May 262024
 

Did you know?

The website at earlychristianwritings.com has been online since 2001.

I was only 20 years old when I put the website online. That’s right, not even old enough to get a drink!

The layout was designed by my brother-in-law Andy. It hasn’t been touched in over twenty years.

WordPress didn’t exist. Every single web page – hundreds of them – is hand-crafted HTML code.

Like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with its comforting “DON’T PANIC” on the cover, the website has always had one simple advantage over all others. An orderly chronological listing on the homepage.

That website has served millions and has been linked or cited thousands of times online and in print.

But it’s been showing its age for a while, even in the basics. No SSL? No responsive layout? Yikes. Even enthusiasts of old websites built by hobbyists must admit it’s a painful experience on the phone.

It’s time for an upgrade!

Here’s what I am working on:

  • Creating a simpler look that puts the texts front and center for easy reading.
  • Adding more translations to the website.
  • Adding more original language texts to the website.
  • Using a responsive web design that works as well on the phone as on the desktop.
  • Securing the website with SSL and getting a faster hosting provider.
  • Using a modern web framework like Django, to make updates easier and faster.

The focus of the first update will be to get everything we currently have into the new website design. But I’ve been thinking about these things for a long time, and I have lots of interesting ideas for the website that I’d like to explore when that’s done.

For example, there’s been an e-Catena feature that I developed as a part of the website… but why shouldn’t these kinds of cross-references be built into the website and link you directly between reading the church fathers and reading the New Testament?

If you want to get an idea of my vision for the future of the website, the Gospel of Thomas Commentary is basically its prototype. Notice how each saying of the Gospel of Thomas is linked to other parallel passages, accompanied by the original language texts, and has additional commentary resources, even visitor interaction. This is the kind of thing that I’ve always wanted Early Christian Writings to be.

Joining the Waitlist

With early access to the upgraded website, you can test out the new features and the new design.

If you have ideas for the future of the website, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below or send me an e-mail at peterkirby@gmail.com with your ideas!

Why Now?

Early Christian Writings has always been a labor of love and a one-man show. I developed most of it when I was young, in college, and had plenty of time. But then I graduated with a degree in mathematics and took a job at Apple, where I worked as a software developer and machine learning engineer. I learned a lot working for a big company on difficult projects, but it didn’t leave much time for developing the site.

In the back of my mind, I always wanted to take the time to do it right. Recently I left my job at big tech, moved out to Arizona, and set up a little home office where I can work on this full time. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now. I’m excited to get started.

Let me know what you think, and join the waitlist to follow along!

  3 Responses to “Early Christian Writings is upgrading…”

  1. 1. I bought your CD and it was worthless.

    Know what was worth it? The list, the pages, the translations (I LOATHED THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS PAGE EXAMPLE) pages.

    I don’t need you doing my work for me. IT IS NOT BROKE; DON’T FIX IT. I am on of your original users. Redesign the look, sure. Add some references to more recent scholarship.

    You’re just going to monetize, aren’t you? That’s really the point. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Did you sell it? Go into partnership? What?

    So much for reccing ECW.

    • Aiya, you’re absolutely right to bring up all of these concerns.

      (1) I could end up making the website worse.

      I really hope not, and that’s why I am getting feedback now from people like you on the work that I am doing. The last thing I want to do is to break something that’s working well now.

      I don’t have to use all the ideas that are found in the Gospel of Thomas Commentary example. Can you be more specific about what you don’t like about it?

      (2) I could lose sight of what’s important.

      This is something that I have thought a lot about. I have some of the same concerns that you do. A love of money corrupts good things. And I have come down firmly on the side of providing as much as I can to the most people that I can, not chasing money.

      I will never sell the website. I will never go into partnership. This is a promise.

      I have gotten offers. I got several inquiries when I was a college student, juggling classes and tutoring at the same time to be able to finish school, with nothing but debt to my name. If an offer like that was ever going to be tempting, that is when it would have been. I said no, that I would not even consider it. I knew that I would never be able to forgive myself if I gave up the site for someone else to do what they will with it.

      I worked and I saved so that I could get to the point where I could devote more time to this website again. I’m also married now and have a kid on the way. I will admit that I will not be able to work on this full time forever without eventually putting my hand out and asking for support in some way.

      But this website is also my baby. I understand that it’s extremely important to get it right when I do. What that means to me is that everyone should be getting more. Not only should every visitor to the website get everything that they do now today, but they should be getting more. I should be having a positive impact by devoting my time to this, being able to reach more people with more resources than ever as a result. The experience of every visitor to the website is the first priority for me and always will be.

      (3) I have been bad about providing value to those who supported me.

      The CD didn’t offer much that wasn’t already easily available on the website because it simply was the website, put on a CD, and not much more.

      If you’re wondering why I did that, the fact is that I personally hated the idea of developing resources that would be offered only to people that could afford them. I wanted the most people possible to benefit from what I was working on. I told myself (yes, maybe I lied to myself) that people who got the CD were doing it mainly to help me develop these free resources for everyone.

      I see that this was a mistake, and I have now stopped offering the CD.

      I know it’s not going to be easy to find the right way to fulfill the mission of making as much available to the whole world for free, while also providing even more to those who support me at that work. I can see that I failed you with the latter. And I’m sorry.

      I could say something about wanting to provide a unique offer to everyone who has ever bought the CD — and that’s completely true, that’s what I want to do — but I don’t think that’s what you want to know right now, and that’s fair.

      What I think you want to know is whether I will ruin the site for everybody in a misguided attempt to upgrade it. Whether you can still recommend it to your friends.

      And I want good people like you to hold me accountable. I encourage your questioning. We live in a grossly commercial age, and your skepticism is justified.

      Please continue to visit and continue to let me know when I get things wrong. The website will still offer (for free of course) all the same content it does now. I hope that it gets easier to use and that I can offer even more, and I’ll do my best not to mess it up in the process.

      I might be wasting my time. I’m okay with that. But I’m not okay with hurting my baby here and disappointing those who have used it for the last twenty some years. Please help me make sure that I don’t.

      Thank you.

  2. Peter, I love your website and all that it brings. I work with web development and wanted to created something similar until I saw your website.

    I just wanted to see if you need help and if we can work together to make this more improved, specially with cross refrence searches and UI.
    I think with a few UI adjustments and tweaking of the search this can be even more powerfull.
    Please reach out, i’d love to help.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)