Curtiss Trout, please call him "Curt," spent most of his career as a systems programmer working on operating systems, and major system software, for the largest IBM and IBM compatible mainframe computers (mainframes). This career started in the early 1970's with the Kemper Insurance companies in Long Grove, Illinois. He and his family moved to Minnesota in 1978 when he took a job with computer manufacturer Amdahl Corporation (headquartered in Sunneyvale, California) as a Senior Systems Engineer supporting clients in the Twin Cities and upper Midwest. He moved to First Computer Corporation in 1982. FCC was part of First Bank System which became US Bank. He retired from US Bank in 2008.
The work of a systems programmer is very technical. Operating system software is very complex and code is usually written in an assembler "language" very close to machine language. While Curt has used a number of computer languages over his career, he considers Basic Assembler Language (BAL, no relation whatsoever to the BASIC language) his native programming language. Of course, he's also fluent in OS JCL and SMP/E, etc.
What's the Internet?
Curt decided to explore the world of the Internet a little closer in about 2005. He wondered: How does it work? What does it take to make a website? He decided to dig in and build a website for his personal edification and interest. Soon thereafter he decided to build a website for East West InterKnit, a mission oriented organization that he and his wife, Sheri, had supported for quite a while and where Sheri worked part-time.
Curt built the first East West InterKnit, or EWI, website using Microsoft's FrontPage. Saying that it was ugly actually pays it a great compliment. There had to be a better tool.
The next iteration for EWI used a web generation program called Fusion. The site was better looking, and functioning, than the first site, but it shared the same building/maintenance paradygm: build the site content on a personal computer, where the software is installed, then transfer the resulting files to a web server via FTP (File Transfer Protocol). That works, but there's an inherent bottleneck in any organization with more than one person concerned with website content - that's the person whose computer is used to support the website building program. With EWI, that person, that bottleneck, was Curt. He wasn't involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization like their employees and more active volunteers, but he was integral to the process of updating website content.
There had to be a better way!
Curt decided to look at other ways to build, and, more importantly, maintain, websites and their content. He found the world of Content Management Systems (CMSs). He found that there are many, many CMSs (one website listed almost almost a thousand, there are probably more today).
To narrow the field, he looked at the popularity of various content management systems. Many were proprietary which made casual investigation difficult, if not impossible. Others weren't propriatary and seemed to have considerable following. The "Big 3" at the time, and still as of this writing, were WordPress, Joomla (a fork of Mambo) and Drupal. These CMSs share similar traits. They all use PHP as their programming language; they use a relational database (usually MySQL) to store content; they're all open-source source (read free to use). Most importantly, once established they can be maintained by an authorized individual from any web connected computer with a suitable browser (e.g., Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome) anywhere in the world. Also, they all can be used on inexpensive shared server hosting accounts.
WordPress is, by far, the most heavily used CMS. It's a great product, but it was, and is, designed primarily as a blogging platform. Yes, it can be used for general purpose websites, but that isn't its forte.
Joomla is, arguably, number two in this trio. Curt tried it, and didn't particularly like it.
Curt found Drupal to be the most appealing of these three for further exploration.
This story continues here: Why Drupal?