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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 ocPortal 9 will be superseded by Composr 10.

Head over to compo.sr for our new site, and to our migration roadmap. Existing ocPortal member accounts have been mirrored.


ocPortal design and usability, big discussion

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Posted
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#68337 (In Topic #14528)

Non-joined user

(Was I TAKE IT ALL BACK...AND GIVE MY APOLOGIES)

I wanted to set up a community website, saw OC Portal, and install;ed it, two days later I prompty deleted the installation, and wrote a message to this forum. The content of that message, i have seen duplicated dozens of time all over the Internt. Essentially no themes, complicated to set up..cant use it, I have set up about 15 other CMS systems since I deleted my OC Portal site, NONE matched my expectations, and after 2 months I have returned again to OC Portal. On this occassion, I actually read and watched all the support material, and just got stuck in. Two weeks later I have a site that i am really proud of. It has taken a lot of effort, but itb has been a real enjoyment doing this for myself.I n fact to be perfectly honest, once I understood what i was doing, I began to appreciate that this system is in fact a whole lot easier to understand than most of the other systems that I installed. A lot of trial and error with the global CSS trying to work out what each bit did, but now i think i know this part of OC Portal just as well as anyone else. This is not difficult software, it just doesnt seem very user friendly from the outset and i think this is the mistake that a lot of people make. The austere appearance of the base installation doesnt help either, but after only a day of effort it even looked a lot friendlier. Anyway, I MAKE MY APOLOGIES, the comments that i originally made, were made on the basis of laziness, expecting everything to be done for me. I absolutely concur that this is the best community based portal software in existance (well maybe thats a bit over the top..I should say, the best that i have seen) I attach an image of my website…i know it doesnt appear much to those that are programmers but to me, this is something that i have themed and I feel very proud to have achieved. I wouldn't have another template or theme even if it was free. Chris Jones

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Posted
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#68338
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Thanks for that :).

It sums up quite well what I also think is the case right now. ocPortal could be considered hard, but everything else is harder if you don't want a bland featureless site. In general us CMSs have a lot of challenges on the usability front that we should be fighting for, and we do perceive that on our end, but sometimes I'm not sure our competitors do actually.

Any suggestions for overcoming the initial negative are very welcome. Apart from 'more themes', as that's not something we can solve overnight [I'm implying here that we might be trying to solve it ;)].


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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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Posted
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#68339

Non-joined user

MY OPINION:

Having now experienced an installation of this product and a mini customization I would suggest that producing themes is the wrong way to go. You simply are creating a rod for your own back and probably wasting time.…let the professional theme companies do this.

Personal opinion would be that you create a product that the user can theme easily, you have started on this path and I would suggest that you continue on that path.

One doesn’t have to think much about what type of includes would make your product more flexible to the average user. These would include, shape, style of content boxes, individual colouration of backgrounds, titles, fonts etc easier logo changes, easier background change etc etc…all the things that it has taken me 2 weeks to do.

essentially a section within Admin, a single page where you can specify all these different variables…I believe that this would probably be a whole lot easier and more profitable than trying to design your own themes for the masses.

Then you need to tell everyone that this is the easiest software in the world to theme…DON’T BE SHY !!!
 
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Posted
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#68340
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Community saint

Chris Jones said

… saw OC Portal, and install;ed it, two days later I prompty deleted the installation, and wrote a message to this forum. The content of that message, i have seen duplicated dozens of time all over the Internt. Essentially no themes, complicated to set up..cant use it … 15 other CMS systems since I deleted my OC Portal site, NONE matched my expectations … I actually read and watched all the support material … this system is in fact a whole lot easier to understand than most of the other systems that I installed. … I MAKE MY APOLOGIES, the comments that i originally made, were made on the basis of laziness, expecting everything to be done for me …

On the face of it the damage has been done, HOWEVER, I have more faith in ocPortal and its developers to believe that this incident, if it affects the CMS at all, will prove to the inquisitive that it is a darn sight more resilient than a spurious and uninformed 'review' would normally have had! That said, it takes a man of some courage to publicly apologise, and I tip my hat to Chris Jones for taking that step.

I was also pleased to see the gracious manner in which Chris Graham has accepted the apology. But there again, I didn't expect anything less!


Chris Graham said

Any suggestions for overcoming the initial negative are very welcome. Apart from 'more themes', as that's not something we can solve overnight [I'm implying here that we might be trying to solve it ;)].

