About

I learned most of my HTML skills by reading the source code of the web sites I frequently visited. Of course, when I learned HTML most web sites were static and those that weren’t almost exclusively used Javascript for dynamics and CGI for processing. Nowadays, reading source code is much less beneficial, as most web sites use server-side code and databases even to generate standard pages.

The origin of firsttube.com is long and varied.  The first version of the website was static HTML with a little Javascript.  Version 2 added some very basic PHP.  Shortly thereafter, I began planning a way to make firsttube.com as automatic as possible with a small script I wrote called php_news_system.

The original templating system developed for firsttube.com was named tubecode and was originally intended to be a free software package available for download.  php_news_system served as one part of the tubecode package.  Not long after the 0.8 release of tubecode, the code was reviewed and I decided to begin a rewrite to place more emphasis on security, flexibility, cleaner code, and more adaptable general use.  It was renamed Flip.  When Flip projects began to deviate from the original intent, tubeCode was resurrected as the parent for Flip and all associated software.

A lot has changed since the rollout of the firsttube.com 3.x series. firsttube.com 3.0 was originally slated to be based on a complete version of tubecode.  Because tubecode 1.0 was a ways away, firsttube.com 3.0 was significantly delayed.

The look of firsttube.com was getting old, though, and it was becoming a chore to update the site. That said, in mid-May 2002, I decided to immediately begin construction on an ultra-simplified, stripped down version of firsttube.com to become v3.0 and reschedule tubecode deployment for firsttube.com 4.0. It became apparent around that time that tubecode was rudimentary programming at best, and was not very adaptable. Since writing resuable code is much harder and more requires one to be much more meticulous, eventually, tubecode was scrapped in favor of Flip.

firsttube.com has been live since August 2000, making a major version rollout once a year.  Version 2.0 was a major upgrade and COMPLETE code rewrite, version 3.0 followed in suit being a completely new structure, but reused much of the code from version 2.3 (2.2 was active for about 5 months.)  firsttube.com 4.0 cleaned house – reimplemting the site using an early and heavily customized build of Flip 2.1.  Version 5 was a super stripped down, ultra simple, no-frills conversion to my personal site.  Version 6.0 was written to emulate a wiki.  Articles were all loaded through the central index, but there were “add-ons,” such as a photo gallery, a document manager, a favorites tracker, and a blog.

In 2005, Flip was retired in favor of a “from scratch” project named Small Axe.  firsttube.com began running its own variation of Small Axe that included several custom features not found in the core program.  The core Small Axe program is still use as the underlying engine on the OSNews.com Staff Blog, and also influenced the development of OSGalaxy.

firsttube.com 7 and 8 were based on Flip and Small Axe respectively.  firsttube.com 8.0 introduced a simplified theme, but still built with a Small Axe backend.  And finally, version 9 of firsttube.com was a complete UI rewrite, but the underlying structure was still the same Small Axe engine.

With firsttube.com version 10, all tubeCode, Flip, and Small Axe code was retired in favor of WordPress.  Wordpress is far more powerful than anything I could ever write, far more secure than anything I could maintain, and far more portable.  Also, there’s ample help around the web and scores of plugins and pre-built themes.

There are no longer “code names” for firsttube.com.  The sub-version number of the site (e.g. the X in 10.x) indicates how many times the site has been redesigned/rethemed.