Assuming my brain is still functioning on a level that facilitates higher math (e.g. addition), I have currently not been to bed in thirty-five hours (thirty-six by the time I finished this). So…take that in to account if this lacks any discernible level of c….co…coherency. I wish I could say that I was pretending there, and that I did know that word from the start. I did not. My brain is being fueled only by Coke and sushi at the moment.
Travel was long. Pretty self explanatory.
I did get all checked in to the hotel in time to make it to the pre-conference training sessions though. The first one dealt with handling the reporting mechanism in dotCMS. It’s a neat deal, as they have incorporated the Jasper Reports system as the driving force behind report output. What this allows you to do is download iReports and craft custom reports based on any data in the database that you want to. You can take it about as far as you are able to based on the permissions to the database you have. That might be duplicating Google Analytics like reports, user tracking metrics, or any combination thereof. The framework allows you to call and compile any data in the database you like, and input parameters such as dates or titles as control mechanisms. And we aren’t just talking reports like the top ten pages for a site. You could do the top ten pages visited by the top fifty most frequent users between January and July. Through their use of the Jasper framework, you aren’t limited by dotCMS’s code to get the information you want. I’d be lying if I said it all made sense. The concept is simple, but I could easily spend weeks learning the intricacies of iReport. They did say that the 1.6 release of dotCMS should come with a few basic reports installed, so you could use them to see how to structure more custom ones.
The second session dealt with the built in form handling. There is a document available which discusses most of the ins and outs of using it, and this was pretty well contained within the scope of that guide. Most CMS (Content Management System)’s come with some level of form handling these days. There’s some room for improvement here, such as the fact that the only access control resides at the portlet level. If someone is granted access to the web forms portlet, they can see results of any form that you have created. It’s nice since the form handler is built in and just works as a feature, but you must keep in mind it will still require you to write the code for the form, and set up any logical branching or such that needs to take place as it is filled out. And because of how the data is stored and extracted, I would be concerned about the ability to poison data entered into a form. I’m not saying it can happen, but just that I see a potential for it. Hopefully they’ll add on some kind of GUI front end that end users could use to build forms, that will be very helpful since at the moment you really need the forms to be made by someone familiar with how the handler works. But as far as I am concerned, forms will be a headache no matter how good your tools are. End users will always find a way to break or otherwise screw them up, heh.
I missed out on the end user training session and updating from SVN session due to having not mastered being in two places at once. I apologize. The guys have been really great though, and in just an afternoon I’ve gotten a ton of great info. The developers and programmers for dotCMS are all very great people to work with, and they have been happy to share ideas and insight into things, which is nice. When was the last time you met someone deeply involved with actually making Drupal or WordPress? Here, the developers are both names and faces. The same folks responding on the mailing list and helping in JIRA are the ones going out to eat with you.
I’ll be back with more info as things continue, and after I get some much, much, much needed sleep.