Feb122011

Setting Up Shop

Published by tom at 10:40 PM under General

I’m not really a web developer. I’ve dealt mostly with Windows-based applications through-out my career. I know C# and .NET, which translate well to server-side things with an ASP.NET site. But, there is much more to it than that.

So I didn’t want to try to build a full-fledged site. Especially, for something that is more of a side project. I turned to BlogEngine.NET, which is a polished and well established open-source blogging platform.

Installation

I chose to build BlogEngine.NET myself and deploy that to my webhost using an FTP client. I wanted to go this route just in case I had to customize the binaries. I did run into two issues.

The first issue had to do with (accidentally) entering invalidate data into the geo-locations fields. I was able to resolve this by manually updating the settings in the database.

The second issue had to do with using a .NET 4 app pool. I didn’t take the time to figure out this issue, since switching to .NET 3.x fixed the issue.

Aside from that, the setup was really pretty smooth and well documented.

Theming

For the theme, I started with the Paalam theme which was adapted by Chris Blankenship. I liked the over all layout, which would allow me to make minor tweaks.

The first step was to “go green”, as that was my color of choice. Using Google Chrome, you can right click various elements and inspect them. Using this tool, you can then see what CSS styles are applied. This allowed me to find and customize the various colors.

The next step was to customize and add some icons. I’m also not a graphic artist, but again to save money I try my best. I decided to go ahead and purchase the Blockie icon set from IconDock. It definitively saved me a lot of time, while giving me a look I liked.

For the banner, I originally used some of the Blockie icons with a customized background. But wanted something a little more fitting to the CodeNaked name. Thankfully, Spoon Graphics has several tutorials for creating vector illustrations. I based my “naked dude” on the Mechanic tutorial.

The only trouble I had was with the default keyboard shortcuts in Adobe Illustrator. As a Windows guy, I’m used to having Ctrl+Y mapped to the redo operation. In Adobe Illustrator, this switches you to an “outline” view. The outline view does not show any strokes or fills. I finally figured out how to change back to the “preview” view, so I could fill in colors.

For the header background, I referred to this tutorial. It has a nice walk through of creating the “sun ray” effect, as I call it, and applying a texture.

Analytics

Finally, I wanted to be able to track visitors to my site. I used to have a WordPress blog, which had some fancy charts and statistics. BlogEngine.NET doesn’t have any built in analytics, but it is very easy to integrate Google Analytics. With that setup, I can now view pretty graphs and charts based on traffic to my site.



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