Guest blogger Aaron Carlino is a web developer who is better known in the SilverStripe community by his whimsical pseudonym Uncle Cheese. Aaron has been doing web development since 2005, and found his niche in SilverStripe programming after an exhaustive search for a content management solution that was welcoming to developers and would stay out of his way. Since then, he has established a strong reputation in the SilverStripe community as a mentor, support provider, and, most notably, a contributor to some of the application’s most popular modules.
Guest blogger Ryan Wachtl is an independent US-based web developer and experienced designer with a passion for the art of programming and the science of design. He has been building sites with SilverStripe since the early 2.2 release and organizes the SilverStripe user group in Madison, WI. You can stay in touch by following @ryanwachtl on Twitter.
There comes a time for just about every web designer when the requirements for a project call for some type of e-commerce functionality. The world of online commerce is full of extra considerations like: SSL certificates, PCI compliance, merchant accounts, payment gateways and charging the appropriate taxes, to name a few. Understanding your needs and constraints is the first step to getting a hold on e-commerce.
SilverStripe has always had a pretty elegant template language (the language used to describe how data from the application should be inserted into a document - be that of a web page or anything else). It was simple to learn and kept the designer insulated from complicated back-end code.
Unfortunately the implementation of that language in earlier versions of SilverStripe lacked the same elegance. The code was a mess of regular expressions, which made it hard to read and even harder to extend. It had arbitrary limits on what parts of the language could be used where, it was impossible to extend except by editing the core files, and it had hooks into many other parts of the framework; breaking encapsulation and distributing responsibility in non-obvious ways.
35-year-old Kiwi developer Hamish Friedlander is CTO at SilverStripe, and therefore Lead Developer of SilverStripe 3.0. He decides what features and functions get built in the upcoming CMS edition and knows the SilverStripe Suite inside out. At SilverStripe he works in the ‘Science Ninja’ team and his nick name is ‘Owl’. I wonder why that is. He says the key to keeping development innovative is openness. Hamish lives a fast pace lifestyle on his motorbike, has a heartfelt connection with the Indonesian island of Bali, and is really bad at telling jokes.
He built his own CMS tool and started his own consulting company when he was only 22 years old. Ten years down the track, Stig calls himself a problem-solver, artist, handyman and inventor. Although he is a Swede, his favourite language is not his mother tongue, but rather Ruby, because it is so weird and poetic. He has no drivers licence, because he thinks a real man doesn’t need one. And since he has no power over automobiles, he loves to have power over computers, seeing as “I could get the computer to do what I wanted.”
SilverStripe is an open source product and its success relies heavily on you, as the community, to build great stuff and to share your developments with other users. The company staff at SilverStripe Ltd is, apart from being a contributor, the frame holding it all together and making sure that your contributions tie into the overall architecture of the CMS and Framework.
After working with SilverStripe for almost six months now, I am still very impressed by the level of passion that many of you show for the product and by the awesome stuff you build. I’ve talked with quite a few developers and editors working with the SilverStripe CMS, and my main experience has seen a lot of excitement around the tool and the community. There is an outstanding level of support demonstrated by those in the forum. It is great to see people helping each other out, for free. I suppose it is a lot of give and take! At least in the SilverStripe world, socialism does work. And the more you spread the word, the more users we get, the better it works.
As most of you might know we plan to release our framework Sapphire with SilverStripe 3.0 as its own entity. We have come a long way; many of you have already used the standalone framework to build great stuff, but it only came as part of the CMS. Sapphire has proved to work well as the basis for all kind of great applications, such as OB3, a web application for learning which was developed by OceanBrowser using the social media mechanism.
The SilverStripe baby has grown up and it will be a standalone product soon. Yeah, I know what you are going to say; “I want it now! Don’t let me wait”. But hey, it won’t be long. Sapphire will be downloadable as a separate tool in Alpha which is due October this year. And it will be worth the wait! As we shake off this southern hemisphere winter, we will come out of the cave with the complete 3.0 SilverStripe Suite.
Thanks to everyone who came along to our August Wellington Meetup. We hope you enjoyed the chatter and presentations over drinks and nibbles. The evening kicked off with a brief introduction from our CEO Sam Minnee, followed by informative presentations by SilverStripe CTO Hamish Friedlander and community member Simon Welsh. For those of you who were unable to make it, or those that would like a refresher, we have included a video and slides below. See you all in October!
Our CTO spoke about how to integrate search in order to help users find what they want more efficiently. His presentation also included some of the libraries available to do this with SilverStripe.
Here we go again! Show your support by nominating SilverStripe CMS in PacktPub's annual Open Source Awards.
Your nomination will help us to secure our position as a finalist, which in turn allows us to secure money we can devote on furthering our open source project. Gaining a good position in the PacktPub awards also helps us to spread awareness of SilverStripe CMS, which fuels adoption and encourages growth in our developer community. All this adds up to making SilverStripe an even better CMS!
In order for websites to remain relevant and useful, we believe it's important to usability test them on a regular basis. We don't only recommend this to our clients, but we practice it too.
It's been just over a year since we redesigned silverstripe.com and the best way to check whether it's meeting the goals of our users is to usability test it. We're planning to do this over the next couple of months, initially via a short questionnaire and then with face-to-face interviews in Wellington.
In late July we'll be asking interested users the reasons why they visit both silverstripe.com and silverstripe.org and for details of what they're looking for when they're there. In August we'll be inviting test users to come into the SilverStripe office in Wellington, where we'll run through a series of scenarios to test how they navigate through our sites, and we'll then explore areas that could be improved.
After collating and reviewing all the results we're hoping to better understand exactly what our users (you guys!) want from our sites and how they should be structured to make them as user-friendly as possible.
We're interested in talking with a range of users, including developers, designers and clients. If you're keen on participating then please contact Julian (J) Meadow, our resident usability testing expert, and he'll send you more details. Those that participate in both stages will be rewarded with an iTunes or book voucher.
Of course, anytime you have feedback on our sites you are always more than welcome to let us know by filling in a feedback form, which can be accessed via the the footer on both sites. We really appreciate your comments, so keep them coming!
We'll keep you posted on progress over the next couple of months.