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    Module for 1.6 Test Release

    I have now published a test release for the place here module for Joomla 1.6. The purpose of this release is to establish what works and what doesn’t work. I would not recommend to use in on a production site (unless you own tests show that the module is fit four you intended purpose).

    On the other hand it has in some places probably less bugs than previous releases – since I had difficulties to locate updated developer documentation  for 1.6 I had to look into the source code to see what parameters are expected by Joomla functions.

    However there is at least one issue that might be a showstopper for you. I haven’t quite figured out the routing – if you display links to articles in the module (via readmore or linked titles) the links will work but are a little malformed. Which means that you suddenly have different links to the same content which isn’t very good for SEO.

    This has been tested with a current Joomla 1.6 on XAMPP (with PHP 5.3) on Windows 7.  I had a few problems when no articles showed up at all, but this has always to be turned out to be a problem with the test data, not  the module, so make sure the content you’re trying to display does actually exist.

    I’m getting married next week, so don’t expect any quick progress on this. Still your feedback is very welcome.

    And of course the link: Module for 1.6

      Patching mod_placehere up for !J 1.6

      I have been rather busy lately – I’m currently in the finishing stages of my transition from freelance bachelor to married employee – with absolutely no time for module developement. However by popular request I have finally started on a 1.6 version for the place here module.

      This will take a long while. There is no download for 1.6 yet.

      In theory it would be possible to write a version that runs on both 1.5 and 1.6. However since I’m already putting time into this I want a fresh start on the thing. So the conversion to J! 1.6 comprises two stages.

      There will be a patched up version that removes references to all the stuff that is thankfully gone in J!1.6 – namely the difference between “sections” and “categories” and some rather unnecessary database tables. But even so the code will be a mess. Joomla by now offers a rather nice API to construct sql queries. The queries in mod_placehere however are generated by some not-so-nice string concatenation. So the second stage will be a complete rewrite to bring my code in line with Joomlas coding standards.

      I guess it will take eight days or so before I will release a developement version that provides at least the basic functionality of  the module (but don’t stake your career on this, I’ve broken promises before). Then – well, we’ll see.

      My current employer does not use Joomla ( and I don’t use it much anymore either) so I will have to rely pretty much on your feedback. I’m also thinking about opening a public repository in an attempt to attract co-maintainers. We’ll see about this, either.

      Anyway, the module is not dead (unless the feedback indicates that it is no longer needed).

        Some thinly veiled criticism towards some other peoples sense of priorities


        I just do not like the new HTML5 Logo.

          Reading list

          Postal services are rather unreliable at the moment, what with the weather and all, and more often than not I have to pick up my parcel from the post office instead of having them delivered to my home. Since this pretty much defies the purpose of ordering stuff on the internet I decided that, instead of following the price-reduced meanders of the electronic amazon basin I would actually (physically!) go for a walk to pick up some new reading material. Luckily  one of the finest sources for phantasy and science fiction is within walking distance.

          It is strange – I consider myself a Hard SF Fan, but then my purchases tend to be somewhat more diverse, this time stretching from New Wave to Steampunk. So let’s  see what we have here.

          1) Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest
          This was a fun read, enough so that I finished it a day after I bought it. If the book is ever brought to the silver screen undoubtly it will made to look like a steampunk version of Resident Evil, what with zombies and evil scientists roaming an ahistoric Seattle poisoned by a flesh-eating gas. Actually the book is less focused on action (and frankly, prolonged action scenes in books do not work well that anyway) and more on it’s characters – a mother looking for her son, the son looking to clear his dead fathers name, a mad scientist lusting for power and  assorted  crew to provide  an interesting scenery. This is the first of a series and even though I  think the end is a bit weak Iwill definitely read  the follow-ups.

          2) Cosmos, by Carl Sagan
          The late Carl Sagan did a lot to popularize science and frankly the longer he is dead the more he is missed (especially since he talked to those who would listen instead of yelling at those he found annoying, which seems to be the preferred method today). I love the TV-Series Cosmos so I figured I could pick up the book as well. A better tribute to his memory would be to join the Planetary Society (the largest and most influential public space organization group on Earth)  but the last time I tried a credit card was needed to join.

          3) Galileo’s Dream, by Kim Stanley Robinson
          I’m in two minds about KSR. On the one hand I agree pretty much with his politics (except for his advice to “believe in goverment“. I’m not totally opposed to the idea of goverment as such, but as far as he implies I should trust the government my country actually has, well, that would be clearly insane). On the other hand he bores me to death –  to me, he is a competent but rather uninspiring writer. Yet I always return to his books in the hope that one day the artist will be on par with the political theoretician. Who knows, it might be  this time.

