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Every developer’s nightmare? It’s not designing a mammoth-sized website from scratch. It’s reverse designing a website that had no content management system set-up and worst of all, no CSS. It was a website of html tables all styled up. And no, contrary to the old website’s look, it was not started in the 90s. On top of that, I had 1200+ users’ information I still needed to keep intact (oh, just back up the database, you say? I’ll show you a backed up database that doesn’t work or connect to anything useful!)

At first I thought, hey, that’s not so bad…all the database stuff works! The really hard coding is done. That’s awesome actually. Mike did an excellent job there.

But then…I broke everything and the nightmare really began.

For the first three months, I struggled with the new design concept. I tried making the old design work in some way…but for the life of me, I couldn’t even get the website centered. I tried ALL of my CSS tricks, and no. The website would not budge. There the whole thing stayed, flushed to the left. I was beyond baffled.

So, three months in, and six months to my personal deadline, I decided to scrap it all and install a CMS and do a completely new design. And of course, I broke all the database stuff. Users could no longer register, edit their profiles or account settings. They couldn’t add friends. Who knows where their old friends went or where everyone’s picture disappeared off to.

It was a mess. Like a first time-ever skier hitting up the slopes on complete icy-“snow”. What a nightmare!

But the thing is, I was/am very passionate about the website. I really believe in it. I hate traffic as much as I hate bitter melon (read all about it and then never try it). And I really hate bitter melon. So something that could potentially reduce the traffic up to the mountains by even 5% was something I was willing to put 500+ hours into.

The problem was, I work 40 hours a week to make a living. I still don’t know how this all got done within six months of completely breaking the website.

Oh yeah, I had a great coding partner. That’s why. Together, we struggled over figuring everything out. We were determined to add new features to the website in time. This included not just a better interface, but also things like: messaging, user gear profiles (which will also improve over time), and forums! The forums are cool – we’ve come up with some really awesome categories and we think it would be great if skiers and snowboarders really had an online community to come to.

Speaking of skiers and snowboarders, I have an ironic, embarrassing confession to make.

I can’t really ski. And I definitely can’t snowboard. Last season, I went up three times. I play roller derby, so I can skate pretty well. So I wasn’t terrible for my first try at skiing, but I’m still definitely a beginner. As far as snowboarding, I stayed upright for maybe 30 feet, at best. So here I’ve created a huge ski/snowboarding rideshare website, and I look like a total newb on the slopes.

So if anyone wants to go skiing with me and be patient with a beginner….that would be great.

That aside, I really did have fun making this website. I learned a lot. While my base language is C++ and I write logical programming, I wasn’t a guru of any sorts at PHP or SQL. Now, I’m pretty decent. Go figure. Never thought that was something I’d be doing as a civil engineer. O.O

Also, integrating a website’s database with Facebook is not as easy as Facebook or Google say it is. They LIE. (but we still did it!)

So with nine months of hard work from Mike and I, my bank account emptier, and five gained pounds later (I used soda as my energy drink), I hope everyone has a blast on the new skilift website! <3

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