Generate code for Zend Framework

Can Zend Framework do scaffolding like Symfony or Cake ? No, would you say after downloading the framework and trying out. But a quick search out there shows that you're not the only one thinking about it. In fact there are many code generators out there for PHP   : look out for Codecharge, codeigniter, or any cakephp like framework. What was missing was code specific for Zend Framework, which offers the great advantage of being developped actively and offers new versions often. A quick browse on french developers forum popped up a few applications to be tested, and looking a bit further I found some interesting implementations of scaffolding for Zend Framework :

Protonotes : simple web collaboration

Have your ever found that communicating with distant partners or collaborators involve a lot of window changes : email, phone conversation, chat... Protonotes is a hosted service that aims to centralize all conversations to a web page, can be either a web design prototype or the beginning of your own extranet. Protonotes works very simply by the inclusion of a javascript that displays a control bar on top of your web page, and allows the display of yellow notes all over the place. nice and simple, doesnot require login or installation : might be a good idea to implement password protected notes for privacy - or moderation !! Link : protonotes

Dojo e : Ajax via XML

AFter spending years with XML generated data management interface (check out webxadmin), I am particularly seduced by the idea developped by DOJO guys that makes javaszcript interfaces as easy as writing XML. That's the purpose of  DOJO.E that features a set of XML instructions that interact and build DOJO interfaces. Amazing.

Instant image effects from Javascript

We have collected 2 javascript image addons that perform nice enhancements or animations on simple images

  • Instant js is a  javascript library that adds visual effect to any image, just via a style sheet attribute. Wonderful and simple light javascript effect that saves you either photoshop or server processing time. link : http://www.netzgesta.de/instant/
  • For Jquery addicts, here comes another nice effect : we call it  SlideText Gallery and it features a nice  image rollover that displays the alt text. Implemented for Silverstripe CMS experts (download zip for HasManyFileManager module),  inspiration : Kyanmedia.

jquery scroll + panorama

  • http://jqueryfordesigners.com/demo/coda-slider.html
  • http://flowplayer.org/tools/scrollable.html
  • Carrousel
    • jquery based : http://plugins.jquery.com/project/carousel3d
    • scriptaculous based with PHP reflections : http://www.piksite.com/carousel.us/
  • http://photosynth.net/about.aspx

JOJO CMS : silverstripe challenger

We love Silvsertripe but JOJO CMS has nice features too, including multi template choice for pages, drag & drop,  inherited permissions :

  • Multi-site install lets you run unlimited websites from a single set of core files. Makes it real easy to upgrade lots of sites at once.
  • Image handling. Jojo resizes all images on the fly from a large original image kept on the server. Images can be resized to any dimension, cropped square or cropped to fit simply by changing the URL of the image (which is search engine friendly of course). Images are cached to save server processing, and can be regenerated by pressing CTRL-F5 in your browser (no complicated cache-clearing routines here).
  • Search engine friendly CMS

link : http://www.jojocms.org

Online Office with OpenGoo

CRM, task management, time tracking, are features of the new OpenGOO opensource software that's just appeared on stage. Many of these tasks are handled by other open source apps. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the OpenGoo developers glue together available tools, filling in the odd hole with custom apps wherever required. Some of the tools they use include FCKEditor for text editing, ExtJS for most of the AJAX interface, activeCollab for project management, and Reece calendar. For handling and editing presentations, the developers created something called Slimey.

Magento promotions : flexibility in the form of rules

Promotions are always a result of  complex  marketing strategies : making them real on ecommerce involves either analytic programmation, or default product features : most ecommerce application come with product promotions schema, based on percentage or price reduction. In Magento, complex rules can be implemented from within the interface, that cover a wide variety of busines cases : based on shopping cart total, shipping method, product / attribute combination, or product characteristics, Magento offers various promotion modes, such as percentage of the original price, fixed reduction, fixed destination price... Well done Magento for this new implentation of a generic feature that will answer a lot of business needs.

Dreamweaver vs Aptana for PHP development

I recently started working with Aptana Studio after spending years on Dreamweaver  : one can only find advantages for such a migration. Aptana Studio, distributed freely, stands the comparison and comes with additional features worth trying. Here I write down some quick elements of comparison.

  • both handle righ clik FTP uploading : Aptana via the synchronisation menu and Dreamweaver via the profile configuration. I have found that my dreamweaver version (v8) sometimes forget FTP user and password configuration : this last bug was actually my main reason for trying out APTANA studio !!
  • XML validation : the default DTD validation parser in Aptana seems to have a bug : won't find the declared DTD for a XML file that stands in the same folder ...
  • PHP function browser : the PHP PDT eclipse extension works in Aptana and delivers wonderful class and function browser. Very useful ! 
  • Project wide search : Aptana allows you to work while it's searching, while Dreamweaver (v8) freeezes until it has found all occurences. But aptana doesn't have multi line search.
  • Memory usage (Windows XP) : I compared both softwares executing with one file open. On this point Dreamweaver has an advantage. If you can't afford heavy JAVA memory usage (250 Mb) for Aptana, then you might think of lighter Dreamweaver (50Mb).

Zimplit, simple CMS

Zimplit presents itself as the easiest Content Management System (CMS) ever made. It is extremely lightweight, simple and customizable. Zimplit consists of only one core engine file. No database needed. With Zimplit you don’t need special templates - you can edit any html/css page. You don´t need to install it, just upload and it works. Most importantly Zimplit is an "on-site" editor - everything happens on site, not in admin area. The results are right there, on the page. And you can edit absolutely everything on your website.

Press Release: WordPress for Business Bloggers book

Packt is pleased to announce the release of a new book for business bloggers. Written by Paul Thewlis, WordPress for Business Bloggers teaches users to build an attractive and professional blog with advanced plug-ins, analytics, advertising, and SEO.

