29 Mar 2010

Markup Library

An open source library of markup languages, including XML, HTML and XSLT to develop a resource of markup and user interface design patterns that adhere to a generally accepted set of code standards.

28 Mar 2010

Semantic Page Divisions

I’ve been trying to determine the best way to avoid class names that use presentational language to describe the content of an HTML page. Terms such as “header”, “footer” and “sidebar” refer to locations in a layout, so they refer to the way information is presented. Depending on the medium, this presentational information may be irrelevant.

1 Jan 2010

Enable ZIP Extension for PHP

I was disappointed with the fact that I was no longer able to export ensembles when I upgraded to some new Apple hardware. Since it was running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, I needed to make some changes to my local development environment to get my several Symphony installs up and running again.

18 Mar 2010

I Am Back

And It’s About Time

I never really left. If you were looking for me, you could always find me, usually on the Symphony CMS forum. But this site has been sadly neglected for a few years. Mostly because things have changed.

9 Feb 2007

The Book on Symphony

I finally discovered that I can have a pretty decent looking PDF file by printing directly from my website if I don’t specify my stylesheet for screen media only. After turning off all the cruft produced by the web browser for pagination, etc., I can get a layout that turns all my CSS elements into PostScript objects. The implications for the printing industry could be amazing if XML, XSLT and PDF could be combined into some sort of prepress workflow. I am sure that someone has thought of this before, or has already implemented it.

6 Jan 2007

Building a Symphony Theme: Part 5

Symphony is an application that is built on web standards: XML, XSLT, XHTML, and CSS. Symphony accomplishes this using open source scripting and database software: PHP and MySQL, respectively. Up to this point, we haven’t really touched on CSS or Cascading Style Sheets other than to apply some style to a link with a class of “current”. Primarily we have been concerned with content: using Symphony’s XSLT templating system to transform XML data, stored in the MySQL database, to HTML.

At this point, we should have a better understanding about how XSLT works and how we can use Symphony to build a basic HTML page structure. If we know anything about Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), we understand how easily we can separate the presentation of a web page from the content of the page. We can create XSLT templates that output HTML pages that use inline styles, embedded style sheets and/or external CSS files. Before we try adding any additional functionality to our site, let’s add some style to our pages with CSS.

4 Jan 2007

Building a Symphony Theme: Part 4

The series on Building a Symphony Theme has touched briefly on several concepts to make sure we understand the basics before we get into the more complex areas of developing with Symphony. You may realize by now that building a theme in Symphony really means building an entire site from the ground up. But once we have built a theme, the same templates and database structures can be used to easily build other types of sites that may have an entirely different style with very different functionality.

Every site tends to have some basic similarities. There needs to be some way to manage the static content of your site. It may not change much, but it is good to have some way to update these areas, such as the About and Contact pages. Here is where we go beyond the default parameters and data sources to actually creating content. We will start by creating a Section and creating Custom Fields for entering content.

2 Jan 2007

Building a Symphony Theme: Part 3

Continuing on in the series on Building a Symphony Theme (see Part 1 and Part 2), I will start to introduce some dynamic elements.

Just to review, we have set up a virtual host, installed Symphony, set System Preferences and Author Settings, installed and enabled a Campfire Service, created a Page template and a Master template, and looked around the ?debug interface to view the XML data, XSLT templates and XHTML Output.

Before we start integrating our XHTML structure and CSS files, let’s get aquainted with the basics of working with Symphony and XSLT.

30 Nov 2006

Building a Symphony Theme: qwilm

Now, that we are developing the qwilm theme, I have created another virtual host, database and Symphony install for a local test site. I have a virtual host called that uses a database called sym_qwilm and I installed a fresh version of Symphony.

