Unfinished Thoughts

by William Flake

Unfinished Thoughts 3.0

Simplicity is beautiful.

The idea of aggressive simplification was the guiding principle of the Unfinished Thoughts 3.0 redesign. The result of these changes is a leaner, more agile platform which removes everything that detracts from the most important part of the weblog: the content.

Behind the Scenes

Since its inception, this site has been run on a custom-coded engine. The most recent iteration of this legacy system was filled with years of cruft, half-implemented ideas, and poor design decisions. Rendering every page required lookups in 5 different database tables. Writing a new entry required me to relearn and retype a complex hierarchy of HTML tags. Most features were scabbed on to a single file of code, making maintenance a nightmare. Every feature and edge-case that broke was completely on my shoulders, detracting from my ability to simply write.

In its place, Unfinished Thoughts is now run by Flatpress. It’s a simple, flat-file blog engine. No database lookups, no sloppy mistakes from an unchecked amateur coder. Instead of forcing me to write that complex series of tags for the benefit of machines, I can now write using John Gruber’s Markdown syntax, which reduces all of that formatting to a few simple keystrokes. After a few tweaks here and there, I now have a system which will allow me to focus on the content of my writing and less on the code.

A Refreshed Reading Experience

The new design features a simplified reading experience as well. Fonts are larger, text is carefully spaced, and the layout has been simplified. No more omnipresent sidebars advertising posts from years ago. No more huge comment counts begging you to interact. Instead, you can now see my words, and, if you so choose, the words of fellow readers in a clean and clear format.

Photos look better than ever. Pictures are no longer thumbnails piled up on the right side of a post. Instead, they have been moved front and center, matted, and given the space they deserve. In addition, nearly all of the photos and illustrations on throughout site have been upgraded to high resolutions for readers using high-dpi displays like the iPad (3) and new Macbook Pro. With these changes, photos aren’t just an afterthought, but are an integral part of the reading experience.

I hope to be able to use this radically simplified platform as a way to share my thoughts and experiences with you. Thank you for joining me as I re-embark on this journey.