Untill very recently almost all the webpages on the web were individually created HTML pages. In other words, every page on a website had been individually created and then maintained by a webdeveloper. This is a lot of work! Especially if you want to change the design of your whole website after some time.

It also forced browsers to be extreemly error tolerant as a single typo could break a whole webpage. It became easier with the onset of HTML editors that maintained re-usable code. I really liked the feature in Dreamweaver that let me update my whole website by just changing certain code elements.

In the early 90s we had to write a website for a customer of ours. I found it extreemly frustrating and quickly decided there had to be another way. I ended up writing an application in Perl ( A scipting language that is available on most Unix systems) and storing my information in an Oracle database. It made maintaining and developing the web application a lot easier, as we just had to add calls to individual Perl modules with parameters to display the information the customer wanted. It also had the advantage that it could directly interface with our maintenance system
that also used the Oracle database. Without knowing what a CMS was back then I had created a Content Management System.

Mind you it was extreemly primitive and not very user friendly. Now a-days there are far more sofisticated CMSs on the market. Three years ago a collegue of mine recommended we start using Typo3. I had a look at the system and liked the fact that it is extreemly versatile and expandable. At the same time it is licensed under the GNU General Public License. Which means for all practical purposes it is free!

It took me a few weeks and a lot of reading to be able to create my first usable website. Using Typo3 as a webdeveloper can be pretty complicated. Especially in the beginning, as the documentation was written by people that developed it and who just don’t seem to grasp that other developers might not think the same way they do.

Anyway what I really liked was the fact that even though I was creating webpages I could also apply myself as a programmer. I find creating just plain HTM code extreemly dull and frustrating. I also liked the modular approach that Typo3 has. The bare system is just that. It lets you create dynamic webpages and lets editors maintain them, but there are no frills or extras. Here is where the extension system comes in. There are virtually extensions for every thing. For forums, for blogs, for chat rooms, for mailforms, for guestbooks, for shops, etc. Though not always easy or really straigh forward, you can extend your web site to include these extras and lots more. As a programmer I liked the open source approach here too. I started off changing existing extensions and then writing my own. We now have page generators for Typo3 and search systems.

Of course Typo3 is not all about backend itty gritty code development. One of the most important features is that you can give access to page editing to your customers. Enabling them to take over content generation themselves. As a developer you create the frame-work (maybe get a designer to create the layout) and then give editor access to an editor – usually the website owner. They can now edit the content of the site using a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor that works similar to MS-Word or Open Office. It is called separating the design from the content. Editors can change the content on a website, but cannot change the design. You as a disigner can even define what type of formating will be permitted on the webpages – so as not to break the look and feel of the site.

Sporadically I will be updating you on things that have to do with Typo3 here.

Here are some Webpages we created in the past couple of years:

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