Witty and insightful observations on the world? Sorry to disappoint, this is a techie blog purely for self reference - published online in the hope it will help others!

The Magic Cloud Application

I got a call from a sales guy yesterday evening, he was representing a company who have set up a new Software as a Service (SaaS) business and were trying to drum up some new clients.  A nice bloke but very much a graduate from the old school of sales - he just went into freeflow for about 10 minutes and I could imagine what it felt like answering your door to a double glazing salesman in the eighties or a timeshare salesman in the nineties. My big problem with it was that as far as he was concerned this application could do anything.  Anything at all.  Any e-commerce system, any requirements from clients, it would replace any of their existing ... Read more

Tienda – Removing Shipping Address

I'm a big fan of Tienda, I think it's a fantastic e-commerce plugin for anybody who has a Joomla site.  If the main focus of the site is e-commerce I'd always recommend using Magento, but for an e-commerce add-on then Tienda takes a bit of beating. It's not really suitable for beginners in my mind though, although that's more to do with the nature of e-commerce rather than of the Tienda extension.  There's no such thing as a 'standard e-commerce implemenation' - every one requires some kind of customisation.  One of aspects that might be required is the ability to remove the separate shipping address in the checkout. Why would this be important?  Well if you use SagePay in the UK, one ... Read more

Tienda Documentation

I believe it's important to have detailed systems documentation, I wrote about it here -> the importance of good Systems Documentation. Open source systems tend to be lacking in documentation because they are fast moving, rapidly changing projects and everyone wants to be involved in the glamourous stuff, not stuck writing systems documentation.  I stumbled across this Tienda User Guide which Tessa Kriesel has shared. This can give users a good overview of the Tienda system, although I would normally provide my clients with a bespoke document suited to their system.  This is especially important if it's been customised and looks or acts differently to a standard implentation.  Tessa's document is an excellent guide though. Read more

Systems Documentation

One of the aspects of open source Content Management Systems that is often overlooked is the documentation.  It stems from the fact that the developer often has to try to cram as much as possible into a project for the client's given budget, and at the end of it they just want the job signed off and delivered.  The documentation aspect gets given scant, if any, attention. The trouble is that this often undermines the entire project.  A CMS that the client isn't able to add content to, doesn't understand, is scared of.  The client has paid for this wonderful CMS that they can't use, and the site's content stagnates and ends up out of date and irrelevant before too long. It's ... Read more

Magento E-Commerce

I've been involved with Magento since version 1.3. *Edit - since I wrote this post I did some work on a fully operational 1.0 site - a grand old lady of the Magento world!* I deliver custom Magento builds with bespoke, standard implementations using themes, and also handle updates and rescues on existing Magento sites.   If you've been involved in e-commerce for a while then there's a chance you'll already have been introduced to Magento, or have heard a thing or two about it. If you are venturing into e-commerce for the first time then let me introduce you - Magento is an open source e-commerce platform which comes in three flavours....the free community version, the professional version and the enterprise ... Read more

WordPress CMS sites

I've been working with Wordpress for a few years now, and have developed considerable expertise delivering a surprisingly varied array of sites on the Wordpress platform.   It's a joy to work with. Wordpress was traditionally a pure blogging engine and not much else.  It was best suited as a bolt on blog, and not as a content management system.  Over time though, it has evolved into an incredibly scalable CMS.  It's strengths include the speed with which it can be deployed (the famous Wordpress 5 minute installation),  the vast array of themes, a huge library of free plugins available at the Wordpress plugin repository, and the ease with which clients can get to grips with the back-end administration system.  It's ... Read more

Joomla CMS Sites

Joomla is a long established CMS, and I've been around the Joomla block a few times ourselves.  It's not ideal for every job, but for certain applications it is unbeatable thanks to well produced system extensions. Joomla is a free, open source content management system built using PHP and the MVC framework.  There are three major releases - 1.0, 1.5 and, as of January 2011, 1.6.  All of my Joomla builds are based on 1.5 and I have made the decision to stick with that particular release for the moment, with a view to moving my Joomla sites to the 1.7 version when it is released.  Why?  One of the main benefits of Joomla is the vast scope and quality available ... Read more