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Moving forward with Composr

ocPortal has been relaunched as Composr CMS, which is now in beta. ocPortal 9 will be superseded by Composr 10.

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Community saint

An ocPortal Testimonial

Note: post written in a generalized way in anticipation of many new faces showing up at OCP in the next while. Additionally, I've tried to write this in a purely objective way, so I'll apologize in advance if it seems like I'm stepping on toes, or appearing to be "bossy". Not my intent...

Introduction

Hello All! My name is Todd and I'm a former Chef turned computer geek. I am currently employed as the Support Manager for a software development company in Ontario, Canada. Throughout the last 15 years or so, my various projects in the IT industry have given cause to develop with and use a wide variety of CMS's. I have strong experience and working knowledge of:
  • Joomla/Mambo
  • All "The Nukes" and their forks (phpNuke, PostNuke, DragonFly, etc.)
  • CMS Made Simple
  • Drupal
  • phpWebsite
  • Typo3
  • XOOPS
Most of these packages are fairly solid platforms, however, invariably many things were missing preventing me from fully embracing the platform. Over the last 3 or 4 years, I've settled on Joomla as it's extensions and plugins allowed one to extend the functionality of the base platform. The side effect of this is many different addon packages can cause confusion and maintenance headaches in a big way. Additionally, most of these packages did not contain a (decent) forum module natively which IMHO is a must for a CMS/web dev platform.

Just about 2 years ago, I stumbled on OCP (v2 was current with v3 right around the corner) and really, I've never looked back. Unfortunately (for me), OCP was a commercial product at the time and I had difficulty convincing clients and employers to spend the $$$ when FOSS alternatives where available. (most, if not all of the reluctance was due to the differences in UK and CDN currency rates; I didn't see it as a big deal, however, bean counters think differently than me I guess) so I was limited to personal project websites on the OCP platform.

Why did I write this?

At the risk of coming across as a pompous blow hard, and on the eve of ocProducts releasing OCP4 Final as an FOSS project, I felt that I should share with the OCP community my thoughts and experiences with OCP. I want the community to be left with no doubts that OCP4 is poised to make a serious splash in the CMS/Web Dev arena and as supporters of OCP, we, the community, can really help to make this a reality. I very rarely, if ever, back something that I don't believe in 100%. ocProducts and OCP3-4 is a company and product that I believe in 100%! The people and products really speak for themselves...

Look no further - why choose OCP4

ocProducts has a fairly extensive feature list which I don't need to repeat here, so this list is more from a direct user point of view and also reflects some of the items that drew me in:
  • Integrated Forums - admittedly, this is what probably kept me looking deeper when I initially discovered OCP. At the time, this was a very hard feature to find. Joomla had Joomlaboard (now Fireboard) which was sketchy at best (Fireboard is a mucho better product), plus a couple of 3rd party connectors for packages such as SMF (SimpleMachines). Postnuke had a phpBB based integration, but it was not maintained at the same level phpBB itself was. Upon looking through OCP, I was presented with a comprehensive and elegant forum system that was integrated directly with the CMS/Web Dev! WhooHoo! While OCF may not have the million and one features that vBulletin or Invision have, I feel that it's not really an apples to apples comparison. The latter two have a specific focus on forums whereas OCP is a CMS/Web Dev with fairly complete forum functionality for most needs.

  • Ease of modification - this one threw me at first and I wasn't sure I liked it. Coming from the other CMS packages where there is a clearly defined separation of frontend (user) and backend (admin), the mixing of same with OCP left me a little uncomfortable. That "discomfort" lasted until I installed my own copy and began building out the site. In no time I began to appreciate the ease of use of OCP when I could identify items that I wanted to change and with a single click, I was doing so. So now, instead of maintaining two open tabs/browsers (one frontend and one backend) while working with a CMS driven site, I now only need to do that if I'm working with group access controlled content for example.

  • Something for everyone - ocProducts states on their frontpage: "use the quick installer to install ocPortal in minutes, and then after running the simple setup wizard you have a powerful website ready for use!". This statement is 100% true! However, in many cases, it may not be enough to meet your wishlist. Fear not! OCP4 also provides a very extensive and powerful feature set for the power/advanced users.

  • Access Control - this was the next area that was of interest to me and damn, Chris & Co. did a great job here. It still leaves me baffled why other CMS platforms, that are being coded for a multi user environment, do not include ACL and Groups as part of the core! (can you hear me typing Joomla???) Why should I have to use 3rd party addons/plugins (that often require core modification) to accomplish this basic task? In comes OCP3+ with two great levels of control built right into the underlying code:
    • Full permissions via admin zone (on content creation as well as the two permission trees)
    • The if_in_group comcode tag

  • Zones - the final clincher for me that I needed to explore OCP to it's fullest. The Zone system, among other things, allows one to build out a single site that can be directed at a wide variety of users and it's up to the admin as to how much these different groups interact with each other, both communication and content.

