Interview with Composr community member, Jason L Verhagen.
#3474 (In Topic #655)
1) Tell us about your website: what is it called, what's the URL, and what is the mission behind it?
I have a few websites that use Composr (and its predecessor, ocPortal). My current work-in-progress is NEWBotics Labs at https://www.newboticslabs.com. My goal is to organise and document my robotics, drone, and 3D printing projects.
2) Tell us about yourself: what led you to the point of building a website?
I got hooked on computers in middle school in the late 1980s. In high school in early 1990s I discovered the world of dial-up computer Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). Around 1992, in the time just before Internet service as we know it today, I started a computer Bulletin Board System of my own called The Future Generation BBS. As dial-up services like BBSs, Prodigy, and CompuServe were losing out to what were the beginnings of dial-up Internet Service Providers in the mid 1990s, I wanted to transition The Future Generation BBS to an online service called The Future Online (TFO.net). And so began my longtime hobby of building websites.
3) How did you come to know about Composr, and what made you choose Composr for your website?
I have used a few scripts and CMSs over the years. Perl-based links databases, and PHP-based content management systems like CMSimple, PostNuke, PHPNuke, and DragonflyCMS. For CMSs I settled on the Nuke-based CMSs, but found they were notoriously insecure and, over time, development and patches seemed to come at a slower and slower pace. After a few years of using the Nuke-based CMSs, I needed to find a replacement. I tried several replacements, including Joomla!, Drupal, and WordPress, but I couldn't find one that worked the way I wanted. I don't remember what CMS list I found it on, but I found and tried ocPortal (now Composr). I started testing with ocPortal v6. It had all the bells and whistles needed for a modern interactive website and I wouldn't need to rely on mostly 3rd party plugins to get them as I had done with other CMSs. More than that, ocPortal was regularly updated and offered a better sense of security than the Nuke-based CMSs I was using. It also had a highly advanced underlying framework, API, and template system and it seemed more intuitive and feature filled than other current popular CMSs. And all these things that made ocPortal great have gotten better with each release and that has continued into the Composr development.
4) How has Composr helped you?
Composr helps me to get full featured websites online quickly. From an administrative standpoint, Composr offers edit links for various components on each web page of the site so I don't have to track down links buried somewhere in the administrative interface. Composr has a comprehensive permissions and privileges system to control who has access to the various content and features on the website. The built-in content editor uses an extended form of BBCode called Comcode. This makes adding advanced content elements easy without having to rely on self-coded HTML/CSS or 3rd party plugins to offer these elements. All of this makes administering a Composr website about as easy and intuitive as it can get, when considering the large number of features that it offers. From a developer standpoint, Composr has a very comprehensive template system that integrates its own Tempcode language to control layout and content within templates and makes it easy for me to get the content and layout just right without having to dive into any PHP code. For those like me that don't mind diving into the PHP code, the framework itself is highly advanced compared to other CMSs. The addon and override system is very comprehensive and well documented and makes it easier for me to write new addons and to override small parts of existing addons instead of replacing whole addons with ones of my own.
5) Do you consider yourself more artist, technie, or writer? Or perhaps something else?
I am definitely more of the tech type with the writing ability to write technical and instructional documentation. Not so much an artist other than some simple CAD 3D modeling. I would just say the advancements in computer power, photo and video editing software, and available online tutorials has definitely helped make me seem far more artistic than I am.
6) Besides your website, what else do you do in your free time? What are your passions?
I fill my free time with several high-tech hobbies. Movies like Star Wars, The Blackhole, Chopping Mall, and Short Circuit got me interested in robotics. Over the years I've built a few small robots with a few more on my todo list. Complimentary to robotics, I have more recently gotten into 3D printing and drones. And then there is YouTube videos. My niece (Holley) and I did some YouTube videos and built our ocPortal-based website Holleywood Studio (https://www.holleywoodstudio.com) for our parody and comedy videos.
7) What drives you?
Knowledge and learning is what drives me. I love learning new things, but I probably spend a little too much time looking up information and reading documentation online and watching tutorial videos on YouTube. So many rabbit holes, too little time.
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