We wanted a fully custom photo gallery.
Exploring our options, we rebuilt the same site once each year for five years:
Making money is good, so on the side we built three versions of an eCommerce site, for a company that screen-printed t-shirts:
By this point we'd seen the problems we were solving on both sites were the same. We started thinking about a digital asset manager that could directly support our web properties.
We called our project "Moonrise."
The first working version was a glorified asset index. At the time we were still thinking about exporters/importers to move assets into a Wordpress front-end. But we were also already using Django -- a web app platform -- for the developer interface on our backend.
Why not build the whole frontend out of Django too?
We had no idea what sort of a monster project we were getting into.
Some experimental projects happened here:
The frontend and backend individually worked, but under the hood shared little connection. The next version was all about bringing them together (a task not fully finished until v3.1!)
After this we began making smaller, feature-add versions, as opposed to megalithic redesigns.
We were tasked to build a new, photo-based app to run lost-and-found operations at Burning Man.
The lost-and-found problem gave us opportunity to explore an excellent real-world use-case. Many parts of our system, most especially our taxonomy models, grew in complexity as a result.
Fiindex went through two versions:
Version 1.10 started out as a brush-up on the visual look of the system. Code-wise, it never was deployed, but blurred seamlessly into a v2.0 where we rebranded the project.
Project Moonrise had become Octoboxy!
Our system still had a lot of room to mature in every existing component.
At this point the core was more or less deemed stable.
It was time to tackle some bigger problems:
To kick-off the next arc of our story we set out to fix every long-standing annoyance we had with system architecture.
Some of this was simple module renames with little semantic change. On another level, some whole modules got rebuilt. This became a megalithic redesign version, perhaps our largest one ever.
eCommerce is now sophisticated enough to run multiple storefronts on different faces, but actually deploying multiple storefronts wasn't in-scope on v3. (We had to draw the line somewhere!) So next up: v3.1 will make that real.
Completing this will be a really exciting moment, because it will mean we check off the last one of the original design goals on this project that still hasn't been answered.
Wish us luck!
~ the Octoboxy crew