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Transitions (SuperSite)

Over 12 years ago, I started the SuperSite for Windows as its own entity, although the origins of the site actually date back a few years before that, to 1996, when it was part of my Internet Nexus site. Even for the day, it was a technological throwback, of sorts, utilizing none of the database-backed, content management-based technologies I was using elsewhere, including with the WinInfo newsletter (also then part of Internet Nexus). But the SuperSite wasn't designed, originally, as an ongoing concern. It was just a mini-site, of sorts, celebrating what I thought was going to be the version of Windows that finally consolidated the Windows 9x past with the NT then-future.

And that site wasn't even originally called the SuperSite for Windows. Instead, it was the Windows NT 5.0 SuperSite. That name lasted only days, as Microsoft immediately requested (i.e. demanded) that the name "Windows" not be the first word in the site's title. So I changed it to the SuperSite for Windows NT 5.0. And then, less than two months later, Microsoft renamed Windows NT 5.0 to Windows 2000. And the SuperSite for Windows was, officially, born.

The first two articles I ever wrote for the SuperSite for Windows were published in August 1998. They are Windows NT 5.0 Beta 2 Technical Reviewer's Workshop Reviewed and Windows NT 5.0 Workstation Beta 2 Reviewed .

 Since then, of course, the SuperSite has grown and expanded, first to cover other Windows versions--including a then-unexpected new consumer entry originally codenamed "Millennium," and then other Microsoft products, and then even competing and complementary products made by other companies. The Internet Nexus site, hosted by Big Tent in the mid-1990s, became self-hosted, and the SuperSite and WinInfo moved on first to WUGNET and then eventually, in 1999, to Duke Publishing, the company responsible for Windows NT Magazine. (NT Magazine changed names a number of times as well, to Windows 2000 Magazine, to Windows & .NET Magazine, and then to Windows IT Pro Magazine.)

Since early 2000, the SuperSite has been hosted by the company responsible for Windows IT Pro Magazine (now Penton), and in 2009, I became an employee. But the SuperSite itself never changed, at least not technologically. It's still based on the same HTML/ASP (not ASP .NET) codebase that first served it back in 1998. The result can be seen all over the site. Some pages have a certain theme, some have another. There are pages dating back a decade here that look nothing like the modern site, and so on.

Soon, as soon as next week, that's going to change. The web team at Windows IT Pro has been working on migrating this site into its DotNetNuke-based content management system for some time. And they're going to pull the trigger and make it the live version of the site.

It's going to be a mess.

I mean that in good ways as well as bad. As with any major transition like this, there are going to be problems. Articles that don't appear at all or appear formatted incorrectly. A site layout and design that will no doubt need to be tweaked and retweaked over time. My life is going to be hell for the ensuing days and weeks, and maybe even months as I work to correctly tag all the articles so that they display in the correct places and re-post recent articles that haven't made their way into the new CMS yet.

But it's also going to eventually make my job a lot easier. Today, I spend a lot of time in an HTML editor--primarily Visual Studio 2010--hand-coding the pages that make up the site. Soon, I'll be able to post articles more quickly, using a reasonably modern and evolving CMS. I'm looking forward to that a lot.

But I have some favors and questions to ask of you.

First, I need your patience. I'm going to be overwhelmed in the early days of this transition especially, so please bear with me as I work to bring the new version of the site up to speed. Eventually, it will all sort itself out.

Second, I need your help. If you see anything bone-headedly wrong, please do let me know. I may not be able to personally respond to all the mail I get along these lines, but I will try to fix all the problems as soon as I can. And there will be problems.

Third, I need your advice. One of the issues I've become increasingly aware of in recent days is that my habit of publishing different things in different places means that many readers don't see it all. I have this site, of course, but also the SuperSite Blog, the WinInfo news site, the Windows IT Pro site, and my Windows Phone Secrets blog. I don't expect you to do the hard work of keeping up with what I'm doing. But I'm wondering if maybe what I do is too spread out. Maybe it's time to consolidate it all, here. Maybe the line between a blog and this site is too arbitrary. Maybe you have some thoughts on this. Please let me know.

This long weekend, I'll be working to make sure that the latest articles, at least, appear where they belong in the new site hierarchy. Over time, I'll make sure they all appear where they belong. It's going to be a process, a mess.

A glorious mess.

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