Silverstripe CRUD / DATA management

With new versions coming up regularly, Silverstripe proves to be one of the best and usable Content Management System, including full website page content management fetaures and full relational database content management. Like most opensoruce projects, one big asset missing is a documentation, we hope this is getting better especially with the release of the Silverstripe book english translation, to be published in august. Finding one's way in the plethora of modules and code hacks available for Silverstripe is a rough job, but it pays. Data management in silverstripe  is actually, in my opinion, one of the most integrated and flexible solutions available out there. Another good source of information for developers can be found at the newly built ssbits website that develops hacks and tricks.

In detail

Two different options exist in Silverstripe for data management

  • DataObjectManager  is a plugin developed by Uncle Cheese, also known as Aaron Carlino. His dataObjectManager allows the building of data management interafaces within page types, with many features including HTML field, file upload. A good example of the dataobjectmanager is the image_gallery module that improves the standard lightbox gallery that we used in Silverstripe. 
  • ModelAdmin is the new scaffolder for Silverstripe : it allows the building of data mangement systems within the Silverstripe admin. The documentation is a bit sparse but there's a public presentation that explains it quite extensively.

Nice unproductive experience : test multiple gallery scripts at once

silverstripegallerylightboxWe are quite proud here that our months old specific jquery gallery script for silverstripe -the best PHP opensource CMS  as of today, just out with a new release- is still, in my opinion, the best we could deliver to customers. In the meanwhile a troup of well intentioned contributors posted their own implementation of gallery for silverstripe cms : one of them is Aaron Carlino who has worked on upload scripts  that are very interesting for the customer experience. On Carl's gallery script, the image upload, ordering and labeling are all administered from the web site front end, which is nice. But also the gallery script he provides comes with 7 variations of the famous lightbox : in the admin you can  just choose between lightbox, shadowbox, thickbox, nyromodal, prettyphoto and fancybox, and once saved and/or published online; the front end will load the chosen lightbox variation. Interesting to try, not very useful for a customer who doesn't care which script is being used once it's properly configured.

Silverstripe : tinymce improvements for image handling

The image button on the tinymce instance of silverstripe html text fields is really nice and well layed out : it gives editors one of the best text / image integration, with a minimum user actions that's both powerful, intuitive, and reactive thanks to AJAX calls to the folder structure.

One small drawback is that it comes with one small feature that can be annoying at times, especially when you're looking for inserting images without resampling them, especially for transparent images or tight image integration / quality that Silverstripe resampling functions (PHP based) cannot match (check out the original image hack).

Image size limit feature

In silverstripe, when you select a big image, width and height are automatically resized to a maximum of 600 pixels. Quick hackers might want to deactivate this feature by commenting the resize algorithm in cms/code/ThumbnailStripField.php (lines 73/80 of 2.3 rc2).

But for those who want the best of both worlds (enjoy limitation AND allow original size), here is a hack that will allow editors to choose between the limited image size (max 600, very useful for huge uploads straight from high definition camera) and the original size (very useful for reasonable image size, like example here of 800). Next trick would be to allow editor to type in width and height with automatic calculation of the image proportion. We're getting closer to photoshop indeed.

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Silverstripe 2.3 CMS new features

We are actively testing Silverstripe 2.3 rc2, the lastest candidate for imminent new release of Silverstripe CMS / CMF. Among very efficient code upgrade and efficiency improvements, we love the following feature enhancements and definitely recommend professionnals to engage in learning this  Content Management framework that fits CMS and  website development, including the administration and layout of dynamic image galleries.

  • Security new features : possibility to select multiple groups for viewing and administration privileges
    What would be nice now : integrate the user import function from the newsletter module (see our post on how to do this for version 2.2)
  • Wysiwyg editor new features : possibility to insert predefined template was missing for webmasters wishing to go beyond the single layout  for each page type. Editors can now choose between predefined templates where content is structured in various configuration (read on for instructions on how to set that up).
    What would be nice now : display a small preview of the layout, like typo3 does. Or integrate on demand page component addition (example : on demand HTML editors, list types, gallery types in one page)
  • Other promising features (not tested) : data CRUD scaffolding, Update to TinyMCE 3.2, HTML flash code is now full XHTML compliant!

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Silverstripe howto : import group users

Developping new functions in Silverstripe CMS is not easy task  : documentation of the framework is good enough for most web site development tasks but when it comes to specific functions, we know the potentiality is there but lack specific API documentation. It took me a few hours and a lot of brain energy to find out how to ... duplicate the newsletter recipient import function to have it work for users and groups. Objective was to let my own customer import hundreds of his own customers. Done, tested to a certain extent, click here for more on Silverstripe's dedicated thread.

Files :


Insite image gallery editing

silverstripe is getting serious there : experienced website developers will be delighted to try out a new version of the famous Gallery extension that implements in site image editing for text captions, reordering and item deletion. Novice users will not get lost as this extension builds on what's popular, with Facebook-style interface for adding captions after insite image upload. the result is wonderful as it implements one of the best modal galleries out ther, based on (commercial) Shadowbox jquery gallery plugin. Another guy is working on a Nyromodal implementation (because it's GPL) and no doubt next time I need the stuff I'll work on porting the front end to my own choice of jquery modal gallery plugin.