          4) House of Suns, by Alastair Reynolds
          Finally something that fits the “Hard SF”-Label.  I love big Space Opera because  it has a certain kind of momentum – larger-that-life people in giant spacecraft doing enormeous deeds on a galactic scale etc.  Alas, the fact that these books are less timid makes them also less relevant – but then there’s nothing wrong with a bit of escapism which Alastair Reynolds readily supplies (and pretty-please with a cherry on top, I’d like to have another Verity Auger-Novel).

          4) The Cornelius Quartet, by Michael Moorecock
          Gibson et al claimed Jerry as the first cyberpunk hero. The rock band Human League claimed Jerry as their inspiration. Cornelius is also the acknowleged inspiration for Alan Moore’s “Watchman” graphic novels; for much of Neil Gaiman’s work in graphic novels; the film “The Crow” and many other works. And I for one know most of the references but not the originals, which over time led to a strange und nearly
          unpronounceable baudrillardesque feeling, so I guess it’s time to do some catching up.

          Also on my reading list is some work related stuff, but I won’t bore you with that ( except to say that you should avoid “Pro Smartphone Cross-Platform Development” by Sara Allen which is a crap book without any redeeming feature).

          But it feels good to do some reading –  I have almost forgotten that there are so many better books than facebook.

            Joomla! 1.5 Beginner’s Guide

            I do have a love-hate-relationship with Joomla. I hate it because of its glacial pace of development, because I think it falls short as a framework and because of the quite simplistic ways it organizes content. I love it because slow development means you have a stable platform and because the easy-to-use admin interface allows even not too technical minded people to set up and maintain their own website without getting a computer science degree first. And I will always have a soft spot for Joomla! because this is the CMS that got my little business started.

            Joomla! 1.5 Beginner’s Guide by Eric Tiggeler [1] is the book that will get you started with Joomla.

            To make the best use of the book you should have some prior knowledge – namely, you should be aware that on the internet there are server- and client side processes, that there are such a things as “databases” to store your content in and languages like HTML and CSS to structure and display your text. You will not actually need to know all this stuff to make your website work (the book sees to that) but it will sure help you appreciate what the CMS does for you.

            A Content Management System, Tiggeler writes, is like a coffee machine – you press a button and “the machine invisibly fetches all the ingredients […] to serve a cup of fresh coffee, latte, frapuccino or decaf”. Unfortunately, the analogy doesn’t end here. Every coffee machine is made of different parts and control elements which, while they more or less do the same thing, are labeled differently with every brand of machine. In fact I found that learning brand specific idiosyncrasies is the biggest hurdle you have to clear when learning a new CMS.

            This is where the Joomla! Beginner’s guide comes in handy: It introduces new terminology step by step and in the order in which you will need it – no back and forth between different chapters necessary. And while each section introduces new terms and concepts on a need-to-know basis for the task at hand, by the end of the book you will have a pretty complete picture of what you can do with Joomla.

            Each of the twelve chapters (covering topics from installation via content editing, template customization etc to search engine optimization) is divided into small, tutorial-like sections. Every section defines a discrete task (e.g. “add an article”, “edit the css file” ), provides (under the headline “Time for action”) a set of instructions on how to accomplish the task and explains afterwards “what just happened”, i.e., why things work the way they do. To round everything off, there is a summary at the end of each chapter and a quiz to test your newly acquired knowledge.

            The book also exemplifies the proper perspective towards web site building: This is not about the technology, fancy as it may be. This is also not about you, the developer. This is about the people who visit your site, so you have to make the site usable (Chapters 5 to 8, content and menu organization), engaging (Chapter 9, “Enabling User to contribute and interact”) , attractive (Chapter 11, “Working with templates”) and, of course, easy to find (Chapter 12, “Attracting search engine traffic”).

            The Joomla! Beginners Guide succeeds, not only because it is well-structured and comprehensive, but also because of its clear and simple language – Eric Tiggeler largely avoids metaphors and analogies which might be helpful to the English and Americans, but tend to confuse matters for non-native speakers (in fact, my own style is much more convoluted than Eric Tiggeler’s, so if you’ve made it this far in the review you will have no problems understanding the book). There is also some humor – the example site you are working on throughout the book is for the fictitious SRUP, the “Society for the Re-appreciation of Ugly Pictures” and I couldn’t help but smile when a screenshot announced an upcoming Bob Ross exhibition.