  • Community Stability - ocProducts is under the control of a small group of individuals (being originally conceived and released as a commercial product). While many may view this as a liability, history has shown that ocProducts strongly encourages feedback (good and bad!) against it's code, and reacts very quickly to bugs and suggestions for inclusion (where feasible), so it's really a benefit rather than liability. This in turn creates a very stable community base, so one does not need worry about meltdowns with the products. Admins of OCP4 sites will have no problem sleeping at nite! ;-)

Member/Supporter next steps

Chris & Co. have provided us, the users of OCP, with a fantastic platform and now they've released it for free! As members of this community, it's now our turn to assist in bringing up the visibility of the best web dev platform on the 'net.
  • Spread the word!
  • Spend time on ocProducts forum helping as many as you can
  • Spread the word!
  • Encourage new adopters to contact ocProducts for contracted customization and support where warranted
  • Spread the word!

Suggestions for ocProducts

  • Get 'er back in the saddle ;) - I stumbled across OCP via Installatron (it's an addon for DirectAdmin that my fiance and I were using for web hosting services for customers). Possibly time to get OCP back on those types of auto installers?
  • Keep doing exactly what you have been to date:
    • Pumping out excellent quality code
    • Maintaining a high visibility on the forums here at OCP
  • Including a variety of examples in the tutorials (Chris has mentioned that the Tut's are undergoing a re-write with this type of content included in the new docs)
  • Continue "coding classes" - I'm not sure about the rest of your posse Chris, however, I do know you have a full time gig, as will many others, so maintaining something like this could be tricky. It may be possible to work around by extending time frames, something like a 2 or 4 week completion. What I'm thinking is a slower paced tutorial based classes (just extending from what you've already done in the addons tutorials) with minimal objectives/test submissions that run in 2 week segments for example. This will give all concerned some good time leeway to complete the task, and not over burden anyones current "life task list".

Future Inclusions - BlueSky Wish list

Some of these items have already been alluded to by Chris (and could very well already be part of OCP4, I just haven't seen them yet), however, this is just a objective list of kewl features (IMHO). Others items can already be accomplished using custom comcode for example, but may be a nice addition natively to the admin zone.
  • Blocks:
    • News category listing block - This is one block that I can't seem to find, but it's quite possibly my eyes. Additionally, it might be helpful to have a somewhat universal block (along the lines of main_content), one that can be used to pull content from a wide variety of OCP sources as well as customizable appearance and title.
    • Deeper block customization - Every block should have a title and type parameter.

  • Expansion of the calendar:
    • Reminders assigned to usernames as well as groups (currently groups only)
    • Restrict event to group view
    • Popup reminder option in addition to email
    • Tie in with an automated eCard system?

  • Form builder/Database interaction - Like Fabrik (for Joomla) or Module Builder in SugarCRM?

  • Forum post submission screen - Cosmetic only, nicen it up, ala Mybb:

  • Boxes2387ore flexibility/variety
  • Here is an example from a Joomla Mambot (now known as Plugin):

    Code

    {tab=Summary} Summary {tab=Downloads} Downloads {tab=Forums} Forums {tab=Bookmarks} Bookmarks {tab=Contributing}Contributing {tab=HelpDesk} HelpDesk{/tabs}
    Which produces the following box:

  • 2388d forum post templates to news/blog articles - At the risk of suggesting something too far in one direction (in this case, being a publishing system), I think it would be nice to be able to define some basic template for news and blog content posting (something like a catalogue, but extended to articles). This would allow the admin to control, to a certain extent, the format and content of articles

  • Auto PM greeting on first login - is this currently possible?

  • Preview option in forums - can we just grab a snippet instead of "Post is too big" message?

  • Gallery:
    • Slideshow - This is one of those "must haves" for a gallery
    • Permissions - Removing the "View Access" permission does not hide the gallery from those groups. When attempting to access, the user is presented with a permission error, however, this does not seem consistent with the rest of OCP permission processing. When View Access is removed, those groups should see no traces of that particular gallery anywhere in OCP4.
    • Overall layout review - viewing pictures in a gallery is not a consistent experience. Images, comment submit block, rating block, etc. seemingly move around when browsing photos in a gallery. This makes for a "messy" presentation.
    • More extensive (read ease of use) video support - something along the lines of All Videos (Joomla)

  • Downloads
    • Download cart - This would be a great feature for sites that work primarily with downloads. It would be nice to be able to browse a site and select downloads to put into a cart. When finished, downloads can then be selected from the cart individually, or tarball.
    • File version field

  • Dynamic pagination - (using referrer?) to easily return viewer/reader to where they started after having followed a link on the original documentation/content entry. Breadcrumbs are AOK for navigating in a "flow manner", however, it's very likely that conveying information can cross modules as well as zones, so breadcrumbs don't necessarily achieve the goal here.

