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                 Project Overview


What is SoT-Nuke?

SoT-Nuke is a website content management system derived from the phpNuke project at version 5.2. The aim is toward providing an easy and cohesive web-based environment for non-technical web site authors to add content and maintain a frequently changing web site.

How is SoT-Nuke different than phpNuke?

PhpNuke is a 'web portal system', while SoT-Nuke is meant to be a 'content management system' (CMS).

A web portal is aimed at providing a community of users a "first stop on the web", a point from which to jump off into the world wide web by providing community-related news and information for the user upon arrival, methods to connect to related areas of the world wide web, as well as options to personalise the web-portal experience for the individual user.

In addition to the 'first stop' concept, a web portal--especially phpNuke--can provide users the ability to communicate with each other through forums, message boards, and private messaging, as well as post content to the web portal driven site. This brings the idea of a 'web community' into reality with the web portal system.

The 'content management system' approach seeks to provide a means to generate a web site with a consistent "look and feel" for all pages and content without the need for web content authors to have an in-depth knowledge of html, php, or javascript programming. While a certain degree of html knowledge is helpful and can add to the creative appeal of content within the bounds of the over-all web site design, it is not necessary.

However, unlike the web portal system a CMS application does not provide visitors to the web site a means of tailoring the look and feel of the web site to their own desires as this can negate the web designer's intentions to provide visitors with a specifc experience based upon the 'business model' or 'corporate image' of the company or individual that owns the site. SoT-Nuke seeks to provide the web designer an automatic means of maintaining that visual consistency across all pages and content within the CMS-managed web site.

Also, the provision for user interaction is greatly modified in the core code of the CMS. For web sites seeking to focus on providing visitors with consitent content, permitting users the ability to interact with each other may detract from the interaction a visitor may have with the site content itself. At the same time, the site administrators may not wish to provide a communication service that can cost server resources, and increase administrative tasks.

SoT-Nuke currently provides non-registered access to posting visitor comments in connection with review articles, and has eliminated from the original phpNuke functionality the ability to comment on main page article and story content. The reasoning behind this was influenced by the desire to have main page article content remain a consistent and well controlled aspect of the web site. Reviews on the other hand are, in and of themselves, opinions. Visitors may differ in their own experience with the subject of the review, or may wish to provide additonal coverage of the subject not handled in the review provided by the web site author(s). Debate persists about whether this is actually beneficial for a site whose staff writers wish to maintain tight control over the experience of the visitor, hence the option to disable the function is available.

As SoT-Nuke is still not yet complete, and development has been ongoing since November of 2003, many features are not yet fleshed-out as well as the developer and the SoT staff desire. Most necessary fixes to the legacy phpNuke 5.2 code have been made, while a small few areas of that legacy code are awaiting their turn for appropriate overhaul or elimination. All new code, original to SoT-Nuke--as well as appropriate legacy fixes--is implemented on the Sea Of Tranquility website when it passes testing. This, in effect, creates a live-action beta test arena where staff writers with varying levels of web design experience provide feedback on the changes and improvements to administrative interfaces and visitor accessible features. Aside from the live-site 'third-degree', we have no provisions for true off-site/off-line feature testing and acceptance.

Why develop another content management system when others already exist?

This was a decision based upon cicumstance rather than convenience. By the time the SoT web site was badly in need of a change in image, a substantantial amount of content had already been vested in the phpNuke 5.2 database structure. With both the lack of off-line resoures and beta test staff, and the almost daily changes and additions to content on the SoT website, it was determined that the best strategy was to keep the existing database structure with all its content and the phpNuke 5.2 code, and to simply create a customised theme for Sea Of tranquility, and then upgrade to a more recent version of phpNuke.

Unfortunatly, some drastic changes in the phpNuke modules made the viability of upgrade a poor strategy, so the version remained at 5.2. The theme re-design and customisation was affected, and during that time is was reaslised that much, if not all of the legacy phpNuke code needed--at best--some serious repair.

On 1st February 2004 the new theme design and the first of several fixes to the legacy code were moved to the live server, and since that time the snowball theory of accumulation has affected the project development.

It was in May 2004, after a serious increase in developer commitment, that we realised we no longer had an installation of phpNuke on oour hands. We decided then to give a name to our un-official 'fork' in the project, and to plan for the eventual release of the new code as an independent CMS application.

Thus was born the 'SoT-Nuke Website CMS'.

What makes SoT-Nuke special?

  • Better management of configuration parameters, including multiple contacts for various departments of company function, easily customiseable META information, user-intuitive navigation controls, optimised forms layout and content entry, etc.
  • Javascript enhancements to content entry forms, for script-enabled browsers.
  • Dynamically generated <TITLE> and <META> tags for all content pages, helps to increase search engine listing and raise search-return ranking level, as well as adding a professional appearance to individual web site pages.
  • Convenient management of files and directories.
  • Improved web site usage analysis and statistics.
  • More...

Availability:

SoT-Nuke remains in its pre-release, "private-but-live" beta-test state as much work has yet to be completed before it can be packaged and released for public use. As soon as a release date is conceivable it will be presented here, and the packaged code with installation utilities and documentation will made available on the likes of Freshmeat and Sourceforge. Any interest in, or requests for particular aspects of the code base can be sent to the SoT Webmaster.

Requirements:

Presently, SoT-Nuke runs on PHP4.1, or higher, enabled webservers (tested on apache/linux and apache/Solaris) with MySQL. There are no plans for unique dependencies such as image manipulation packages. No other database support is planned for the first release, and English is presently the only language with full support (legacy phpNuke language files will be included in the packaging, but not complete, or supported by the current developer).

Licensing:

Presently, SoT-Nuke is licensed under the GNU Public License, and will be provided free for personal, educational, and non-profit use. The determination of a commercial licensing structure is under consideration.

State of Development:

The SoT-Nuke developer (and there is only one right now) is adding and updating code as time permits. Beginning in Septembre of 2004, there has been descrease in new development with a focus on code repair and security at the back-end. As new features are developed, however, they are added to the live SeaOfTranquility.org website. So, over time, you can watch the progress of the public side of the site engine—if you are so inclined. But, don't expect a big burst of change in the very near future.



Questions and comments about the SoT-Nuke Website CMS Project may be directed to the
Sea Of Tranquility Webmaster.


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