The Underground Railroad

July 3, 2007

design / php / programming / projects

I haven’t had a chance to post on this yet, but the new version of the Underground Railroad went live last week, just before my wife and I left for Cornerstone (which, I hope to write a couple of posts about).

It’s important to note that this new site isn’t what you would call complete. New features are in the works for both long and short term development, and the site is built in such a way that it is easy to add new features and new content.

About the Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad is an organization that seeks to network ministries that work with underground and alternative subcultures. At this time, I know of connected ministries in the United States, Canada, and several countries in Europe. I believe there are also ministries in Asia and South America that will be added in the near future.

This illustrates the fact that underground culture is worldwide, and that God is doing things in the underground worldwide. Dissatisfaction with the mainstream is worldwide because something of a mainstream is worldwide, and there’s a unity that can be found in that.

About the website

The website of the Underground Railroad is something I’ve been privileged to be a part of since 2002, when a friend introduced me to it. This new version has been in the works for some time. Over a year, at least. For most of my time in college, I was married, working fulltime, and attending school fulltime, and didn’t have as much time to work on awesome projects like this. Since I finished college in December, my freetime went up a bit and I was able to finish the site.

In any case, I was responsible for the design and development of the new site, as well as some of the new content. Other parts of the new content are still pending, but believe me when I say it’s better that the new site be up with pending content than that the old one have lived through another Cornerstone.

As far as design and front end structure, I feel that there’s a clean, dark look for the most part, and that it’s somewhat minimalistic. Part of this is intentional, and part of it is due to the slowness that often comes with receiving graphical material from so many different sources. I intentionally avoided the use of a lot of generic stock photography, but I do hope to include relevant photos as the site continues to develop and receive input. Front end structure is generated by the back end system, and is written to be valid XHTML 1.1, with valid CSS. I’ve never done a site to the 1.1 specification, and thought I’d give it a try.

The back end is written in PHP 5, with a MySQL 5 database. As much of the PHP is object oriented as my knowledge allows, which I’ve found to be more than I thought it was. While I can’t claim that this is an MVC Content Management System by any means, I feel that it is a cleanly coded system. This is by far the biggest project I’ve done with PHP, and has proven to be quite the learning experience.

What now?

Now, there are several other projects that will begin to require attention. Some are ministry related. One of the most important to me is, again, designing this blog. Let’s hope that begins soon.