Opensource Webapps monday

The quality of web based open source application is stunning. Here is a selection of newbies for PHP / Mysql users
  • Slimstats is a new player in the web analytics business. Competes with piwik on the real time stats feature that is not in google analytics
  • todoyu is a tasks and project management application
  • OTRS is a perl based  open source trouble ticket system for easily managing support requests in a multi-agent interface. The application can auto-convert e-mails into tickets (e-mail piping) which "eliminates the need of using the web interface" for customers.
  • Razuna is a java based digital asset management software with advanced search tools and collaboration features
  • W-Script is an open source application which is originally aimed at creating "wallpaper download websites". It is a very ideal resource for building any gallery-themed or image-oriented website like CSS galleries, photo galleries ,etc.
  • Backpress is still new but promising : the code has been released from the core of WordPress and is now living its own existence as a framework
  • jcore is a multi site cms
  • Diem Project : symfony + Zend based CMS

Automne : drag & drop cms


One step further into the  drag & drop AJAX cms adminstration we're all looking for : Automne CMS, developped by french based WS Interactive company, implements block management via ext js library features, that come near to a full  drag and drop interface. The content is added in pages through a template based row system that  gives large flexibility over the final layout of the bloks within the page. Learning curve would typically require a few days work before a developer really gets into the multi template system.

See also

Flash Moto, web based CMS


The expertise around Flash / Flex based CMS is building up a new area for content management. We haven't had the pleasure to try out the software but the building of wysiwyg interfaces is a promising business, as long as the HTML and Search engine optimization features of pure text are guaranteed : this is where we'd like to know more about FlashMoto's HTML publishing features, which uses the HTML version technique; meaning the flash based web site is also available as HTML for search engines and non flash browser. This technique is also used by Silex RIA, another Flash based CMS.

What distinguishes FlashMoto from a range of other flash content management systems is that it is the first Flash CMS based on ActionScript 3 and realized as RIA on Flex.   The websites powered by FlashMoto are controlled just like a standard CMS but with the extras that Flash offers.  FlashMoto provides a set of SEO tools what makes the Flash CMS website completely crawlable and seen by search engines.

Flash CMS from FlashMoto is characterized by a range of other features:
- ability to add unlimited number of pages;
- convenient WYSIWYG page and pop-up editor;
- rich media library;
- infomodule component;
- video and image gallery component;
- video and MP3 players component;
- deep linking and Google Analytics integration;
- comprehensive documentation and tutorials.

Fuzzle flash based CMS

Fuzzle CMS screenshot (en)web

Fuzzle CMS is a promising Flash CMS delevoped by a group of Russian programmers. The system is claimed to be an extra easy way for creating Flash website thanks to visual content management. Note, Fuzzle’s website is also made with this CMS. Fuzzle brings you advantages of Flash and HTML in one system and affords you create and maintain your website's content without knowing anything about programming. Flash web sites are differ from regular HTML sites mainly by their presentational abilities: Flash technology allows incorporating complex animations and reach multimedia content. However, Flash sites are considered to have such disadvantages as longer time of development (therefore more cost), harder updating, bad search engines ranking. Fuzzle is breaking these stereotypes!
Main Fuzzle features are: :
- multilinguality;
- simple management (convenient visual editing based on blocks placement and multiple selection of blocks );
- design integration from a draft within 5 minutes;;
- SEO support (HTML version auto generation, DeepLinking support);
- continuously replenished Widget Store availability;
- availability of an open simple API for external developers.

Making galleries with Drupal…

Making image galleries with Drupal is not an easy task : there a dozens of modules, views and block specifications out there. Here is a list of modules I've tested on 6.15

  • Image tools
    • working with images in drupal is immediately enhanced with the imagecache module that allows administrators to predefine actions for uploaded images : crop, resize, grey, and can be extended
  • Working with file upload
    • Content Construction Kit has the ability to load multiple files per content type, with the FileField type (can be extended to ImageField for imagecachje integration)
    • the fupload module does a good job but the interface is strange  : it requires you to go beyond the node editing form to update images titles for newly created image nodes.
    • itweak is a nice file attachment module that integrates attachments with all content types, using the core upload module
  • Working with views
    • the views_cycle module uses views to format records to a jquery cycle plugin animation
  • Displayin
    • LightBox
    • thickbox
  • Other modules
  • see also

gpEasy : light cms with professionnal layout

I like gpEasy cms' quick and easy interface : powered by jquery interactivity, gpeasy is full text cms that works without a database. It is in fact a set of includes that can be administered via privilege based backend that implements FCKEditor. Below is a sample of the drag and drop interface for pages ordering, a must.


