Read an Excerpt
Welcome to PostNuke Content Management. The information contained within this book is designed to be a resource and reference, a guide to one of the most popular and powerful open source Content Management Systems (CMSs) available.
In this introduction, you learn
Why you should read this book
What you can achieve using this book
About PostNuke and Content Management Systems
How this book is organized
Let's begin.Why You Should Read This Book
This book covers all aspects of PostNuke website development from initial hardware preparation to advanced customization and hacks. It shows you how to use PostNuke as a tool to develop and manage a professional website.
This book is structured primarily for technical readers who are comfortable with programming and site management. It's not necessary for you to have specific experience with Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML), the PHP scripting language, or database development, only that you are prepared to pick up any missing knowledge along the way. The basics of everything you need are covered swiftly. Beginning developers are pointed in the right direction to learn more if needed, and experienced developers can proceed to advanced topics more quickly.
The biggest complaint developers have had with PostNuke is the lack of current and comprehensive documentation. I have personally experienced similar frustrations with the CMS, and I hope this text solves this key problem so that many more developers can see what a great product PostNuke is.What You Can Achieve Using This Book
Reading this book empowers you with everythingyou need to know to install, customize, and manage a PostNuke website. Your site can include easy, form-based content management, a built-in user login system, news and article submission, instant community features, ad support, and much more. You learn how to apply themes and additional third-party modules to modify PostNuke for any site application.
PostNuke is an open source program. Features and capabilities not currently available in the default install of PostNuke can be added using code edits or "hacks." This book explains many of the most popular hacks and teaches you what you need to know to edit any file in the PostNuke package.
PostNuke enables you to develop a complex, dynamic website very quickly, but the limitless flexibility can itself be overwhelming with all of the available choices. This book covers PostNuke customization in real-world site examples using Case Studies at the end of each major section. This shows you how to make the right choices for your website.PostNuke and Content Management Systems
PostNuke is a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is essentially software that allows you to add and edit content existing on a website. Most CMS systems provide tools to manage content without knowledge of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) or programming.
PostNuke has also been described as a "Community, Content, and Collaborative Management System," or C3MS. The additional Cs refer to the specific additional community-building tools PostNuke includes and the large community and user base PostNuke enjoys.Why PostNuke Is the Right Choice
PostNuke is an open source CMS. The obvious benefit of open source is cost; although some open source products do have useful support licensing, open source implementations are usually only a fraction of the cost of their fully commercial counterparts.
Some might point out that the real cost of open source is in the support, or lack thereof, for a given product. That is an especially positive feature of PostNuke, which has a huge online community with hundreds of thousands of site developers. The PostNuke website, which hosts the primary support forums, receives well over a million visitors each month.
Open source solutions are also often criticized as untested in the corporate commercial environment, but that is a myth. A growing trend among large businesses and organizations is to switch from proprietary applications to General Public License (GPL) and open source. Worldwide, governments are regularly announcing that they are evaluating open source solutions and in many cases performing a complete switch to open source products.
But even if you are sold on open source, why PostNuke specifically? First, PostNuke is well established with over three years of development history, longer than nearly every other active open source CMS.
Of all the open source Content Management Systems, PostNuke and PHP-Nuke are by far the most popular and established with the most sites, modules, and community support. PHP-Nuke is also released under the GPL but charges to download the latest version. PostNuke proponents generally agree that PostNuke aims for a higher level of code quality than PHP-Nuke, resulting in a more stable, secure, and modular program.
PostNuke's large centralized community ensures continual growth and support. Hundreds of third-party module developers exist, and this veritable army provides a development power large enough to challenge any commercial competitor. Perhaps due to the large community involvement, PostNuke has uniquely been focused on user needs and support among similar CMS projects.
The bottom line is that when you need a feature for your PostNuke site, odds are you will have a choice of multiple modules that already perform the task. And for entirely new features, explaining the benefit of your need in the support forums is likely to generate interest leading to new module development.History and Development Forks
PostNuke was born as a development fork from PHP-Nuke (http://www.phpnuke.org) early in the summer of 2001. Developers had become increasingly frustrated with code inconsistencies and security issues plaguing PHP-Nuke at the time, but the often closed team structure of PHP-Nuke made it impossible to remedy the known problems. As a result, many of the active PHP-Nuke developers left that project to form PostNuke.
This forking of development groups is far from uncommon in the open source world. PHP-Nuke itself was a fork of Thatware (http://www.thatware.org), and subsequent forks of PostNuke, notably Envolution (http://www.envolution.com), Xaraya (http://www.xaraya.com), and MD-Pro (http://www.maxdev.com).
In September of 2004, PostNuke 0.75 was released as a major step toward version 1.0. It provides support for legacy modules written before 0.75, but also contains the new pnRender and Xanthia modules that enable developers of third-party modules and themes to convert their code over to the new cleaner and more modular PostNuke system before 0.8 is released. Version 0.75 is a turning point in PostNuke's development, designed to ensure smooth transition to this and all future versions.How This Book Is Organized
This book is divided into four main sections. The first part is basically an introduction to PostNuke with general installation and setup information. The other three sections offer progressively more advanced discussion of additional features and options.
Part I, "Exploring PostNuke," takes you from server setup to the full install. There is a general overview of PostNuke terminology and all of the core modules and blocks.
Part II, "Basic PostNuke," covers commonly used core and third-party modules and how to set up basic permissions and application of a site theme. This section's Case Study documents an Online Club, a very popular application of the PostNuke program.
Part III, "Custom PostNuke," expands the module selection to include other useful components, such as commercial tools. Advanced theme design is covered and the sometimes complex permission system is explained. An Information Resource Site is the topic of this section's Case Study.
Part IV, "Advanced PostNuke," provides general instructions for fitting PostNuke into any site model. Selective application of PostNuke components is discussed, and walkthroughs of a variety of changes and hacks of the code are covered. A customized Business Intranet is the subject of this section's Case Study.
You'll also find extensive reference information in the concluding appendixes. Appendix A, "Speed Up PostNuke," covers methods and tools you can use to optimize your site's performance. Appendix B, "PostNuke Modules List," provides an extensive list of PostNuke modules arranged both alphabetically and in functional category groups. The glossary and links in Appendixes C and D, "Glossary of Terms" and "Web Resources," respectively, can help you get up to speed with any technologies with which you're not familiar. And Appendix E lists the functions of the PostNuke Application Programming Interface (API) for those wanting to dig deeper into the PostNuke system. A collection of downloads for this book is available online at http://www.samspublishing.com/title/0672326868. There, you'll find source code, image samples, and downloads of the various modules discussed in this book.
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