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Streamline Site Management with Shortcuts

Posted February 13, 2007 by chead

Put the green bar to work for you— whether you're a developer, designer or an editor. Shortcuts TabI was halfway through development of my first CMS Made Simple site before I really took a look at the Shortcut bar. It sits so neatly out of the way at the right side of the page that I never gave it any thought. Then, one day, weeks into the project, after navigating to the site's primary stylesheet a dozen times — one after another — the power of the Shortcut bar suddenly clicked. Since then, I've put that little green bar to work everywhere, and it's made developing and maintaining sites faster and easier — for me and for my clients. Here are some tips and ideas on how you can do the same, and get more out of CMS Made Simple right now. Activating The Shortcut Menu The Shortcut bar is activated with the Administration Shortcuts checkbox in the My Preferences / User Preferences menu. Javascript must also be enabled in your browser. After that, just click the green bar at the right of the page to access the current shortcuts or to add/modify them. Adding Links Capture any link by right-clicking and selecting "Copy Link Location" or "Copy Shortcut" for pasting into the Shortcut "URL" field.

Development / Design

During development and design, you'll spend a lot of time on the same few templates and stylesheets, and adding new content. Speed access to those functions with these shortcuts:
  • Edit Stylesheet / Edit Template Most sites have a few key page templates and CSS stylesheets, and you'll probably find yourself editing them frequently during development. Add one-click access to these frequently-accessed templates and stylesheets for quick direct editing.
  • Collapse & List Pages If your site has a lot of pages or complex hierarchy, it can take several seconds for the page list to display completely. Add a shortcut to the "Collapse All Sections" link on the page list, and your page list will display in a snap, ready for navigation.
  • Module Help Working with a particular module frequently? Link to its "help" page for fast access to reference on its syntax and features.
  • Add Page You'll be adding a lot of pages when you first build your site. Get right to it with a shortcut to the "add new page" option from the page list.

Site Maintenance

Once your site has been developed, the focus shifts to content. You can streamline the process of keeping online information up to date, and reduce the need for user training by focusing editors directly on their content. Give your page owners and editors quick access to the areas they're responsible for with these shortcuts:
  • Edit Key Content Your site probably has a few pages or global content blocks that change more often than others. Make a shortcut directly to these key pages and editors won't have to navigate the pages menu to get there.
  • Instant News / Events Add a shortcut to "Add Article" and "Add Event" links in the News and Calendar modules to add new items with a single click.
  • "Edit My Pages" If your site has multiple page editors, add shortcuts to the pages they can edit for each editor's account. You'll have less to explain and they're less likely to get lost.
  • "Change My Password/Email" Give users one-click access to basic account login information by linking directly to the My Preferences/My Account page.
  • Site Standards / Documentation Link directly to any site documentation, standards guides or cheatsheets you've developed for your users.

General Tips / Tricks

  • Open Shortcut in A New Window/Tab Add '" target="_blank' to the end of the URL in your shortcut to make it appear in a new window. Include the double-quotes, but exclude the opening and closing single-quote, and note the space after the first double-quote and before "target." You can also right-click any shortcut link and select the option to open it in a new window or tab.
  • Use Relative Paths For Portability If you want shortcuts to work even if the host changes (such as a development site that will later be migrated to another host), use relative paths instead of absolute paths. You can delete everything through "\admin\" on the left side of the path. For example, to add a page, all that's needed in the URL is "addcontent.php".
  • Sort Shortcuts Shortcuts are sorted alphabetically by name (in ASCII order). Add punctuation or numbers as prefixes to display items in your preferred order.

Your Shortcuts

Have you found other handy shortcuts? Share yours in the comments!

