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A Brief History of Building Websites

I have recently relaunched the Kalmak Consultancy website using WordPress and the Tiny Framework theme. The previous site was hacked, the second time in 10  years, but coincidentally it probably needed a refresh. Below is a brief history of my web journey and the web developments along the way.

In the beginning (1994) website developers used BBEdit (Bare Bones Software) — as a HTML and CSS editor for creating static webpages. Webpages were created line by line of hand-coding requiring a deep knowledge of HTML.  This was followed in 1997 by Dreamweaver (Adobe) which used WYSIWYG HTML and CSS editors (still in use by some!).

From there (1999) I moved to using WebCrossing software which provided for an Open Source built-in server that included a SQL database and scriptable object-oriented HTML features. I was able to run an online virology course and a Centre for Gene Research membership database using this software which had a FaceBook-like module for social interactions and forums called Neighbors. WebCrossing faded somewhat in the following years and went through restructuring and was finally bought by Elliptics in 2013.

In 2007 I began using Silverstripe (a NZ company) which released a free open source Content Management System (CMS) and a framework that allowed content-authors to work separately from web-developers in a ‘model-view-controller’ software application. It used an Apache web server and a SQL database and could be run from a desktop computer. Silverstripe currently features a large number of widgets, themes and modules which extend its core functionality.

In 2013 Silverstripe was adopted as the default standard for web development in NZ government departments. This was the web software that I used up until retiring from the University of Otago in 2009.


After leaving the University, I stayed with Silverstripe using Bluehost as a web-host provider but eventually switched to Concrete 5 because of its CMS and features like the in-context editing (the ability to edit website content directly on the page, rather than in an administrative interface or using web editing software). Also Concrete 5 had a wide range of addons that extended the range of its functionalities. This was the software used for the Kalmak Consultancy website until November, 2013.


In the meantime WordPress was growing in popularity, initially for its blog capability, but eventually for its overall website features. A very popular feature of WordPress was the plugin architecture which allowed users and developers to extend its abilities beyond the core installation. WordPress has over 26,000 plugins, each of which offers custom functions and features enabling users to tailor their sites to their specific needs. It is estimated that more than 30% of the world’s websites use WordPress and there are over 60 million blog sites. The tipping point for me was the release of the ‘Ultra Responsive MultiPurpose Creativo Theme’. This theme gave the website the dynamic capability to adjust and look good on a desktop/laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. Also it had an integrated page builder — a visual composer which mimicked the best features of the addons of Concrete 5. WordPress has a large community of helpful users and many SEO tools. 

Since then WordPress has grown in its features and many of the top brands use WordPress to power their websites including: Time Magazine, Google, Facebook, Sony, Disney, LinkedIn, The New York Times, CNN, eBay, and more.

With the extensive use of 'Themes', the building of websites in the traditional sense has become obsolete. WordPress also provides hundreds of plugins that allow users to add features such as shopping carts, galleries, contact forms, etc. Third-party developers provide custom plugins for purchase that provide even more advanced features.

I am an unaffiliated advocate of WordPress