Conclusion

Thanx kindly for taking the time to read my drivel! :) This is by no means an exhaustive document (and I will possibly be adding to it from time to time as I continue to develop in/with OCP4), but hopefully it is something that contributes towards the goal of getting OCP4 to the top of the FOSS CMS/Web Dev platform list. I strongly encourage all who are reading this and reviewing OCP for the first time to take OCP4 for a test drive and kick the tires a little. I have no doubt in my mind that you will be impressed!

Be well, Todd (SD)


Last edit: by SoccerDad

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Posted
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Community saint

wow very well written and professional looking.
My list of cms's is long too but I think it would more likely then not take up a whole page  :lol: . I have also used Nuke PC nuke to be exact.  None do what ocportal does.

I run http://otakuplayground.com and am hopping to make themes and other things for ocportal even though I no longer use it for otakuplayground.com I still love it and feel it could go far with the right help. It needs themes and needs people to advertise for it.
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Posted
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Thanks for the kind words Ami! Yeah, I spent so much time with the Nukes it made my head hurt (them being the first CMS kidz on the block really). So much was a good idea and horrible implementation (remember trying to add a download link and having to know the ID of the download with no selectable list? UGH!)

Also, your mention of the Nukes got me to thinking on one critical item I missed in my post and need to add: the stability of ocProducts. Mambo, The Nukes, and XOOPS immediately jump out as examples of fractions in the community (horrific in the case of XOOPS; it's dead as far as I'm concerned) and the resulting chaos for users. None of that here!!

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Posted
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Community saint

Very nice job Soccerdad :thumbs::thumbs:

Well written and some very constructive thinking on your part bravo!

ocP Ver 4.1
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Posted
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Thanx Sledge! Comments much appreciated as a writer I am not! LOL

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Oh and I see you want ecards, Thats a suggestion I made at one time so you being the second will help that. i think my other suggestion of slideshows was put in so thats cool.

Speeking of xoops I agree with you its dead. I used it before I found out about ocportal and it was a pain to set up and took forever.  I remember also going back to look at it and they went back in versions, which was confusing which was the latest version. They had a version 2.2 and had in the news that the latest version was 2.0. some thing.

MKportal is another one I tried and at one time I used both mkportal and ocportal on the same site. Mkportal has far less features then ocportal even though it does offer the same forum compatibility, and recently then did create their own forum. Last time I tried mkportal which was only a few months back it had all kinds of compatibility issues with different browsers which ocportal works just fine with. MKportal did not work on macs at all and IE 6 had a few issues as well.
 

I run http://otakuplayground.com and am hopping to make themes and other things for ocportal even though I no longer use it for otakuplayground.com I still love it and feel it could go far with the right help. It needs themes and needs people to advertise for it.
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Posted
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Community saint

Wow, great write up Todd. Very well laid out, and you say your not a writer, you couldn't tell by me.

I agree with everything that you said, the one thing that I think needs a huge emphasis on is that once OCP4 final comes out we all need to get the word out. The more users we have the more interaction, help, support, development of add-ons, etc. It should also increase the paid support requests to OCProducts which they greatly deserve.

Rick Henson

OCP 4.3.2 & 5.0.1
PHP 5.2.5
MySQL 5.0.51a
FireFox 3.6.8
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Posted
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 :$ Thanx for the kind words Rick, much appreciated.

100% agreement on your second statement: it's now our turn to assist in giving back to ocProducts after all we've now got for free with OCP4. You've hit the nail right on the head with the reference to community growth; like the snowball rolling down yonder hill and getting bigger and bigger as it goes.

Let's start the revolution!  :thumbs:  ;)

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Thanks so much for writing this up. I'm going to mention a few things that are currently possible, or should be if there weren't bugs…

News category listing block - This is one block that I can't seem to find, but it's quite possibly my eyes. Additionally, it might be helpful to have a somewhat universal block (along the lines of main_content), one that can be used to pull content from a wide variety of OCP sources as well as customizable appearance and title.

The way to do this is the new main_include_module block, which basically simulates inserting a module screen as if it were a block.

Code

[block="site:news:cat_select"]main_include_module[/block]
Unfortunately I just tried that and it doesn't work, because it's not simulating the URL context correctly. This will be fixed in RC2.

With regards appearance and title, generally this would be done by editing the block template. However I do see in certain cases you might want to use one block in many places (e.g. main_forum_topics), with different titles in each, which makes template editing too fiddly to be realistic. So it's something we're aware of :).