Just to make sure we are on the same page, now that I have switched to developing qwilm instead of Pink for October, Here are the steps that you can take before jumping back into the tutorial on Building a Symphony Theme to add a virtual host specifically for this theme: If you would rather jump right into learning Symphony, head to the entries:

29 Oct 2006

Building a Symphony Theme: Part 2

As we discovered in Part 1 of this series, a valid XSLT template and stylesheet must be available to transform XML data into HTML Output. (Note that I will be using the latest update, Symphony 1.5.06, for this tutorial.) At this point, though, we have no data to transform. Next, we need to create an XML Data Source. But, before we get there, let’s discover what is possible in Symphony even without a Data Source. The power of Symphony comes in the ability to build HTML pages by assembling pieces of reusable HTML code and XSLT templates into modular page structures through Masters, Pages and Utilities.

29 Oct 2006

Updating Symphony

This weekend, the Symphony Team has released an update to the official Symphony 1.5 Public Release (version 1.5.05) that was released on September 21, 2006. Symphony 1.5.06 provides several user requested improvements and bug fixes. Much credit must be given to the Symphony development team for their responsiveness and their fast-paced development.

The 1.5.06 update provides many additional possibilities for the development of a Symphony theme, so you may enjoy a short intermission in our series on “Building a Symphony Theme”:/journal/building-a-symphony-theme-part-1/ as we update the application. It should take merely a moment to update.

28 Oct 2006

Building a Symphony Theme: Part 1

This is part one in a series of articles on Creating a Theme for Symphony. Building a site in Symphony will require some knowledge about XML, XPath and XSLT, as well as HTML and CSS. All of these technologies are standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium as the basic building blocks that make the web work. Many of us have come around to the idea of developing standards compliant sites using XHTML and CSS. XML is a standard means of storing and retrieving data and media. However, XPath and XSLT are neglected siblings that could use some attention, and Symphony can help us out in this area. They are, in fact, the heart and soul of Symphony.

27 Oct 2006

Creating a Theme for Symphony

I have decided to build a theme for Symphony using the Pink for October WordPress theme. I will be describing the process step by step to help others who are wondering about the lack of documentation for developing sites using Symphony. I have found the best way to learn is by playing with the application to see what it can do. Learning about XML, XSLT and XPath are part of the process. Symphony provides a wonderful tool for learning the ins and outs of XSLT templating. So, here goes…

27 Oct 2006

Pink for October

Yes, October is running out. But while it is still October, and seeing as I haven’t made any entries for the month of October, there is still time to act. I wanted to find a theme that would be worthy of inclusion in the list of themes available for Symphony, as theme development seems to be a little slow.

22 Sep 2006

Symphony: Setting a New Standard

Symphony is a web publishing system based on web standards. By using standards, you are investing in technologies that work now and will be sure to work in the future. Web development has often relied on proprietary technologies that work only with particular applications. There was a time when websites recommended that the website was best viewed with the latest version of Internet Explorer. Many more browsers are being used.

15 Sep 2006

Symphony: Then and Now

This following excerpt regarding the default templates came with the default template for the Symphony 1.5 beta, but I saw no reason to dispense with it. It helps me remember the process that the Symphony Team has gone through to arrive at this state of Symphony’s development. I consider it to be a privilege to be able to work with such a powerful and flexible application. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the Symphony Team and the Overture forum contributors for their work, tutorials, tips and suggestions, as well as for introducing me to another web standard: XSLT. For myself, it did not take very long to learn the basics.

Let’s look back at the progression of Symphony’s default templates…

3 Sep 2006

Font Licensing

Stop stealing sheep, as Erik Spiekermann put it. Fonts represent a significant investment of time to create them and money to license them. Yet, because they are everywhere, few recognize their value and inadvertently break the law by distributing them to others.

1 Sep 2006

Web Standards

To what does the term web standards refer? Since the publication of the first website in 1991, the World Wide Web has grown from a means of sharing information among the scientific community to become the primary means for operating businesses in the information age and for social interaction around the world.

Bauhouse Design

The Bauhouse is the digital sandbox and personal portfolio of Stephen Bau, Professional Member of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada.

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