LiquidTheater Web Technology

written by Mike Shea on 19 March 2000

You can view a current to do list for the site and the daily site statistics. This site was designed, built and hosted using all open source tools. The site uses the highly popular open source server side scripting language, PHP for all the dynamic pages. The back end database is built using the open source database server, MySQL. this is a powerful RDBMS that is just about brothers with PHP. The whole site runs from an Apache web server on a FreeBSD box hosted with Pair.Com. Read more about their network and servers. The box itself is a Pentium III 667 Mhz with 256Mb of RAM with the database running off of a Celeron 500 Mhz also with 256Mb RAM.

A prototype mirror of this system runs out of my apartment on a Redhat 6.1 box. This runs the same architecture as the production server, with Apache, MySQL and PHP doing all the real work. Bandwith is provided by the evil entities at Comcast. Any new code or database changes are tested here first for a while before they are moved to the live server.

The site was designed as a home theater collaborative web site. I took a lot of my ideas from Slashdot but also a lot from Phillip Greenspun's Web Tools Review and his online book, Phillip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing (previously How to be a Web Whore Just Like Me). His tools don't quite match up with my philosophies, but they are still very well proven (AOLServer and Oracle).

The site itself was strictly written around the W3C XHTML 1.0 Document Type Definition. It was designed around the web usability teachings of Jakob Neilson. Some of his best works can be found on his site, Useit.Com, but are also available in the book Designing Web Usability.

The search engine is powered by the folks at They offer a nice free full text engine for sites of 500 pages or less. It beats the heck out of my crappy SQL based search engine.

There is now a LiquidTheater XML RSS file available for passing the latest headlines of LiquidTheater.Com. Just point your friendly RSS parser at This will give you dynamic access to the latest content on this site. For more information about RSS, see this O'Reilly article on RSS and this RSS tutorial from If you wish to just get a simple HTML version of the latest headlines, you can get an HTML version of the latest Liquidtheater headlines using my simple RSS parser.

So that covers much of the technology and philosophies behind the current design of LiquidTheater.Com. If you have any questions feel free to email me or post a message on the forum.

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