A New Shaper Iron Is . . . Still Coming


Some months ago, I announced that a site update was in progress for the near future. Though an update never seems quite “ready,” I’m here to announce that we’re going to do it anyway!

The plan at present is that sharperiron.org will go offline Thursday February 16, transmogrify, then open for business again Tuesday morning, February 21.

How it’s going

A few random thoughts on the process:

  • The new build is stable and, on the whole, looking pretty good.
  • Several pieces have proved to be more challenging than expected.
  • Custom work involves a good bit of puzzle solving as well as creative and determined googling and not a little trial and error. The challenge is finding large blocks of time to work completely through to a solution to a particular issue. These large blocks of time have been harder to come by than I anticipated. (They also have to align with periods of strong motivation and a can-do attitude. Sometimes I have the attitude, but not the time; sometimes the time but not the attitude!)
  • The above is much more fun than it might sound. Except when it’s not. But usually it is.
  • Drupal 9 really is better in many ways (we’re on 7 currently), though most of them are “under the hood.”
  • We haven’t done a full migration on this scale since… wait for it … 2009!

What to expect

It won’t really be “done” when we move in. Projects like this never are, even if you think they are. But I don’t even think it will be. To use an analogy, the house will be framed, sided, roofed, plumbed and electrified. Doors and windows in. But some of the furniture will probably still be on a truck, some rooms uncarpeted, some appliances not plugged in or just not working yet. Some curtains might be the wrong color.

  • Most things will look a little different but be in roughly the same place as before.
  • “Foundry,” “New Posts” and the main Forum page (“Forum Home”) are all combined. There was a lot of redundancy there, and with the streamlined Forum structure, it works pretty well as a single page.
  • Contrary to what I was expecting a few months ago, your old private messages will be migrated in summary/digest form, integrated with the new PM system.
  • You should be able to log in with your current username and password.
  • Email notifications might not be working for a day or two past 2/21. This could make resetting your password tricky, if for some reason it didn’t migrate. But if you’re locked out, be patient. It shouldn’t be long.
  • SI will work on your phone or tablet.
  • New icons! Subtly rounded corners! Color tweaks! Woohoo!
  • During the “downtime,” if you happen by the site, you’ll see a variety of offline or error screens. This is normal. It’s also pretty normal for some of them to be really vague or inaccurate, like something might be wrong with your browser or network. Nope. It’s the website.

What to do on February 21

The new site is also on a new server (in Dallas or Atlanta—I forget which). That means the sharperiron.org domain name will be pointed to a new IP address. For those unfamiliar with how this works, but are interested: Websites live at places identified by numbers. Special servers connected to the Internet store website names and match them to the numbers (IP addresses). The servers are called name servers, or various acronyms.

What can get glitchy: The name servers don’t all get the new number at exactly the same time. Some of them may take days to get around to it. The results can be intermittently weird for a while—though this stuff sure syncs up a lot faster than it did a decade ago.

Browser cache and cookies can cause some problems when a site has moved, so, on February 21 morning, clear your browser cache and cookies for sharperiron.org before you visit—or just do it ahead of time, as soon as the site is offline.

What if there are delays?

If something’s gone wrong and it’s going to take longer to complete the move, we’ll post an update at Sharper Iron’s Facebook page (and maybe also Twitter).


Thank you for the update and all the work