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  1. #1
    Uranium Lounger
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    Personal Content Management

    Fellow Loungers,

    I am in the process of researching a database-driven content management solution for my personal website. There is a dizzying assortment of content managers out there, so for free, some for fee - but what I'm looking for is ideas. Would I be better off writing my own ASP code and creating a simple database, either Acess or SQL? I think SQL may just be overkill for a personal site, but I do so like it.

    If anyone has any suggestions as to where I can look at pre-existing products or suggestions for a DIY project, let me know hey? The content is fairly simple - articles, files, and images, and this will never be a giant thing.....the goal is manageability.

    Thanks in advance <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> and Mark, don't you go writing lines of code for me now! <img src=/S/wink.gif border=0 alt=wink width=15 height=15>
    -Mark

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    I've attached a module that contains one million lines of code that will do everything for you - even wash your clothes and dishes! Just kidding... <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15>

    Believe it or not, I have never worked with a content management system (CMS).

    Of course, I use data-driven components on websites all the time, but I've never had the opportunity (or need) to step all the way into a CMS.

    I'd be curious to learn more about the CMS software you've found. I'm sure there is plenty of merit to using a "packaged" application over creating your own. It all depends on the complexity of the content on your site. If you're just showing articles, file and images you would probably be OK with writing your own stuff. Besides, writing a few lines of code to connect to a data source in ASP is fairly easy.

    Although it is nice to use SQL to power a website, buying the SQL Server service upgrade from your web host provider can be very expensive (unless you're hosting your own site). At any rate, Access works pretty well for most things - even data entry/collection - as long as the database structure is modest.

    Hope this helps!

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    Mark,

    I use PostNuke (http://www.postnuke.com) for a website I am the webmaster of. It's PHP/MySQL and not ASP/[Access|MSSQL].

    It's quite easy to set up, just as easy to tweak and there are tons of modules that you can get if the "built-in" functionality isn't what you need.

    You can even get different themes for different looks of the site too.

    You can see "my" site at http://www.uppercanadacruisers.com.
    --
    Bryan Carbonnell - Toronto <img src=/S/flags/Ontario.gif border=0 alt=Ontario width=30 height=18> <img src=/S/flags/Canada.gif border=0 alt=Canada width=30 height=18>
    Unfortunately common sense isn't so common!!
    Visit my website for useful Word, Excel and Access code, templates and Add-Ins

  4. #4
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    Thanks Bryan,

    I had looked at that briefly in my travails across Google. I'm more interested in the engine than templates, since I tend to be a control freak with my page code. But this looks like a promising lead if I can make it work with my current host. Since I've never used MySQL I don't know what to expect in the way of support from my hosting provider. <img src=/S/sigh.gif border=0 alt=sigh width=15 height=15> I'm currently digging through the MySQL site to see what they have to tell me.

    How does PostNuke handle image collections, or do you know? That will be one of the primary things that any CMS I implement will need to handle intuitively (some of my relatives are, umm, technically challenged).

    Thanks for the reponse!
    -Mark

  5. #5
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    Mark,

    As you may be able to glean from my response to Bryan, my goal in implementing this is so that relatives who are relatively tech-ignorant can also make use of the personal website. Currently all management is done by yours truly, and in my spare time at that. I'm angling to set up a template for each different type of content and then have ASP or PHP coded pages constructed on the fly. Given that this is a spare-time effort I don't know how deeply I want to dig into coding, although I admit that I like that as well.

    You are all too correct about the cost increase for a hosting solution that uses SQL. I may be changing hosts soon so pricing will be a prime factor if I need SQL support. I admit to being unfamiliar with MySQL, which seems to be the popular option right now. I had hoped that I could get by with some Access based solution where I could upload the MDB file to my web host and eliminate the need for a shared SQL server. Alas and alack there don't seem to be any solutions like this around!
    -Mark

  6. #6
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    All good points!

    Just to toss another idea out there for you... I recently set up a website for my family. I know that my father is somewhat technical, but does not want to bother with writing HTML. My solution was to set up a site using FrontPage. The templates came in quite handy. Now they can update the site, upload files, and post photo albums without having to worry about code. (For the record, FrontPage is NOT my web-editing tool of choice. I use Dreamweaver, Visual Studio and sometimes just Notepad!)

    Feel free to have a look-see: http://johnstonfamily.us

    HTH

  7. #7
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    It depends on what you need it to do.

    Natively, it doesn't.

    I use a module called PiXfr Photo Module to handle the photo album.

    This is very simple to use. You sort the photos into galleries and albums. A gallery holds the albums and the albums hold the pictures. All the sorting is done by directory structure. What I mean is this:
    <pre>My_Photos
    +--The_Kids
    | +--Julian
    | +--Jordan
    +--The_Pets
    +--Jacob
    +--Grape
    +--Petey
    </pre>


    THe_Kids and The_Pets are the Galleries. Julian, Jordan, Jacob, Grape, Petey are the albums. You then put the pictures in the right folder and you are done. PiXfr will read the directory and file list and then display them as a page of thumbnails first. If you give the image files "intelligent" names (At_The_Park.jpg as opposed to pic00001.jpg) then you won't even need to have captions, which are created by files with the same name as the photo (IIRC)

    This makes it sounds complicated. It's not. Put the pics in a logical directory structure and PiXfx module for PostNuke takes care of the rest.

    One thing else you will need to check you host for support for is PHP.

    If you host doesn't support MySQL or PHP, let me know and I'll give you the name of the folks I recommend everyone to. $10 USD a month for 200 MB Disk space, 20 GB bandwith/month, 99 e-mail accounts. PHP/MySQL/Perl CGI/Front Page extensions.....

    I have only ever had 1 minor problem and that was resolved within a couple of hours.

