exchange-icloud-owncloudWe are thrilled to release DPCalendar 3.2 with some amazing new features. The main focus was to integrate additional external calendar sources into DPCalendar. More and more people have the need to show their personal or corporate events in Joomla. So we decided to integrate Microsoft Exchange services and any CalDAV server into DPCalendar. Beside that we made some performance improvements. We lowered the amount of Javascript and CSS files which are loaded in DPCalendar. The Joomla calendar has now out of the box support for structured data. What this means to you will be explained in detail in the following chapters.

Microsoft Exchange integration

Every Microsoft Exchange server has a SOAP API to access the calendar date. DPCalendar is able to integrate through this API your corporate events from any MS Exchange server. A successful pilot was completed for an Intranet of a well known specialized law firm in the Netherlands. Under guidance of Digital Peak and the customers external administrator Frank Westerhout from his own company ClassBase was the project finished within a couple of days. More customers already integrated their Exchange server into DPCalendar already. Why not you?

CalDAV integration

CalDAV is a worldwide internet standard to access scheduling information of calendar systems like iCloud or ownCloud. It is based on the WebDAV specification and allows external client applications like Thunderbird, iCal or any iOS or android smartphone and tablet to access the events of CalDAV servers. Now the list of clients can be extended with DPCalendar! But the integration is not read only, if you have the sufficient permissions you can update the CalDAV events directly from DPCalendar with it's Ajax based interface. No need to swap the systems. We come out of the box with two way CalDAV sync.

Rich snippets

All major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo or Yandex support structured data in their search results. More information can be found at schema.org. What does it mean for your SEO? For example if you are a band who wants tho show your next gigs directly in search engines results, you have to enable the DPCalendar upcoming module on your landing page, that's it! No complex configuration. Check the image below how our demo site looks like on Google search.

structured-data

What else?

Here is a list of other changes which should simplify your life of managing events with DPCalendar:

  • Administrator notification
    You can define for the "Create", "Update" and "Delete" actions the user groups which should be notified through E-Mail when something changed.
  • Google Plus comments
    Beside the already existing commenting systems JComments, CComment and Facebook comments we support a new commenting proveder. Google Plus comments allows Google users to share their thoughts on your calendar or events.
  • Week numbers
    Week numbers can be shown in the calendar views.
  • External calendars search
    The search plugin supports to search in external calendars.

Many more performance improvements and bugs are fixed as well.

What comes next?

In the next major release of DPCalendar we will introduce attending events where your users will be able to register on the premier Joomla calendar events. The long outstanding function "Reminder notification" will be implemented in this release as well. Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with the progress.

svn-gitDigital Peak had all of it's Joomla extension code in Subversion repositories, as it was state of the art a couple of years ago. Nowadays Git is widly used under PHP developers and also Joomla itself stores it's code on Github. It was time for us to move to Git. Now we store our public code on Github and the private code on Bitbucket. As I'm a total newbie with Git, probably some steps can be made simpler but the migration explained below worked for us and I hope it will be of help for others too.

If you are not interested in the code histroy then just create a new Git repository and copy the most actual code, probably th SVN trunk to it. But we were interested in the full commit history so here are the steps to migrate your Subversion repository to to Git on an Ubuntu machine.

Setup the system

Install the needed packages from the Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install git-core git-svn
$ sudo apt-get install subversion.
$ mkdir git
$ cd git/

Migrate the commiters

Subversion has a simple authoring system on the otherside Git uses the convention Name <email>. To convert the authors from Subversion to Git format perform the following steps:

$ svn log -q https://mysvnrepo.com/reponame | awk -F '|' '/^r/ {sub("^ ", "", $2); sub(" $", "", $2); print $2" = "$2" <"$2">"}' | sort -u > authors.txt

Then you have manually to adapt the file authors.txt to the new usernames. For example

laoneo = laoneo <laoneo>
becomes
laoneo = Lao Neo <laoneo@digital-peak.com>

Make the clone

This is the step where your SVN repository gets converted to the Git repository:

$ git svn clone https://mysvnrepo.com/reponame/ --no-metadata -A authors.txt --stdlayout

Depending on your repository size it can take a while, but you should see on the screen step by step how each commit gets converted.