Theme color manipulation with drupal

Drupal's new version (7) is in development and it features many improvements, most of them modules developped within the community. One of them is the Garland theme that allows customization of colors, enabling all theme variations including header shades. Another theme that works like that is the CTI flex theme, based on Zen, only available for drupal 6 as of now.


Code Igniter opensource projects

w-script is a nice example of how a good development framework like codeigniter can deliver solid applications. W-Script is a simple wall paper script that comes free opensource with many functions, one them is the color indexing that allows searching colors in pictures.

Create, publish, enjoy : this is the  mission line of ionize CMS, built entirely around Code Igniter, looks very promising as it comes with basic features : drag & drop pages tree, media navigator, permissions...

10 eshops built with prestashop

In spite of its remarquable popularity, Prestashop still suffers from a complex layout design that makes it quite hard to customize, especially when one  compares with the flexibility of zend framework layouts as they are implemented in Magento. This is why a shop built with prestashop often bears a strong resemblance with the default design, and designers find it hard to get away from the usual 3 column layout with rounded corners block that's presented by default. Below you'll find 10 shop sthat display a good work on prestashop, customized  to a level where  one wonders if this is still Prsetashop behind : yes  is it possible to do opensource ecommerce at a fraction the cost of setting up a Magento shop, and do it well too. It' s intersting to notice that most of these  shops share the common love for the top horizontal drop down menu.

Magento : how to learn from free templates

The power of Magento is great but it requires long days of learning and suffering to get through relative simple features, such as the now common front page slide banner. I had a quick look at magento free templates on google and was conquered by Magento 's classic theme, the kind of  stuff that's really given free of charge when I would have paid for it. It actually comes with an interesting development of Magento's block systems, and demonstrates how to add a custom block between navigation and content : the prototype glider that scrolls images is defined a cms static block, which is then called in the home page CMS  custom xml definition, with a reference to the slider block that's positionned in phtml files and declared in the xml layouts as a core/text_list type . Impressive stuff : that's pure  magento design and illustrates how versatile the system is.

Links : 25 free templates for Magento

Silverstripe : Nested data object manager

One decisive sign that some contributors can make a change is the sincere thankyou they openly receive from community members: silverstripe's UncleCheese certainly deserves the thankyou's he's getting from Silvesrtripe users that obviously benefit from the amazing Data Object Manager  modules , that also include the  innovative image gallery manager from which I kept the idea of my own jquery drag and drop image manager. UncleCheese's latest innovation is the nested object manager, which deals with 1 to n relation ships in one of the most user friendly ways, as Silverstripe likes it :

Magento log cleaner

Magento, in earlier versions, does not seem to handle log cleaning very well. A lot of configuration options are vailable under the configuration  / Advanced / System menu, that seem to have an impact on the cron.php process. But trying to remove logs this way is a complicated task that involves full log counting (select count on mage_log_visitor) and the result is not always there, don't know why. A full truncate on log tables seems more appropriate, as described on the knowledge base, to use with caution obviously : Magento Maintenance Script was posted a few days ago but I tried it and it's pretty efficient. Let us know how it performed on your install, on mine it works well. Go ahead after you've performed the appropriate backups !

Magento email configuration pain and how to solve it

It's nice to setup a magento shop, but one particular task is painful and time consuming : the modification  of automatic email templates . By defautl, email tempaltes in Magento are well designed as a sample given out to the developer, but when you expect to have your shop running in a few hours  time, it is really a pain to go through all emails jsut to change phone numbers, shop name, and opening times especially when this information could be centralized in the database.  The subject is not new and here a few hacks to let you work faster when setting up a shop

5 Opensource applications built around Zend Framework

a lot of expereiences are currently being performed on the Zend Framework platform, but a few are really usable in production environement.

