SilverStripe Blog

SilverStripe mobile development has just become easier

Posted by Sean Harvey on 25 August 2010

Today we've launched a free extension to SilverStripe CMS that makes it easier to build websites for mobile devices.

Most websites now have a noticeable amount of visitors using mobile devices. We've been looking at how to make it easier to build websites that can be accessed through popular mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Google Android phones.

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Open Source CMS awards open - show your support!

Posted by Sigurd Magnusson on 20 August 2010

Show your support by nominating SilverStripe CMS in PacktPub's annual software awards!

2010 PacktPub Awards LogoYour 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.

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SilverStripe Experimental Pre-Alpha Oracle DB Module - Help us test it

Posted by Sigurd Magnusson on 13 August 2010

One of our developers, Andreas Piening, has been working on creating a module to get SilverStripe to work with Oracle databases. And while there's key functionality that isn't working yet, we've been able to get a "Hello World" SilverStripe website on the 10g version of Oracle.

It's nowhere near ready to go into production, but we're looking for people who are interested in testing the module. If you're using Oracle, and are willing to take what we've done for a test drive and contribute feedback on this pre-alpha build, it would be appreciated.

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SilverStripe 2.4 User Help Up & Running

Posted by Brian Boyko on 11 August 2010

You asked for it, you got it. SilverStripe has a new version of user help which is compatible with the current 2.4 version of the CMS.

It was a big job, but we had help from many of you! We put up a beta version of the user help document and asked for your feedback while we were writing it. So first off, we'd like to thank all the people who helped us make user help better: Fred Condo, Anita Graham, Nigel Vining, Stephen Metcalfe, Marcus Dalgren, and the users going by the names of Martijn, Mike, Sunnybex, Fil, and Stefdv.

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SilverStripe 2.4.1 Update

Posted by on 23 July 2010

We're pleased to announce 2.4.1, our first update to the 2.4 codebase. You can check a full list of changes in our changelog, but here are some highlights:

  • Fixed a bug where logged-in CMS authors were allowed to rename files with harmful extensions in the "Files & Images" section
  • Improved installer security by disallowing re-installation when a configuration file is already present.
  • Installing in "live mode" instead of "dev mode" by default, and avoid setting certain domains as "dev mode" by default. This fixes an issue where attackers were able to force a site into "dev mode" by spoofing the domain name on certain server configurations.
  • Fixed password encryption when saving members through the "Add Member" dialog in the "Security" admin. The saving process was disregarding password encyrption and saving them as plaintext (issue was introduced in 2.4.0)
  • Fixed potential information disclosure on misconfigured servers by disallowing direct execution of *.php files in "sapphire", "cms" and "mysite" folders. If PHP was configured to show errors on screen (development setting), attackers could find out server paths and other environment information.
  • Allow CMS authors to set their own localized date and time formats, independently from the defaults set through their interface language.
  • More useable date picker (jQuery UI) for date form fields (both in the CMS and in website forms)
  • Better URL "transliteration" of special characters like Umlauts or Macrons (Example URL in German: "Brötchen für alle!", URL in 2.4.0: "brtchen-fr-alle", URL in 2.4.1: "broetchen-fuer-alle")
  • Better batch editing of comments in the admin interface (e.g. marking multiple comments as "spam")
  • More sophisticated access control for decorators on page types (tri-state permissions checks: allow, deny, ignore).
  • Added a Latvian translation of the CMS interface (thanks Kristaps and Andris!)

Mostly, however, 2.4.1 is a security release for vulnerabilities discovered recently and contains all enhancements and bugfixes since the 2.4.0 release. 

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SEO and Content

Posted by Brian Boyko on 14 July 2010

The necessity of search engine optimisation (SEO) in making a website is apparent.  At the very least, there's a usability component to SEO - if your customers, or potential customers, can't find the content, it might as well not be there.

SilverStripe's built in search-engine-friendly features (like hierarchical URLs and the ability to write good, clean semantic HTML templates) are a major consideration into what we're building out.  Right now, one of our developers, Andreas Piening, is improving the Google Analytics module, so that one can more easily visualise Google Analytics data with SilverStripe.

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Sam Minnée talks about his experiences with Full Code Press

Posted by Brian Boyko on 5 July 2010

Compiled from an interview with Sam Minnée.

Full Code Press was a very interesting experience from my perspective because even though the program started at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, I didn't actually start integrating templates until 3 in the morning - most of the work happened for me after 3 a.m. After that, however, it was fairly intense.