New bare repository

We create a new bare repository where the migrated repository gets merged into.

$ git init --bare new-repo
$ cd new-repo/
$ git symbolic-ref HEAD refs/heads/trunk

Push orig to the new one.

$ cd ../dpcalendar
$ git remote add bare ../new-repo/
$ git config remote.bare.push 'refs/remotes/*:refs/heads/*'
$ git push bare

Cleanup

Now we have to do some cleanup before we can push it to one of the online repositories. First we have to rename trunk to master.

$ cd ../new-repo/
$ git branch -m trunk master

The git svn command creates from the tags branches, means we have to create from them git tags and then delete the branches.

$ git for-each-ref --format='%(refname)' refs/heads/tags |
cut -d / -f 4 |
while read ref
do
git tag "$ref" "refs/heads/tags/$ref";
git branch -D "tags/$ref";
done

If you need to cleanup some invalid tags then do it now.

$ git tag -d Archive

Final push

If there doesn't need to be done more work on code we can push it to the online repository (if you want you can do ssh key exchange before).

$ git remote add origin https://github.com/Digital-Peak/GCalendar.git
$ git push --all
$ git push --tags

Now we are done!!

joomla world conferenceThe second Joomla World Conference is due to take place in November this year and will be held at Harvard University in Boston on 8-10 of the month.

This year’s focus will be on networking, knowledge, sharing and community and is the biggest Joomla event in the world. The conference is tailored towards the Joomla community and the “spirit of open source technologies”.

Networking

This will include the attendance of vendors and event sponsors and will be available over two levels of the venue space. Attendees will get the chance to chat with their favourite vendors and it’s thought that many of the vendors will have special offers and some free offers. Vendors and sponsors will also be available for questions and consultations too.

Knowledge

At the second Joomla World Conference, the organisers are reaching to educational faculties in order to encourage students and local universities to get to know the CMS software. Anyone in the local area that is interested, be it a teacher or student, should get in touch with the organisers for further details, or visit the conference website.

This is an ideal opportunity for students who are interested in becoming a developer and want to learn how to use Joomla.

Sharing

According to event website, the ‘sharing’ aspect of the event is designed for those devs who have formed a relationship over Skype chats, forums or mailing lists to meet each other in person.

At a recent Joomla event, one of the organisers overheard a conversation which likened events of this kind to a “family reunion”. This underlines the fact that Joomla is a strong community and a relatively close knit group, but one that opens newcomers with welcome arms.

Submit a Session

Anyone can speak at the conference and calls for speakers began last week. Prospective speakers should consider if the subject they want to talk about is appropriate, thinking beyond the obvious. The event is looking for innovative speakers who can really inform, educate and engage with the Joomla developer audience.

Tickets for the event are already on sale on the conference website at the special early bird price of $249 for 3-day entry.

extension-devMany developers think about creating commercial Joomla extensions as an additional form of revenue, but don’t quite know where to start or what needs to be considered. Bearing this in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help you get started as a Joomla developer.

Firstly, do your research, if you’re thinking of developing a calendar for example, then check out what else in on the market. It’s going to be a lot harder to market an extension that’s going up against a highly recommended and popular one.

Once you decided on what you’re going to develop, the next step is to think about what you’re going to call it. Make sure that you don’t violate any trademarks and use keywords whilst trying to come up with something memorable.

Take your time

Don’t be in a rush, the idea is to release a product that people will want to subscribe to, not a buggy and unrefined one. Make sure you have the funding in place to develop the extension and if you haven’t enough, think about crowdsourcing or even getting a business loan.

Once the extension is under development, test it rigorously along the way, using regression and usability testing. Once you’re relatively satisfied, choose a group of friends or colleagues to carry out further testing for you using their own Joomla installations and machines. This will allow you to test the extension thoroughly in different environments.

Payment models

You may have noticed that some extensions are free, whilst others charge a one-off fee and further more use subscription models. For paid versions especially, you are the one who is going to have to provide support and future releases, so factor all of this in.

