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Command line tool for eZ Publish, called "eep"

Mugo has a tool that we use internally to help with the main aspects of a developer's life: development, debugging and maintenance. The tool is called "eep", short for "Ease eZ Publish". It's a command line tool which provides many functions and allows for accomplishing tasks quickly by integrating with tools like awk, grep and xargs for powerful one-liners and supports rapid development of powerful bash scripts by leveraging eep as a library of eZ Publish specific operations.


Running multiple instances of eZ Find on the same host

The problem:

By default, 2 instances of eZ Find can not run at the same IP address because eZ Find and Solr communicate with each other via an IP port. This becomes an issue if you happen to run a staging instance on the same server as a production instance, or on your local dev machine where there are many sites running.

A nice solution makes use of the symlinking trick for managing platform-specific versions of settings files I recently documented.


Simple framework for custom datatype validation rules

A common feature need on eZ Publish installations is to have more specific validation on Text Line attributes: if you want to force a field to be in a valid postal code format for example, you have to write a specific datatype for it, or you have to override a template to perform client-side validation only. The Mugo Validated String extension provides a framework around a "Text line (validated)" datatype, where the validation method can be selected via a dropdown list, and developers can quickly create new validation types with a few lines of code. In this post, we explain the extension, as well as how we ported the feature to be used with eZ Survey via the Mugo Survey Addons extension.


Accidental DDOS by desktop news aggregator

Since the beginning of 2012, for one of our clients with a big news website, we recognized a drastic increase in website traffic without an accompanying increase in ad impressions. Under normal conditions, an increase in traffic would be a positive sign; however, in this case it was caused by end user software that turned normal web users into aggressive web crawlers. This essentially created an accidental but consistent distributed DoS (denial of service) attack.

Here, we explain how we identified the cause and mitigated its effects.


Read Local map: user interface design and optimization

Recently, we built a map interface for The 49th Shelf's Read Local: The 100-Mile Book Diet website project using the Google Maps API. The website is an online book community focused on Canadian books. Users can visit the map section to find Canadian books by geographic location, and they can also pin books on the map, selecting locations that are meaningful to the books in some way. 

Allowing anybody to participate in the evolution of the Read Local map means that we have to pay particular attention to the "Add a Book" user experience. If the user experience is intuitive and pleasant, people will be much more willing (and able) to pin a book and help make the map more useful and fun. On the other hand, a confusing interface can hamper the accuracy of the pin data (in the case where books are pinned in the wrong location) and turn people off from participating.

Here's a look at two main considerations regarding user interface design and optimization in the "Add a Book" workflow.


Dev / staging / production INI settings files strategy


In almost every project we have a small number of settings files that have important differences on the production host versus development or staging hosts. This problem is made serious when the settings are in your version control system.

The resolution is trivial: Create a version of each file for each context that needs to be customized, eg site.ini.append.php_PRODUCTION, put this in SVN, and create a symlink with the name that eZ Publish is looking for.


eZ Publish object edit interface customizations: browse mode and custom edit actions

Extensibility in eZ Publish is key, down to its object edit interface. This post explains a couple of the lesser documented edit features that you can extend: using browse mode in a custom datatype, and using a custom edit handler to add an edit action.


Viewing eZ Publish content objects by content class

If you've ever had a hard time finding content objects of certain classes in your eZ Publish installation, you might write one-off PHP scripts or worse, dive directly into the database. This is often the case on unfamiliar sites (where you get lost in the content tree) and/or sites that have a large number of content objects. Mugo Content Class Manager is a simple but powerful extension that displays content objects grouped by their content class.


SEO: Eliminating duplicate content on eZ Publish sites

A common task in website search engine optimization is to set up Google Webmaster Tools and go through its HTML suggestions. Many of the suggestions center around duplicate content -- pages at different URLs but that have the same HTML title, meta description, body content, and more. This post summarizes a couple of common duplicate content scenarios within an eZ Publish site, and how to solve them.


mysqldump alternative: MySQL backups with Percona Xtrabackup

Many hosting companies will take care of file system and database backups for you.  We have a few clients where we have file system backups configured, but database backups have to be handled manually, since the database is "live data".  Often we can just configure a cronjob that runs mysqldump so that a database snapshot is stored to a file and thus regularly backed up when the file system backup is run.  However, sometimes you have a perfect storm where mysqldump is too heavy for the server (causing severe slowdowns or even crashing some services), even if run in the least intensive way (such as with the --quick flag) and at a low traffic time: partially due to lack of system resources and a large database.


