The USCCB has launched yet another one-off website, this time for Advent and Christmas, 2009. I commend their willingness to continually push tons of new data out to the Catholics in the US through these one-off websites (Health Care Reform, New Roman Missal Translation, et all), but I wonder if they are starting to consider more long-term solutions to the problem of creating mass quantities of different HTML-only websites that don't really seem to fit together or use any kind of CMS.
Some oddities in source code aside, what happens if the USCCB wants to change its logo across all these websites. Right now, it seems the title bar is the same across all the sites, which is good, but they'd still have to update a plethora (thousands upon thousands, in fact) of html / shtml pages with the updated code for a new menu, and many instances of the logo.gif file.
Everything I'm trying to do in my work, I do it with an eye not towards the end of this year, or even five years down the road. Rather, I'm hoping that the seeds I plant today, with regard to data structures and data presentation (which should always be separated!), will germinate and be able to continue to grow, expand, and flourish for at least the next 20, 50, 100 years.
So many data-intensive projects reside in individual HTML files in Church work - we need to move towards using open, accessible data formats, databases, and markup in our work, so that we can preserve and continually improve our Catholic data online in the years to come.
HTML files are fine, in my opinion, if they are the front end to a good database backend (for instance, if you're caching pages from a CMS, or if you're generating a version of the file from a database, which can be updated from the database later). Let data be data, and presentation show that data in various ways. This is the only road we can follow if we want to continue to grow on the Internet, and on the semantic web.