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BoltWire

Infrastructure

Posted 09/18/20, by Dan Vis

The last month or so, we've seen more growth and progress on the BoltWire platform than in the last couple years. And it all has to do with infrastructure...



I don't know if it's a saying or not, but it ought to be: infrastructure is everything.

By that I just mean, the infrastructure you have generally determines what you can build. You can argue it is not the only thing--creativity, talent, and genius is indeed a necessary spark to making something great. But if the infrastructure is not there, natural ability can only get you so far.

I mean, if you don't have the steel girders you need to support a skyscraper, you're simply not going to build very high, no matter how marvellous your ideas. Framing with 2x4 boards won't cut it. You have got to build an infrastructure first that will support your skyscraper.

I've been struck by this principle in reflecting on the flood of new developments at BoltWire these last couple months, since switching to version 7.xx. Little did I know the infrastructure changes I made would unlock so much potential. I've felt for a long time that BoltWire was a flexible and robust platform, and I've used it as the infrastructure behind my main site--an online school serving over 16000 members. But it took a lot of long hard work to get it there.

In switching to 7.xx, I made the decision to shuffle a few things around to dramatically expand BoltWire as a platform. First, I completely abandoned my longtime goal of keeping the core download under 100k. It was extremely helpful in keeping BoltWire lean and agile. But it also limited what I could squeeze into the core. And I was never really able to maintain a separate download library of plugins and skins and language packs. At least not very well. By rolling all these right into the core, along with new tools to instantly enable them, it transformed BoltWire into something entirely new.

Another change I made, a few releases in, was to clear out the shared folder completely, so I could use it to build the accelerator platform. That's what we use for our webhosting service, and it consists of nearly 400 additional site pages and over 25 bonus plugins. It's been a hectic journey these last few weeks working together with our first batch of webhosting partners to get that platform built, but it is coming along far better than I ever dreamed possible. I've pretty much gone through each of these pro modules and rebuilt them from the ground up--in the absolute best way possible. That's something you just can't do when your site is growing gradually bit by bit over time as you come up with new ideas. So much is tied to legacy systems, with various dependencies and it's hard to trace it all out. I've spent years remodeling my existing site--and it's functional. But to be able to build an entirely new infrastructure from scratch? It's been unbelievably liberating. And it's sparked so many fresh ideas, my main site has gone from years ahead to years behind...

It all started with a couple relatively simple design changes. Freely adding helpful resources to the core, and setting things up to facilitate the creation of an accelerator platform. And simply getting everything to work together nicely has led to an explosion in progress. I couldn't be more excited!

And of course, it's made the BoltWire site better too, almost effortlessly. Because it runs on the accelerator platform, I get the benefit of every change I make to that platform. Improved blogging, searchable forums, credit card capabilities, mailing list integrations, course building platform, you name it. I may not be using all of these new features at the moment, but everything is tested and working and accessible, through a simple, easy to use (and expanded) site admin area. I've got power at my finger tips...

In some ways, the difference between BoltWire core and BoltWire accelerator feels like the difference between a house that's been framed up with 2x4 boards, and a building that's been built up on steel girders soaring high up overhead. You can build a nice wooden building, no doubt. But the accelerator platform just gives me a far more impressive infrastructure, right from the start.

And infrastructure is everything...


Comments

How important is infrastructure to you? Have you been helped by the new features in BoltWire 7? If so, how? If you are a hosting client, how has the accelerator platform expanded your capabilities? What tools are you most thankful for? Or most wish we had included? Let me know in the comments...




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