Mugo news: April 2012

The start of 2012 has been full of exciting events for Mugo, with customer site launches, extension releases, eZ Publish community initiatives, tutorials, and more. Here is a list of what we've been up to lately.


eZ Publish template basics: the big picture

If you're relatively new to eZ Publish, you might know about siteaccesses, design, extensions, and overrides. You can build a basic extension, edit a template file, and write a simple full view override rule. However, you might have trouble putting this all together. You might struggle with whether to put your template in the "standard" design or a custom site design folder. You might be confused as to whether to put your template in the "override/templates" folder or the "templates" folder, and/or the overall template path in the first place. This article will take a step back for a high-level look at how eZ Publish loads extensions, particularly design extensions, as well as how to find out which templates are being used and how to properly override them.


Why Mugoers like working at Mugo

Mugo Web is not a large company that offers perks such as an indoor gym, a company hockey pool, a big travel budget, or a fridge stocked with fresh fruit and snacks every day (although we do our best on an individual basis to share good food with each other!). That said, we love working at Mugo, for reasons that might not be so obviously communicable on our website. Here are our raw responses to an internal e-mail thread that asked "What are 3 things you like about working at Mugo?"


eZ Ecosystem Conference March 19-20 in Berkeley, California

Mugo Web is jointly hosting the first eZ Publish event of the year in North America with Granite Horizon. We are currently accepting talk proposals and training topic requests.


Contributions to the eZ Publish code base via GitHub

The open source content management system eZ Publish moved its code repository to GitHub near the end of 2010. Although eZ Publish's code base has been open source since its first version in 1999, before the move to GitHub, it was not an easy process for the community to contribute to the code.  Mugo Web has enjoyed contributing to the eZ Publish code by making pull requests and hopes to make more in the future!


Exact image resizing in eZ Publish with custom image filters

eZ Publish comes with a useful set of image settings, and has a powerful framework within which you can define custom filters to be executed by the image handler. In this article, we'll show you how to make use of a custom ImageMagick filter to achieve exact image sizes.


Mobile browser detection and redirection in eZ Publish

When you are setting up a mobile website separate from the main website, one of the elements that tends to be an after-thought is main-to-mobile site redirection. This article goes through some of the considerations regarding creating a mobile setting, and main-to-mobile site redirection specifically.  It explains how to use Apache Mobile Filter as one option to facilitate mobile device detection and redirection.


Using a custom static cache handler for offline wiki sync in eZ Publish

Mugo has an internal wiki to share and store various information for all team members. Previously we used mostly text files saved in Dropbox, which actually worked quite well. However, we are now using a more powerful solution that combines eZ Publish, a custom static cache handler, and Dropbox.


Subdomain rewrite rule strategy: whitelisting

Here is a quick how-to for a strategy to prevent duplicate content across domains and subdomains of the same site by "whitelisting" discrete domains and redirecting all other requests to the main domain.


Separate Star Rating aggregate value from "your rating"

eZ Publish comes standard with the Star Rating extension, which adds the ability for users to rate content on your website. It works well out of the box. By default, the interface to rate an article is combined with the aggregate rating on an article. Here's a quick example on how to tweak that functionality so that "your rating" is separate from the aggregate rating.


eZ Publish DFS - high performance considerations when serving image aliases

This blog post is about how eZ Publish serves content images -- also called image aliases -- in a DFS cluster setup.  The eZ DFS setup is the recommended and most common solution for high traffic eZ Publish sites that are run off multiple servers.  However, it still has some room for improvement when it comes to serving images. In this post, we describe how eZ Publish currently serves image aliases, along with its downsides and some alternative approaches. At the end, we describe a possible implementation with some example performance gains.


Google Page Speed Service and eZ Publish loading performance

Google Page Speed Service is an interesting new offering for websites. It is currently free, but with limited availability for the time being. It claims up to 20 - 60% speed-up in overall page load. It accomplishes this by routing all site traffic through Google, which will automatically perform some optimizations such as minifying CSS and JavaScript and serving some page assets through its own content delivery network (CDN). This is quite interesting, and there is even a site that runs a test to show you how your site performance will change if you use the service. We ran this test on a few client sites, and certainly there was up to a 25% performance improvement on some; however, for others the Google-optimized version was slower!


Expanded eZ Publish hosting requirements on shared server environments

We've worked with clients who use multi-server, fully redundant, clustered environments, and we've worked with clients in unique shared environments. If you are trying to determine the suitability of a LAMP web hosting environment for eZ Publish, there are a few simple requirements, which are well documented. In a dedicated or virtual hosting environment with full shell access, setup can be a breeze. However, sometimes the client has a specific shared web server that they must use, whether due to contractual limitations or various other internal constraints. Here is a list of extra eZ Publish requirements and complications that we've seen in shared hosting environments -- something you can check before proceeding!


Country, State and Page break questions in eZ Survey

In addition to the Matrix question type, we have added these question types: Country (dropdown list of countries), State (similar to country but with USA states and Canadian provinces) and Page break (enabling paginated surveys) to the eZ Survey extension.