            Of course, I have to do some nitpicking: I don’t know if it makes sense to introduce Content Management Systems as the next big thing when powerful Open Source CMS have been around for the better part of the last decade; I certainly do not agree that Joomla has “powerful multi-level site organization capabilities” (two does not qualify as “multi” , or powerful) and as a somewhat seasoned developer I’m silently gnashing my teeth when somebody suggest that CSS is actually quite easy. But then the book is a little like the IPCC Climate Report in that you really don’t want to dismiss lots of valuable information just because there’s something wrong with one or two inconsequential paragraphs.

            You will not need the book if have already done a few sites with Joomla! and felt comfortable with the CMS. It does not contain any super-secret stuff , you will find all of the information on the Joomla! documentation pages or by asking in the Joomla! community forum.

            But the Joomla! Beginners Guide is an excellent book if you have never worked with Joomla, or tried to build a site and got frustrated with the intricacies of the backend, or else, if you looking for a resource to train your in-house staff. And while most of your questions will be answered in the forum, this is the book that will give you an idea what to ask for.

            I can’t directly compare it to similar books (having outgrown the need for Joomla Beginners books for some time) but I can still say that, specific software aside, the Joomla! Beginners Guide could very well serve as a benchmark for other writers; this is how introductory material should be written.

            1. Joomla! 1.5 Beginner’s Guide
              Paperback : 380 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]
              Release Date : March 2010
              ISBN : 1847199909
              ISBN 13 : 978-1-847199-90-4

            mod_placehere with Joom!fish – does it work for you?

            A few people have asked me if the “place here” module will ever support Joom!fish, something I had admittedly never properly tested, so I assumed that it would indeed not work (although I wasn’t sure why, it really should have worked).

            Today I downloaded Joom!Fish 2.0.4 Stable, installed it on Joomla 1.5.15, entered a few translations and – voila!- the module displayed the translated content.

            So, is it a fluke that this happens to work on my site? Or does placehere with Joom!fish work for most people and fails only for the few who have asked? I would be happy to hear from people who have actually used the combination of the two and what the problems (if any) where.

              I think these judges have a sense of humor

              A german woman living in ZĂĽrich wanted to force the FRG to shut down CERNs Large Hadron Collider since, as she argued, it might create tiny black holes that would destroy the earth.

              Today, the Federal Constitutional Court dismissed her case. They argued that “zur schlĂĽssigen Darlegung möglicher Schadensereignisse, die eine Reaktion staatlicher Stellen erzwingen könnten, genĂĽgt es insbesondere nicht, Warnungen auf ein generelles Misstrauen gegenĂĽber physikalischen Gesetzen […] zu stĂĽtzen” (source) – to force the government into action it is not enough to issue warnings based on a general distrust towards the laws of physics.

              I really do think that sentence is extremely funny.

                Tati and Dug


                  Finally, some new code (needs testing)

                  I made some changes and additions to the “Place here”-module (content item module for Joomla 1.5.x); I have tested this with J! 1.5.15 on Win Vista / XAMPP but would welcome feedback from people who tested this on other platforms.


                  Version 1.3.0
                  + Renamed “default” template to “table based template”
                  (since it’s not the default anymore)
                  + Added “order by publishing date”
                  + Patched in W. Brockmans change to sort by hits
                  + Added integration for tags extension by
                  joomlatag.org (module view is filtered by templates tags)
                  + You can now enter a range of ids into the id-field

                  So there are three minor and two major changes.

                  I renamed the default template since it is actually no longer  the default (this means if you upgrade the module and you use the table based template you will need to update the template setting in the module parameters).

                  There are some new ordering parameters, partly by courtesy of W. Brockman.

                  A more substantial change is some level of integration for the tag extension by Joomlatags.org (apparently not  the same as joomla-tags.com, so do not confuse the two). If you enter a tag or a comma separated list of tags into the “Filter by tags” -field (right beneath the id field) only the articles that are tagged accordingly will show up.

                  To save you a bit of typing you can now enter a range of ids into the id field – if you enter something like “1-3,6-9” it  will be expanded into  “1,2,3,6,7,8,9”. Incidentally this means you can use the module to show all articles with a certain tag – simply enter your tag, set the “type” option to “article” and enter “1-10000000” (some number that’s larger than your actual number of articles).

                  And finally I added a rather crucial sentence to the module description, and that is not all parameters will work with all templates. Selecting articles and ordering them will work no matter what, but everything that has to do with actually displaying stuff (link titles, show icons, show category etc) needs to be supported by the template (you should be okay if  you choose eiter “beez” or “table based”).

                  Download page : http://diebesteallerzeiten.de/blog/module-15/

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