Flexible Content Management System


Interview: Jørn Lind-Nielsen

Contributed by on Sep 04, 2003 - 09:22 AM

Jørn Lind-NielsenJørn Lind-Nielsen lives on Sealand - the Island with the Danish Capital Copenhagen on it.

Tell me about your postnuke "career" - When did you first came across Postnuke and why do you prefer it over other CMS?

I started working with PostNuke in the spring 2002. At that time I was looking for a CMS to create a community site for a Danish group of mountaineering and wildlife interested scouts called Fjeldgruppen". I knew zip about content management systems at that time and was in fact prepared to create my own site manager from scratch. Then someone mentioned the acronym CMS and I was hooked - no need to do all the boring user handling stuff and all the other infrastructure that are needed for such a thing. Just install and you are up and running.

So I started looking for a CMS and PostNuke was the first one to show up as a viable solution. I never tried XOOPS, Envolution or other similar systems for the simple fact that PostNuke was the first I found that fitted my requirements. It installed without a glitch and I was able to figure out the most important features. Not that it was easy - I have always found PostNuke to be quite difficult to understand for the sole reason that the modules all have different authors, no documentation, and uses a multitude of different names for the same things.

The next problem was that we had some special requirements that none of the modules fitted. We needed a members list with export facilities and other links than the built-in list, we also needed ways to handle sign-ups to our courses, and we needed an image gallery. So I started coding on my own. The first module was a back-end to FormExpress since we needed some better

formatting possibilities of the e-mails that it sends. We use that now for course sign-ups. The next module was a generic report maker with some neat XML report setup. We only used that for our members list. Actually a nice module, but I never got around documenting it, so it's unreleased so far.

The biggest problem was that our server was running SAFE_MODE PHP - and we *really* needed an image gallery for our site. So with the success of the first modules I decided to make such a thing myself for all those people with SAFE_MODE hosting.

I first came across your name at the Content Express Forums - what is your involvation there?

None anymore. I joined the development team for a short while, but didn't have the time to spare. So I never got around doing anything with the CE code.

What is your development like? Do other people help you? How do you work together? How big is the impact of the community on your development?

I work alone 99% of the time. I get some help from a Dutch Photoshare user who has setup a CVS server and added a few features here and there. Hopefully he may find some time now to add yet some more features.

The feature set of Photoshare is driven by a combination of community input (50%) and my personal desires (50%). I have recived a lot of positive feedback and is glad to have my own web-site where all the interaction is handled.

What is your roadmap with Photoshare?

The focus area for the comming releases of Photoshare will be

1) The ability to, as easily as possible, hack the various News and page edititor modules in such a way that they can integrate Photoshare images by "point and click".

2) Improving on the visual design.

3) Better upload facilities and some simple image manipulation functions.

4) Community interaction with the gallery (voting and commenting on the images).

What is the weakestpoint in your module?

The strongest points are the ability to run on SAFE_MODE servers and the

access control. That's what Photoshare was designed for. Most other

functions can be found on all other image albums.

...and the weakest?

The weakness lies in the lack of features and resources to create them. Being mainly a one-man team restricts the coding speed to a certain level.

Are you actually looking for help with Photoshare? (Coding, Documentation...)

I could use some coding help, but being an arrogant bastard with a phd in computer science doesn't help me much getting help. I have already scared off a few people ;-) If someone want's to help they better do it right!

What is the biggest difficulty in your development? And why? Is it a Postnuke inherent problem? What features should the Postnuke .8 core have to simplify your work?

The biggest difficulty is the integration with other modules in PostNuke. I would like people to be able to (easily) insert Photoshare images in News items (as well as other items), show context dependent images in a block so that my "random image" block shows images related to the items currently shown in the main module area (News items for instance). To do so I think PostNuke needs some core "black board" where the current module can sort of "post/write" information about itself (for instance the topic related to the News item) . This would allow the various blocks to know what to show based on the current module data.

It would also be helpfull if the core had a standardized API for retrieving the list of all users and topics. Now I have to code the SQL requests myself and who knows which version of PostNuke these will break in.

Which route will Postnuke take?

I think PostNuke seriously needs to focus on static content. There's a lot of very nice modules for handling of all sorts of interaction (image sharing, News, bulletin boards and so on) but only two modules for page editing - ContentExpress and PagEd. If I mostly needed to show a lot of static pages and the addition of more page should be easy, then I would never choose PostNuke.

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