2.0 Needs (Your?) Help

Posted February 8, 2007 by Ted Kulp

CMSMS 2.0 is the largest project I've ever taken on. Not only that, I've basically signed myself up to do this solo. Well, at least the first large bits of work to the undercarriage will be/were done by me. Here is what is done so far:
  • ORM
  • Migrated javascript (mostly) to jquery
  • Versioning on an object level
  • Totally restructured API
  • Function caching
  • Full page caching
  • Started installer
  • Rewrite of content
  • Smarty tags for module api functions
  • Smarty tags for admin functions
  • Rewrote how admin themes work (smarty templates) and how menus are loaded (xml file)
  • Rewrote News to take advantage of module api changes
If I had to guess, I have about 250-300 hours invested in 2.0. It's beyond vaporware at this point... it will happen. Whether or not some features get cut is a different story, but so far so good. Now, to give you an idea of how much work there is to do, here is what is left:
  • Finish installer
  • Multilanguage
  • Versioning interface
  • Workflow
  • Permissions/ACLs
  • Overhaul of language handling -- addition of the language manager to download translations
  • Total rewrite of translation center to be database centric and able to create language files for download on the fly
  • Admin interface overhaul -- especially content and permissions
  • New block types, especially image
These are the major points. There are a lot of little things in there as well... like removing half of the config.php variables, among some other things. I'm guessing that 2.0 will require somewhere in the area of 1500 hours to complete (For those of us keeping score, that's $112,500 at my current consulting rate). It's going to be impossible for me to finish this thing by myself, especially with the timeframes I've made. I estimate the fact that I can devote about 15 hours a week to CMSMS means that will take about 80 more weeks, which puts us into Summer of 2008. I can't let that happen. So, I'm asking for one little thing... HELP!!! I need to start handing over pieces of 2.0 to other developers. I need people with design skills to help mock up what the admin should look like. I need javascript people to help me tie up the interface and make it totally usable. There is a ton of work to be done and many of those pieces are totally independent of the rest of the system. If you're interesting in looking at any of these pieces, please let me know on IRC (it's the best place to have a long conversation). Any takers? Seriously, if there is one thing I've learned in almost 3 years of leading an open source project, it's how to delegate. You can either ask me for a piece to start looking at or toss your skills at me and I'll come up with something... Any and all help is greatly appreciated! Let's this thing out of vapor and into beta! Thanks!

Modules and functions

Posted February 7, 2007 by signex

As a designer I love cmsms, its simple, its easy to use for editors, its stable and pretty clean. I found cmsms back when version 0.10 was introduced, now I loved it ever since but there is one thing that keeps bugging me. Cms Made Simple, by default, is pretty small but I for one don't like that the search module is shipped with it, in my opinion not even the news system should be shipped within. The install system (module manager) for modules is so easy that I don't see a reason why modules like news and search would be shipped with it, same goes for allot "user defined tags" off course I mean the ones not used in stock templates. When I build a small website I don't need most of these functions, and if I did I would just import them with the module manager. Most people with speed issues delete all unnecessary modules and functions to increase speed. Why not have it that way by default, its only a matter of seconds to import a module if you need one. This way cmsms would keep getting known as a simple system and easy to expand if needed. So for CMSMS 2.0 I would make the following changes to the module managing system. Make some changes to the module manager and get 3 tabs like.
  • One list of top 10 most used modules. Which could be news, search, FEU, FCKeditor, etc.
  • Functions list, all tested and stable functions ready to be imported for user defined tags.
  • All other modules the same way it is now.
This way there will be less unused files on your hosting account en get the most speed out of the system as possible. Drop a comment if you think different about this. regards, Signex / Benjamin

Finding a suitable webhost solution part 2/2.

