I've slowly started carving out time to work on this site again, and that has me thinking about a few things. Mostly, thinking about what I want OpenBooks to be, and what it is now.

One thing I've come to realize, that has been more and more true over time, is... OpenBooks has no content. There's nothing here. It's basically just a CSS playground. I want it to be more than that. Sure, there is the Discord and WebRing (although currently closed) and search engine, a mild attempt at providing any sort of useful services to the Neocities / old web community, but that's all there is. There is little reason for anyone to come here.

I want to change that. I think one of the best ways I can do that is by trying to be more personal. I've always played a sort of character on the internet, and been very careful about what I share. I think I want to change that and share more of my personal interests and thoughts on the site from now on, so in the next few updates I'll be fleshing out the personal sections of OpenBooks. And that brings me to something else...

The next version of OpenBooks

Over time, there's been several allusions to a mysterious 'next version' of the site. I'm going to clear some of that up now.

Until today, there has not actually been a secret, upcoming version of OpenBooks in development - I used the term just to refer to 'potential' future plans. However, I have officially begun work on what will become OpenBooks 10. The course that development will take is currently not set in stone, as I've started working on it right on top of the existing OpenBooks 9 codebase, as I think a full rewrite up-front would be time consuming.

A development cycle like this isn't unheard of with OpenBooks, as 8.0 was in fact based on a lot of code from version 5, and the codebase has been essentially running as a Ship of Theseus since 8.0's release in 2019. OpenBooks 8 Series was updated to start looking like 9 before 9 was released, and 9.0 had a lot shared with 8. 9 didn't truly become fully unique until a few versions later, in 2021. That's not to say there's parts of the site that haven't been touched since 2019, I doubt there's much 4 year old HTML still poking through. I just mean I haven't created a new folder and started from scratch since 2019.

That said, I am kind of torn between doing what I've been doing - updating and rewriting things in place, or truly rewriting from the ground up, in a new empty project. I think doing so would be... refreshing... but it would also delay things by a lot, as I wouldn't be able to publish things as they're finished, I'd need to wait until every aspect was complete. That would result in a more polished 10.0 release, but it would mean the site lays dormant publicly while I'm working behind the scenes, and that's something I'd like to avoid. The site has sat dormant for years at a time and I'd rather not add to that.

What's to come?

With all of that said, you'll start noticing gradual changes to the site over time. When it feels right, I'll tick the version number over to 10.x, probably when the new home page is finalized (as I did with 9.0's release in 2021). You've probably already noticed the main site's colorscheme has changed, which is the first of many changes that will be made on the journey to OpenBooks 10. Until then, I hope you follow along and keep the old web alive.

- Coyote Reyne-Hartje