Rebuilding SQLServerCentral

, 2019-04-04

It's been quite a journey, but we finally released version 3 of SQLServerCentral recently. After months of development work, the site moved to the WordPress platform, backed by SQL Server under Project Nami. I'm hoping that most of you appreciate the change and like the new look. I'm sure some don't, and I'm somewhat torn myself, but I know that this was a change we needed to make and the platform will give us some flexibility and resources in a way that we haven't had in years.

Version 1 of the site was an original ASP based site that Brian Knight mostly coded, with some help from the other founders. We ran that site for seven or eight years, on SQL Server 2000, and it worked well. Version 2 came after Redgate Software purchased the site, with a custom site based on the nHibernate framework and built around SQL Server 2008 that ran the site for the next decade.

Last year we knew that the changing world necessitated another revision. Mobile is critical, as are some other requirements from Google and other search engines, not to mention the need to ensure we kept up with security requirements. While a custom site was possible, we aren't really in the business of writing website software at Redgate. I've struggled to get development resources as most of our .NET experts are busy building the products we sell. With Redgate.com and Simple Talk moving to WordPress across the last few years, we decided to migrate SQLServerCentral to the same environment.

We examined a number of RFPs, and eventually decided that Project Nami was the way to go, allowing us to continue to use SQL Server as the backend, while a number of custom modules could be used to expand the WordPress platform to handle our daily question quiz, the forums, the Stairway series, and more. Across the last months, we've built that functionality to ensure the site continues to provide a home for this community.

As with many businesses, we discovered that data migration was a very complex process, one that we invested a lot of resources in to ensure we minimized any data issues. Across the years, we have tried to be careful with our data. Most of it is public, but we have taken data security very seriously from the beginning. Like many of your systems, we also have some junk data and some inconsistently stored data, often because of bugs in the way our software was written and patched across time. As a result, we certainly haven't accounted for every edge case, but please let the webmaster know if there is something that needs to be fixed.

It seems there is never enough time to really properly model and design a database. Time is the one resource in development that is often in very short supply, and SQLServerCentral is no different from other systems. I think we've improved some aspects of how the site works, but I also know that we've taken some shortcuts because we have developers getting software working first and foremost. Not the ideal process, but one grounded in the realities of the world.

I'm looking to do some analysis and recommendations, and hopefully some refactoring over time of our database. We should have more resources available since quite a few people understand the WordPress platform. I hope to share more of the journey and decisions made over time, as well as get some critique of our choices and implementation. I'm hopeful this will be an interesting and educational set of content for all of us.

For now, I hope you still enjoy using the site, find it useful, and continue to give us feedback on how things work well, are broken, or need improvement.

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