You can also consider providing a free version, which has cut down features to a paid premium model. This is a good marketing tactic as those who like an extension will often pay for an upgrade if they want to keep it and have more functionality.

Support and new releases

Support is incredibly important for paid models, as nobody wants to pay for something that doesn’t work for them properly. Commercial products require ongoing and buyers expect a high level of support to be offered. Develop a decent user guide to complement the extension and ensure that you will have the time to devote to support in the future.

Extensions always seem to need new releases too, generally because internet technologies move fast these days and whilst your extension might be as solid as rock, you will need to make improvements at some point.

Submitting to Joomla

Once your extension has been built and you’re sure that support is in place and you've tested as much as you can, it’s time to submit for approval. The Joomla extension directory (also called JED) is always going to be the place where the extension receives the most attention, so ensure you submit properly.

Choose the correct category and ensure that you read the terms of service before submission. It usually takes somewhere between 3-21 days for an extension to receive approval, so don’t waste yours and someone else’s time by doing it wrong.

Make sure that you:

  • Pay attention to different license types
  • Ensure you have GPL headers in your files
  • Ensure the domain is Open Source Matters approved
  • There is no direct link to your own domain
  • Ensure all PHP files use the JEXEC test
  • Place the empty index.html file in every folder of your shipped extension

Once you have successfully submitted, then always keep an eye on reviews and it’s also worth asking friends and colleagues to review the extension if they liked it during the testing process.

It’s not a straightforward matter, developing and submitting a Joomla extension, but it’s a good exercise and should bring in an additional revenue stream.

wp-jo-drWhen it comes to building a website, many people become confused as to which CMS (content management system) they should choose. Bearing this in mind, we’ve taken a look at the two of the other most popular CMS alongside Joomla to help you make a decision.

Firstly, we’ve chosen Wordpress and Drupal as these are the two other major open source CMS on the market. All of them are developed by a community of thousands and are free to download and use.

What is open source?

For those who are not familiar with the term open source, it is simply software that is freely distributed and not subject to licensing fees. As well as being free, the beauty of open source software is that it is continually worked on and improved by developers from all over the world. This means that regular improvements are made to ensure the software is continually evolving in line with technological advancements.

With the three CMS models we’re discussing, developers are also constantly writing add-ons and extensions to improve the software, some of which may be subject to subscription charges or a one off fee.

All of the CMS models we’re concentrating on have a huge online community of dedicated developers and users, making it a simple matter to find support. There is a plethora of online documentation to help you use the software, as well as forums and books.

Which should I choose?

This will depend largely on a couple of things, the first of which being how technologically minded you are. For beginners, Wordpress is a good choice, as it’s very easy to use yet has the flexibility to be capable of running complex websites.

Drupal is much more complex and more suitable for those who require a highly customised site with a large amount of content to organise and scalability. However, it’s not the easiest to pick up quickly, so if you consider yourself something of a Luddite, this probably isn’t for you.

Joomla is somewhere in between the two, being easier to pick up than Drupal but with more functionality than a basic Wordpress installation will offer.

One thing’s for sure, all of these platforms are highly popular and unlikely to disappear from the internet scene any time soon. This means you have plenty of time to build a site, add to it and learn all about the CMS that you’re using to build it.

Functions and usability

If you have little or no experience in web development, then Drupal is not for you. Whilst it’s capable of helping to build extremely complex sites and is a very powerful CMS, Drupal is best used by those with some expertise in web design and development.

It’s becoming easier to use with each new release, but unless you have the time to commit to learning complex and powerful software, then it’s not a great idea even now.

Joomla is the middle ground between Drupal and Wordpress as it is more user-friendly than the former, whilst retaining the ability to build a more complex site than you would be able to with Wordpress. Joomla has strong social networking capabilities and speedy page loading, as well as a more advanced content organisation structure that is found with Wordpress.

Wordpress is suitable for beginners and those who can alter the code within the installation to further customise it to suit their needs. The ease of use makes it ideal for smaller sites, such as blogs and ideal for web designers who want to hand the upkeep of the website to the client.

Whilst all three are excellent CMS platforms, what they will be used for with regard to websites and user experience will both make a difference to which one you should choose.

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