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Utter "uttergenius"

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CMS Made Simple Development Cookbook
CMS Made Simple Development Cookbook
by Samuel Goldstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: 26.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Of structure and spaceships, 2 Sep 2011
I"ve been using CMS Made Simple for for a few years now and I've watched the system grow into a powerful and sophisticated entity. My original and ongoing attraction to CMSMS is that as a graphic designer I can weild far more control over how my sites look than with other content management systems so I wanted to find out how easily someone from a non-coding background could make sense of, and use, a book about code like the 'Development Cookbook' .

I'm not a complete ingenue. I already knew what the Module API was and I can do a few things with Smarty that'd confuse a rank beginner but could I, by the end of this book, feel confident enough to knock up a complex UDT or build my own module?

The book gets stuck straight in with no introductory waffle and very usefully gets to the nub of the differences between the three main methods of extending CMSMS; Tags, User Defined Tags (UDTs) and Modules and when and where to use them. Having cleared that up we then learn how to create powerful features and manipulate templates and content without resorting to any of these but just using the Smarty template engine supplied with every CMSMS install.

Then, at Chapter 3 we get to the section I was most looking forward to - User Defined Tags. Many members of the CMSMS community seem capable of tossing out these things without a moments hesitation but I'd always imagined there was some arcane law that needed revealing before I could start writing them myself. However the Cookbook's example recipes show just how easy it is to construct your own UDTs once you grasp a basic set of ideas and provides good examples like how to manipulate database content or pull in data from a remote site. Even if I never use one of these specific recipes in a real-world situation they certainly lay the groundwork for any possible future need I might have.

Chapter 4 and beyond deal with Module building showing precisely how modules are created from scratch or how they can be built from existing module 'stubs' such as the Skeleton Module that forms a ready-made structure which can then be customised to perform the functions you need. The recipes here are set out with the same clarity that suffused the rest of the writing and although I currently have neither need or time to test them out, a simple cursory read of the section has already demystified a process I previously thought beyond my capabilities.

Usefully, he book doesn't remain purely focussed on the code level, a final chapter showing how to share the fruits of your development labour with the community - a must-have discussion for open source projects

I felt there were a couple of points where the explanation veers off unexpectedly into geekery and there's also a small amount of repetition in the early sections. Interestingly, the book doesn"t actually tell us what Smarty actually IS until Chapter 3. However, it's unlikely that any of the above would phase a 'real' developer and didn't deter me from climbing the learning curve.

One aspect of the book's layout I did find to be slightly unsettling was the recurring use of 'How to do it...' and 'How it works...' boxes which gave the whole endeavour a slightly infantilising tone and somewhat broke up the flow of the text. Surely anyone clever enough to write a .htaccess file can follow a set of linear instructions without the help of a nanny text box?

Goldstein doesn't lose sight of the fact that one of the major USPs of CMS Made Simple is that it's so designer-friendly and the recipes frequently offer solutions to design-specific issues. I also loved that he wraps the examples in witty and erudite humour with dummy text examples advertising spaceships that allow you to remain awake throughout an entire 440 year journey to the Pleiades and the observation that the internet "can be a wretched hive of scum and villainy".

Although by the end Goldstein's book I hadn't metamorphosed into a 'proper' developer it did leave me feeling that, as a designer, I had a far better grasp of the underlying mechanisms of the system and excited at the thought that the next time I had to implement a complex feature in CMSMS I'd have less need to go and pester my fellow CMSMS community members for a solution.

Super Size Me [DVD] [2004]
Super Size Me [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Morgan Spurlock
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 6.63

19 of 83 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The New radicalism - attack a SNACK!!, 16 Dec 2004
This review is from: Super Size Me [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Oh diddums - did those nasty McDonalds people ruin your dream of cultural diversity? Listen... McDonalds are NOT guilty of poisoning children, they are NOT guilty of desecrating the planet, they are NOT making people obese - they are a goddam snack bar. If you want to live off their produce for a month then that's your reponsibility - I challenge you to live off Caviar and Pate de Fois Gras for a month and see if you feel any better. This nonsense is radicalism for those who need easy targets to elevate their radical self-worth - anyone with a more sophisticated view of how to improve our world should avoid it like the plague.

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