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Behind the scenes of thetigerbeat.com Uncategorized

cat in a bowlContrary to popular belief, I serve a purpose here at University News.

Over time, I’ve become regarded as less of a ‘worker bee’ and more of a ‘thinker bee.’ For that, I’m grateful because I would lose my mind if I had to print web pages to PDF for 34 hours a week. :)

So what am I up to? With all this new ‘thinker bee’ action, you’d imagine that I have something to show for it, right? Well, if you’re half as impressed with my conversational writing as I am, then you’re going to love this:

University News XML-based CMS.

Using the smokingest OO PHP on the market, we’re developing a management system that is super-scalable, tag-searchable, schema-validatable, and MVC patternful. By the time my birthday rolls around, the University News web site should be fully supported by this new system.

Now for the really geeky stuff.

Problem: How are you going to store all of these news releases, N&E articles, UMag stories, syndicated stuff, and a handful of static pages (about us, emergency info, calendar)?

Solution: XML. In a situation where almost every piece of information produced by this department can be derived into a ‘story’ format (that is, everything has a headline, byline, copy, etc.) developing a our own abstract ‘story’ format using XML was optimal.

Problem: How are you going to retrieve and organize all of these stories/XML files?

Solution: We’ve got several different types of ‘stories’ here. Though we (read: humans) can skim a block of text and see that it’s an article from the latest News & Events, computers need much more explicit identifiers to do the same. So I came up with a sort of story index in the form of a database. Now we can track stories w/out modifying the story files. Excellent.

Problem: You really shouldn’t cram thousands of XML files into a single folder. How are you going to store all of these stories?

Solution: This was a toughie. That is, until Professor Sonstein pointed out that I’m hitting the database every time I want to retrieve an XML file anyway (due to the index that I created). I just stored the XML files in a database column alongside the info about them.

The code is certainly cleaner, I still have the ability to transform the contents of each story, and I don’t have to worry about creating/searching/deleting directories. Nice.

The work is getting more satisfying every day. :)

* p.s. – the cat in the bowl serves no purpose here.

  1. Ralph Whitbeck
    Aug 01

    HAHA Pete I love it. I wish I would of met you at BarCamp...I was part of the infamous BrandLogic Group that walked in late.

    We need to get together and talk about war stories of programming the UNS web site sometime.

  2. Pete
    Aug 01

    Heh, sounds good. We're trying to wrangle together another one in the Octoberish region. We figure that if students are in town, it'll be huge. :)

    Also, I think I've seen the code from those war stories you speak of ;)

  3. Paul
    Aug 04

    I understand none of this, Pete. But I like the Kitty!

  4. Pete K
    Aug 04

    There's something for everyone :)

  5. A few words abo
    Aug 04

    [...] First, Pete wrote recently about his project to create a content management system (intentionally spelled out—you’ll know why in a minute). Acronym-filled (XML, CMS, OO, PHP, MVC, N&E), his post was interesting and very informative, I’m sure—if you’re a computer geek (no offense to anyone in particular). [...]

  6. Under construct
    Aug 11

    [...] Aug10  Pete Under construction.Here are the stats so far regarding theCMS: [...]

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    The Tiger Beat takes you behind the scenes with the members of RIT University News—the news and public relations division of Rochester Institute of Technology. Get the “story behind the story” and an insider’s look at who we are and what we do to publicize RIT news.
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