Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Easy web services with eZ Publish

One of the things I love about eZ publish is that it's so configurable and often settings can be used in ways that were not thought of when introduced.

In version 3.8 the ability to add and override HTTP headers was introduced (from what I can tell to allow for fine tuning of cache related headers).

In the most basic terms a web service is the ability to provide machine readable data (typically XML) over a network.

eZ publish has the ability to provide RSS feeds which is contained within it's own module. However this is quite limited. eZ also come with a SOAP library that would allow the coding of services.

The introduction of the httpd header overwrite feature allows for eZ Publish to use the templating system and the content within the site to produce any data you require, i.e. no php coding required. It also allows for the data feeds to be dynamic and relative to the existing web content.

The process in a nutshell is:
  • create a layout for the webservice (layout.ini)
  • overwrite the "Content-Type" header for this layout so that the ouput is presented as XML (site.ini)
  • create templates to produce the desired output
I'm working on a site that uses this method to produce podcasts and will post some code examples once the site is complete.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

11 usability principles for CMS products

James Robertson of Step Two Designs has published an article titled "11 usability principles for CMS products"

The article discusses indepth the following principles:
  1. minimise the number of options
  2. be robust and error-proof
  3. provide task-based interfaces
  4. hide implementation details
  5. meet core usability guidelines
  6. match authors' mental models
  7. support both frequent and infrequent users
  8. provide efficient user interfaces
  9. provide help and instructions
  10. minimise training required
  11. support self-sufficiency
I think thats it's a pretty impressive list and one that any CMS on the market will have trouble meeting today.

eZ Publish while not perfect meets many of the principles at least in some aspect. When I have a bit more time (yeah right) I may evaluate eZ based against these principles in more depth.

Making something as complex as a CMS especially one as feature packed and complex as eZ Publish usable is a huge task but in the end it is a tool that has to be used and usibility is important.

While I'm not sure about where eZ Publish 4.0 is at right now it might be a good time to note whats good about the current admin interface and what areas could be improved.