I have been working for the last couple of weeks on a new community site for doll collectors. I admit that might seem a little odd to anyone who doesn’t know – and odder still, because I don’t actually collect dolls. I appreciate the artistic intent in their creation and the distillation of their personality into the final form they assume – but I don’t myself collect ’em.

I have, for some time, run a site called dollSearcher that originally ran on a content management framework called PHPNuke. I appreciated the simplicity of the version I created the site with, but then the owner of the script started developing it in directions I didn’t really want or need. I stuck with the old version and did the best I could to keep it running and secure; but, eventually, PHP itself shifted a version, or two, and the functionality of the site started to fail. I consider myself aware of PHP and can program a little, but I certainly didn’t have the skills necessary to upgrade the whole site.

So, I decided to shift on to a new platform and used Drupal. I appreciate the flexibility of Drupal as a content management system – and I use it on other sites; but, for this doll site, where the key activity was chat and picture albums, Drupal seemed like overkill. dollSearcher lost its lustre in name and form.

Here in the present, I formulated a new idea and decided to run with it. I found a new system to run the site on – a BuddyPress enabled WordPress installation – and designed a theme, almost from scratch. WordPress supports the essential purpose of discussion – someone posts a blog entry and others can comment. BuddyPress puts a community spin on this, introducing groups and forums. The combination creates a sort of Facebook vibe.

dollissimo is born… a new platform, a new name and a new purpose. Creating the look of the site has been a bit of a bitch, but BuddyPress/WordPress supports child theme creation, so you can do a lot yourself and fall back on the parent for everything else. I appreciate the help this parent has offered – and, over time, hope to give the child a little more independence. Now I have to get my head in search engine marketing mode and disseminate a few invites. Getting a buzz going and assumulating some presence in the search engines will be good, but take time – but, in the meantime, I can iron out any bugs in the theme.

All good fun!

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