Symfony refactor of the Zend Quick Start Tutorial

 

Learning Zend Framework and getting a repetitive stress injury doing it

My friends & colleagues have used Zend Framework (ZF) for a while, and I do my best to avoid it and use the Symfony PHP framework.  Initially I was open to learning ZF, I was just curious why people liked it.  The more questions I asked, the more I realized there were no good answers other than standards for standards sake, and variations on the Sunk Cost Fallacy.  If pressed I was told that I had to give Zend Framework a chance because it is a younger framework than Symfony, (um no).  Some of the developers had even written a library to add on to Zend Framework to make it more usable, it contained features that were already in Symfony.  IMHO, writing code to help a framework catch up is an excellent reason to switch to another framework.

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EstateSales.net – A great example of a niche market website

So I was browsing through craigslist.com, looking for some deals.  I happened across a post for some estate sales in the garage sale section.  And this site was listed for more information.

Turns out there are companies that do a lot of estate sales, which are pretty much well organized garage sales for the recently deceased or almost deceased.  From the EstateSales.net Story page I learned that Dan McQuade had made a little business out fixing up and selling old mixers.  

From that side project he ended up meeting several people who organized estate sales, and from them he found a under served, and inefficient market that could benefit from the reach, information throughput, and scalability of the Internet.

Fortunately his son Mickey knows a thing or two about making websites.  In only a few short years they were an overnight success 😉

Another awesome thing about this site is that they probably don’t have do deal with the hassle of a lot of employees.  Everything is probably, or should be, automated and manageable online from a beach chair in Jamaica.

If I wasn’t such a introverted curmudgeon I’d get out and find my own problems to solve and get rich off of, but for now I’ll just enjoy the success of others.

online bookstore optimized for “muddling through”

http://zoomii.com

This is a really interesting take on a online bookstore that is really optimized for free form exploration with a very intuitive interface for those accoustomed to a mouse with a scroll wheel.

Interesting User Interface, and it brings up some thought provoking usability questions.

This type of experimentation is going to lead to some very interesting Information architecture in the future.

TableKit a easy sortable table based on Prototype.js

Many times using scripts I find on the Internet turns into kind of a hassle. They are usually unfinished side projects, or are kind of bloated and slow.

TableKit is not one of those scripts, it’s fast & easy to implement. Development time was low, and the designers didn’t complain too much about working with it. What it lets you do is create a html table slap in some ID’s & classes, load the js, and you have a really nice sortable table. This sort of elegance in design is never easy and the folks at Millstream Web Software have done a great job on this.

I used it on the Real Estate site I’m working on webdigs.com/mywebdigs (free sign up required) to organize our users favorite saved houses. I’ve found myself using it a lot for my own home search.

Happy Birthday Symfony (1st Symfony recruiter call, Zend Framework, & a happy client)

This last week has been really got me feeling pretty positive about the future of the Symfony PHP framework.

Last Thursday Erica Guay (erica D0T guay AT Sapphire.com) called me and is the first recruiter to ask me if I knew the Symfony framework. She’s got a pretty awesome opportunity near Boston, MA to fill if anyone is interested.

The next Tuesday I went to a presentation at Sierra Bravo here in Minneapolis, MN about the Zend Framework and Lucene. Maybe I’m a fanboy but it really looks like Zend has some catching up to do. Lucene is impressive and there is a Symfony plugin for it. Justin, Tom, and the rest of the Sierra Bravo Crew have already cranked out 5 Zend Framework sites but when I showed them the development environment in Symfony someone in the crowd literally said “wow”. It was admittedly a pretty nerdy bunch, when Justin (the presenter) mentioned a design patterns book he liked the guy next to me tapped his chest and made the peace line and said “that’s who I’m down with” 🙂 If you are interested in attending their next presentation RSVP here.

The 3rd thing that reminded me how great Symfony is was just today when I showed a client an Admin Crud that I had created in about 30 min. He was pretty excited, and it’s nice to have happy clients.

Yahoo Pipes is kind of a big deal

Yahoo Pipes allows anyone to create their own mashup in a method very similar to creating a flowchart.

After messing around just a little I was able to create 2 pretty cool little mashups:

The first one geocodes garage sale locations and puts them on a map. Not very well, but it was really easy to do, so it was still worth the effort

The second one combines 5 different Job search feeds into one, checks to see if the titles are unique, and then sorts the results in descending order by published date. I still prefer indeed.com for looking for Job information, but if I can also grab the feed to format myself to fix those problems.

All in all, it’s pretty cool stuff. I think I have a real world use for an aggregated real estate news feed on www.webdigs.com already

Coming Soon: “PHP Web 2.0 Mashup Projects” Book Review

PHP Web 2.0 Mashup ProjectsI should be receiving a “PHP Web 2.0 Mashup Projects” from PACKT publishing in the mail sometime soon, once I get it I’ll try to have a review up in a couple of weeks.

If you are interested check out the full book description at PACKT publishing

I’m pretty excited about it, I was planning on starting a personal mashup project to link Craigslist garage sale postings with google maps, so this book is coming along at exactly the right time.

Usability and creativity

So I was taking my morning stroll through popUrls when I came across two articles. One about CrazyEgg, a really cool tool for gathering usability statistics, and the other this really random, unconventional, whimsical, unprofessional, unattractive, outdated, not entirely original, and really really effective website for some hippie named Miranda July. (FYI – I call anyone who puts effort into being creative a hippie, although if they are mall style crafty I just block them out of my mind)

Anyway Miranda July’s site is a mess, she did it with a camera, a fridge, & a stove. However, despite me being 100% UNinterested in her product I read ALL THE AD COPY. I haven’t even read all the add copy for sites I’ve made myself, it’s miserable marketing gobly-gook because that’s what clients expect from “professionals”.

I think this sort of grass-roots, direct from the source w/0 any middle men, advertising is what will cut through the ad clutter so well described in this Frontline episode.

 

The lesson here is that once again “Content is King” and the ROI on details is difficult to gauge and probably not a high as most people think.

However…. if we go back to the the majority of the the marketing messages I(we) need to communicate a camera and a kitchen full of appliances might not be a sufficient tool-set, and a client probably wouldn’t “get it” anyway.

Enter CrazyEgg I read a really good introduction at Read/Write Web. I haven’t tried it yet but I think I’m going to push for it on my current project.

I’m tired of writing

robert