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Reviewing a CMS solution developed on Mediatemple with the Seagull PHP Framework, including Paypal integration

On Friday 20th July I finally deployed a site which we as a team have been working on for a number of months. Working on the project has been a huge learning curve and has taken way longer than ever expected.

BD4D

The site which I am talking about is http://bd4d.com, which stands for By Designers 4 Designers is built using the seagull php framework with the new cms module

General comments

Media Temple Installation

During the live installation I encountered a few problems, most of which related to permissions of files on the server:

The main one however were the permissions of the /var/lib/php/session/ folder – it has to be writable

Plugins that I found really useful during development

There were two firefox plug-ins that I found very useful during development of the site:

Colorzilla – gives you # codes for colours on any webpage
IE tab – allows you to open up ie7 tabs within firefox, which is great for cross browser compliant xhtml/css

Thanks to the developers of these two add-ons πŸ˜‰

Paypal

The site has a payment gateway for listing jobs and events which has transaction processing done by Paypal.

In terms of project mistakes, this was one of the biggest we made. The support that James received from Paypal was extremely poor and the general documentation which they supply is often out of date and incorrect. I am amazed that they have become such a successful company, when it is so difficult to integrate their transaction processing into one’s site.

However after a lot of waiting for accounts to go live, numerous queries, emails, phone calls and a lot of frustration, we did eventually get the transactions working. It is working fine now, but it was definitely not worth all of that hassle.

I would be interested to here about other experiences from developers using Paypal – hopefully you had a better one than we did.

Site Features

Showcase

The section of the site that I am most proud of is the Showcase section, which has flash and movies of some really cool clips which the bd4d guys have done. The section allows comments to be made on each of the movies and I think it looks pretty slick – even if I say so myself πŸ˜‰

To get the section functioning, I used the following:

A comment manager which Dmitri initially developed and then I adapted that code to be used for the site.

To prevent spam on the site I used captcha package from the php pear library

And I used the following code in the template to hold the movies/flash files:

< object width="550" height="400" >
< param name="movie" value="{webRoot}/themes/bd4d/showcasemovies/ {oItem.media}" >
< param name="quality" value="high" >
< embed src="{webRoot}/themes/bd4d/showcasemovies/ {oItem.media}" quality="high" width="{oItem.width}" height="{oItem.height}" autostart="true">< / embed >
< / object >

Events

The Events calendar uses the default seagull events module as a basis, but there where a few enhancements made to fit the requirements of the site. The majority of the development of this section was done by James and I think that he did a pretty good job of it.

The calendar looks pretty slick and works really well, also the backend of the seagull events module provides a lot of flexibility for administrators wanting to manage events.

Job board

The Job board uses custom managers in the default module and as I have mentioned in my section about paypal, it allows members of the site to post jobs for a fee. The transaction processing handles straight paypal payments as well as credit card payments which are verified by paypal.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the introduction this site took way longer than expected and there were a number of hard lessons which the whole team learnt. But at the end of the day, the site looks pretty good and works as expected, so in some way it can be seen as a success.

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