Our Story

Welcome to BoltWire--a small but powerful web development engine you can use to create engaging, interactive communities, quickly and easily. Here's a bit of the story behind our software.

What Is BoltWire?

BoltWire started out as a wiki. The word wiki comes from the Hawaiian language where it means fast--because wikis help you to develop websites more quickly. Essentially, wikis use a special markup language to translate simple, intuitive symbols into more complicated HTML code, automatically. Wikis mean you focus on content, not programming.

Wikis also mean you can edit pages from right within the website itself, using any computer, tablet, or phone, connected to the internet. And in fact, multiple individuals can edit a wiki simultaneously, making them perfect for collaborative projects. You can, of course, limit who edits a site to a small group, or even one individual.

But BoltWire quickly went far beyond your typical wiki. It offered member and group management (like a content management system). It could process, and save form data, then output fully formatted reports (like a database). It could index site content and retrieve information in seconds (like a search engine). Plus, it's powerful built-in forms processor made it easy to set up forums and blogs, manage newsletters, do e-commerce, run online classes, and much more.

BoltWire, in short, became an all-in-one tool for developing full-featured interactive sites.

Why Was It Made?

At the beginning of 2007, I knew little about programming, but had a burden to develop an online training school for a ministry I am associated with. I tinkered with a few popular learning management systems at the time, but none gave me the flexibility or ease of use I was looking for.

Eventually, I stumbled on to a small open source wiki project, my first real taste of using markup to create web content. And I was hooked. It was simple, versatile and robust. Flat files made installation a snap--and upgrades were easy. The head developer was brilliant and there was a strong support community. So I dove in, and began learning all I could!

But soon I found this system limiting too, forcing me to write custom plugins to extend its functionality. The first ones were small and simple, but they soon became more advanced. One was a member management plugin. Others involved hierarchical pages, an innovative data storage and retrieval system, and ultimately a powerful forms processor.

Before I knew it, I was dabbling in everything.

A Paradigm Shift

At one point an idea occured to me for how to build a web engine on a radically different framework--one that would make it far more flexible, and yet smaller and faster at the same time. What if, instead of hardcoding site actions, I simply used editable forms in the site itself? Not only would it enable site admins to customize site actions any way they wanted, it would allow them to make wildly creative new actions in a flash.

To put it differently, what if I had a system that not only let me edit content, but let me reshape the engine itself--anyway I wanted, right through my browser! This promised a flexibility and power that simply wasn't possible in other systems, while requiring just the tiniest of footprints.

So I tried an experiment. I took about two weeks and built a basic wiki shell around my forms processor. And BoltWire was born. Over the next couple months, BoltWire was refined, enhanced, secured, tweaked, and expanded in countless ways. It quickly surpassed my wildest expectations, and was doing things easily I could never do on my previous software platform, yet with about 1/4 the code, and nearly 2x as fast!

Growing Up

After a series of beta releases, version 1.00 was published in January, 2008.

I knew a vibrant developer community was important so we released BoltWire as an open source project, and quickly attracted a great team. And this team added to the quality of the software immeasurably.

Since then, BoltWire has completed seven full development cycles, with nearly 200 releases. With each change we've worked to make the core ever more robust, while keeping it flexible and fast.

Gradually, it matured into the perfect platform for my own online school, and many other kinds of projects.

Looking Ahead

Now, I'm working to take BoltWire to the next level. I have been using it all these years on my own site, and it has scaled well to serve a community of over 18,000 students. And in the process, I have developed a large library of well-developed plugins, tools, and processes to manage every aspect of a busy membership site--and all of it natively through BoltWire. Newsletter management. Online classes. Recurrent payments. Blogging. Forums. Customer support. And much more. Other than a payment processor and an email service, BoltWire runs everything.

With a little work, I believe BoltWire could become a turn-key solution for other community-driven membership sites, by simply importing some of that custom code into the core, and making them available to our developer community. And so my current emphasis is working to make that vision a reality.

Consider giving our software a try. Download it for free, and reach out if you have questions. Join us!