CESPage 25th Anniversary

CESPage 25th Anniversary

Episode Eleven

CESPage twenty-five years ago was my way of sharing what I knew, it laid the foundations for tutorialr.com and rogueplanetoid.com


I'm Peter and this is the RoguePlanetoid Podcast where you will find insights about Microsoft or related platforms and technology, along with so much more whether you are beginner or an experienced professional or just interested in technology. Keep Current, Keep Coding!


Welcome to episode eleven of the RoguePlanetoid Podcast about CESPage 25th Anniversary which was my very first website which started as a way for me to share what I was learning about programming and to share that with others. Over the years it expanded to add more content from my other interests such as from Xbox to Windows and from Zune to Mike Oldfield! CESPage twenty-five years ago was my way of sharing what I knew, it laid the foundations for tutorialr.com and rogueplanetoid.com.


It would be 1991 before the world-wide-web existed when my journey to CESPage began, which is when I first started programming using BASIC on my then brand-new Commodore 64, which had 64 kilobytes of memory which is about 60 millionths of a gigabyte, it was a Terminator 2 Judgement Day edition that was celebrating the game of the film that was released that year which of course depicts what happens when AI takes over the world and the extreme consequences of that happening, of course today AI has become part of our everyday lives but back then was just the start of my path to becoming a software developer. That path continued with my next step after a couple of years when my dad rescued a Toshiba T-1200 laptop from being thrown away from his work, it came with GW-BASIC and had 640 kilobytes of memory which was ten times what I was using before and accompanied by the full reference manual for GW-BASIC so was able to learn so much more than I could before.

I spent the next few years getting better and better at programming in GW-BASIC including creating small applications and even games, which when I learned how to create graphics for, they looked even better than the text-based adventures I had also worked on, although I also really enjoyed putting those together. Also, I never actually played any other games on that laptop except the ones I had wrote myself! It would be by 1997 just a few years after the start of the world-wide-web where I would get my first experience of it myself thanks to a deal with a local university, where I could get access for half an hour per day as you had to use dial-up and it would take up the phone and would start using it from 6pm when the phone calls were cheaper. That time online, as short as it was, opened new ways I could expand my interests and helped me discover music that I liked from Mike Oldfield and found out about a newer programming language - Visual Basic.


Visual Basic was the next logical step after BASIC and GW-BASIC and was something I wanted to learn, there were code examples available online but I struggled to find something that I could follow step-by-step to learn it and with an interest in wanting to put together my own website and a need to learn this programming language an idea formed to combine both to create a website and tutorials where I could learn Visual Basic and share that learning experience with others. It began with Hello World, the most basic tutorial of all and created a tutorial showing how you could do that step-by-step and that tutorial contained the very first code I ever wrote using Visual Basic. Once I had put it all together, created the website and put it online on Geocities which was a basic free web-hosting platform at the time and by the start of 1998 CESPage as it was called went online as one of the few UK-based programming websites available at the time.

CESPage had launched and from those humble beginnings in 1998 it began to grow by adding more tutorials in the weeks and months that followed, with each one teaching myself something new and in turn teaching others something new too. This was an era where websites were listed and not searched for and I had my site in those lists, so it grew in popularity with more people coming to learn and with me providing more for those people to learn from. CESPage was quickly growing beyond just another page on the Geocities platform so in 1999 I took the next step on the path of my journey not only as a programmer but as web developer to move to a dedicated and more sophisticated web hosting platform and give the website its own domain - CESPage.com.


By the turn of the new millennium CESPage.com was growing in popularity but would soon be home to even more content when a new era of software development began with .NET from Microsoft, which would introduce a brand-new programming language of Visual Basic .NET which would take my skills into this new era - it would just be a matter of learning them. Just like that very first line of Visual Basic, my very first line of Visual Basic .NET would be a new Hello World created using Visual Basic .NET and along with updated versions of many of my other tutorials I would learn Visual Basic .NET and again share that learning journey with others. By the middle of the first decade of the new millennium I had my original Visual Basic along with these new Visual Basic .NET tutorials along with refreshing the look of the website along the way, and then Microsoft released Visual Basic Express Edition, which was a free way for developers to get into the language and of course was an opportunity to give my Visual Basic .NET tutorials a refresh and had improved my programming skills even more so they were even better than ever. The website also grew in popularity as even more people were able to learn Visual Basic.NET now they could do so for free and learn for free from my website and since this was also the era of broadband it was also faster and easier to use the world-wide-web.