  • Magento is obviously the best example of how Zend Framework can bring power and ease  of development via a PHP enabled template system. The most popular opensource ecommerce application has been downloaded more that a million times and is still considered  a revolutionnary project after 2 years of production.
  • Digitalus CMS is a Zend framework based Content Management System. We covered it a while ago
  • Joobsbox is a job board application developped on top of Zend Framewor, not quite stable yet (nice implementation of hirearchical tree does not handle sub pages very well yet, worth the try)
  • Dodo is a perfect tutorial for starting with the Zend_Application environment, and it is also a good tasks application
  • EasyPhpApp is a CRUD generator that can save you time when working with a lot of database tables (see our previous article on Zend framework scaffolding)

and also you can try, tine 2.0, a powerful groupware application that uses extjs beautifully (covered a while ago too on this blog)

Cahaya, a cms for zend framework


At first sight, nothing really exciting comes from the newly released Cahaya CMS, built entirely around Zend Framework CMS : in fact the toolbar that switches the site to edit mode is an interesting implentation of  insite edition, that allows page building from selected and editable blocks, as illustrated below. The whole web content management interface is built with ext js widgets including drag and drop, and this looks promising, though apparently  quite complex at this early stage. I miss the hierarchical tree for page navigation in the admin, but let's hope it's coming.  go to for more.

Prestashop, how to transfer cart to order manually

Prestashop has a nice feature that allows administrator to view a customer's shopping cart : while the shopping cart is relatively easy to use for novices, the number of steps involved in completing the transaction can discourage some users, who might be tempted to ask you for help. What can you do apart from helpinog the guy to fill in forms ? The technique below illustrates how to simulate a payment using the Cheque payment type, via the creation of a hard coded validation page. Be careul, this is for good PHP coders only as you have to interfere with low level classes from Prestashop.

  1. go to Modules / cheque / validation.php and duplicate the file to validationManual.php
  2. Paste the  code blow under the includes  to instanciante the shopping cart using the ID of the shopping cart you want to transfer to an order, here we have the id 9304
  3. change the currency id to reflect the currency you want to use, you'll find the currency id in the currency module of the prestashop administration interface
  4. call the module/cheque/validationManual.php from the browser, s if it was called after a valid paymen
  5. Go to Prestashop administration interface to check that the order has been created
  6. you might be wise to try to place a new order for testing that the manual process has not disturbed prestashop's database integrity
    // 1 . get currency ID
    $currency = new Currency(1);
    // 2 get cart id
    $cart = new Cart( 9304);
    $total = floatval(number_format($cart->getOrderTotal(true, 3), 2, '.', ''));
    $mailVars =    array(
    '{cheque_name}' => Configuration::get('CHEQUE_NAME'),
    '{cheque_address}' => Configuration::get('CHEQUE_ADDRESS'),
    '{cheque_address_html}' => nl2br(Configuration::get('CHEQUE_ADDRESS')));
    $cm = new Cheque();
    $cm->validateOrder($cart->id, _PS_OS_CHEQUE_, $total, $cm->displayName, NULL, $mailVars, $currency->id);
    $order = new Order($cm->currentOrder);

Magento / facebook : display new products on your wall

Using the RSS feature of Mangeto to update your wall automatically is an easy task that you can finish in ea few inutes tuime, when you know where to go.

  • Magento's default layout is shipped with a rss page that requires activation in the admin, in the system->configuration, check rss feed to activate the /rss page that displays available feeds (check out our example on Rue de Siam)
  • Import your feed to your facebook page or profile to get new produtcs or product special published automatically on your wall :
    1. Connect to facebook, and click  "My Notes" from the navigational menu. If you have already entered notes on your page, then they will load for you to preview or edit.
    2. If you have not written an article, write one that announces the rss publication (e.g. new articles coming soon), in order to enable the settings menu. Select the "Import Blog" or "Edit Import Settings" link in the Notes Setting section. If you are already importing from a blog, the URL will appear here. Remeber that in the Notes applications, you can only import from 1 source at a time.  To change the url of the feed, click  "Stop Importing"
    3. Enter the URL for the RSS feed in the box. Check the box next to the statement that you actually own the content.
    4. Click the "Start Importing" button. Facebook will import the content of the RSS feed for you to preview. If everything looks good, then go ahead and hit the "Continue" button. Now your RSS feed is automatically imported into your "Notes" section.
    5. Administrators note : Facebook RSS in articles application will not put a heavy load on your server , as they are pulled every 2 hours, but be careful of heavy loads if you have a larger reader base as images will be loaded from full article display in facebook

1 million free book on your IPOD / Iphone

Designed by the International Digital Publishing Forum, the epub format is the de facto standard for electronic books.  Since last  week, Google Books libray of more than one million public domain books is available in the  EPUB format, making this one of the most diverse electronic libraries in the world. Epub format is readable on iphone via the Stanza application.