Friday, 26 November 2010

Is gaming dumbing down?

Many say that Kinect isn't for hardcore gamers because they like to sit on their arses, twiddle their thumbs and exert as little effort as possible. Not so; as this gamer demonstrates:

This has been doing the rounds but gems like these need to be showcased.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Location Based Search with FindPagesByCriteria

This is a quick follow on from my last post on Location Based Search with EasySearch.

Proximity search using standard EPiServer functionality is a lot easier since we can do numeric range searches with FindPagesByCriteria. All we need is a helper class which does the geo-stuff for you.

Friday, 5 November 2010

An approach to Content Modelling with EPiServer CMS 6

Trying to avoid this!
How content is managed and presented are two different functions within content management systems. An obvious statement, well yes: however, complexity rears its head once you start to look at how each CMS or WCM or WCMS (take your pick) supports these activities.

Enterprise CMSs generally follow a strong separation between the content storage and management, and content presentation layers. For content storage there are open source technologies like Apache Jackrabbit and JCR which serve to store, provide an interface to and version content structures; including relational hierarchies.  For content management there are rich editor interfaces which leverage the storage mechanism capabilities. For content presentation, there are technologies which work well with the notion of hierarchical content model such as MVC frameworks.

However, with EPiServer CMS the distinction is not as clearly defined with its page tree and web forms implementation. The page tree works very well in scenarios where there is a tight coupling between pages and page data. In cases where there is a relational content model – a kind of domain model for content - this doesn’t really fit.

So how do you go about modelling a content tree with hierarchical, referential relationships in EPiServer CMS 6?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Using Dynamic Content Controls for Composer Sort Of Functionality

During a recent project review I found myself looking at wireframes which looked much like the end of an intense Jenga session. There were lots of content blocks in different formations on what were meant to be single templates. Focusing on 1 template with 3 variations I queried how the layout of the page body could differ so dramatically and how each right hand column had a different selection of content elements.

“But surely Editors can just drag and drop content blocks onto a page? After all, we live in a world where you can buy 3D TVs and squeeze zits for points on the latest Smartphone App.” Came the perplexed and slightly paraphrased response.

Ah, you must be thinking of EPiServer Composer, I scoffed. Sadly, this was an EPiServer CMS 6 build and Composer was not in the project budget.

I now found myself in a wireframe prison where the only way out was to trick the guard by pretending to be Mr EPiServer ConPoser. (TeeHee)

So, what were my options?

Monday, 6 September 2010

EPiServer: Proximity Searching with EasySearch

A requirement which recently cropped up was for Property (as in house, flat, etc) searching through both attributes (e.g. number of bedrooms) and proximity (e.g. within 5 miles of some location). I’ll call ‘Properties’ ‘Assets from now on to avoid confusion.

For the attribute – or facet – search functionality we opted for a product called EasySearch. EasySearch - developed by NetworkedPlanet - is a great piece of software built on top of Lucene which ships natively with EPiServer. EasySearch provides tools to index EPiServer Content (Page Types and Files), web and user controls to search, view and narrow search results with selected facets, and administration tools to view and control the search index.

This was great for all aspects of our search requirements apart from proximity searching.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Apple's Last Stand

Apple’s recent amendment to their developer agreement - which forces developers to write applications their way using their tools - has done three things:
  1. isolated Apple even more from the wider technical community,
  2. wasted the time and money of companies and people who have invested in building iPhone compatible developer toolkits (and developers who have used them), and
  3. diverted industry attention to other smart phone technologies.
There are a few victims of this controversial move worth paying tribute to.
Number one on the Apple’s shit list is Adobe whose Flash technology (which allows for media rich applications to run within a web browser) has been ruthlessly evicted from the iPhone party. iPhone users have undoubtedly noticed the small, sad-looking blue Lego blocks where content is expected. And there are sad little blue blocks aplenty since it’s estimated that over 98% of desktop browsers have Flash installed creating a rich ecosystem of games, mini applications and multi-media stuff. In a desperate bid to sneak back into the hottest shindig in town, Adobe developed a toolkit allowing developers to create applications in Flash and export them to the iPhone – a process known as cross compilation. Enter Apple’s new developer agreement which, paraphrased, reads “if you want to come to my party and you aren’t prepared to dress up, behave and have fun exactly as we want, then you can sod off.”

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Welcome to Tech-Rash: A blog about technology that gets me itchy

Hello reader and welcome to yet another blog about technology.

Quite a broad - and dull if you you hate the stuff - subject I know; since technology intrudes into your life like pushy neighbors who always need to borrow your ladder.

But broad as the subject may be it is my dumping ground and time will tell if it proves to be a single seed (this post), a few random twigs of knowledge or towering redwood of digital ken.

Thank you and until next time.