Green Bay Press-Gazette and PackerForum
In 2004 I attempted to combine two passions, the Green Bay Packers and website/discussion board development. At that time PackersNews.com (Green Bay Press-Gazette) forum was using ColdFusion software which was primitive and expensive. I offered to upgrade it for free which they declined. I found PF which was using phpBB2, a software I knew well and enjoyed. Fortunately, Ryan (owner of PF) masterfully turned many of my suggestions into a very popular discussion board that years later he would eventually sell.
Packers Highlight Videos
The 2006 season is when I started creating (6-10 minute) highlight videos of the Packers seasons. I wanted to capture Brett Favre's last season and provide those who couldn't see the game with more than the 10 second SportsCenter clips. The NFL warned through YouTube they would prosecute if the videos were not removed. This would lead into creating a Packers site to host the videos so they could be available to whomever would like to view them.
In addition to highlight videos, I wanted to give fans a small friendly place where they could freely discuss the Packers while having an array of unique features we don't often see with your typical run-of-the-mill fan site. I searched up and down for a new software to learn and settled with DragonFly CMS. When the site first went online in October 2006 it was under the domain www.DailyPackers.com (as suggested by tromadz). That name was good, but I wanted something more 'home' and thus www.PackersHome.com was born.
14 Oct 2006 - [php] DragonFly CMS
19 May 2011 - [asp.net] DotNetNuke & YAF
05 July 2012 - [asp.net] Custom ASP.Net & YAF
04 Sep 2013 - [asp.net] Custom ASP.Net & YAF & Bootstrap
A little background information on the owner to start things off. The first discussion board that I developed was for a company called Worr Games Paintball out of California in 2002. I chose phpBB2 software. The site flourished with over 15,000 users at its unfortunate demise. I was hired by a fellow gamer (who was an exec with WGP) to develop and to moderate the website. From what I was told, WGP was bought out by K2 and K2 refused to have a non professional web designer on their payroll. They said they loved the work that I had done, but had to go in 'a different direction'. They tried to maintain the integrity of the board. The new admin and staff was unable to maintain control and ultimately the higher ups felt it was giving WGP a bad name and shut it down. The site lasted three or four years under my admin, less than a month under the professionals.
In 2003 I began receiving offers by several gaming team leaders to develop websites and discussion boards for their respective teams. I learned phpNuke, Post Nuke and several other CMS software and HTML in the process. It also started my foundation for loving to be a code monkey that later played a significant role in deciding my career path.
In 2004 I discovered PackersNews.com boards and were they ever terrible! It was slow, poor design and no consistent admin or moderator to speak of. I offered my services to upgrade and if needed, help moderate. They were worried about cost (They were using I believe ColdFusion and paid DEARLY for it too). I informed them the software was free as were my services and I would even do the work at their location of choice. I never head back from them. Thanks Julie!
Later that same year I came across PF a phpBB2 software based Packers site!! Pay dirt! I could talk Packers on a smooth running, quick forum that I was familiar with and it had a rocking admin to boot. I had ambitions to develop my own Packers themed site for awhile, but with my recent discovery, I put the dream on hold. Going to college also assisted that decision. I threw tons of suggestions/ideas at the owner and eventually drove him bonkers at no fault of his own. I was overly persistent and at times mistakenly feeling my ideas were supreme.
In 2006 I started recording Packers games for the purpose of capturing Brett's final season. I started editing them into short 6-10 minute highlight reels and posting them on YouTube.com. The NFL contacted myself through YouTube staff warning me they would prosecute if they were not removed. They did the removing for me and destroyed my account. That was the final straw. I wanted the videos to be available to anyone who wanted them, it left me with no other option. I had to find a host and start development on my own Packers website.
In October 2006, I searched up and down for a decent software to develop the website. I already had vast experience with phpBB2, php nuke and post nuke among a few others. I desired something new, different perhaps, a new challenge. I came across DragonFly CMS, which coincidently was the same software that eventually powered PF. That bothered me as I wanted to offer something that Packers fans couldn't find elsewhere. I really bought into the features and versatility of the software. I was familiar with the foundation of DragonFly CMS and with that decided I would put forth my best effort to make the site unique if at all possible. Anyone who knows anything about CMS based websites knows how difficult that can be as they are all very similar cosmetically. Even more so when you are limiting your options to a specific color pallete.
Selecting the right name was not an easy task. Tromadz came up with DailyPackers.com. I grew fond of it immediately. We started using that for some time. I had my reservations as I felt the name should begin with the word "Packers". The direction I had envisioned for the website was a place members could call home for Packers discussion. Thus, PackersHome.com was born.
The vision for PackersHome.com was to start off small and let word of mouth transpire the website into whatever it may grow into. The main attraction was the highlight videos and live play by play. Traffic was coming in, but not many were staying around. There were a handful of loyal members who contributed and I was satisfied with that. The five year plan was in effect and going accordingly.
Early June of 2008, PackOne contacted me with a proposition on methods to increase traffic. Increasing the traffic wasn't a priority of PackersHome.com at that point. He had several suggestions and a passion that truly inspired me. The best thing about his suggestions is they worked! PackersHome.com was growing on a steady pace nearly topping 400 members. A total I wasn't predicting to top until the first half of the 2008 NFL season.
PackersHome was originally developed in a PHP language using MySQL for a database on a Linux operating system. This was something new and interesting to develop in. It presented several challenges and ultimately the CMS used, DragonFly ceased to provide updates.
January 2011, we were shut down on suspicion of being a source of email spam. This was immediately proved inaccurate and the site was restored, however, again we were shut down for the same accusation in May 2011. Saying I was furious over this would be a drastic understatement. We had started the process of getting the new platform ready for take over and the plan was to have a full transition completed during the Summer of 2012 at the earliest. Being shut down twice in four months was unacceptable, and the transition was undertaken in two days, rather than six months to a year. It was a bumpy ride and there's still some bumps.
The transition was forced to avoid hitting PackersHome only to find out that it's been shut down again. That's unstable, inconsistent and again, unacceptable.
PackersHome is now using DotNetNuke with YetAnotherForum plugin for the forums. It's purely C# and ASP.NET with a SQL database on a Windows operating machine. This means, the functions and features that can be developed from the PackersHome team are virtually endless, providing time and skill of course.