pGal is content management software written by Mark Williamson

pGal started life whilst I build the Lorne Surf Clubs’s web site I needed a photo gallery and I was loath to use one of the gallery builders as they are all ugly.

Cut to 2002 and I was getting heartily sick of the templating that I was using to build the surf club site. It was clever, but it required me to maintain lots of files and a quick change to the site was impossible. Time to get out the pad and begin sketching. The designs got done and then some other attraction overtook me and the pad mouldered on the to be done one rainy Sunday in June pile.

Luckily for pGal my friend James found the pad and recognized it for what it was, a mass of paper and uttered the profound words, `you know this would be better as a web site'.

We got talking about his idea for a site and the idea that we should have our own home on the web. Nothing happened, we opened another beer, nothing happened.

It was a rainy Sunday in June and I decided to strip out all of the code that made up the gallery software in the surf club site and the basic site support code. Now I had a lean little java app with access to a database and simple security. I still had a mega crufty gallery and no documents.

The first part of the site built was a photo editing part, this allowed the adding of photos, editing of photo comments and the importing of photos one by one. Simple and efficient but very slow. To fix the slowness I added bulk uploading of photos. Now there was a site with some very static templates that was good for hosting big galleries of photos. Good if you were the master of porn but not good for writing and that’s what we wanted.

More beer was drunk and lots of photo galleries were viewed to determine what worked and what didn’t. Actually more beer was drunk than conclusions were drawn.

More redesign happened and photos got generalized out to work. Work was two sorts, documents and photos. The templating mechanism improved and I moved the templates and works away from the site proper. Now pGal could separate content (works) from the look (templates) and the mechanics of the site pGal itself.

I looked and thought gee this is great. Some beer was consumed and the software was admired from several angles. I used the software to build a site for a friend of mine Harry who is a landscape gardener and I discovered that the software was almost unusable. The single edit of photos and documents was majorly painful.

I added in a bulk editing facility.

All this work was happening really fast and the code started to show it. I began to refactor like a man possessed. Thanks Mr Fowler

James decided to give it a try and resulted

Finally pGal was a half way decent tool.

James and I brought a box, linuxed it up and whacked on a version of pGal and installed it in a rack. We had two sites up in next to no time. I looked upon what I had wrought and thought, now open source that puppy and the world will be a better place. I think it was time for beer.

Pgal is waiting ready to take over the surf club site and a couple of others. It still needs lots of things added to it and many refinements around the edges but here it is middle of July still raining and I think I will have a beer.

Created: 14/Apr/2012 - 10:30 AM Last updated: 14/Apr/2012 - 10:38 AM