Hmmmmmm… I'm wondering if it is worth continuing with my feeble attempts to try to produce a series of 'easy-to-install' templates (something similar to what Bowden produced for Blogger - you know, fundamentally 'samey-samey' with a few variations on layout and colour) so that the uninitiated to this CMS can take a theme that appeals from the get-go, and then start to lick it into shape?



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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Posted
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#68341
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Thanks, very helpful :).


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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Posted
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#68348
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Community saint

I join with Fletch to commend Chris Jones for his courage and hope Mr. Jones will now spread the good words a thousand folds across the web.

”Chris  jones” said

One doesn’t have to think much about what type of includes would make your product more flexible to the average user. These would include, shape, style of content boxes, individual colouration of backgrounds, titles, fonts etc easier logo changes, easier background change etc etc…
I like this idea ChrisJ. It brings to mind a future when with my iPad I’ll be manipulating shapes, content boxes and styles, squeezing the #body_inner to make it fixed-width and rearranging the header and logo with my fingers.:cool:

I’m looking forward to your templates Fletch. Don’t give up!:)
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Posted
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#68358
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6.1.



Last edit: by Chris Graham


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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Posted
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#68361
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Ok so I teased a bit with that video, making it seem less than it is. I think if you play it you'll see this is quite a step forward we've just done for CSS editing. That should tackle some of the issues here. Others are now on a short list I'm going to take a look at tomorrow, this topic has given me a bit of inspiration on how we can make some things easier if we approach it from a fresh angle.

If you look in my twitter feed you'll see I've put up something about making all boxes curved, I wrote that specifically as a few people have asked that in the past.

One remaining thing I'm not completely sure how to tackle yet…
"austere appearance of the base installation doesnt help either"
This has come up in the past a few times. I don't honestly think ocPortal's default theme is more bland than other CMS's (Drupal, Wordpress and Joomla are all certainly pretty plain), and I don't think it would be wise to put too much assumptive styling in there. But it does keep coming up. So if any of you have any suggestions for how we can spice things up, but without forcing people to jump through hoops to turn styles off again if it works against their particular desired look.


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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Posted
Rating:
#68368
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Community saint

I had a similar experience to that of Chris Jones. I went through every application on Installatron (I wanted a simple install solution) that looked even remotely suitable for my needs. ocPortal was not my first choice. After initially trying it I dismissed it, and only came back to it after being disappointed/frustrated with the others.

I didn't want to just jump in and use the first thing I could find that looked OK. I was actively probing and seeing how it might handle not just my current needs, but future needs also (I don't think too many hobbyists actually think too far ahead when choosing their CMS).  

Chris Jones said

Having now experienced an installation of this product and a mini customization I would suggest that producing themes is the wrong way to go. You simply are creating a rod for your own back and probably wasting time….let the professional theme companies do this.
I think there needs to be a middle ground. Maybe 10-20 or so official themes, but with large variety of styles. And not just the same theme over and over again with only colour being the differentiator, otherwise it looks like ocPortal is too rigid/modular.

Chris Jones said

Personal opinion would be that you create a product that the user can theme easily, you have started on this path and I would suggest that you continue on that path.
One doesn't have to think much about what type of includes would make your product more flexible to the average user. These would include, shape, style of content boxes, individual colouration of backgrounds, titles, fonts etc easier logo changes, easier background change etc etc…all the things that it has taken me 2 weeks to do.
Theme editing is severely lacking. And while v6.1 looks like giving it a nice boost, it still needs 'simple' layout control options. Its fiddly enough at the moment to just centre the header image, but what if I wanted to add a search box to the right of it? I'd need to get down and even dirtier in the code.

And the current theme are just using too many colour if you want to change without going through the theme wizrad (which I have to do). While you may start with one colour in the theme wizard, there are 57 unique colors in global.css (61% seed + 39% W/B, 60% sb_color + 40% seed, etc).

Fletch said

Hmmmmmm… I'm wondering if it is worth continuing with my feeble attempts to try to produce a series of 'easy-to-install' templates (something similar to what Bowden produced for Blogger - you know, fundamentally 'samey-samey'  with a few variations on layout and colour) so that the uninitiated to this CMS can take a theme that appeals from the get-go, and then start to lick it into shape?
The more themes the merrier. Note that my comment above of 10-20 themes, is intended as a suggested core diverse set, not intended to dissuade individuals from contributing their own creations.

