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In-depth insights on content, code, and creativity

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.

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Dev / staging / production INI settings files strategy

Overview:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?"

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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.

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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!

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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.

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