For more than seven years, I am now active in the interwebs. Everything started with a YouTube channel I created as an unknowing child in 2013. Throughout this wonderful time a lot has changed around my online appearance.
Early on, I created a Twitter account next to my existing YouTube channel. As time went on, my YouTube channel reproduced itself in a parthegonic way. That's how ZeybeFX, ZeybeOfficial, KingOfDogTV, KingOfDog International, and Hundekongen first saw the beautiful light of the world. Additionally, I gained profiles on Twitch, 500px, and others.
The biggest and most important milestone in my online life was the development of an own website. It began around 2015, though it took quite a long time until the website eventually went public.
Starting out as a very rudimentary website consisting only of HTML and CSS, my child in the form of website continued to grow and I continued to nurture it. KingOfDog.de began to take over an ever increasing part of my free time.
I still know how I just wanted to implement a contact form. That triggered a snowball rolling down the Mount Everest, unable to be stopped. First, I needed to learn the basics of PHP. But that wasn't enough: I wanted to experience more of this dangerous drug (seriously, don't get on PHP). And just like that, my website graduated to an interactive and dynamic web app. It just was so small and already an adult…
My website until now
After several months of intense development (and thus a multiple of the initially anticipated duration of this project), I was finally able to publish the fruit of my labor. At first, the website could be reached with the domain kingofdog.eu, later this changed to kingofdog.de.
It offered everything of my heart's desire: a dedicated blog, a personal portfolio, various tools, some kind of social network, a listing of my social media posts, a custom-made user system.
And all of that looked like this:
The website was a patchwork of PHP, CodeIgniter, jQuery, and Bootstrap. It's actually quite surprising to me that the website is still mostly usable after 5 years. I would have expected it to be completely broken apart by now because of the various instable parts.
However, there were multiple issues turning up, especially in the tools section. These tools originated as confused brainchildren of mine, having at most a small real use case. So, there was a clear lack of motivation to fix any of the appearing problems completely.
Even more instable was the compound of PHP and jQuery which totally scares me nowadays. Having seen the diversity and beauty of modern web solutions, my own website turned into an unwanted child, I still had to care for.
A growing desire
Even though I had a perfectly fine website, there was a wish creeping up on the horizon to throw away everything and begin from scratch.
For several years, I was rarely present on my own website. Few to none blog posts and projects were released and I only paid a visit to KingOfDog.de once every other month. That's indeed strange for such a time-intensive project I poured a lot of hard work into.
One of the reasons for my lack of motivation to continue working on my website was the hell of a mess I called “admin panel”. It wasn't finished at all and those parts I thought to be working broke down quickly. Just to provide an example, here's the present state of the post editor.
Anyways, I want to mention that not all of it was that bad. Still, being greeted by this abomination of a text editor takes one's motivation to dive into a creative workflow completely.
And then, the bubble burst
2020 brought the all too bad corona pandemic and flipped the world upside down. In order to fill the gap left by school, I was in search for a brand new project I always wanted to do. The complete rework of my website was a very promising candidate for this.
Subsequently, the following months were occupied by the intense development phase of a modern website, although there was a short break due to my A levels.
When deciding what technologies to use, I regarded the ability to learn new stuff as quite important (just like in previous projects). For example, I chose Vue.js for the frontend instead of Angular, which I had worked with before. The backend is powered by the extremely efficient programming language Go that I only used once for a tiny side project a few weeks before beginning the massive journey to a new website.
But I don't want to go on about the technical details of my new website too much at this point. For that there might be a future series of blog posts shining light on separate parts of the development process.
Instead, the main focus of this article is going to be the looks and feel of the new “Version 2020” (I know, what a creative name).
The biggest differences
Apart from the completely overhauled technical implementation, there are plenty of novelties regarding the design and features of the new KingOfDog.de.
One of the most prominent features might be the improved localization. While the old website only offered a very incomplete translation for English, and an even worse translation for French, “Version 2020” has discovered how to provide solid and widespread internationalization. All of the static texts (in other words, everything except the blog posts and projects) is fully localized in German, English, and Norwegian.
You might wonder why French was replaced by Norwegian. Well, in the meantime since the release of the first version I began learning Norwegian.
On top of that, I hope that the translation quality of both English and Norwegian should be better than before. Please, please, please report any language mistakes or missing translations using the contact form.
Besides redeveloping the entire website structure, I also reworked all of the static content including the “About me” page and the FAQ, as well as modernizing some of the existing blog posts and projects. For example, there's a new list of language and coding skills on the “About me” page.
Everything has taken on a new form and needed to be migrated into a fundamentally different system. So, it wouldn't hurt to adjust the texts and images themselves accordingly.
Furthermore, one can comment on projects now too, while the blog posts stole the rating system from the portfolio. In general, blog posts and projects are a lot more similar now.
Social Network — We left a man behind!
A major difference is the absence of the social network, creatively named “KOD Network”. It originated from several distinct ideas and was incrementally added to the old version of KingOfDog.de.
At first, I was in need of a user system to handle comments. That later required to view the user's profile. Having a complete user and profile system, it was almost obvious to allow user's to create posts outside the scope of blog posts. However, text-only posts quickly became boring, leading to me adding the possibility to upload pictures and videos.
While developing all of this, I completely disregarded simple programming principles and repeated large parts of the logic and data structure for all kinds of content (projects, blog posts, comments, user posts).
I learned from this experience and tried to be more cautious for “Version 2020”. From the beginning, I kept in mind to use a consistent structure for blog posts, comments, and projects. Even though there's no social network at the moment, it should be straightforward to add one in the future.
Should there ever be a new KOD Network, I want it to be unique and not just another Twitter clone. I'd like for a KOD Network 2 to be based on an innovative concept with solid implementation and unique selling point. You just have to look at TikTok, Snapchat, and Jodel to see that fundamentally different social networks can become successful.
But there's still missing something!
Indeed. Often, that is even completely intentional.
For instance, the new landing page looks nothing like the old one. All of the posts from Twitter and Youtube: disappeared. I removed this feed because I didn't feel like it fits into my vision of this website. People should visit KingOfDog.de because of the unique content, such as blog posts and projects, not for anything they could find somewhere else.
The distinction between categories and tags found its way into the garbage bin too. Previously, blog posts had categories and tags which was quite arbitrary; portfolio entries were grouped into collections which were similar to categories. This hodgepodge is now really simple. There are tags for projects, tags for blog posts, tags for everything. Additionally, this simplicity also makes the side-wide search significantly easier.
It's impossible to miss that there's no dark mode yet. Even though I am a huge fan of customizability, it wasn't of high priority to implement two fundamentally different design modes.
However, I want to be clear that this doesn't mean there won't ever be a dark mode. I just decided to take care of it later on.
When I'll eventually come around to adding a dark mode, I don't plan on making the same mistake as in the first version: My previous website had a dark mode patched in that somewhat worked. Though, the realization of the purest of nights was lacking in quality. Plenty of spots were not correctly adjusted when viewed in dark mode. This time something like that shouldn't happen — let alone because the component structure of Vue.js provides a very good starting point to provide a consistent look and feel no matter whether you're using light mode or dark mode.
To say it simply: I am totally satisfied with the yield of my free time project for several months. And I hope you, the reader, feel the same way about this website. Apart from that, I definitely learned an enormous number of new concepts, exciting technologies, and unknown languages while having an extremely intense finger exercise.
Looking into the future, I imagine to add more features as I see need — most important of all, of course, a social network.
And with that I invite you to stay around and take a tour through KingOfDog.de. If you're interested in more of my baloney, feel free to visit me on YouTube or Twitter.