Do you have a Samsung Galaxy S / Galaxy S II ? If so, why not check out my ScreenFree FM Radio .
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Posted
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#68373
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Right, so I think the situation is we have some tugs of war going on in a few areas, not just between views, but also between what approach to take.

Do we focus on planning out common tasks, and making those easy, or do we focus on trying to make any arbitrary unpredictable task easier. On one hand, users do often try and do common things, but on the other hand almost all users also have their complete own idea about what design changes to make, so will need to learn some skills anyway.
I think both, but it's a real challenge.

Do we simplify interfaces, or do we add extra glitz? This is difficult to bridge, as the templates turn to spaghetti if we try and control it via on/off options. This issue touches fidelity of themes (e.g. how many colours), as well as whether we add animations, and other prettification touches that may be too specific for some but add value for others. Beautiful simplicity is a good goal, but at the same time, it is very hard to hang a lot of sophisticated functionality on a simple frame.

Do we use best practices for CSS web design (fluid width, wrapping via floats, no tables, etc), or do we try and align everything to a grid and try and make some kind of grid placement tool? Do we go with CSS3's better positioning features and drop older buggy browsers, or do we maintain IE6 and IE7 support? Or do we even introduce tables back in the layout?

Do we say 'ocPortal has the best themeing tools on the CMS market' (it quite likely does, at least for comparable products), or do we say our themeing tool are totally inadequate regardless of that relative superiority? Marketing our position vs Being self-critical to drive innovations.

Do we invest in themes, themeing tools, tutorials, or industry relationship building? Our approach has been to do it all in parallel, because it's such a hard problem.

I think one position our competitors have is that you get an easy dip in, because you start with less. You only get the themeing/usability nightmare when you add all the third party components you decide you need, at which point you've gone down the road quite a long way and are committed. We've improved our position a lot with v6's setup wizard's addon management and install profiles, but still we cover off more things and our CSS certainly is quite detailed with a lot of different common utility classes defined.


Reflections welcome.


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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Posted
Rating:
#68383

Honoured member

This is just my $.02 worth. However, being totally blind finding a cms that is accessible is a nightmare to say the least. All of them have their challenges, but hands down OCPortal is the very best in regards to accessibility. My hat is off to Chris and the entire gang for their efforts on this front. Too many times the needs of the blind community is overlook for the sake of visual appealing themes and layouts. I've probably, over the past ten or twelve years, have installed every cms package known to man just to delete the installation after realizing that there is no way to control the app with a screen reader. Since I've been using OCP I have installed it on every site that I have anything to do with. Sure, I'm not a wiz at themes and just simply don't have the time to invest in developing that skill, however I can feel positive that when I execute something in OCPortal that it is going to come out the way I need and intend it to. With that said, there not one cms on the market that I'll ever use again other than OCP. Are there things I'd like to see in OCP? Sure there is, but they are minor things compared to the obvious task that Chris and his crew must face in developing such a fantastic app. I hesitate to offer any feature request because of that effort. They sure don't need me adding to what must be an ever going list of things to accomplish. Is OCP the easiest cms to learn? I think at first the amount of options during set up is a little daunting to the first time user, but after having installed it on over ten different web sites I've learned pretty much how the set up wizard works and what the end results are going to be. So I'd have to say YES! OCp is the easiest cms to not only set up but maintain for a blind person using a screen reader. Simply said, I will not use a different cms ever again. The feature set is unbeatible, and while other cms apps may have a ton more plugins available to them, OCP comes out of the box with most of what others consider plugins. All and all OCP is a great product and I'll continue to sing its praises from the roof tops. And in closing, I'd like Chris and the entire gang to know how much I appreciate their hard work and thank all of them from the bottom of my heart for a product that I can feel confident in using.
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Posted
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#68385
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Community saint

chipster said

… So I'd have to say YES! OCp is the easiest cms to not only set up but maintain for a blind person using a screen reader …

… All and all OCP is a great product and I'll continue to sing its praises from the roof tops …

I'm wondering if there are any other CMS's that are able to get such an accolade from a physically handicapped user?

I think the push for more 'eye-candy', as far as themes and templates are concerned, is mainly from the more challenged sighted users, chipster, and in your case it appears you are emininently qualified to tell the rest about how good a CMS this is.

Continue singing its praises. It is heartening to come across comments like yours …

 :thumbs:


Last edit: by Fletch

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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Posted
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#68386
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Community saint

I take my hat off to you chipster!

