Messy filing system

Posted May 18, 2004 in Web Design.

Back in January, I built a basic content management system to make blogging a little easier. I really enjoyed doing it, because it was an excuse to learn PHP and MySQL. I'm itching to do it again, actually. From scratch. I think I could do a much better job of it second time around.

But there is a huge problem. The website, with all its bits and pieces, has been around for 2 years. The filing system is an absolute mess, with countless folders and documents. I'd love to ditch the whole lot and start with a clean slate.

But that is an awful thing to do, because it would break a couple of hundred links that are supposed to be permanent. Redirection is an option, but that would mean I would not be able to use any of the old URIs for new material.

So what to do? Well the one thing going for me is that this is a personal website, so I am free to do whatever the hell I want. A good way of getting around this would be to make sure that some neat error pages are built into any new system, with some sophisticated search tools to help people find stuff that got moved. I'm guessing that around 50% of the files/data will need moving to new locations - and that includes every weblog entry.

The longer I leave it, the more difficult the task will get. I figure that it will take me about 2 weeks to build a new CMS, and another 2 weeks to convert everything and move stuff around.

Or I could just leave it and muddle along. What do you think?


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    I'd say, go for it!

    Posted by Basil Crow on May 18, 2004.

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    I agree: there's really no harm in trying. Let 'er rip!

    Posted by Todd on May 19, 2004.

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    It is good to get feedback from regular readers. It makes me feel empowered. But what of those that have linked to various posts/articles on this site? They won't want the links broken. Hovering at 50/50 here...

    Posted by Simon Jessey on May 19, 2004.

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    The URIs for your permalinks aren't particularly baroque -- individual entries, each entry has an ID number. Why can't you maintain your old URIs, even if the underlying filesystem/CMS changes?

    Posted by Evan on May 19, 2004.

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    Hmmm, okay, just read your more recent post, where you discussed improving your URIs. Personally, I think there is some fetishism out there in the Markup-geek world about the "perfect" URI, and if the choice is about making your URIs beautiful but breaking hundreds of incoming links, I think the decision is clear-cut. But aaaanyway.

    If you have to change your URIs, how about this. Put a flag on all your legacy entries. Then, whenever your CMS generates an internal link, it can output "/blog/archive/entries/?id={legacy id}" for legacy entries, and "{insert new URI scheme here}" for new entries.

    Posted by Evan on May 19, 2004.

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    That's a damn good idea, Evan. Not too difficult to do, either. I must say that this URI thing is really bothering me - I should have done it better the FIRST time, dammit!

    Posted by Simon Jessey on May 20, 2004.