Web Development

Radiant is a great CMS

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I just wanted to pass on the meme on a great RoR-based CMS - Radiant. It is OSS, very stable, fairly actively developed and has a really good plugin system.

While searching for a RoR-based CMS I looked at it a few others:
Mephisto

  • Development has dried up due to the developers not having the time to continue it.
  • No support for snippets (see below).

RailFrog

  • Development seems to have dried up, the last messages on the blog were from 2006 and talked about a complete rewrite, which is usually a bad sign IMHO.

Some of the benefits that got me hooked on Radiant include:

  • snippets (keep your content DRY),
  • separate layouts vs content,
  • layouts support custom mimetypes (ensure your RSS feeds get the right content type),
  • the ability to structure the pages in a heirarchy,
  • a set of custom tags for manipulating the content,
  • built-in support for textile.
  • Some existing plugins that make life evey easier, specifically Google Analytics and Virtual Domains (multiple sites from one install!).

The few limitations I see are:

  • the plugin system needs to be improved to make extending the pages list easier,
  • the blog-like functionality needs improving,
  • some of the documentation needs work.

I've already used it on one site and am working to move all of our more static sites over to it - the less static ones will have to wait until I write a few plugins.

Fusebox 5.5-alpha documentation released

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If, as a web developer, you aren't structuring your code in a clean fashion then you owe it to yourself to use a pre-existing code framework rather than reinventing the wheel.

In the ColdFusion world one of the oldest and still most popular is Fusebox, a framework that has gone through many major changes over the years and unfortunately has gotten a bit more complicated with each release. That complexity is going by the wayside with the upcoming v5.5 release as a number of improvements will greatly simplify developing applications using it.

Key benefits to all users are the use of convention over configuration to leave you with almost configuration-free applications, and the ability to use ColdFusion Components (CFCs) as circuits. These two features alone would make it a very worthwhile release, but the lead develeper, Sean Corfield, has many more lined up.

JRun going into hibernation

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Anyone who has used ColdFusion will have heard of JRun, the out-of-the-box Java server that ColdFusion runs on top of. For many years people wondered whether JRun was going to be continued as a separate product or ditched entirely, especially seeing competing products go through multiple major releases while it sat by the way-side. Well, it seems the final decision is somewhere in the middle.

Adobe, who bought Macromedia a few years ago and took over the JRun reigns, have decided that they don't want to continue JRun as a separate product, instead have merged its development team into the ColdFusion team where it will continue to be enhanced as needed to run the Java-based engine.

So, for anyone using JRun as a stand-alone product, I'd suggest starting to research alternatives, if you haven't already; for 95% of ColdFusion developers - don't bat an eyelid, this news makes absolutely no difference to you unless you're also running separate Java apps.

IE6 and the min-height CSS attribute

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There's a really useful attribute in CSS called min-height that lets you set the minimum height an element should be displayed as; this is often used to make two boxes appear the same height even if one has less content than the other. Well, Firefox, Opera and Safari support it but Internet Explorer 6 and older don't. Luckily there's a really simple work-around for it, you simply add a defintion to your CSS that browsers other than IE will ignore and set the height to the same as the min-height, e.g.:
[source:css]
/* for standards-compliant browsers */
.bigbox {
width: 300px;
padding: 2px;
border: 1px solid #000;
min-height: 200px;
height: auto;
}
/* for Internet Explorer */
/*\*/
* .bigbox {
height: 200px;
}
/**/
[/source]
Thanks Stu.

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