This is a formidable testimony of ocPortal’s value, quality and care at delivering a product where accessibility has a real meaning. :thumbs:
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Posted
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#68387
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Community saint

262 views (19 Kb)
Just tossing some ideas!

What’s wrong in the picture below?
  • Each one of these logos represents a successful CMS.
  • Most express easily recognized concepts.
  • They are using a style familiar amid social media applications
  • One does not quite fit in, it seems!
ocPortal has a great corporate logo, but in my opinion it requires a symbol to express a graphically memorable concept to standout among its peers and get a fair chance at being selected  when presented in such a list as this one from 1-Click Applications Installer.

 

One concept idea!
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Posted
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#68389
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Community saint

 :offtopic: - Welcome back to ocPortal Chris J.  :thumbs:

Eric DeMars . com
My electronic portfolio and personal site. Uses ocPortal!
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Posted
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#68391
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Community saint

”Chris” said

Do we use best practices for CSS web design (fluid width, wrapping via floats, no tables, etc), or do we try and align everything to a grid and try and make some kind of grid placement tool? Do we go with CSS3's better positioning features and drop older buggy browsers, or do we maintain IE6 and IE7 support? Or do we even introduce tables back in the layout?
In my opinion the first step to a modern implementation of a Content management System is to break the habit of dragging the ball of IE6 and IE7. Microsoft is committed to supporting these old versions of its browser for various reasons, which makes sense to them, but they have been passing the buck for too long to the rest of the world, by engaging fear among web designers that by not supporting it their designs will fail to attract visitors. Furthermore, the cost of maintaining these archaic methods are passed to the unsuspected user in the end as part of a “nearly concerted conspiracy and even a sort of imposed cartel of one ‘modus operandi’ It is time to leave to MS their ball dragging responsibilities and move on.

My interest and readings into the world of graphical publications impressed me with the following notions presented here without much understanding as to their possible implication on the standpoint of programming any of it into ocPortal. They are purely speculative in nature.

Well-designed paper publications include consistency and predictability of presentation on an underlying grid necessary and anticipated by readers.  A CMS is basically a sophisticated program to present electronic documents assumed by the casual user to be predictable, modular with a clear visual structure expected of any printed document. The incredibly difficult juggling act of the CMS software is to apply spatial relations among on-screen elements constantly shifting in response to the user's input and system activity to prevent the Web site from seeming patchy and confusing. By applying a grid "backbone"  the Web page can be divided into zones where ocportal blocks, within blocks with added user controlled functions and varying levels of graphics and text complexity, could make it easier programmatically to treat as shapes, and from a user perspective, easily moved and stretched with a mouse or touch controllers.

On the question of ‘austere’ looks of the ocP based theme, I’ve been comparing these two images and feel sad that if presented to prospective web admin without any understanding of each one's capabilities it would probably be a no contest. I know better than thinking that presentation alone makes a good CMS and I would never even entertain the thought of choosing a CMS because it's pretty, but pretty always gets the limelight.;)


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Posted
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#68392
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Community saint

Jean said

One concept idea!

Another …



… knocked up in my lunch hour. But I'm sure 'the boys' will expand on the idea and come up with something that will catch the 'social media' train!

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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Posted
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#68393
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Community saint

Jean said

In my opinion …

I agree with just about everything you've said, Jean, and the fact that you are giving it some serious thought!

If individuals (or even commercial entities) are still using IE6 and IE7 despite the overwhelming condemnation of the browsers by the Tech and Popular press, then I don't see that ANY developer should be held hostage to  being forced to design for those two defunct bits of trash!

Re: the 'austerity' of the ocP default template, it was, believe it or not, ONE of the MAIN reasons for choosing the CMS over others when I first started with ocPortal (see the attachments below). I hadn't actually investigated the features in detail because, in my hasty hunt for a solid CMS, ocPortal certainly knocked the others into a cocked hat, even if my choice was superficial.

The rest is history, but I've kept the old site 'ticking over', leaching the old material from it when I have the time. Ultimately it will die, but it may even serve a purpose whereby, when it is time to kill it off for good, I can try to 'upgrade' to a newer version to see what obstacles the unwary might face.



Looking back, the original default tweaked here and there, seems to have held up with time ….

 :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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Posted
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#68398
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Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
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  • 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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Posted
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#68400
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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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