WordPress allows users to easily create dynamic blogs with many outstanding features. Its versatility and ease of use has attracted a large, enthusiastic, and helpful community of users, who have created a large and diverse collection of plug-ins.

The book starts by looking at the important features that make a successful business blog: adding value to products and services, providing proper customer service and support, driving traffic to a website, and so on. It then shows how to implement these features in WordPress.

This book will teach users to deal with using WordPress and third-party tools to manage and optimize their blog, focusing on the business aspects of blogging. Bloggers will learn to mange the content including images and videos, which will make their blog more appealing. They will also learn how to market and measure the success of their blog using Google web applications and other popular tools.

Anyone interested in running or starting a business blog using WordPress will find this book useful. The book is out now and is available from Packt. For more information, please visit http://www.packtpub.com/wordpress-for-business-bloggers/book

CMS on chrome

We know chrome, the new challenger for IE and firefox, the new netscape, the saviour,  is faster, safer, and multi threaded. Have you tried it on your favourite web based CMS application ? I have, and yes it's magic. Faster, Safer, and much easier to handle than IE and its multiple errors. Stack Overflow, go away !

Gmail vs OtherInbox

What I like about gmail is not its interface : while it's certainly one of the most accessible web based mail interface, it lacks powerful features from the desktop world. But we don't like it only for its interface, we also like the fact that it kills spams very efficiently. Spam is the issue, and that's where OtherInbox, Austin-based start-up and web service founded by serial entrepreneur and email-marketing guru Joshua Baer, fires. OtherInbox is described as  the cure for email overload - it provides consumers with a free email account that automatically organizes newsletters, social networking updates, coupons and receipts from online purchases so that its easy to find the most interesting things and ignore the rest. OtherInbox shows the consumer who is really responsible for sending them spam and gives them a powerful new Block button to stop it once and for all. OtherInbox launched publicly in September 2008 at TechCrunch50. Served by Ruby On Rails,  powered by sproutcore, otherinbox has gone through a new step in the world of free web based mail readers. Thinking of Migrating ?

MDI viewer

MDI , a high resolution, tag-based graphics format, is supported only by the Microsoft Office 2003 version of Microsoft Office Document Imaging. If you plan to share files with people who are using Office Document Imaging 2002, or another document imaging program, it's best if you save your files in TIFF format for compatibility. If by luck you happen to receive MDI files, the best option if you have been greedy enough to save on M$ Office (prefer openoffice), is to try products from Buysoft, that provides MDI tools and a free MDI reader that will print your MDI file in less than a minute.

Silverstripe Jquery gallery module

Silverstripe CMS, currently relying on prototype for javascript and AJAX interactions, seems to be moving slowly to JQUERY : while contributors and developers might think this is a good move, I personnally wonder about the effort required for such a migration on an interface that relies heavily on AJAX. Anyway, I provide below a quick hack opf the famous gallery module, with the following modifications (demo coming soon) :

  • uses jquery's lightbox implementation of modal galleries.
  • implements GalleryFolder Page type that displays first thumbnail of each gallery sub page

How to : setup jquery  gallery for silvestripe

  • download jquery and add the requirement to your main page OR gallery page
  • download gallery-jquery for silverstripe (384ko) and install it as gallery module
  • flush your database (/db/build?flush=1)
  • include GalleryPageContent in your template or GalleryFolderContent

that should be it, have fun

Color Choice : RGB pickers for firefox

Have you ever found that picking the right color code for a specific style sheet order is a repetitive and annoying task ?  If you happen to work as a web developer with not-so-frequent interactions with your favourite  photoshop, gimp or other image editing tools, you might find that Firefox provides efficient alternatives to find exact RGB code for a specific color that you can then type to your favourite editor (aptana for a change).

  • ColorZilla add on for firefox provides a simple color picker with RGB code for HTML / CSS coding, with other interesting features such as palette display, color and palette bookmarking on social bookmarking websites via a simple application on colorzilla.com website
  • Palette Grabber Add on for firefox creates a Photoshop, gimp, paint shop pro, flash color palette file out of a web page

Pdf Generation with PHP

The topic of PDF generation with PHP used to be quite painful : PHP native functions require PDF lib, a library that does not come straight out of the box, and is distributed under commercial license. In spite of this dominant position, other solutions have been implemented and available under opensource license.

  • fpdf is probably the most famous of PHP PDF libraries. FPDF project remained inactive for years but was still very usable in its latest version, dated 2004. And finally after 4 years of inactivity a new version finally came out this august 2008, with important features such as GIF image support and possibility to have different page formats in a single document. Most interesting is the additionnal PDFTable class, which does a very good job render HTML table conversion to PDF format. That's in my opinion the easiest way for a webmaster with good knowledge of  HTML to generate PDF documents.
  • TCPDF is another example of an advanced PHP PDF generation library but I haven't tried it yet. Does seem to support some level of HTML parsing but not to the point of converting HTML tables to PDF (see above)
  • ZendPDF is a good bet as a component of Zend Framework but focuses on low level graphic functions and as such lacks essential features such as automatic word wrapping.

Images in select box : not that simple

The old HTML select box control is really getting old with Rich Internet Applications coming in from various vendors, such as extjs, javafx, or flex. But still HTML has a lot to say,  but it comes at a hard price : displaying specific option image in a pure HTML select is not the easiest task an interface developper can achieve !!

Solutions include custom div that mimic the select box, options being replaced by javascript add function. We find in that category a few controls available :

the only real select replacement we could find is another jquery custom select that creates select boxes with option images based on icon attribute. Come with a serious bug in its current version though : will duplicate options in first select when more than 1 select is activated in the same page.

Another select box replacement for images options is available from webFX  but it only works on Internet Explorer.