Flexible Content Management System


Development Update, December 2006-06

Contributed by on Dec 18, 2006 - 07:17 AM

MileStone 3

The Dev Team is proud to conclude that MileStone 3 is quite near for release (check the .8 Development Cycle for details). With an enormous amount of commits from Robert, Oracle, PostGreSQL and MsSQL support are close (but not quite complete). The entire distribution should be tested for support to ensure the functionality. For this testing, there is an additional Theme plugin added for better / additional sql debug tracing output / options (function.sqldebug.php).

Patrick started finalizing the Search module, which involves every module that provides searchable data to have a pnsearchapi.php file and two templates, module_search_options.htm and module_search_results.htm. For better functionality, each searchplugin is given its own "namespace" via the array functionality of html forms. When each module is compliant to this standard, much gain can be achieved because (for example) inactive modules will not be called for a search query. Also, modules do not need to check for formdata themselves. See also Module Programming Part 4.

Drak has worked on an upgrader for 0.76x. This incomplete first version of upgrade76.php prepares the core so the usual upgrade script process can run.


The Topics module has been discussed within the theme. As most of you already know, the Categories module is much more powerfull for assigning categories (or topics) to various content on a PN site. The Topics module is an old style module, however lots of modules still rely on the presence of the module (or at least its tables), allthough the modules write directly to the code.

The Dev Team is currently looking for a way to import current Topics into the Categories so that, with an upgrade, on does not have to add these manually. It is up to module developers to support the new categories module, and not rely on the deprecated Topics module anymore. The import process of the Topics module will belong to the Categories module init.

We would like to urge all our test users (not necessarily has to be a developer) to take a look at categories, play around with it, test it, use it and come up with a list of bugs and suggestions for improvements. For feedback, one could use the 0.8-MS2 Feedback and (as always) bugs can be reported to the bug tracker.


Discussed in the team is the addition of config.php.dist files. In short, PostNuke is supplied with a dist file which will be read and modified by the installer, and then saved as config.php. The advantage is that config files can not be overwritten anymore when one upgrades it's PostNuke version. The disadvantage is that the webserver user (for example apache) will be the owner of the file. No decision about this issue has been taken yet, so for this time the historic way of config files is still active.

Jörg has worked on a basic check for module directory consistancy. This means, if there are duplicate module names (like system/foo and modules/foo, or even modules/FOO and modules/foo), the administrator will be noticed about this issue.

Another change is that module vars are now all serialized in the database and there is no longer any need for module developers to serialize or unserialize data before making the database calls.

The modules and system directories, and their purposes, were discussed. The system directory should only contain modules that are not allowed to be removed (the system wouldn't work without them), and the modules directory should include ValueAddons and 3rd party modules that are not a vital part to the core of the PostNuke framework. When you upgrade a module, it is left in an unactivated state, which isn't desirable to system modules. Therefore, System modules are now allowed to transition directly to active state after an upgrade.

The Error Logging functionality has been extended. If a pnRender template does not exist this will also be logged, which could be quite usefull for module developers.

The LogUtil::registerPermissionError() and LogUtil::registerAuthidError() methods are added. These method calls registerError and then logs the failed permission check and failed AuthID check respectively, so that they can be analyzed later. DB errors are now logged by DBUtil and Log Events can now be viewed in the Security Center.

Added by Frank is the option in the Users module to deactivate a user account untill the user re-accepts the terms of use. If he is logged in when deactivating the account he will be logged out during the next page load.

The returned header for a non existing user page now returns 404 in stead of 200, and the age check has been simplified and harder to get around.

Frank also enabled the addition of a generic object attribution (a very nice feature of the ObjectUtil) for the users table. Using this, one can add any datafield to the users table (as long as it is a string with max. 255 characters ;-) )

E.g. it is possible for pnForum now to store user related data this way, which makes its own user table obsolete. If you, as a module developer, need a new datafield, just add it and it is there.

Example: You have an attribute 'someattribute' with 'somevalue'. The array returned by pnUserGetVars() now contains an item '__ATTRIBUTES__' which is an associative array itself with key 'someattribute' and value 'somevalue'.

More information and code snippets can be found in the Wiki after the coding has completed.

Finally, the functions includeOnce and requireOnce were added to the Loader class, which speeds up require_once and include_once by a factor of up to 9 times.

New and updated pnRender Plugins

All pnRender plugins in the core will be renamed to lower case. The parameters used should also be lowercase. The Dev Team would recommend all module developers to do the same.

The following plugins were added or modified:

  • add_additional_header plugin is replaced with the pnpageaddvar plugin.

  • moduleadminlinks plugin is modified to add capability of separate title attribute, and allow links to be 'disabled'

  • pndebugenvironment and pndebug plugins are extended with more info and multilingual support

  • makelinks outputfilter (theme) plugin is a replacement for pn_bbclick, to create clickable links from urls

Finally, Jörn is planning to use the ExampleDB module as an example for the use of the pnForm plugins also.


Some deletions have been applied to the ValueAddons directory, as follows:

Translations / Language defines

Another 'standard' that the Dev Team would like to recommend to module developers is the use of a naming scheme for translations, as it would help a lot to create more multilingual modules.

Each module should use module specific prefixes in their constant defines, e.g. _FOR_SOMETHINGISMISSING for Formicula or _PNMSG_INBOXFULL for pnMessages. This makes it easier for pnDefinemachine and can lead to more consistent translations.

This also enables us to implement an updated pnml plugin/function that offers the same kind of possibilities that the MultiHook has. All translated defines (or missing defines) get a little button that allows the admin to work on the translaton online while surfing his site. Changes will be stored directly in the pnDefinemachine tables to create the language files later on. Here the prefix enables us to attach the translation to the correct module.

Of course looking up translations in the database is a performance hog, but this should be used during development or if someone is not satisfied with an existing translation.

The current SVN packages can be more and more used as a basis for the .8 language packs: dutch and german translations have already been updated for use with .8, and can either be checked out through SVN or be downloaded as an alpha package.

.8 Stabilization: We need you!

To finalize and stabilize the last MileStone release (and to offer a first release candidate as soon as possible), we need you (the community) to test the current codebase. Install and uninstall all available modules, create users, play with hooks, create and use themes, develop modules, and so on.

Please download the latest Snapshot and install it on your test system (either a webserver, or your local Xampp installation). Wether you have IIS, Apache, MySQL, PostGreSQL or MSSql, it is interesting for all of us. Please also use the ValueAddons package and do the same. You may notice that no real new features are added to them, but this will come when the core is functional and as bug free as possible. If at all you find unreported bugs or errors, please report them in the bug tracker.

As already said: The Core Dev Team is at first interested in a working bug-free core framework and a functional upgrade path from historic distriutions. After that, new features can be added to several ValueAddons and other content modules. One could also use the current Theme module to generate Xanthia 3.0 themes. A useful help for this can be found on Drak's Theme Generator. Module Developers can find a Module Generator on the OpenStar site.

BTW, the .8 Developer Docs in the Wiki may already be very usefull, allthough the provided information is not as complete as one would wish for. Users may find lots of usefull information in the .8 User Docs.

Reminder: Please do not use .8 on any live production site! With MileStone releases or Release candidates, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the quality and security of your site and the product is assured!

Also (as read from the German Community Site) there are a few modules released in alpha status for users to test in a .8 environment: