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Pixel Works Is Getting SaaSy [UPDATE]

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Diagram of a SaaS model

UPDATE 10/7/14: The unified version of Pixel Works is up and running with its first project in Dietproof Swimsuit. It's been a longer road than I initially planned but I'm very happy to be moving on to migrating client sites and stamping out any minor bugs I come across.

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UDATE 9/9/14: After trying unsuccessfully to get top level domains to work with the system I have called in the assistance of people that know this stuff like the back of their hand and it is now working as it should. I am currently updating the designs (themes) for clients and adding them to the system. You will not see any difference other than some new featuires and a new administration screen.

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UPDATE 8/4/14: The change to a SaaS model has taken a bit more finicking than I initially thought it would. I've had to recode how the system themes work while still allowing for single installs of the system. My next hurdle is to figure out how to set up the DNS to allow for top level domains (domain.ext) to be used without making any changes to email that is so important for so many people. Finally. I've taken the time to make improvements all over the entire system and modules with my main focus being the store which some people are waiting on.

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One of the things I've been striving for since I began my career all the way back in 2001 was to keep things simple for the people that put their faith and trust in me to deliver stunning websites.

It started a long time ago when I wrote the very first version of my CMS (content management system), allowing non-technical website owners to easily manage their own sites. I dare say I made it even a little fun. As time went on and I iterated on that idea things got even better. I like to think that my little CMS has blossomed into one of the easiest content management systems to use that doesn't skimp on important features.

That simplicity has come at a small price when it comes to making things easy for myself. For one I always try to find a way to make things better, faster and easier which can lead to sweeping changes in code from one version of Pixel Works to the next.

When applying updates to the websites built around the system it becomes a time consuming process. I need to upload the latest version to all the websites running Pixel Works, change all or parts of themes, database tables and sometimes even rewrite pages of code for custom modules just to keep the websites I made on a previous version fully functional. I could work less, not build new features and move at a slower pace but where's the fun in that?

Since Pixel Works (the most recent fork) was created it has gotten several large updates like:

  • mobile support designed with a custom grid system that adapts to different screen sizes
  • a search engine
  • a new file management system and text editor
  • new and/or improved modules like the photo gallery and customer reviews
  • and many more little things that just make it work like you expect it to

Now it's time to make things easier for me

Right now I am working to make Pixel Works into a SaaS application. What this means is that instead up uploading twenty code updates to twenty different websites I can upload changes once and twenty sites will instantly be updated. By also versioning the software, something I've been doing since the latest fork, I can roll back versions, branch off code to test out new ideas and create patches without disrupting the latest stable version. It doesn't stop at the code level either. By versioning the database connected to the CMS I can make changes to tables if I need to and apply those to existing databases without disrupting service or losing any data.

The best part of all of this is that I need to make minimal changes to the existing code to make this happen.

That Sounds Great! When can I get it?

The short answer is very soon. I converted a couple of low traffic personal sites today to the new system and it took no time at all. I still have some little bugs that need to be killed but progress is moving smoothly.

Initially the system will only be available to you, my current clients, but shortly after that I will be granting access to other area developers and eventually everyone. To stay informed of this exciting new direction and keep tabs on its progress subscribe to this blog, the newsletter, or follow Pixel Garden Studio on Facebook or Google.