I can’t believe it’s been 5 1/2 years since…

Since I released my first theme, Newsroom for Vanilla Forums.

The purpose for this post is mostly for me to reminisce about the past. I’ve been building websites for almost as long as I can remember. So here is a little bit of history for anyone who is interested in how I came to be here.

I started building websites in middle school or just before middle school. Back then it was just simple website editors such as GeoCities. I didn’t know a thing about HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. That’s been at least eleven or twelve years ago. During middle school, I found a fascination with web forums.

I spent hours trying to install phpBB (2.0.22) on a shared hosting account. I had no idea about databases, php, or anything of that nature. Over the next few years I tinkered with forum softwares, trying almost all the free ones that appeared over the years.

I never ran a big forum myself, but I was plenty involved on other people’s forums. At some point I played around with Joomla (definitely not my favorite, but I didn’t know any better). Eventually I found myself at Vanilla Forums in 2009. I waited and waited for a version of Vanilla 2.0 that I could install without having to worry about it breaking. Two years later I released my first theme ever. I had been inspired by CNN and other news sites, and therefore I called the theme Newsroom.

Shortly after I released the initial version I was graduating from high school and ready to head off to college. I put web design on the back burner and almost completely fell out of the loop.

It wasn’t until two years later that I started back up again. I was rebuilding the Marriage Equality Ohio website for my boyfriend. I was switching to WordPress, which I was still relatively new with.

It took me two years of college to realize that psychology wasn’t for me. And here we are two years later. I’m getting ready to graduate from college with a degree in Web & Multimedia design. I’m the head web developer for a small company in Cincinnati and I absolutely love my job. I’ve still only released one theme, but I’m responsible for building at least a dozen custom WordPress themes tailored specifically to my clients and the clients of my job. I’m in the process of building my first plugin for WordPress.

I love what I do.

Recently I found myself at VanillaForms.org again and am eagerly waiting the release of 2.3. Some things never change. I ended up at installing a test copy for myself and all of the sudden I remembered Newsroom. So I browsed the themes on VanillaForms.org and I was shocked to see that it had been downloaded over 3,400ย times.

I’m honestly really honored. I bet there aren’t many sites still using at (because it doesn’t really work ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

So I decided to build another theme for Vanilla. It may be a one off, but it’s going to be another theme. I’ve spent the good part of the night building aย theme that breaks away from the same mold that many other VanillaForums use to build themes. I’m going to use some of my new skills and get my hands dirty by digging into the PHP and creating a fun new experience through PHP, HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

Hello there,

I’ve owned this domain for a long time now. It was my first, so I’ll probably always share a special connection with it. I haven’t really used it for a little while though.

My plan was to use mattmurtaugh.com for my professional portifolio and matthewalan.me(this site) for my personal blog. That’s still the goal, but life has gotten in the way.

My portfolio is mostly done (although I defintiely want to create a new look for it!), and I want to create something cool and unique for this site as well. Unfortunately I’ve got a lot of projects going on and trying to learn the WordPress plugin system. So I imagine that sometime this summer I’ll crack down on creating something cool for this site ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks all for now. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