When you hear the phrase “All you do is…” in the contemporary web design world, just get ready to fall down the rabbit hole. Nothing is ever that easy, except for the first thing you ever successfully coded or designed, thereby giving you the false confidence (or drug-like high) you could conquer anything you could conceive.
It was at WordCamp 2012 at Chicago’s DePaul University this summer I naively asked a group of WordPress heads how to set up a testing server. [pullquote_left]…my mind was momentarily snatched by the nodding heads and group-thinkers who said setting up what is known as a MAMP stack testing server on my MacBook is easy as pie. It is not.[/pullquote_left] After years of buying premium themes that look nearly the same with each new release and wasting hours in useless self-help forums that masquerade as “customer service” without the service component, I decided I could do better (or bad) all by myself. Designing my own themes would be my next frontier. After all, I mused, I am a practicing journalist who has launched many print and online titles. I know more about design than the tech heads who keep churning out these boring if elegantly coded themes.
If only I could set up a testing server so I could link Dreamweaver to my FTP site…
And that’s when I heard it, “All you do is…” a gentleman rattled off a series of steps that sounded vaguely like the ones I had already taken to no avail. As other WordCamp goers nodded their heads at his eagerly dispensed advice, I let myself get caught up. While my gut told me to keep asking this conference full of both savvy web designers and anxious amateurs, my mind was momentarily snatched by the nodding heads and group-thinkers who said setting up what is known as a MAMP stack testing server on my MacBook is easy as pie.
It is not.
I looked all over the Web for credible documentation to guide me through the right steps. It is unfortunate the people who have the tech savvy to explain these things write like monkeys! I found some pretty good documentation at Adobe. Any confusion was borne of the fact the writer alternated between directions for Macs and PCs in the same document. (Lynda.com also has good documentation.)
[pullquote_right]It was time to do what I do best, freaking communicate by asking someone who knows what they’re doing. That somebody in this case was Samer…[/pullquote_right]
The Sunday afternoon spent following the Adobe steps in excruciating detail was eventually met with failure, or at least brought me a standstill. The server was installed on my system and was interacting with Dreamweaver. However, I could not get the server to load WordPress. How could I have followed the steps well enough to get this far? Clearly I wasn’t an idiot…or was I?
So, like I said earlier, I am a professional communicator for a living. It was time to do what I do best, freaking communicate by asking someone who knows what they’re doing. That somebody in this case was Samer, who had just presented at WordCamp. It’s because of people like him that people like me stay optimistic about their ability to master web work in all it’s incarnations.
After a couple of tries, it turns out system error was to blame, not human. Go figure. We re-created the database, and that set everything right. My MAMP server is alive and well, and I’m off on my next journey in web design.
At some point in your open-source journey, things will get complicated, especially if your profession is not computer science-based. I have a theory that computer science grads tell us everything they think is tedious to them is easy for us, then they let us waste time figuring it out. It’s okay to admit some things are difficult — because they are. Just don’t let that stop you.