that get passed around here. In fact, we welcomed 5 new voices this past month:

What a great bunch, right? Give ‘em all some love for taking time out of their busy lives to share their wisdom and clever tricks with the rest of us. And a shout out to familiar faces, like Temani Afif, Preethi, Ollie Williams, and Mojtaba Seyedi for all the hard work they continue to do that keeps pushing this thing we call front-end development forward.

High fives to all these folks, and to you for reading. ✋ We wouldn’t be doing this without y’all.

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