Flexible Content Management System


Interview: Chuck Steel

Contributed by on Sep 18, 2003 - 05:25 PM

What module(s) are you working on?

I have written several modules myself that are publicly available including the Steel Knowledge Base, a simple database module and a task manager. I have also written some modules for work (our student technical support group uses PostNuke) and on a contract basis. My current project is a Reviews module that will include categories.

Where do you live?

East Berlin, PA.

What is your real-life job?

I coordinate technical support for the students at Gettysburg College, which means that I run our student helpdesk.

Tell me about your postnuke "career".

I looked at some of the other systems available and PN seemed to have the most documentation for programming modules available. I prefer to be able to find information on my own, rather than asking for help, and that didn't seem as likely with some of the other systems. The documentation that was available for PN at least gave me a starting point. PN also seemed to have a very active user community.

When did you start working on your own module?

I can't remember when I started my first module. Sometime during the 2002-2003 school year, I guess.

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?

Most of my development is done alone. I have been using DreamWeaver but will switch to something else once my development machine becomes linux. When I program at home I generally sit in the living room (wireless, yay) and watch TV at the same time. We have done some group projects with varying success. Our best approach so far has been to have one person develop (and document) the API functions and then have someone else work on the other areas. I am very concerned with interface consistency, so breaking things up too much becomes difficult. The community is a wonderful resource, although there aren't a lot of active module developers in the forums, so if you run into something really difficult, you might be out of luck.

What is the biggest difficulty in your development? And why? Is it a Postnuke inherent problem?

Time. I actually find that the PN environment makes some of the development work a lot easier. Once you understand the pnHTML functions a lot of the work becomes much less cumbersome. I wish I could use them in all of my web projects now.

What features should the Postnuke .8 core have to simplify your work?

I find the permissions system very hard to work within. It works well for module access, but if you want to have permissions on individual items that are dynamic, the permissions table could grow very rapidly to an unmanageable size. I could also benefit from functions to work with groups. I have written functions to determine if a person is a member of a group, for instance, but if that type of function was in the pnAPI, life would be much simpler.

Better support for html output. Some of the pnHTML commands don't support all of the parameters for the given tag. One example of this is that URL doesn't support a target, which means that if I want a link to open in a new windows, I have to output the html for the url manually. If you are going to implement functions to output html, it should be reasonable to make those functions fully support the given tag.

The security settings where someone gets logged out after x days. I think that this should be based on my last login. If I login to a site everyday, then I don't think that I should be asked to login every so often. If I don't visit a site for a while, then maybe.

What should users of your module regard and what is the weakest/strongest point in your module?

I wish that users wouldn't complain about small bugs not being fixed in something that they are getting for free. I don't know if this is common amongst open source development or not. Also, I provide forums on my pages to discuss problems and just like the forums on, no one bothers to check for previous threads that might help them. And my forums

aren't even that big, most of them don't even go to a second page!

Anything else you always wanted to say about Postnuke/your module?

I really enjoy PostNuke. I use it on several sites and while I occaisonally have issues, it has made my life and work much better. Right now my biggest complaint is that there isn't a paypal donations button on the postnuke site. I would love to throw a few bucks towards the development efforts, even if no one is throwing any my way.

Thank you very much for you time.

No, thank you.