What is the Presentation Engine?The Presentation Engine is exactly that - a web based database system which can allow you to quickly and easily present yourself and/or other topics of interest to people wandering around on the web. Currently the engine has just been updated as part of its "fifth" major release. This current version is written in C# (largely from scratch though some existing code from version 3.5 was ported over) and is an ASP.NET MVC4 application which depends on the .NET Framework version 4.0.
Why did you create it?Originally I needed some sort of platform on which to practice/develop web application interface theming, or if you will "skinning" techniques. I also was in need of a personal site. I mean let's face the facts - its pretty bad when you develop web applications for a living and don't even have a sample of your work to provide to potential clients. As a result, the Presentation Engine was born.
What can it be used for?Essentially anything. This engine is open source - so any end user can change it and modify it to their hearts content. For a wonderful example, just take a look at my personal site (which you are obviously at now), it makes extensive use of the Presentation Engines many capabilities. It also serves as a platform for beta testing future releases of the Presentation Engine.
Where can I get the Presentation Engine?Check out the downloads page. Version 4.0 has finally been released for download. Earlier versions are available for download but not truly representative of either this site in it's current form or the skillset it is intended to demonstrate. They are left online only for those who are morbidly curious.
Why did it take you so long to release it?I feel the first release of any Open Source project ought to contain enough functionality and stability to WARRANT a release. Once upon a time I had thought to put the code for PEngine on a public site like github but in deference to that I eventually ended up bringing an internal git server online and using that instead. Needless to say, when the release binary archive is updated, the source code archive are updated as well. In terms of versioning, the version number only tends to change when the platform changes in some major way. I don't see that happening again anytime soon so version 4.0 is here to stay for awhile. Keep in mind though that it's being updated constantly.
How do I upgrade from an older version to a newer one?I am no longer supporting upgrades from earlier versions of the Presentation Engine prior to 3.5. Though upgrade instructions are contained in the downloads for subsequent releases. The current release is only intended to upgrade version 3.5 installations and will do so automatically assuming your system is correctly configured (mostly importantly the runtime.config and mdb files must be within the ~/App_Data folder). The upgrade process is transparent and will result in the creation of a new SQL Server Compact database and the conversion of all of your existing data.
Why did you rewrite the theme engine?The theme engine has been rewritten several times. The latest iteration broke all of the earlier themes. When I first transitioned the Presentation Engine to an pure CSS layout back in 2008, I was not as skilled with CSS and markup as I am now. Therefore this release has made significant strides in simplifying the markup and the class names used with the themes.