I feel like I worked well under pressure. And I loved working with our team - I loved the dynamic of working with a bunch of people you know are really good at their respective jobs, who you could just trust to do their bit well, so you could focus on doing your piece of the puzzle as best as you can. Plus, the challenge of producing a website in 24 hours made everyone, including the client, very focused, and very committed to getting as much as possible done in a short period of time. So, in the end, we did an amazing thing. We built a really cool website given the time frame. And I think it was kind of inspiring to see how much could be done in that time. I don't think that building a website in 24 hours is ever going to be close to being a realistic thing for a regular client project, but I think it was challenging to ask: Can we do things more quickly than the industry norm says is standard?

The clients worked well with us too. It was their first website, so they were really stoked. So they didn't just come in and tell us what to do - they were there with us until about two in the morning, then came in again about seven or eight the next morning. They got some sleep, sure, but they were really part of the team for the whole products. In the end, the client liked the final product, and that's what really matters.

There were a number of hectic moments. At one point, the webserver everything was on crashed - stopped working - and all three competing sites had to be pulled from one webhost to a new one. We had to deal with the migration, and for a time, the content authors couldn't make any changes. That was, I think, more stressful for some of the other teams than it was for us, in part because this was prior to integrating the templates at 3 a.m., so we had a certain amount of bandwidth to deal with these kinds of things. But, it was still good to be less stressed about these things than the other teams. It made us feel like we were doing something right.

The most demanding time - not so much because there was a relatively stressful amount of things to do, but the physical limitations of the body - was about 8:00 in the morning, just after breakfast. I just hit a wall. I couldn't stop yawning and could barely think. And I think the Red Bull and V high had sort of worn off, and my mind and body were just about ready to give up. That was quite bad for an hour or two, and then as we approached the finish line the adrenaline kicked back in.

The 2010 Code BlacksThe most hectic moment, unsurprisingly, was near the end - at 11:55, five minutes before the deadline, I realised we had forgotten to add alt-tags to the rotating images on the front page. I thought it would be an easy fix, but we had put the alt-text into the database, and we weren't actually querying the database to display the images - we were querying the filesystem directly. So I had to query the database, cross-reference that with the stuff we were getting from the filesystem, and then inject the combined content into the template. That was the final thing I changed, and finished with two minutes to spare. When we went around the event saying "We're done!" at 11:58, everyone was mocking us for slacking off and finishing early.

By the end, I was definitely in a curious mental state. I'm sure that this affected my coding to some extent, but I think that there's a different part of the mind - a slightly less conscious part of the mind - where the coding comes from. And when I'm in the zone, even without sleep, I can - I can still get in that flow state and let things go. The part of my mind that broke down first was part that controlled social interaction, not the coding part. So, I had my headphones on, the music up loud, and I was ignoring everyone else unless they needed something from me. Which was lucky, because I wasn't there to socialise, I was there to write code.

Things got a little tense - but considering everyone had been up for 24 hours I think we did fantastically. There were no real breakdowns. I think everyone got a bit loopy. There was an impromptu dance party with no music at one point. We had sort of stand-up meetings every hour or two and one of those, we just all started dancing. I'm not really sure why. There wasn't any music playing. I think we just needed to move, having been stuck to seats all day. After a few minutes, I think we all realised what we were doing, and laughed at ourselves and continued on.

But it was a very intense experience, and we went through this experience together, and when you do that, you come out closer to each other. I feel like I've made new friends. I feel like what we've gone through is not something that happens every day. It's not like any other website launch, and - yeah, I mean mostly, I've come out of it really glad to have the experience.

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Posted by Brian Boyko on 18 June 2010

We want to find out what features you'd like to see implemented, (or what problems royally annoy you), on the site.

Recently, SilverStripe Ltd did a reconstruction of the site. Part of it was that we wanted something splashy to go with launching Dawn, but we also wanted to migrate our own .com site to SilverStripe CMS 2.4. Since we were upgrading the backend, we figured we might as well work on improving the public facing portions too. Sorta like, "Gee, Doc, so long as I'm going to have to have surgery for my appendix anyway, can you work in a tummy tuck while I'm under?"

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Help us help you and your users with user help

Posted by Brian Boyko on 15 June 2010

We're in the middle of re-writing our user help to be compatible with SilverStripe CMS 2.4.

Well written user help documentation helps us and other SilverStripe developers save time. Every question that customers can answer themselves using user help is a question that they don't have to ask the development team. For that reason, as we shift from 2.3 to 2.4, we'd like to get away from focusing on features and more towards explaining how to accomplish tasks - shifting from "what things are" to "how to get things done." It's a massive re-write that has us practically starting from scratch.

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Representing NZ at Full Code Press

Posted by Sam Minnée on 2 June 2010

Full Code Press is a web development and design competition run by the same group of people who run the Webstock conference, the biggest web conference in New Zealand.

I'm going to be one of 6 people representing New Zealand, against Australia, and the United States, as a member of the Code Blacks team in the competition. I'm honoured to be chosen to represent New Zealand.

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