Significant changes have been made in the background processing. These changes are largely about providing documentation from the code and also easing the coding burden for custom developments.
Lately, I was caught out without a recent enough backup of my local machine data when an important database was deleted. This raises the "How often should I back up?" question. My answer has always been and remains "Before losing the work that you have done since the last back up would become a problem". Obviously that is not a fixed time and so automated backup only resolves that by being very frequent. My own plan uses a regular fortnightly backup with intermediate manual backups whenever significant changes have been made.
An important, but often overlooked requirement, is to exercise control over your backups:
The ability to add templated designs to a site has been added. Basically a template consists of:
Adding a set of template files to the templates folder in a site makes that template available. This site has changed dramatically from it's original blue layout. This has been achieved simply by adding and then selecting the new template which is based on a photograph of the 12 apostles on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria Australia.
It takes some courage to make major changes to a product that is working. "If it isn't broke, Don't fix it." But that is just what has been done over the past couple of weeks. The existing functionality has been broken up into modules.
It is now practical to create new modules and make them available to existing or new sites.
This should also help to reduce the testing required when changes are made to the processing. It is assumed that the base functionality will always be present, but the base product has no reliance on the add on modules.
The next steps involve:
It has been over a year since I updated this page. This reflects the amount of work being done rather than an absence of work. Frankly, I have been very busy.
Project 1 has been to create GoWide Instant. Gowide Instant provides access to a web site builder that provides instant access to a web site development tool. This is still a work in progress but there are some fascinating aspects to it. Such as the ability to modify the css dynamically. A recent innovation is the ability to upload an image to be used as a page header and have the site colours chosen to match those in the image.
The database/site building process has been enhanced in many ways. to provide paging on long forms, better validation, date formatting, additional reporting capabilities and a control panel to name a few.
The process has been used to produce a web application to manage machine costs and maintenance for a plant hire business. Many lessons were learned in that build and have been incorporated into the database/site building process.
All in all it has been a very rewarding twelve months and the product, now available, has significantly matured. The next few months will see the launch of GoWide and the incorporation of the design concepts of Danilo Molina.
In preparation for the launch of the process, we have prepared some short exercises that will assist designers in knowing how the site fits together. The first exercise is a small cms that provides a fixed number of pages which can be updated in place by an authorised user. This has caused mus to revisit the database access class and change the way we handle magic quotes.
We have been implementing sites with a large number of products recently. This poses new issues with maintaining the data and displaying it. We have introduced a sub category to better the display of products. Also new methods have been introduced to narrow down the list of products for the maintenance pages.
A new process is being introduced to renumber the product sequence numbers so that new products can be added.
New update to project (v15). Search processing updated to enable any table to be included in the search. The search table and the columns to be included in the search are defined in the site definition file. For searches other than Page and Product, a default SearchView method is generated which will need to be overridden in the user class for the table to provide meaningful results for the search.
A new table containing site constants such as webmaster email has been introduced so that clients can control these parameters
Further changes to the process have been made. This time, the effort has been expended to remove complexity and resolve some maintenance issues. Pages that require code to produce their content have been greatly simplified with the addition of a new column in the Page table. In the same vein, class methods that return html code can be called directly from the page content. Finally, form processing has been streamlined.
A form is now available that elicits the required information for the site build process. This information is emailed to Guybon.com for processing. Using the zipArchive feature of php 3.3 the site is now generated as a zip if required. Turn around of a standard site with the selected template can now be accomplished in under 10 minutes.
A later project will be to provide an input form for the definition of additional database tables to be included in the site.
It has been a while since this page has been updated. This is not due to lack of progress. Rather, the process has now been used for three clients with good results. There have been some significant modifications made to provide a more intuitive interface. This is the sort of work that will be ongoing as new questions are asked and more opportunities are found. The impediments to providing a rapid development and implementation process is obtaining credible content. While there is little shortage of clients wishing an internet presence, there seems to be a significant need for hand holding to get the design and content nailed down. I think that I will need to develop some templates which will be able to grow as the client realises and takes advantage of the potential of the site. I will work on these as soon as the current sites under development are finalised.