Posted January 25, 2007 by signex

In Part 1 I wrote about choosing a hosting package (shared/VPS/Dedicated) this part I`m writing about how to choose a webhosting company. In my country(Holland) hosting prices vary allot, I've seen a couple USA hosts and it isn't much different, only difference is that bandwidth is way cheaper in the US then it is in the Netherlands. One of the problems with choosing the right company is that you cant always see who is behind the beautiful corporate looking website, because it just could be a 16 y/o just trying to make a quick buck, not caring about his costumers at all. Which makes it even harder is that prices vary so much, and off course nobody wants to spent too much on something that you can get way cheaper. The first thing for you to decide is how important is your website for you, or how much is your client willing to spent. You can get a shared hosting package for 10$ a year, but the same package costs 100$ a year somewhere else, so where is the difference? here's a small list of things that could make this difference.
  • Do they make backups on a second server
  • Do they use an A brand for their hardware
  • Are their spare parts on the spot in case off hardware failure
  • Which datacentre are they located in, try to find reviews or opinions
  • What Control panel do they use, Directadmin is cheaper then Cpanel
  • Do they have phone support, or only mail support
  • Do they have a 24/7 phone support when your server is down
  • What is their write-off period for a server, 3 or 5 years can make a big difference
Probably the thing that impacts price the most is whether they oversell or not, and how much. I read studies from dutch webhosters that only 20 to 30 % from the sold traffic and hard disk capacity is used by their costumers. So basically they can sell 3 times what they can handle. This sometimes means that on a single shared server there are over 500 costumers, so when its a little busy on your server, serverloads get high and your website will be slow, this often resolves in new topics being created complaining CMSMS is so darn slow, which in most of the times just isn't the case. So ask your host how much costumers share a server, or how many VPS`es are created on your server. Most good webhosters will proudly tell that they only put about 100 costumers on a shared server (depending on their server hardware). But don't be surprised that their prices are 5 times as much as some other webhosting companies. So finding a good hosting company depends on your needs and budget, but whatever you choose always ask for a "try before buy" package for about 48 hours and make a CMSMS installation and see how it does in daytime and nighttime. Beware that some hosters will putt these packages on empty test servers, so be sure your "try before buy" package is on the same server as when you buy your package. Here are some other things you could use to check out a company.
  • Find reviews from other costumers
  • Ask about the hardware they work with
  • Ask how long they exist
  • Try out mail and/or phone support, is it fast enough for you
  • Guaranteed uptime? then what is the compensation when they fail
  • Prices to good to be true? ....they are
  • Ask uptime reports from the last 6 to 12 months
I hope this will be to good use, suggestions and comments welcome! Signex / Benjamin

Finding a suitable webhost solution part 1/2.

