mbharris.co.uk
Mike Harris is a Software Engineer and Agile/Lean project manager, coach, consultant and trainer based in Oxford, UK

Psand Limited

I co-founded Psand in 1996 with two fellow ex-students of the Computing for Real Time Systems (CRTS) degree course at University of the West of England (formerly Bristol Polytechnic). Our initial primary focus was the promotion of GNU/Linux and free software. We were originally a reseller of free software, including RedHat Linux and Word Perfect, and provided supporting consultancy in the form of software development and systems administration. During this time our clients included Nimir Energy, the Bristol Urological Institute and the British Diabetes Association.

After a couple of years, it transpired that the easiest way to achieve our goal of promulgating free software was through the provision and management of Internet services, such as email and web.

We developed a Content Management System (CMS) framework called Changing Pages and written in Perl, which we used as our core tool to build web sites. The premise was the separation of site, page and content, and the separation of template views containing design and layout, that designers could work on, and the data that the user entered and edited and formed the bulk of the content of their web site. The user's data was parsed into the designer's templates using a special tag language called CPML.

This concept is very well know these days in the myriad of CMSs out there and is employed by such widespread systems as Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla, as well as the PHP and JavaScript programming languages; but in 1997 it was a new thing and this was pretty revolutionary at the time.

We extended Changing Pages into the grandiose sounding Changing Pages Enterprise Platform, which we used to produce world-class content management systems for the UK network of at first BMW dealerships, then later MINI and then Alfa Romeo.

Over the years my primary role was one of managing and running the company and finding and managing clients. As the company grew, this role became one of account management and management of large web projects, as well as keeping my hand in development on a daily basis.

Alongside web development and Linux systems, for some five years we were also involved in providing on-site IT services at outdoor events, using satellite internet connexions, wireless networks, solar energy and, working with Bristol Wireless, which we helped to found, LTSP-based Internet suites. Through this wing of Psand, I worked in many outdoor and indoor events, a complete list of which is here. The skills and experience gained from this time have helped me to produce the successful BarnCamp skills-sharing event.

I finally left day-to-day operations in 2008 when Psand decided to focus it's energies on providing solely the web CMS side of things to BMW and MINI and, since then, this has been the company's focus, expanding to provide solutions using Changing Pages to BMW Bikes, InterContinental Hotels and a number of other companies.

Visit Psand's web site

Visit an archive of articles from some of the more esoteric things from I was involved in during my tenure at Psand

Download an old GPL'd version (v3.2.1) of Changing Pages at Github

(c) 2017 Mike Harris & Broad Bean Productions Ltd. Copyleft where specified.