Restarting my website from scratch

Last year, I had the intention to re-launch this website.

Here we are at the end of 2023 and that didn't happen. I'm a year late now. Another year won't pass me by with no action, so I'm cranking this side project up.

What kind of content will be on this site?

Updrift has always been intended to be my work-side. What do I do for work? I'm a developer, which would imply this site would have developer related posts.

The topics will be varied. Programming related mostly, but I'll probably write about my search for a new office desk, as well.

What's first?

First up, is a new logo. My original one feels a bit outdated to me and the orange-y color doesn't lend itself well to both light and dark backgrounds.

Old Updrift Logo

The icon was reminiscent of a wave or swirl of wind.

Introducing the new Updrift logo, which makes use of Dan Cederholm's Cartridge Font available at My wife, Pamela Winningham, came up with the new icon which is patterned after a parachute riding the air currents. She also hand-kerned a few of the letters.

New Updrift Logo

What's next?

Soon, I'll strip away the styles on this website completely and start building a fresh site design step-by-step. Documenting everything here along the way.

My goals are:

  • Hand coded CSS. No frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation, or Tailwind.
  • Limited Javascript. At first I was thinking absolutely none, but I would like to keep track of simple metrics like web views. That typically entails some javascript or possibly some hidden image. May use some to colorize code examples, as well.
  • Accessible. I'm amazed more business sites don't pay attention to making their sites and applications easier to use by everyone. Individual developers tend to pay more attention to it. Businesses mainly seem to care after a lawsuit is initiated.

That's mainly it. So expect a mess for a while. I'm sure once I start, it'll be slow going.

I plan to stick with using CraftCMS which I'm still happy with.

Developing my CraftCMS site locally and deploying it

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm still in the middle of converting my old Expression Engine version of this site over to CraftCMS.

Local Development

I've kicked the tires on CraftCMS a few times before. Each time they had a different method of getting a local development environment set up. The fluctuation of varying methods seems like it would be irritating, but I've seen how much easier each one has made things. Therefore, I find it refreshing that they're always willing to move to something better rather than getting stuck with stale technology.

The current method entails using Docker with DDEV, which has made it really easy to set up a local environment.

I already use Docker for work, so it feels right to use it here. Starting up is as simple as moving into my local directory and typing this:

ddev start

This sets up a local URL where I can view and work with my site pretty much the same as it looks completely live, just how you'd expect and want it to work.

When I'm finished, whether that's updating templates, trying a new plugin, or setting up a new section, I type the following to shut things down.

ddev stop


I set up a new cloud server at Vultr. I've hosted with them for a while and don't have any complaints.

Here's the general overview of the steps I went through.

  1. I used manual server setup instructions which I wrote for myself from past installations. This includes setting up the basics like the database, PHP, Apache (I'm just more used to it than Nginx).
  2. Created a server user for my site.
  3. I then followed the composer method from the Craft CMS do to install it.
  4. Created a backup of my local database that I then imported into the server's databases.
  5. Copied files from my local installation.

This got me almost completely functional except for one thing.

I only use a few plugins for this site, but I couldn't enable them. The admin area allowed me to and reported that they were enabled but they never actually flipped to being actually enabled.

The solution was to simply re-install the plugins using composer. That did the trick, and the entire site seemed functional afterward. I just finished up this post leaving the absolute last step, which is to point my domain over to the new server.

Manually copying files?

Wondering why I'm not setting this up with some fancy Github automated deployment? Well, I probably should, but it's just a small site I can easily back up. Any changes, I'll just work on the live site. I know.

What's Next?

  • Pagination. Since I'm just starting out, I don't really need it yet. I'll add it after I post some more.
  • Excerpts for the home page. Maybe. I don't plan to write monster posts. On the fence right now about this one.

Relaunching the site with Craft CMS

After many years on ExpressionEngine (EE), I've finally converted over to Craft CMS.

I say finally because I've been eyeing Craft CMS for a long time.

Around 2012/2013, Pixel & Tonic, one of the primary developers of EE add-ons, created Craft CMS out of the frustration they and other third-party EE developers were experiencing at the time. Craft CMS's launch caused somewhat of a mass exodus from EE.

Eventually, EE was bought by Packet Tide, another big add-on developer, who I feel have done their best to bring EE closer to a modern CMS.

But maybe a bit too late. ExpressionEngine is still playing catch-up.

You can see the influence of Craft CMS in the last few versions of EE. EE is following now rather than leading. The two CMSs are still very similar since Craft CMS was born out of ExpressionEngine. But Craft has completely overshadowed it.

Why Craft CMS?

I really loved ExpressionEngine. It just made sense to me when WordPress, Drupal, and Textpattern (other CMSs I've had experience with) did not, or were simply difficult to work with.

Even the latest version of EE feels like more of a visual change than an architectural one. Living with Craft CMS for a bit now, it's simply more polished, and their developer support is outstanding. The process of setting up fields and templates, even editing content, is still familiar to my EE experience, just way much smoother.

The main thing that held me back is that I had a number of client sites that were built with ExpressionEngine, and they weren't going to be trivial or cost-effective to convert. Primarily due to relatively expensive add-ons for event scheduling and e-commerce.

Fortunately, those clients re-did their sites or were able to downsize sufficiently that moving them to Craft CMS has become more viable. Having those sites to convert over and continue to maintain was the deciding factor for choosing it for the site you're reading right now.

To be honest, I would definitely choose Ghost CMS if it wasn't for the other sites. I really love Ghost, but it is for blogs and not anywhere near as customizable as Craft CMS. Having this site in Craft CMS gives me a good playground for the others.

First Impressions

So far, my experience with EE has made it pretty smooth to get into Craft. A number of years ago, I had gone through some how-to videos on CraftQuest, which were a huge help. I plan to revisit some of their screencasts.

As I write this, I just have basic, non-styled HTML until I choose a template design I want to go with. By the time you read this, I'll have had that sorted out. I have no worries.

I'm excited to start this new journey with Craft CMS.