    A long winded reply to say PostNuke doesn't handle Image collections "natively", but there are modules that plug into PostNuke that will handle it for you.
    --
    Bryan Carbonnell - Toronto <img src=/S/flags/Ontario.gif border=0 alt=Ontario width=30 height=18> <img src=/S/flags/Canada.gif border=0 alt=Canada width=30 height=18>
    Unfortunately common sense isn't so common!!
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  8. #8
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    I did look. What I'm curious about is your remark regarding the templates - did you have to install Frontpage for each family member that wanted to update sections of the site? How exactly did you accomplish that? Initially I was soliciting text from my family (talk about pulling teeth) and then I would add headers, etc as needed after stripping formatting. I don't want to go the route of installing Frontpage on all of their systems, and you can bet your bananas that my brother in-law will never spot the bill for a copy of it!! Thus the need for a web-GUI interface and possibly a content manager. I'm wondering if MySQL can be administered using SQL 7 or 2000..... <img src=/S/hmmn.gif border=0 alt=hmmn width=15 height=15>

    Almost didn't recognize you in your glasses. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    -Mark

  9. #9
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    Ahhh - I think I see now (even without my glasses - where's the [Im_a_geek] smile when you need it??)

    In my case, my father and brother are the only two that update the site and they both have FrontPage installed.

    I just thought of another idea that will be better for your case than using FrontPage (although perhaps not quite as nice as Bryan's suggested PostNuke). Check out Microsoft's MSN Communities/Groups. This is something I used to provide a web presence before becoming serious about web design. They have a web-based WYSIWYG editor. I believe you can set up a site (as an Administrator) and allow other members (via Passport accounts) to modify certain pages. They can either use the built-in WYSIWYG editor or upload their own HTML (to be conformed to your site's template, of course).

    It's been a while since I've even used my community - I believe it's even been deleted due to inactivity... so you'll want to check out their current services and policies.
    AFAIK, you get a certain amount of space (including photo albums) for FREE. I imagine they will gladly sell you more space or bandwidth as needed.

    Keep us posted with your findings...

  10. #10
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    Actually, being the geek that I am Bryan, that sounds perfectly understandable. I like that module! It doesn't have controls for the number of thumbnails on one page, but I think I can work around that - and even better it will work as a standalone module that doesn't require any database connectivity.

    Fortunately, I have support for PHP and the basic Perl libraries are installed on the server. Now, MySQL, on the other hand - dunno. Seems to be a foreign word to the hosting company but perhaps that's because they haven't updated their FAQ. I bet a live body will tell me more.

    Thanks again for your input, I'm inching closer to a decision on how to do all of this stuff! This is exactly what I was hoping for in the way of responses - real world experience with some of these solutions.
    -Mark

  11. #11
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    <hr>I'm wondering if MySQL can be administered using SQL 7 or 2000..... <hr>
    No it can't. But depending on where the MySQL server is located, there are several different ways do administer it.

    The basic way is through the command line.

    If the MySQL server is on a local Windows or Linux box, there are several GUIs that you can download for free. My Personal favourite, on a Windows box, is MySQL-Front. I haven't really investigated a Linux GUI client yet.

    There are several others that will work as well. you can find a couple on the MySQL site(http://www.mysql.com/downloads/gui-clients.html)

    If the MySQL server is at you web host and they support PHP, then the best GUI, bar none, is a web based GUI called phpMyAdmin.

    On all the sites that I am the webmaster of, that use a MySQL db, phpMyAdmin is one of the first things I install on the site, in a restricted directory.
    --
    Bryan Carbonnell - Toronto <img src=/S/flags/Ontario.gif border=0 alt=Ontario width=30 height=18> <img src=/S/flags/Canada.gif border=0 alt=Canada width=30 height=18>
    Unfortunately common sense isn't so common!!
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  12. #12
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    <hr>and even better it will work as a standalone module that doesn't require any database connectivity<hr>
    Great. I'm glad it can work for you. I forgot that it could be used as a stand alone. Lets call it a senior moment, from a non-senior <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
    <hr>Thanks again for your input, I'm inching closer to a decision on how to do all of this stuff! This is exactly what I was hoping for in the way of responses - real world experience with some of these solutions.<hr>
    Glad to be of help. That's what we are here for.
    --
    Bryan Carbonnell - Toronto <img src=/S/flags/Ontario.gif border=0 alt=Ontario width=30 height=18> <img src=/S/flags/Canada.gif border=0 alt=Canada width=30 height=18>
    Unfortunately common sense isn't so common!!
    Visit my website for useful Word, Excel and Access code, templates and Add-Ins

  13. #13
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    If you don't want to mess with a database at all, you could try a program I have been dabbling with recently: FullXML. It is a 'portal' program that allows content to be added through a web interface, so the folks providing the content don't have to have anything installed on their computers or know HTML. I am playing with it because my web hosting provider does not support PHP nor MySQL, so I cannot use PHPNuke.

    You can see my work with FullXML at my web site.

    - eric

  14. #14
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    Impressive. I never found that in my travails across the web. I'm intrigued by the lack of a database; performance wise I suspect it is fairly fast? And how does it stack up in ease of use? I am working towards making this easy for my family to use, and I got 98% of the geek genes.

    I do want to thank everyone for their input. So far, I am leaning towards PHP Nuke, for its plug-in flexibility - but FullXML has a lot of promise. I need to evaluate them locally in my test environment. Comments welcome!
    -Mark

  15. #15
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    Re: Personal Content Management

    My only complaint (and it is a small one) is that all of the sample sites looked VERY similar. Of course, the point of a CMS is not exactly to make a unique design/look but to make content management top priority. And the content part of FullXML looks enticing...even for a die-hard ASP guy like me!

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