Posted January 25, 2007 by signex

I know this topic isn't really about CMS Made Simple, but I see quite allot topics in the forums with problems that would never occur if everyone had the right web hosting company for their CMS Made Simple website. Basically this post is split in 2 entries; Part 1: Finding out the right solution for your website which suits your needs. Part 2: Finding a suitable company, comparing price vs. options, testing the chosen company. Step 1: Decide what kind of website it will be, and what kind of hosting it will need. basically this can be divided in 3 options.
  1. A small personal website - Shared hosting will most likely fit your needs.
  2. A corporate website (small or medium sized) - Most company websites need to be more stable a need en more secure hosting platform, but sometimes a whole dedicated server just isn't worth it. Go for a VPS (Virtual private Server).
  3. A big community/corporate website - Go for a Dedicated machine just for you.
I'll try and sum up the pro's and con's about these 3 options. 1. Shared web hosting.
  • Its very cheap.
  • Less secure, if other people use broken scripts and a hacker gets in, most of the time the whole server gets defaced.
  • Less stable your websites speed can be heavily affected by other users.
  • Not really flexible in most cases.
2. VPS Hosting.
  • Cheaper then a Dedicated machine, more expensive then shared hosting.
  • Way more stable then Shared web hosting, you'll get guaranteed RAM(on Linux vps'es you'll also get burstable RAM) and CPU. Therefore you are not affected by other vps users on the same server.
  • More Secure, if another VPS on the same server crashes because of software errors or gets hacked, you`re not affected.
  • More flexibility, you can choose your own Operating System, your own Control Panel, and basically all software you need.
  • You can do remote Reboots, you can get SSH access (possible on shared hosting too, but not many web hosters will let you gain access).
3. Dedicated Server.
  • Pretty expensive, you cant divide Control panel licences to multiple users also.
  • Most secure option .
  • Most stable option.
  • You can be in total control.
Remember when choosing for option 2 or 3, packages are managed or unmanaged. It's also different per web hoster what they see as managed and what not. Some web hosters say its managed when they only install the OS and Control Panel for you, and others will also keep everything updated, fix problem etc. etc. So make sure what you want is what you get. I would advise you to let the web hoster make of contract of what will be managed by them so no mistakes can be made, and you both have an agreement on paper. When you have decided which hosting package is the right one there are a couple other choices you have to make. Step 2, is choosing your OS. Which OS do you prefer. I personally Like a Linux OS for servers. But CMSMS will run on both Linux and windows. If you don't care what OS your package has, go with the one your web hoster has most experience with, this can handy when kernel panic arises. Remember though that Windows hosting is more expensive because of the licences needed. Step 3, will be choosing a Control Panel. CMSMS runs on all Control Panels, so this is a choice you can make on what you prefer, I personally like Cpanel because is has allot of functions and options, and its very stable. A downside about CPanel is that its WAY more expensive the most other Control Panels. Here are some well known Control panels.
  • Direct Admin ( easy of use, but not many function, its cheap though)
  • Plesk ( not much experience with it but don't like the interface, more expensive then Direct Admin)
  • Cpanel (Lots a functions but its really expensive)
  • VHCS (Open source, when I found CPanel, this wasn't a stable control panel then, but have no recent experience)
  • Helm / windows only ( No experience with that one at all)
So that choice basically comes down on budget and personal preferences. Step 4, Configuration options and other software needed. This is a just a list of things that you'll need to run a cms website smoothly.
  • Apache when using Linux, or IIS when using Windows
  • PHP 5.x (php 4 will run with the current cmsms but cmsms 2.0 will require php 5)
  • MySQL Databases (only 1 Database is required for cmsms, but make sure you get at least 3 to 5, for testing other software, or beta's.)
  • PHP safe mode OFF (This isn't required but Safe Mode ON in php, I think, really is annoying, and doesn't work well with CMSMS)
  • PHP Memory Limit set to at least 16MB (default is 8MB, and this works well for simple CMSMS websites, but bigger ones with lots off modules will need at least 16MB)
  • PHP Max Upload set at 10M (default is 2M, find a host which is willing to set this at 10M, again this isn't required though)
  • GD or Imagemagick (not really required but very handy)
Those are basically the things you need for running a CMS Made Simple website smoothly and stable. Any other functions and options you can decide by yourself, things as off-site Back-ups, monitoring etc etc. Do remember though that there are so many ways to configure a server that its always important to ask for a test account for like 24 hours, before signing a contract or placing a order. You can use that time to make a install and playing around with it, install and un-install modules test if your site still runs smooth when 7 modules are called upon the same page. Part 2 will be done in the next 2 days, I hope. If I forget sometimes, or made a mistake, please comment. Regards. Signex / Benjamin

CMS Made Simple 1.0.4 Released!

Posted January 23, 2007 by Ted Kulp

Just a quick bugfix release. The reason is was pushed out quickly was because of issues installing on Windows machines, and had to be handled immediately. It also fixes two different problems with breadcrumbs that people were reporting. We've thrown in a couple of extra bugfixes as well. The ChangeLog looks like:
 Version 1.0.4 "Lanai" -- Jan 23 2007 ----------------- - Fixed issue with number of queries not showing up properly at the end of index.php - Fixed issues with breadcrumbs, including nodes not showing up and duplicate nodes showing - Fixed the warning that showed up in the 25 to 26 upgrade script if you didn't have any events - Fixed bug with installer where it doesn't write windows paths correctly - Fixed issue with Search where it would mess with the letter case when showing the highlighted text 
Thanks!

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