Reminders assigned to usernames as well as groups (currently groups only)

Members may signup for their own reminders, but I appreciate that the event submitter might want to do it for them, so we'll consider that.

Restrict event to group view

I believe it's now possible, but you need to do it via the event type (event type view permissions may be set).

Popup reminder option in addition to email

There are wider potentials about unifying notification systems, and expanding the possibilities, which is something we're very aware of.

Form builder/Database interaction

Our approach here is via the catalogues system. It's not quite the same thing, but at the moment in my mind it can serve the same use cases. If not, please let us know :).

At the risk of suggesting something too far in one direction (in this case, being a publishing system), I think it would be nice to be able to define some basic template for news and blog content posting (something like a catalogue, but extended to articles). This would allow the admin to control, to a certain extent, the format and content of articles

At the moment it's possible, via some advanced features. You can set up Comcode tags (which I remember you already astutely identified can be used as templates), and you can use the fields.xml system to set up add screens that have fields prepopulated. So you set up some prepopulated screens, defined by some kind of URL pattern (e.g. &template_type=house) that prepopulates the fields with some prelaid out usage of your Custom Comcode tags.
Not simple to do I admit, but our approaches has always been to add flexible features to cater for this kind of thing, then make common tasks more user-friendly based on what is popular.

Auto PM greeting on first login - is this currently possible?[

Nope not currently. We have welcome emails, which is similar, but we'll take the feedback onboard and consider it for the future.

Permissions - Removing the "View Access" permission does not hide the gallery from those groups. When attempting to access, the user is presented with a permission error, however, this does not seem consistent with the rest of OCP permission processing. When View Access is removed, those groups should see no traces of that particular gallery anywhere in OCP4.

This is a bug.


i think my other suggestion of slideshows was put in so thats cool.

Not in yet (I considered slipping it in late but it was a bit too heavy a feature to do really), but it's been requested a lot recently, so it's certainly a strong possibility for the future.


Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
Was I helpful?
  • If not, please let us know how we can do better (please try and propose any bigger ideas in such a way that they are fundable and scalable).
  • If so, please let others know about ocPortal whenever you see the opportunity.
  • If my reply is too Vulcan or expressed too much in business-strategy terms, and not particularly personal, I apologise. As a company & project maintainer, time is very limited to me, so usually when I write a reply I try and make it generic advice to all readers. I'm also naturally a joined-up thinker, so I always express my thoughts in combined business and technical terms. I recognise not everyone likes that, don't let my Vulcan-thinking stop you enjoying ocPortal on fun personal projects.
  • If my response can inspire a community tutorial, that's a great way of giving back to the project as a user.
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Community saint

Good one, Todd.

I see you even used the ToC feature that you queried some time ago (and which I am now using on my site … hehehe!!).

As you know from my previous comments, I've been following your beta testing closely. I think that I will also read your finidngs on RC1, but won't consider doing an upgrade until 'Final' is out.

Keep on truckin'.

Terry

 :thumbs:

Take my advice. I'm not using it!

View my working ocPortal site (version 9.x.x) at Anglo-Indian Portal
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Community saint

To Chris: my pleasure Mate, I hope it helps a little. Thanx so much for your input and suggestions; I'll be rolling up my sleeves tomorrow when back at the office.

To the non-regular and new OCP community members: *grin*, see! I'm not just blowing smoke out my %@#!  ;)

This is the kind of attention from ocProducts that we've been spoiled with and the same kind of attention that's going to help vault this product to the top!

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Posted
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Community saint

Thanx Fletch! LOL, yeah, the ToC has shown up in a few more places on a couple of sites I'm working on.

I'll be banging away at RC1 this week, however, initial glances are showing that my bugs posts will soon be trickling to an end. I see Ami and Sledge have found a couple with fresh installs, however, my upgraded site is showing some real good stability at this point.

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Posted
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Community saint

Yay thanks Todd if all of us post as many bugs as posible it will be finally before we know it.
I know every bug I find is going to be posted, even when it some times turns out to be my own fault.  :lol:

Still a great system and there is no other system as good as it and it keeps getting better.
I do like how fast bugs get fixed too. Not like on other scripts I have used where it is some times a month or more before a bug is fixed. Or even six months in the case of one script I used that was an add on for ipb.
Heck Chris was even fixing bugs on his vacation, OMG who else does that. Umm no one that I know of.

Any way we do need to advertise I have always done that but will continue to do it.  

I run http://otakuplayground.com and am hopping to make themes and other things for ocportal even though I no longer use it for otakuplayground.com I still love it and feel it could go far with the right help. It needs themes and needs people to advertise for it.
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