An Interview With Nimblehost's Jonathan Head

As the first tendrils of dawn stole across the sky, Holmes crossed to the grimy window and studied the leather-bound journal beneath the pale wash of light that dared invade the gloom.

“Dead?” said I, shaking my head in amazement. “However did you arrive at such a fantastic conclusion?”

“Elementary, my dear dipstick,” replied the world’s greatest detective. “Observe how the pickpocket’s body lies on one side of the room and his head on the other. I cannot help but wonder if this is Moriarty’s villainous handiwork…”

“By Thunder, Holmes!” uttered I in a fulsome state of moistened breeches. “Whatever makes you say that?”

“I believe they’re called vocal chords, Watson.”

“But no one has seen Moriarty in years!” postulated I. “Some even say he’s the figment of a deranged imagination, the desperate creation of a lunatic howling at a gibbous moon.”

“I wouldn’t go that far, my dear fellow. Journalism is a venerable trade, worthy of our highest regard.”

“I fear you’ve taken leave of your senses, Holmes.”

“Perhaps so. But that is why I pay my apothecary such an exhorbitant fee for his powder.” Holmes examined the journal he had removed from the pickpocket’s corpse. “However, the fact remains that a year and a half ago, on a Tuesday I suspect, Nimblehost’s Jonathan Head sent out an informal survey to his customers, asking them what they would like to be able to do with RapidWeaver, but couldn’t.”

“But that’s outrageous!” spluttered I. “The sheer effrontery of the fellow!”

“Quite so, Watson, quite so. Nevertheless, our fleet-footed host found that by far the most common answer was a CMS of some kind, as none of the current options felt like a full-fledged, RapidWeaver specific solution.”

“Go on…”

“It would seem that our resolute developer was not surprised by the response,” Holmes said, inspecting through his looking glass the journal’s illegible scrawl. “He had a feeling that a CMS would top the list, but wasn’t sure if he was ready to take on such a monumental challenge.”

“I say, Holmes, you don’t mean…”

“I most certainly do. Listen to this.”

“On a chilly Tokyo evening last Fall I started work on a custom-built, RapidWeaver specific CMS. The first version didn’t need a database. It saved files directly onto the server so that just about anyone with a PHP enabled hosting account could use it with little setup required – and I got a version working fairly well. The problem is that it was very fragile – if someone accidentally deleted or overwrote a folder, then all the posts/pages they created could be wiped out, without any hope of recovery. Not. Good. At. All.”

“What on earth does all that mean, Holmes? I confess I’m baffled by these new-fangled terms!”

“We can only guess, Watson. The greatest codebreakers of our age have so far failed to decipher the language these developers use to communicate their mad ideas. For all we know it may just be a shopping list.”

“Or one of the Dead Sea Squirrels,” ventured I.

“Scrolls, Watson, Dead Sea Scrolls.” The great detective sighed as though my presence was one cross too many he had to bear, then continued to examine the journal in detail. “But I hazard you are right. Observe. But a few pages later Jonathan Head pens this most extraordinary entry:

“So, after spending 3-4 months on that, I scrapped it and started over using a database-driven approach. And in the midst of working on this CMS — and releasing new stacks, theme updates, etc. — the monster earthquake of this past March slammed us right upside the head. I don’t need to go into detail about how much that blew our development schedule to smithereens, but we kept pecking away at it, refining the details, improving the backend – in short, creating the CMS we would want to use at RapidWeaver users. To enable it to do stuff that made sense to an RW user without revealing all the incredibly complex coding required to actually get that stuff working.”

Armadillo Rising

06

“Good grief, Holmes! Does that mean what I think it means?”

“You can bet your puckered sweet posterior it does. This is no fiendish weapon created by Moriarty to wreak unimaginable havok on the civilised world, this is a Content Management System of the highest order. You can login online, create new pages and have them added to your RapidWeaver site automatically — all without needing RapidWeaver at all — from any computer with a web browser and internet access. You can use it as a blogging platform, complete with comments, and with tags and categories coming later. You can create, add and edit posts — or save drafts — all served with the same code as RapidWeaver’s own Blog page type, so that it utilises the same blog design theme developers have integrated into their products.”

“Good God, Holmes!” uttered I. “How on earth could you deduce that from such a fleeting examination?”

“RTFJ, Watson, it’s all here in black and white. And what’s more, it appears you can add new users with specific roles and upload media files directly to your hosting account and integrate them in your posts and pages. You can reset your password, and even add some sidebar content to your newly create pages.”

“Good grief, Holmes! Does this confounded prototype have a name?”

“Armadillo,” replied the great man. “I suspect it describes the product’s compact, self-contained and custom-built characteristics.”

“But that’s preposterous!” ejaculated I.

“Quite so. But we must not forget that these boffins inhabit a cerebral world far removed from our own. Not for them the mundane thought processes of mere mortals like you, Watson. Theirs is a cognitive reality that bows to no unbottled law or master, yet often soars to inconceivable intellectual heights. Perhaps like Icarus our noble Nimblehost flew too close to the Sun…”

“You astound me, Holmes! How on earth can you wax so lyrical before we have yet to break our fast?”

“Time is short, Watson. The end of this story approaches and we have yet to reach a logical conclusion. I suspect we may have to resort to that plot device so favoured by Euripides.”

“Deus ex machina? My dear fellow, have you gone utterly insane? Do you not realise that such a contrived device implies a lack of creativity on the part of the author and severely undermines the story’s internal logic?”

“We’ve no time to worry about our readers’ suspension of disbelief, Watson, the Time Machine is due at any moment. Jonathan Head is planning to release Armadillo as a stack and is already working on a plugin version. The game is afoot. We must hasten to warn him before Moriarty gets his devillish hands on the prototype.”

“But surely Moriarty could just enter the RapidWeaver Central Festive Giveaway and win a copy?”

“Shut it, Watson, and start up the Time Machine.”

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