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Website Maintenance 101: Backup. Backup. Backup. Did I mention, Backup?

Just a quick blurb about how important backing up your website data is for recovering last well known states.
Not just from a disaster standpoint of losing data in the event of an “outage” but also before upgrades or maintenance. I have been working to get a bbPress installation integrated into my blog for support and discussion purposes. Integrating bbpress with WordPress is not as straightforward as one may think (more on that later.)

Luckily, right before rendering my MatthewM.org blog database useless, I made a complete site backup using my web hosting control panel. After realizing I could no longer login to my WordPress back end, I quickly restored from my complete backup. My site was back up and running within minutes and it’s back to the drawing board.

There you have it. Backing up your files is not just for major outages or catastrophes anymore. It’s also for when you do stupid things without reading the entire manual!

What does “Web Professional” mean to you?

I have started to draft a few articles and ideas on becoming a Web Professional. I don’t want to ramble on or express my ideas quite yet. I would however, love to get some feedback on what the phrase Web Professional means to you. I’ve put together a 1 question survey (2 question if you opt to feedback) that ask some of the context I’ve come across in the last few months.

Feel free to express your feedback in the form or by commenting below!

TAKE THE ONE QUESTION SURVEY HERE.

I’m near celebrity status and apparently a Swedish trading post?


Consider this a “prequel post” to my endeavor of relaunching my blog. This little snippet of information is some insight into good Search Engine Optimization practices, the importance of maintaining your website, and sharing a similar name with a celebrity. While reconfiguring my Google Webmaster account I discovered that the keyword “matthew m” ranks 3rd in Google search results. Interested to see what I was up against, I googled away.

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Sure enough, Matthew McConaughey takes the top spot, with MatthewM.org coming in a cool third. I’ll take it! I also share the same name of a CEO at a top technology company and have mistakenly received his personal e-mails before. Such is life when you carry the torch of a familiar name.

What I also found interesting were the keywords that Google crawled in my old website. As discussed in a previous post, I recently moved from Drupal to WordPress. I fully admit, I did the one thing us Web Professionals constantly remind clients – I didn’t keep my site updated.

Drupal, in my professional opinion, is not for a personal blog. Scratch that. It’s not for a personal blog if you have ZERO time to keep the Drupal modules and core updated. Thus, my old site was plagued with spam and comments in other languages. Obviously, a tremendous hit on my SEO and search rankings.

So what have we learned? Use Google Webmaster tools to learn great information about your site and keep your CMS (or web code) updated. On the bright side, I’m still 3rd place to major celebrity Matthew McConaughey!

Turning the switch “on” – Migrating from Drupal to WordPress

I’ve recently decided to get back into updating and advancing my blog. For the last few years, my site has run on Drupal. I have been (was) really active on the local community boards and really pushing the use of Drupal with many projects. Drupal is a great platform for building robust online applications with a lot of content and many users.

The last full on project I developed with Drupal was DrupalRealEstate.com. It is an example of how flexible and powerful the core Drupal system is matched with great user contributed modules. It is also an example of how intricate and time consuming Drupal can become. The overhead of maintaining a site like DRE is extemely costly. I compare it to supporting a mini operating system. There is the core system and then a large amount of “programs” or modules in the case of Drupal. Each piece has it’s own development cycle, patch cycle and security fixes. Building out a powerful app not only takes a lot of front end time but also a lot of support and maintenance time.
I don’t want to make this a Drupal vs WordPress article (you can find that here and here). I think both applications are great at what they do. At this stage in the game, I’m finding WordPress more geared to what I need to accomplish. Having an iPhone app is also a plus!
Getting the new MatthewM.org up and running as fast as possible was a must for me. This also meant a lack of “real” design. I’m using the Thesis theme which allows me to control the column layouts, colors, and some other minor theme properties. I didn’t want to start creating something from scratch. It takes too much time and I’m not a designer. Moreover, I’m never satisfied with anything I design. Like any great blog, it’s about the content, not the flashy graphics. I want to focus on building *useful* content for readers.
More to come!

Drupal Real Estate Home Page

Drupal Real Estate

Drupal Real Estate is a case study of Drupal and it’s powerful contributed module base. This is a fully featured real estate app created by MatthewM.org and Bittennails.com. All of the features/function you see (and don’t see in the backend) are 99% completed using Drupal Contributed modules. If you have questions about our Drupal Real Estate project use the contact form to reach us.

Drupal Real Estate Home Page Features

This is the dynamic landing page for the real estate application. It features a slideshow gallery with the intent to showcase the real estate company or region. A quick search bar to search listings. An interactive Google map that plots any number of featured properties. Lastly, a featured property carrousel similar to ziprealty website.

The integration of Google maps and linking them to the specific properties is one of my favorite parts of this project. We use this for both listing and rental availability. We can customize each call out bubble on the map. Various colors, sizes and embedded data can be controlled.

The listing pages can be adjusted to list and sort any field from the listing data. Thumbnail sizes can also be adjusted to a specific size. The thumbnail is generated from the first picture of the listing photo gallery; there is no need to create another cropped photo.

Interior listing pages have many dynamic areas. Most of the data is placed into tabs that a user can tab through to view desired information. Some of the interesting points are open house dates that are tied to a global open house calendar and embedding video walk through that may be hosted on an external site. The gallery has unique animation when scrolling through the images. Each property listing also generates a smaller snippet of google maps for each location.

Drupal Views to build custom pages with access control


In this screencast, I demonstrate building custom content pages that are accessible to different roles. I use views and it’s built in access control function to accomplish this. The example consists of three custom content types and three different roles. I will build the content pages, use devel mod to fill in test data, build the view and grant access to specific roles. If you want me to create a screencast to tackle your specific need, contact me on twitter! http://twitter.com/mattmedeiros