I feel in this assignment I have learnt so much so quickly. I’m still amazed at how much I have progressed. Whilst my design skills have not progressed as such a fast pace, I still think I am slightly improving. However I was listening to our lecturer suggest to another person that over the summer they should find a website they love and try to recreate it. I think I will try to do that, as I feel I overcomplicate things or my style is sometimes a bit too flamboyant. I need to direct my flamboyance to create something truely original as I want to steer clear of corporate style as it doesn’t make me happy.

The Expression Engine has been such a challenge that sometimes I’ve felt let throwing my computer out of the window, and other times I’ve been so happy that something has happened. It has felt like a whirl wind relationship with Expression Engine, but I’ve learnt that it is definitely beneficial to me and the client, I just need more practice.

On my website I am generally pleased and glad I didn’t try too much and just got to grips with the basics, there are a few bits that I want to improve, but I think this is the way most people feel. You can always improve or certain bits. I feel I would be even more satisfied if I had brought that CE Image Plug-in to really make the feel of the website more like old school circus theme with the blurred black and white images.



Now the website was complete, I wanted to incorporate a RSS feed. I have never done one before, so I thought I would have a look at http://ellislab.com/expressionengine/user-guide/modules/rss/ and attempt to get my head around the templates ellislab had provided. unfortunately I could only ever get it to say empty feed. I must have tried for over 3 hours changing things, attempting to get it to work. I even asked others in my class and they could get theirs to work either. So this is one thing that really disappoints me is that I was never able to get it to work. I have left the code in the back-end of the website, incase I can change it at a later date and finally get it to work.

Upload Form

My main feature of the website was to let users upload their own postcards, or of the postcards they found or anything else.

So I used the plug-in FreeForm which was a nice easy form and simple that could allow file uploads and the ability to email that form to a dedicated email address. FreeForm can be downloaded from http://www.solspace.com/software/detail/freeform/

I amended the fields of the form through the plug-in control panel, then added my code into my upload page. The one thing I found difficult was that FreeForm automatically uses CAPTCHA, and this caused some difficulties, so I just removed that code. However it does make it less secure and more open to spam.

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Localhost to Server

I created the website first locally as this is what we did in lessons, and now I felt I was at a point were it was working sufficiently to go live. So I used the following directions: http://ellislab.com/expressionengine/user-guide/operations/moving.html

I wanted to follow this information exactly so it asked me to verify server compatibility, and my 123-reg.co.uk server worked out fine

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 17.20.19

So I carried on with the instructions and found that where files were in my server and permissions were extremely important. Then also my server 123-reg.co.uk didn’t provide the exact details of my server path which caused a lot of difficulties, so I ended up running a pathinfo.php which I found from http://www.kbpublisher.com/kb/How-can-I-find-my-Full-server-path_289.html

Now I have learnt maybe in the future once the website is fully designed to just go straight on the server instead of locally. I’m not an extremely technical person, and don’t fully understand servers and hosts, and I think I need to get my head around the basic stuff, so this will be a task I set myself.


Image Sizes and Upload Preferences

In the design stage I had decided there would be at least three different image sizes.

  • Featured – for the carousel
  • Secondary – for the posts on the first page below the carousel
  • Posts – the image on each individual post.

This meant that I would have to specify to the blogger/user in my channel fields what size image to upload. and then use Expression Engines file image resizer to resize all the images to specific widths or heights and whether to crop or constrain them.

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 12.31.01


The only thing that annoyed me was that I was unable to put a blurred black and white effect on the featured images as I think this would have added to my circus theme. I investigated that there was various plug-ins that would do this but all of them cost money. I researched quite a few and found CE Image, which looked amazing and can be found at http://www.causingeffect.com/software/expressionengine/ce-image if this was for an actual customer I would definitely have brought this Plug-in. Also CE Image would allow the image be cropped from specific offsets such as top bottom, unlike the built-in expression engine which does it immediately from the center.

Expression Engine

Now the website is designed, it was time to implement it into Expression Engine. Which was a daunting task. I learnt a lot during lessons and I knew this would be a great foundation, but I was worried that I wouldn’t remember what the difference between a channel and a status was. So What I did is I started implementing the site locally first as this is how we did it in lessons. I was amazed at how much I remembered, and managed to get it publishing posts pretty quickly. However what I found difficult was the small details, such as put featured posts in the carousel, which in the end required an if statement to get the JavaScript going. Getting the sidebar news post to not change in a post page ended up with using the tag dynamic=”no”. And there were other small things that cropped up or required a bit of special code to make it work. So sometimes I spent a lot of time on the small details in expression engine. I found the best way to solve a problem was to work consistently, and structured and try to see it as a challenge to be solved.