Project: "Arabica"


"Arabica" is a bespoke site engine working together with customised themes and modules to provide simple website functionality on various platforms, with focus on standards compliance defined by the W3C Consortium. The core is written in PHP and utilises Javascript to add simple functionality where required.

Each website powered by Arabica focuses on crisp, clean and aesthetically pleasing design free from content overload and overlays.

The Arabica Engine has been implemented across three websites with different themes: "Espresso", "Flat White" and "Piccolo".


Project "Arabica" began with a need and desire for building a custom website for my photography page, Flavio R. Spedalieri Photography.

Aware of the many content management systems (CMS) such as Wordpress, Joomla et all, there was still a substantial amount of work needed to create a look and feel for how I wanted the website to render, and in doing so, still needed considerable knowledge of the code behind how the CMS work and how to customise them for each project.

Another major point was working to W3C standards and ensure that the website is written to comply with standards. I found many of the above system contained many aspects that simply broke away from the standards. There are still areas even in my own web pages that need refinement, however at least I know the pages will comply on standards compliant browsers.

One other point, ensuring the website behaved correctly on normal screens as well as mobile.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is for my own learning, as building something from the ground up you know how it works and have full control over the design. If something goes wrong, one can find and resolve it. Many of the larger platforms or subscription services are more complicated also requiring a steep learning curve (at least for someone like myself whom is not a web developer).

I am by no means a coding wiz, and I don't have bells and whistles featured in my pages, however these websites have been designed with an aesthetic, professional and clean feel, and can stand proud that they are my own hard work, time and effort.

Back In Time . . .

In the very early days of the internet (going back to the mid to late 1990s), HTML was taking off (HTML was first developed in 1993, with HTML 2.0 released on 24th November 1995), I commenced working in IT and also taking up some basic understanding of HTML.

From these early days, I was writing small static webpages for family and friends, then soon after I commenced writing the Nightlase Technologies website (which at the time, to feature tutorials and project information).

Over the years I revised / rewrote the Nightlase website a couple of times, and can say when I look back at the code and implementation, It simply has to be said, chalk and cheese.

From those early days to the present, a lot had changed, that including the fact I had not worked on much website development for close to a decade.

In 2016, I needed to create a website to showcase my photography, Project "Arabica" was born.

The "Arabica" Core

Coming back into the web design arena, I needed to understand how website coding and design has changed, together with methodologies with how modern web pages function.

Having come from a time when each page was "hard coded", I needed to refresh my knowledge understand server-side scripting technology and how to dynamically create each page from a set of templates.

Having some small basic knowledge of PHP, I decided to explore this further and began to build a PHP framework including a central core, modules, templates, and finally the content.

Much of the backend core provides many of the features of the website functionality including navigation and integrated modules to handle images and galleries.

As the core was evolving, I began to explore the ability to utilise the core and apply a format and layout customed to different sites by way of themes.

Having a strong interest in coffee, I decided to name the core website engine "Arabica", which is species of the coffee plant (Coffea Arabica).

As I continued to develop the website core and its layout, I created the themes (template packages) which I could then use as basis for creating a new website.

Following the completion of the Photography website in late 2018, I used the core engine and began to build the website for Enigma Lamps and then finally in 2020, I came to rebuild the Nightlase Technologies website.

Each website runs the Arabica Core, and each has been created and styled using my customised themes named after different coffees; "Espresso", "Flat White" and "Piccolo".

- Flavio Spedalieri -
Written: 30th July 2021

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