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ZombieNexus Newsletter - September 2006

Posted on Tuesday, 5th of September, 2006 12:42 am by NightSpirit

Once again, it has been a while since I've posted an update. However, since work on ZBN v4 has taken over the vast majority of my free time lately (to the detriment of several other things) it seems a good idea to do one now. Smile

While there is still quite a bit to do, the hard part is over - I've pretty much decided on the structure behind the new version and so now as the site starts to develop I'm not constantly going back and re-doing things in a different way. This was the stumbling block that held me back for an awful long time.

So, what HAVE I actually done so far?

Changes behind the scenes
Basically ZBNv4 has been built up from scratch to keep the code as simple as possible. While PHPBB is an exceptional project, it is written in a way which requires several layers of abstraction which is something we do not require here. Several parts still remain, particularly the database communication functions, most of the general functions, some anti-hacking safeguards and the core of the database. Everything else has been left out, including the templating system, language abstraction, most of the code that drives the pages and also the general look and feel that PHPBB sites have.

The HTML output of the pages has also been drastically improved. This has multiple benefits the main one being much cleaner, efficient, informative and relevant data sent to the browser or search engine bot.

All new look and feel
ZBN v4 will look very different from the live site you see now. The design has evolved from a concept sent to me by Frazor last year. The main requirement was to ensure that all parts of the site look like they belong together within a more polished and stylish layout. While my design talents are far from great, I am certainly happy with the current result. My youngest sister has also agreed with me but I suppose the real test is when I allow many more eyes to view it Wink

The main design will obviously contain much of our trademark green. For those that are perhaps a bit sick of green or would prefer a more work-friendly design, ZBNv4 will have alternate 'skins' available - if not at release date then hopefully shortly after. Skins in ZBNv4 are basically CSS files and images to go with the design. This means that there are no pesky HTML templates to worry about and so creating new skins should be much easier and usually not require any changes when the code is updated.

For those not familiar with the power of CSS files, take a look at the css Zen Garden to see what can be accomplished with them.

Improvements to Articles
One of the biggest criticisms I recieved from people with v3 (apart from the speed at which I worked) was that the article system was rubbish. Unfortunatly, this was quite true as while it did work, it was far from user-friendly and the structure behind it was pretty embarrasing. Fortunatly, with v4 this is very different. While I have yet to write the posting side, the structure, display and theory are all in place.

In v4, there will be a lot less of a difference between news, topics and articles. This is mainly because of the fact that we'll be posting much less linking news so articles will remain on the portal for longer naturally. Also, if someone wants to post a quick article it's much better if it's as easy as posting a regular topic instead of having to make up a short description, uploading an icon, writing the main page text seperately and then going through an approval process as with the current system.

More to come
There is obviously much more to come, although I'll not go into detail on them until they are done. I am hopefull that with the base I have created so far, work will continue in a rapid fashion as it has done over the last few weeks. Smile

This news item has been viewed 31378 times and has 8 Comments | Post a comment | Read comments

Comment Posted Tue Sep 05, 2006 7:06 am by GraGoyle

Cool! Cool

Comment Posted Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:23 pm by FireCell

Do you release the code for this site?

Comment Posted Wed Sep 06, 2006 10:36 pm by NightSpirit

Hmmm ... well, I wasn't planning on it as I'm not sure how much use it would be to anyone else. The next version in particular will contain almost nothing that is not directly aimed at the way our site will work - all the abstraction and configurability from PHPBB will be gone.

However, if I come up with something in the code that could be of use to someone else and has not been done by a PHPBB modder already then I would be happy to release something. Like the phpbb easyCMS pagination patch which was requested a while back.

Comment Posted Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:32 am by FireCell

Hello by the way, im still reading several years on Very Happy

The reason i ask is just because i tend to learn alot by the way other people do things, so i just like to read code. Im currently learning PHP in my spare time (what little of it i have nowadays) and ive developed a few pages and one big project but its always an ongoing learning process.

Anyway, great job with the site!

Comment Posted Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:34 am by NightSpirit

Hiya, good to see you're still dropping by Smile

I see now why you'd want the code, and certainly having another PHP-trained eye running over it would help me fix up any bugs or possible security holes Smile I started learning PHP via looking over the PHPBB source code so I agree it is a good way to start picking things up.

If you think it would be helpful reading then I can certainly make it available once it's ready Smile I'll warn you tho that I am certainly no expert yet and also don't "get" Object Oriented programming so everything I write is proceedural. If you're looking at getting more to grips with OO then I'd suggest PHPBB3 (Olympus) and also maybe Drupal.

I guess I'll also have to start improving my comments too Wink I do comment a little but so far it's only small hints for triggering my memory.

Comment Posted Thu Sep 07, 2006 4:16 pm by FireCell

Ah im in the stage of mixing my OO code with procedural code and having a nice mess afterwards. Im slowely moving across to pure OO but its hard to just unlearn my old ways. I am currently rewriting an old content management system i wrote, so that it is OO but its definately a skill that must be developed with time because its causing me alot of headaches (Think i really should have sat down and modelled it correctly before i began coding).

Certainly when its finished i would love to have a look, sure there will be lots i can learn from it. Ill be sure to bug you as soon as i see that notice on the site saying its done, or if you want any extra testing before the big release ill be glad to help (if i can).

Comment Posted Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:36 pm by NightSpirit

Well, they didn't do a good job of explaining the benefits of OO to me at university so I'll have to plow ahead with my non-OO coding for now as I certainly wouldn't want to start over again Wink

I'd certainly appreciate some beta testing tho since I'm bound to miss something by only testing it myself Tounge

Comment Posted Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:37 pm by FireCell

Yeah uni isnt helping me much in the way of OO, but then i am taking a networking course so i cant expect them to be teaching me too much programming. Well i read the site quite alot so when/if you have something i can do send me a pm.