Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Nerd-to-non-nerd dictionary: Pac Man II

Client:  So, where do I put the files?  I started putting them in the images folder, but then when I went into the resources/images folder they were appearing in there as well!

Stray:  It's the same place ... the images folder is a symbolic link for the resources/images folder.

Client:  But ... but ... ?

Stray's brain:  Never, ever, give a client FTP access for this purpose again.  Ever.  OK?

Stray: Hmm.  Did you ever play Pac Man?

Client: Yes ... loads.

Stray:  Remember how when the ghosts were chasing you you could whizz out through the right hand side and then reappear on the left ... ?

Client: Yes ... the secret tunnel!

Stray:  Yes.  Perfect.  Well, the images folder is a secret tunnel that leads to the resources/images folder ...

Client:  Oh!  Fab - no problem, I'll carry on then ...

Stray's brain:  There is a story in this ... a small unpopular child discovers a symbolic link at the back of the server, leading to a magical world with an enigmatic and tragic leader in the form of a Leopard (10.5.2).  


JJ said...

I'm definitely with the non-nerd here ;-D

But Why? said...

What - Lucy was unpopular? I thought it was Edmund that had the social problem. Do you think Lucy might have been Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in another life...?

Böbø said...

YOU gave a client FTP access?!? Does the expression "Content Management System" mean nothing to you? Honestly.

I hope you made your special pac-man nim-nim noise when explaining this.

Stray said...

:) jj - you and most people it seems ...

but why? - I think I didn't like either of them ... I may be projecting this because in the childrens TV drama Lucy was a particularly unlikeable whining little brat ...

bobo ... I know. To be fair, it's not the end client, just the design agency ... and it's because we're still building the content management system and they're impatient to make little changes already that we're in this situation. *sigh*. I promise never, ever to do it again.

Böbø said...

I don't want to get all geeky {I do really Stray, but don't want to admit it while the others are watching}, but you're building your own CMS and not using an open source CMS like

CMS Made Simple

Because ...?

Stray said...

Ah Bobo ...welllllll

The site is a very dynamic flash site, with a full flat html equivalent.

Both the flash and the html content is loaded from the same mysql database.

The client wanted wysiwyg as far as possible. They want complete control over all sorts of features (including the ability to add fields to dynamic and intelligent forms with conditional validation in flash and html) ... but they also don't want to be able to screw it up and break their site.

They also want multiple levels of user access, and the ability for people who don't actually have editing access to review the content before it goes live.

Soooooo ... we hunted high and low and didn't find anything that could do even the majority of what we needed in an intuitive way.

What we have built is:

An Adobe Contribute static site, which handles the formatting, hand holds through the basics and also manages the specifics of user access.

The client uses Contribute to create / edit static pages which can then be viewed by anyone with access to a secure area on their server.

The pages are actually php, and have buttons to validate (which handles all our critical stuff that could break the flash site), to push the contents into the live db, to remove the contents from the live db and to populate the the page from existing db data given a key value.

The pages themselves are very close to WYSIWYG with additional instructions right there next to each field.

We have a back end API which we are very happy with and use for multiple projects and so restructuring our data to fit another CMS wasn't an option. Lots of the data is used in multiple areas around the site so an XML based system wasn't ideal ... etc etc. You get the picture :)

The client has been using an off-the-shelf cms for the rest of their stuff and are really unhappy with it, and our bespoke build + Contribute licenses is much cheaper than the server license for their current cms ... so - every one's a winner!

In short, we didn't have the option of saying "but you can't do x" to the client ... I'll send you a link to the site if you like ... and then you might have more feel for why (given even the animation is content managed) it didn't suit an off-the-shelf solution :)

I guess you could say that modifying Contribute is probably only the same as taking an Open Source CMS and then hacking the life out of it til it does what we need ... so we didn't reinvent the wheel in terms of text editing etc!


Anonymous said...

Surely the ruler of the mystical land would be a penguin?

Nice to know the universal language of video games is there for you.

Reminds me of a joke.. can't remember who's..
"Saying modern video games will make kids grow up violent is like saying the people who grew up playing Pac-man would spend all their time in dark rooms with bleeping noises and flashing lights, rushing around frantically gobbling little pills. Oh, wait a minute.."

Böbø said...

Promise me Stray you wont tell ANYONE I understood all of that. Still, glad you've learned your FTP lesson. The URL would be lovely to play with.

I hope they gave you lots of fish to feed your inner Penguin!

Anonymous said...

Shudder, I hate it when grown up penguins are talking and I don't understand.