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In-depth insights on content, code, and creativity

Applying borders to eZ Publish images using ImageMagick

One of our clients recently needed to apply a custom frame / border to all images in a certain section of an eZ Publish site. One way to do this is to edit each image in Photoshop or GIMP, but this can be a time-intensive, manual process. Another is to use CSS, but this again takes time and is also more limited. A flexible and automated way to do this is to configure ImageMagick filters in an eZ Publish image alias. The required style would then be applied to all relevant images.


Twitter tip: Prompting users to follow you after they Tweet

There are many variations to social media strategies to suit particular client sites and goals. Some implementation details, on the other hand, are universally applicable. One such detail is a Twitter feature whereby a user is prompted to follow your Twitter account whenever they share your content.


Google Sitemaps for big sites: splitting the sitemap into multiple files

Sitemaps are an important element of search engine optimization (SEO), in order to provide search engines an accurate outline of what content exists on your site. One of our client sites recently outgrew Google's sitemap URL limit. Instead of removing content from the sitemap, we implemented a simple solution of using a sitemap index to reference multiple sitemap files.


eep case study: Author name resolution in The 49th Shelf

The problem:

One of our favourite projects, The 49th Shelf, aggregates a lot of data from a diversity of sources. Naturally, there is a range of quality; but even more than that: different sources often refer to the same physical object in different ways. Specifically, a person who writes several books can be referred to in a variety of ways:

  • John Reynolds
  • John L. Reynolds
  • John Lawrence Reynolds

There are some heuristics to resolve most of these cases, but there are always seem to be some that defy the code and require a manual fix.

This process has to be performed on the production site, so we want to minimize the amount of time that the data is inconsistent and we don't want to run untested code.


Complete approval workflow solution for eZ Publish

Approval workflows of various types are required across the web. Whether for legal review, cross-channel media review, or purely editorial review, approval workflows are essential to define and support content publication. Based on our experience with clients in many industries, Mugo Web has developed an eZ Market extension eZ Collaboration Workflow to be a complete workflow solution.


eZ Flow case study: landing page for Rasmussen Reports Election 2012

For many media sites, news changes fast, and the timely updating of content is key. Landing pages are the main information funnel, and it is important for editors to be able to update the content shown on landing pages as easily as possible. Where relevant, content should also update itself. The Rasmussen Reports Election 2012 page is one such example, where we've empowered editors to make content and layout changes in a graphical user interface, without having to contact a web developer. In this article, we will show you how various areas of the Election 2012 page are updated using the eZ Flow extension for eZ Publish.


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.