SVN access available! – phpWebSite

Version control access has been restored to the phpWebSite project.

SVN access available! – phpWebSite

I had a bright idea last week.  One of the annoying aspects of phpWebSite maintenance is downloading individual modules, expanding them, and copying them over the existing modules. Why not use Subversion to update the core and mod  directories of phpWebSite? The procedure would be the same as that advocated by WordPress here. Since I recently added the Subversion client capability to my remote host, the update process would be much smoother, less error prone, and consume less bandwidth.

As a test I checked out a copy of the development version of phpWebSite to my PC. I run a local test site under Windows using XAMPP. Yea, I know I am weird thinking I can run phpWebSite under windows. I then copied over the files I needed from my existing configuration and renamed the directories. Then I went into Boost and updated the modules. After fixing the windows specific errors with updating FileCabinet and menu(i.e. creating directories did not work) modules, all of the modules are now updated and I am ready to update the site using subversion next time.

Now to make this whole scenario work for a production site we need a little help from the folks maintaining the Subversion repository. I would like to use Subversion to get the stable version rather than the development version. If they would create a tag for the stable release like the folks at WordPress, then I could use the Subversion “switch” command to update to the latest stable version. I use the switch command with WordPress to update my test blog and this is a slick way to update the files.

Updated phpWebSite Bleuprint theme

In a previous post I started creating a phpWebSite theme based on Blueprint. My plan is to convert an existing phpWebSite to the latest version but a theme for the latest phpWebSite(1.3.0) is not ready yet. Since my idea of humor is frequently referred to as cheesy I am calling this new theme, Bleuprint.The theme has a lot of neat stuff since I incorporated a lot of toys into the theme. However, it is not ready yet. It is still a work in progress. At this time I have both the web page and article module pages on my front page. I am leaning to using the Article module for most of my content but I am still working through various annoyances. Make me a believer, Eloi!

My demo site is at

  1. Merged Blueprint into the default phpWebSite theme.
  2. Fixed phpWebSite annoyances.
    1. Create new module templates to replace the <h1> element with the more search engine friendly <h2>.
      1. Sitemap
      2. Blog
    2. Create a tabbed menu for the new site. I want to keep the tabbed menu design from the old site.
    3. Change the calendar colors and layout.
    4. Fix control panel layout problem for form designer with Firefox.
  3. Add new features to the template.
    1. Add jQuery support( so I can use ThickBox for viewing photos( Thanks to Cody and the folks supporting jQuery development.
    2. Add zebra table suppport via jQuery( Thanks Christian! Note: You must edit the /config/core/textsettings.php file to allow <thead> tags. No thead, no worky!
    3. Add drop shadows to photos. I ported this visual toy from one of my favorite WordPress themes, Misty Look( Thanks to Sadish for creating a great theme!
    4. Add a rounded corner search box with jQuery field replacement. Thanks Brian!
    5. Add CSS liquid rounded corner box to template. Thanks Mark!
  4. Evaluate module support.
    1. Article 4.0 module(Remember to patch the control panel per the instructions).
    2. Mailto module(Not supported)
  5. Bugs and Redesign(?!)
    1. Where is Coming Soon in Calendar?
    2. Where is What’s Popular block for Articles
    3. See if I can create a list menu template of just simple <li> links.
    4. Redesign comment template to be more like copyblogger.  

Updating PHPUnit on XAMPP

I have decided to do some playing around with unit tests for PHP. I saw a video on Getting Involved in WordPress and it reminded me of my interest in unit testing. Now I almost want to create some unit tests for verifying WordPress plugins or phpWebSite code. Fortunately, common sense will prevail and I will restrict my activities to playing. The instructions at Chapter 3. Installing PHPUnit looked pretty easy but since I wanted to do my testing under XAMPP I knew there would be problems. Hopefully the problems would be minor.

Confirm the PEAR configuration

The first thing I did was to open a command window in the PHP directory under xampp and ran the following command.

pear show-config

This command prompting elicited an error about improperly set environment variables. So I edited the file and inserted the full path to the XAMPP directory. I tried the command again and it showed the PEAR configuration. I checked the installed packages and it showed PHPUnit to be version 1.3.2. I would like to use the latest version so I am going to follow the instructions from the documentation.

Update the channel and install the PHPUnit

The next commands I tried were to update the channel and install PHPUnit.

pear channel-discover

pear install phpunit/PHPUnit

The channel command worked. The install command did not work since it wanted the a dependency updated, GraphViz. After updating the dependency I ran the install command again. It installed 3.1.7 and it said I could also install pdo_sqlite and xdebug. I tried to install these extensions but they ended with a DSP error.

Test the PHPUnit

To test the installation I created a new folder under htdocs called phpunit so that I would have all of the unit test files in one spot. I quickly found out that I needed a copy of the phpunit.bat file in that directory, too. This file is in the PHP folder and it has the correct path to the php.exe file. I copied the example ArrayTest from the documentation into a file called ArrayTest.php and ran the command, “phpunit ArrayTest“. It worked. Now I can move on to more sophisticated unit tests.

Final Fixups

After a little searching I found that the xdebug and pdo_sqlite extenstions already exist in the extensions folder. XAMPP installs all of the extensions but only enables a couple of them in the default installation. All I had to do was to edit the php.ini file, remove the semi-colon in front of these extensions, and restart the web server.

Communication Styles and the Future of phpWebSite

I have been pondering for some time whether to convert existing web sites from phpWebSite to WordPress. It is difficult for me to think about these things since I quickly jump to the implementation details. So I decided to back off and look at the problem from the viewpoint of communication styles. For this quick analysis I am going to compare the diary, magazine, and product brochure formats to their Internet counterparts. These communication styles have existed for a long time in printed form. I think a little pondering on where these formats came from and where the web site versions of these formats are going will give me a better strategic view.

