Luke Melia


April 13, 2005


meliafamily I recently launched a website that I built for the business my dad, aunt and uncle run. The Melia Family is the moniker of the sales team that they run for Pre-Paid Legal Services, a cool company with an innovative product. The site is the next generation replacement of a site I built them three or four years ago.

In contemplating the site, I wanted to empower them to keep their content up to date and fresh. In the previous incarnation, I had some simple perl CGI that wrote out files that were included by some site templates. Power user authenticates, updates HTML in a web form, and clicks submit — wa la, site is updated. The problem was, they didn’t get it. They didn’t want to mess with HTML and were afaid of messing something up.

So I went digging for a content management system that I could host on a account. In sourceforge, I found exponent. Nice PHP/MySQL solution. Open source. Well-built, mostly by the obviously brilliant James Hunt. Lots of good clear layers of abstraction in the PHP code that make it pretty straightforward to enhance plug-in style, which I did for a section of the site in which my dad wanted to profile his team’s most successful members. I’m planning on writing another module for displaying a Flickr photostream or group pool. That one would have some broader appeal, and I hope to contribute it back to the sourceforge project.

My biggest disappointment with the site as it stands now are the awful URLs. That’s a subject of hot and heavy discussion on the exponent forums, so I’m sure some solutions to that issue will be forthcoming. Overall, though, exponent is damn cool. I look forward to using it more for future projects.

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