The form processing has been immproved. Yes/No fields now operate from check boxes. Field labels are based on the column name but Camel case is translated to spaces to make the labels more readable.
The contact form has been rewritten to reflect the fields in the contact table. This provides the possibility of adding any number of columns to that table requiring minimal intervention. (the Images, Category and Product forms could benefit from the same treatment.)
On the importance of feedback.
Now, may I have your feedback?
Another trip to Melbourne has once again demonstrated the differences between Victoria and New South Wales. The Hume Highway is good practically all the way down. The Princes Highway appears to disintegrate once one crosses the border from Victoria to NSW. Interestingly, my GPS system which is now some five years old works quite well in NSW. However, there have been so many new roads built in Melbourne, it is practically useless in that city. I would be pretty certain that GPS sales are significantly higher in Melbourne than in Sydney. Not that I am a fan of new toll roads or living in Melbourne. However, I believe that the absence of new roads is matched by the absence af any other infrastructure in NSW. I leave it to the reader to draw conclusions.
First BAS return due and finally submitted. Found it hard to get my head around the numbers required. Seemingly illogical changes between the levels of total required. Must make sense to the tax office though. I have canned the spreadsheet in favour of a database. Much easier to obtain the required totals.
The JDMenu has been upgraded to the latest version which resolves the issue with the highlight not reliably working and also resolves some issues with Internet Explorer which had gone unnoticed. One of these issues was the pop out menu getting an incorrect Y axis coordinate.
The look of the site has changed. I have inserted a static right column in most pages. Much of the content in this column is common to more than one page. A Standard Content table has been added to enable content to be reused throughout the site. This enables text such as a contact phone number to be represented as _Contactphone_ in the content and replaced with a static value (0410 468 795) when served. We can not enforce it's use but, if used, it will greatly simplify maintenance.
I have spent some time reading about landing pages. The concepts of common to many of the articles on this topic will prove useful. These concepts can be applied in some form to every page on a site and it would be useful for anyone about to embark on creating content to search on 'Landing Page Tutorial' and read up a bit on what makes a good landing page.
The bullet has been bitten and an option to use TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor has been added. I prefer to avoid layouts using tables and in line styles but that is an easy stance to take for one comfortable with html coding.
The form processing has also been updated to provide a better interface. The database definition now includes codes to indicate how columns are to be presented for edit. This allows the form to present only significant table information for edit in list edit form with an edit link to enable full detail to be updated.
Another colour scheme generator has been developed to provide a complimentary colour scheme for a selected colour. The scheme is then made available so that the site can then be viewed using the scheme colours.
I find that it is quite another thing to develop software for someone else to use. This is not new but rediscovered information. All of those little things that are not quite right but livable are somehow enormous problems to everyone else. In the last month and a half, there has been much activity.
I have been working on a business plan for the new venture. The exercise has proved to be rather valuable. There are plenty of templates available on the web, so it is not difficult to work out a structure. Filling it in is rather more difficult. However the rigor is good and it has cemented many things that were not fully thought through previously.
The next step will be a trip to an accountant and money starts to get spent.
The menu process has been updated to allow for multi level menus. Also a link has been added to each page to permit the content to be edited. Obviously, only available when authorised.
Design work has started on the e-commerce processing. The main challenge in the build is to produce code that is flexible and can be readily modified when required. Apretty big ask when I have not really been exposed to such systems from the back end. My accounting experience may yet prove useful.
The site has been updated to use the new additions to the development. The original content has been retained and so the look and feel should not have altered. Specifically:
A trip to Melbourne last week took me away from my computer and back into the real world. Vic Roads have a sign saying "Slowing down won't kill you." Now, pedantic perhaps, but isn't it the rate of deceleration that causes the damage? See the Humour category for a photograph.
Some more photographs have been added to the wild life category and I have attempted to make the images as small as possible to speed up loading.