Diary Format

  • History – The diary format is the model that blogs originally copied.
  • Frequent Updates – One of its characteristics is that it generally involves short posts on a daily basis. This feature of blogs was quickly adopted by news organizations for syndicating news over the Internet.
  • Conversational tone – A key characteristic of both diaries and blogs is that they have a conversational tone.

Magazine Format

  • History – The magazine format came about as printed magazines established a presence on the Internet.
  • Monthly Updates – Originally the web sites mimicked the printed version and were updated on a monthly basis. As magazine publishers adapted to the positive and negative impacts of the Internet on their business, they eventually adopted RSS syndication for more frequent news updates(daily) and email newsletters for less frequent updates(weekly).
  • Both formal and conversational tones – The magazine format has traditionally had a mixture of both a formal tone and a conversational tone. The articles had a professional/formal tone while the editorials has a more personal tone.

Product Brochure Format

  • History – The product brochure format came about as businesses wanted a web presence to support their sales operation. Originally these sites were fairly static web sites that reproduced the sales information that already existed in brochure form.
  • Infrequent Updating – Most of these sites were static sites. It was commonly understood that if you wanted current information you need to call them on the phone. Many business site have since migrated to dynamic content. FAQs became an easy and quick way to support customers after the sale.
  • Primarily a formal tone – For the most part the tone used by these sites can be described as professional.

So how does WordPress and phpWebSite stack up in these areas?

  1. WordPress
    • The origin of WordPress is as a blog and it is one of the best blogs out there. It has a great development community out there.
    • WordPress has shown a lot of versatility and has expanded into the magazine format. Here is an example of the magazine format, Darren Hoyt Dot Com » Blog Archive » Mimbo v1.1 Released.
    • Although you can use WordPress as a simple product brochure or Internet sales site, it does not scale up as well as other packages. A few months ago I wrote a post in which I said that a nonprofit with a “product brochure” styled site might be better served by going to a more conversational format.
  2. phpWebSite
    • The blog portion of phpWebSite was originally called Announcements. phpWebSite can function as a blog but WordPress is free and a better blog.
    • The magazine format is probably the best use for phpWebSite. The “What’s Related” feature is a great feature. Similar features can be added in WordPress via plugins. I think that articles and calendars are the areas of with the greatest potential over WordPress but the phpWebSite development community is more limited.
    • Like WordPress you can use phpWebSite as a simple product brochure site but it does not scale up as well as other packages. Using the template system for product brochures is tempting because it may integrate the key data while allowing it a bit more scalability.

So there you have it. Both WordPress and phpWebSite are pursuing the magazine formats but phpWebSite is a more natural fit for the magazine format at this time. WordPress has a much larger development community but it has many diverse interests. The primary interests for WordPress is the blog format so it is hard to tell who has the better development community in the magazine format area.

Creating a new theme for phpWebSite 1.3.0

I finally bit the bullet and decided to create a new theme for the new version of phpWebSite. Part of my problem with starting this project is that I think that WordPress might be a better solution for these web sites. One of the big advantages that WordPress is an abundance of good looking, standards compliant themes. It probably would not be that hard to migrate one of the old phpWebSite sites into WordPress. The other site has a couple of features that would require a lot more research so I opted to proceed with the theme redesign project.

In a previous post I talked about the “Blueprint: A CSS framework”. I would like the new theme to most like Misty Look. In a previous post I mentioned that I have used this for a charity blog in the past. For kicks I want try out the Copyblogger theme, too. I also want to add jQuery support so that I can use ThickBox. So here is my plan.

Phase 1

  1. Create a new theme which merges Blueprint into the default phpWebSite theme.
  2. Fix phpWebSite annoyances.
    1. I will create new module templates to replace the <h1> element with the more search engine friendly <h2>.
    2. See if I can create a list menu template of <li> links.
    3. Create a tabbed menu for the new site. I want to keep the tabbed menu design from the old site.
    4. Change the calendar colors and layout.
  3. Add zebra tables, drop shadow, and ThickBox support.
  4. Redesign comment template to be more like copyblogger.
  5. Evaluate Article 4.0 module.


At this point I have a workable replacement for the original site. Most of the stuff works but I am still checking it out. I have not made the changes to the comment template, the list menu template, or checked the new version of Article. I will probably be updating to the latest version(1.3.0) of phpWebSite on the demo site in the next couple of days. To view the results go to my demo site at

Phase 2

Now it is time for me to separate the specific theme data from the common theme data. I expect to create four theme variations and a theme to display a design grid.

  1. Default Blueprint
  2. Misty Look
  3. Copyblogger
  4. Copyblogger organic.
  5. Display grid

Phase 3

Convert the old data into the new phpWebSite format.

Using CSS Page Breaks in phpWebSite

I spent some time this week fixing up the print versions of some html pages. You could call the pages, product pages, and they are the most likely candidates to be printed by a customer. They looked okay in the browser but they suffered when printed. IE had the most problems. I thought a print.css would help but it didn’t. FireFox and IE disagreed how the printed page should look. I ended up tinkering with them to get them both to print acceptably. Forcing page breaks helped out considerably. Initially I created a new section in phpWebSite in put a paragraph with a css class that would force a page break. This worked but it was kind of clunky. So my final solution was to modify an existing phpWebSite section template to give me a page break after the section. This way I can select the modified template for those sections I want a page break after. I looking forward to the day when I migrate this phpWebSite system over the new version and use a regular html page. I learned to use sections in phpWebSite to get the site up but I am not a fan. I have enough experience with them now to say I would be more productive without them.

I really want a nicely formatted Acrobat version of the web page but that is a project for a different week.

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