By the middle of that first decade of the new millennium CESPage.com had dozens of tutorials covering generations of content from Visual Basic to Visual Basic .NET but I also had other interests. One of those was Xbox, I had owned my original Xbox for quite some time and thought a website about the hardware, accessories and games would be a great idea, so I launched a new section dedicated to Xbox to join the existing section about Visual Basic! Thanks to the existing popularity of my website and now in the generation of search engines the website provided quite popular and it wouldn't be long before it would reach heights I've never would have expected when I went along to an event and tried out a demo of Halo 2 which I wrote about on the website and everyone wanted to see something about Halo 2 and maybe even thought I had details of a demo anyone could play but it was just at that event and similar ones around the world, but whatever the reason it brought thousands of people to the website which made it very popular! Thanks to that popularity I updated the website on a more regular basis and the Xbox 360 was on its way which I covered by going to events about it and publishing content about it. CESPage.com Xbox covered the entire Xbox 360 era from start to finish and became a very popular website with thousands of visitors every week, as part of the content I had added for the consoles I created some exclusive images showing the hardware at the time and one day when out shopping in a local indoor market I saw those same images being used to help sell the Xbox 360 - I never expected to see something I had created online in the real world and that was amazing to see!

Thanks to the world-wide-web I had discovered the music I liked from Mike Oldfield so one of the next sections I added was CESPage.com Tubular dedicated to his music with a discography using information from the vast collection of his albums I owned with album art coming from scans from my own collection. Also, technology was moving on and Windows itself was becoming more modern and decided to launch CESPage.com Windows. By the start of the end of the first decade of the new millennium there were more websites than ever about Xbox and Windows so my own were starting to become less popular. However, there was something new on the horizon which would give me an opportunity to do something different and follow something from the very start to the end which was the Zune digital music player which was announced in 2006 and I decided to create CESPage.com Zune where I added resources about the hardware, accessories and more about the original device from announcement to launch, along with every announcement of newer hardware along with software throughout the years right up to the release of the Zune HD, some of the resources I featured that I had managed to collect I didn't see anywhere else. Those same resources came in handy just a few years ago when I launched my digital coffee table book about Zune back in 2019 which you can check out at zunepedia.com or check out the link in the show notes.

End of an Era

CESPage.com Visual Basic had grown over the first decade of the new millennium to have dozens of tutorials from Visual Basic, to Visual Basic .NET and newer versions of those from 2005 using Windows Forms and 2008 using Windows Presentation Foundation but I also wanted to launch a new section as things were changing again in the programming space as there was a new programming technology on the horizon, which was Silverlight. CESPage.com Silverlight would be the new section for programming content starting with brand-new tutorials bringing many of those I had done for Visual Basic .NET on desktop to the web with Silverlight and they were better than ever! Windows Presentation Foundation had helped me learn the new technology of XAML or eXtensible Application Markup Language and was able to learn how to bring my skills to the web along with helping others to the same and this would also lead to yet another new era that would come in 2010!

In 2010, Microsoft would announce the Windows Phone 7 platform and Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft, had said that every Silverlight developer could be a Windows Phone developer, and with that call to action that inspired me to start by porting my tutorials from Silverlight on the web to Silverlight on mobile, but this would also have an extra learning challenge as that platform only used C# at the time so I would need to learn C#. Just like with my first Visual Basic tutorial and Visual Basic .NET tutorial featuring the very first lines of those languages the Hello World for Windows Phone tutorial featured my very first C# and ended the era of me being a Visual Basic .NET developer and I moved to C#, along with helping probably many other developers to do the same! CESPage.com Silverlight would become popular with many developers wanting to learn to move their skills to mobile, just as it was doing for me and those skills helped me to create two of the very first apps for Windows Phone 7 when it launched which were a gamer card app that would show the games you had played and your progress from the Xbox, a feature available at the time along with another app which brought the social feature from another interest I had at the time which was Zune to Windows Phone 7!

CESPage.com had covered content from Visual Basic to Xbox before moving on to Silverlight and Zune along with Mike Oldfield with CESPage.com Tubular and Windows with CESPage.com Windows. This included unique images to help share hardware or software, covering press releases and generally being a place where people could find out about Xbox, Zune, Windows, and Mike Oldfield. CESPage.com was also the place for people to learn about Visual Basic on Desktop or later with Visual Basic .NET using Windows Forms and Windows Presentation Foundation with CESPage.com Visual Basic. Then a new era came with CESPage.com Silverlight showing how to bring those desktop development skills to the web, before helping bring new skills to mobile and moving to C# which is the programming language I still use to this day. CESPage had grown from that single purpose planned in the late 1990s to those many topics by the start of the second decade of the new millennium but the time of the website had drawn to a close, there were so many websites offering content by then and it was time to bring the website to a end in 2010 marking the end of an era but the website still lives on today archived as it was when it ended on GitHub Pages and you can visit it today at cespage.com or check out the link in the show notes.


Thanks for listening to the RoguePlanetoid Podcast where each episode you will find insights about Microsoft or related platforms and technology, along with so much more wherever you listen to your podcasts or at rogueplanetoid.com/podcasts for the RoguePlanetoid Podcast whether you are a beginner or an experienced professional or just interested in technology. Keep Current, Keep Coding!

RoguePlanetoid Podcast is a production of cluarantonn.com

Hosted, Written, Produced and Edited by Peter Bull

Music based on Like a Tiger by Jo Wandrini

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson