The Iowa Underground Archives was started in 2000 by David "DaVo" Wilkins after it was suggested on the Iowahardcore.com message board. The orginal goal was to answer the questions of what the Punk Hardcore scene in Des Moines, Iowa was like in the 1980s. The original site was a basic html site based mainly off of DaVo's memories of the scene. However over time, he started to receive input in the form of e-mails from others involved with the scene not only in Des Moines but state wide.
For the next 5 years the site grew slowly with the help of others to expand to about 500 listings covering the Iowa area. Information came from e-mails or from posts on the sites guestbook and then message board. In 2005, DaVo began to build his first CMS site with a wiki filter. Thus the Iowa Underground Archives became a wiki site and moved to it's own domain http://iowaunder.com
. This greatly increased the addition of information on bands and other listings. Also a number of social network features were added.
There were a number of problems with the site. For one the filter that the site was using didn't allow all the wiki tags. Often the output wasn't the best or had to be fixed. There were countless orphan pages and there were a number of confusing and unused features. After a number of e-mail suggestions DaVo began the 4 build in the fall of 2008. He also had decide a long time ago that the archives should be expanded to increase interest.
Thus the 5th build which went live in January of 2009. There was a number of changes, the biggest being the abandonment of the wiki style filter in favor of a form based submission. In fact other then the freelininking tags, submissions could be done without needing to know a code. Creating an interaction that is more in tune with modern social networks and cleaner output. Also the format of the archives was switched to a book form. Making adding pages, sections and outlines a great deal easier then it was before. Other feature were also added including the ability to reference and include audio, embedded video, photo and etc... into a listing page.
When building and maintaining a site based off of an open source code like Drupal tends to create problems that there was no way of foreseeing. With the 4th build there was a great deal of tables created and a lot of node referencing. This added a lot of function and out put but it also created a bandwidth hog and over time some serous conflicts between some of the modules on the site. It got so bad by January 2011 that the host provider kicked us out. Since, the host account is shared with my businesses site http://axiompiercing.com
, that site came first. I had to roughly 2 weeks to pull both sites from the old host, find a new host and get the site up and going.
It would take another 3 months of trying to fix the axiompiercing.com site before I gave up and just rebuilt it. In the meantime, I failed to get the old archives site up and working. So it set in a couple of different folders on my hard drive waiting for me to make up my mind what to do with it. When I finished the new build on the axiompiercing.com site, I made an attempt to get the monster fired up again. There were so many tables that I had to ftp it to the server and then have the tech support load it up because when I tried to import it, the server would time out. It seems there were a few modules that were producing a new table every single time a page was loaded. The thing is huge.
Even in the most stripped down version of the site was full of errors and for some reason the structure was completely destroyed. There was no just fixing it and it need a complete rebuild and overhaul. So started the, I really don't have a clue how many times I've re-built this site, so let's call it the sixth build of the site. This version will be a little more streamlined and will not have the freelinking module which was a source of a lot of the problems with the old site.
December of 2014 I began the 7th version of the website. with the feedback that I got from others, I mapped out five goals:
- Giving the site a more modern and updated look and feel.
- Try to simplify the User Interface.
- Change the structure from Book to something that relied more on Taxonomy terms to create structure and navigation.
- Abandon most of the unused social network features on the site that were not being used.
- Make the site completely responsive. Allowing easy viewing and navigation regardless of scene size.
Since so many changes had to be made to the structure, the site is a complete rebuild and will require a long Beta period to transfer the content listings to the new site. To decrease some of the confusion, there is one content type per state to add listing. Also a contributor content type and one for interviews. This has created some pretty long form to insure the proper information is entered into the listing but I feel the interface is less confusing.
The biggest change is the use of Twitter Bootstrap and CSS3. Which not only gives the site a more clean and updated look but interfaces that are responsive and work on any size screen. Though I had to give up a few design elements that would have made the display better on larger screens, no longer will you spend your time expanding and contracting the site to navigate on your Mobile phone or tablet.
Other than private messages, all of the relationship and other social network features have been removed from the site. I think we all have hit the point where the last thing we need is another social network but if there is a demand, they would be easy to reinstate.
In this build like the last one I've focused on just the Upper Midwest. Currently the states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. All listings outside of those states are going to be placed in the "Outside of the Upper Midwest". I would love to add sections for the rest of the planet but the truth is even a couple of those 12 states have little or no listings in them. With the Taxonomy module, new terms can be added when creating listings. So, additional locations can easily be added.
The site started so small with only a focus on Des Moines and then the whole state of Iowa. It took time and I'm still amazed with the amount of listings and details that have been added. It's a source of pride for me and I hope every single person that has contributed to the site.