This is Prof. Greg Pasternack and I am going to use this blog to track the development of the website- diary style. I can tell you now that this is going to be a bit rough, so be patient. I do have a lot of experience with html coding and website CMS, but I am new to WordPress, so that’s where the steep learning curve has been and remains ahead. I have to say that WordPress may be super powerful for all its features, but ugh it has been a real source of frustration for its wonky, inferior content design and creation tools compared to what I am used to in the Concrete5 CMS. So it goes. Anyway, hopefully at some point in the future, website development will get handed off to a legitimate team of people to really do a great job managing dynamic content, but for now I’m going to get the ball rolling, so here we go!
The development process actually began in early 2017 when I sketched out the first rough draft of what I thought an ecohydraulics community website ought to have. From there, I talked with Prof. Michael Stewardson who was hosting me on sabbatical in Melbourne, Australia. Together, we then talked with the current LT Chair, Francisco “Paco” Martinez-Capel. For the rest of 2017, the idea baked on low heat while we mulled over a variety of ways to get it going. I’m not going to go into all those details, but we were deep into brainstorming.
When we got to ISE2018 then it really got serious. After I was voted in as the new Vice Chair of the LT, then I asked for the ecohydraulics community to vote formally about whether to have a community website or not. The vote was strongly in favor of this, so that was that!
Host and CMS Selection
The next step was decide on what CMS platform to make the website and then where to have it hosted. I am well versed in Concrete5, which is the open-source platform that my UC Davis IT support staff use for faculty websites. However, I decided that might not have enough user base and features to sustain our ambitions. Paco had suggested WordPress and I noticed that the ECoENet website was not only based on WordPress, but also hosted on the WordPress.com website.
While in the airport waiting for a connecting flight on the way home from ISE2018, I found a site called whatcms.com or something like that. At that site, I passed in the URL for the top page of many scientific societies ot see what they hosted. The top contenders were WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. IAHR uses Microsoft Sharepoint and i saw that the ISE2016 conference site was based on SilverStripe. Notably the American Fisheries Society, American Geophysical Union, and the International Society for River Science are all on WordPress. Given the complexity and scope of their sites, I could see that we ought to be able to have all the features we want. I also saw that WordPress is so widely used that the odds of it going away are slim. It has a vast array of themes, plugins and extensions as well as tons of support via videos, documentation, etc. Thus, I selected WordPress for the site.
Next, I did an analysis of the possible website hosts. Oof, if this doesn’t bore you, then I don’t know what will. Anyway, I spent *many* hours comparing the options and eventually selected A2hosting.com. Why? Many reasons, including having a server in Amsterdam close to the majority of the community in Eurasia, best user rating, price, phone support, pre-installed WordPress, and full-time help. I chatted with someone there to get a feel for their service responsiveness. A2hosting.com has proven a good choice so far.
What’s In A Name?
The decision to go with “ecohydraulics.org” was pretty straightforward. The “.org” suffix is a standard one for many scientific societies. I noticed recently some are starting to migrate to the “.science” suffix, but to me, that just adds bloat to type in. The name we chose was simple, direct, and available! Done and done.
The main graphic we have so far is the one with the grey fish over a river and floodplain with some plants and mountains in the background. The graphic began with a sketch from Roser, which I then edited and sent to an artist on fiverr.com who turned it into the form of the color-based graphic we have today. From there, I replaced the original colors with alternatives to match the final set I went with to make the site. I may have a future blog about the color scheme, as that was a journey unto itself.
Ok, so that’s enough for this launch post. I’ll provide updates about development to the site as we go along