Project: New NP_SkinAdmin, overhauling the skins site system

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marshall
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Project: New NP_SkinAdmin, overhauling the skins site system

Postby marshall » Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:44 pm

Are the contest skins going to be added to the regular skins download section? I thought they were going to be, but the "Skins" link at the top of the page does not include any of them; it looks like you still have to go to the skins contest page.
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Postby Leng » Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:41 pm

Yes, that is the plan, however we still need to rework the code of the skins site to sort it out. Apologies for the delay, we are working on it, I promise. :D
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Postby marshall » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:11 am

This is taking an insanely long time. Is there a description of the code problems you are having? Maybe we could offer some suggestions as to what is wrong and what could be done to fix it.
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Postby Leng » Sat Nov 18, 2006 4:20 am

Sorry, I've been insanely busy the last month or two and really haven't had time to look at this. I hope you will forgive me for causing so much frustration.

The plugin driving the skins site, NP_SkinAdmin, was developed by moraes and later adapted for the skins contest by Legolas. It currently lists skins as 2 different types - normal skin and contest skin.

If they are happy to do so, I will post the code here so others can help make the required changes below (I will email them in case they don't see this post).

The modifications needed are as follows:

1. Option to include contest skins as normal skins, without losing their status as a contest skin.
2. Need to differentiate between types of contest skins, e.g. a 2005-2006 contest skin.
3. Can handle translations of different skins - skins are uploaded as skinname_skin.zip. If another is uploaded called skinname_language_skin.zip or skinname_language.zip, the SkinAdmin plugin should autodetect, and then populate the skin demo page with a link to the translated version.

Reason being is some of our sponsors have requested the contest website remain permanently online, and there may be a chance we will have future contests also.

On my list of things to do is to restructure the skins site as follows:

1. Main skins site - list of all skins available for download. Shows the latest skins submitted, news and I want to implement a "featured skin of the week" (or similar feature) so all the skins get a turn at being displayed.

2. Translated skins site - there's already quite a few German translations uploaded and many more in the skins email which I haven't uploaded. However, it has been expressed and I agree that we should establish another section to avoid cluttering up the main site.

3. Contest skins site - all skins that came from contests. To be preserved in perpetuity.

Please let me know if you have any other suggestions in regards to this.

Edit: Since this is turning more into an improvements thread, I have moved it to the "Other Improvements" forum.
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Postby Legolas » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:11 am

I can try to add the extra features, but I don't have time for the weekend. Could you drop this list also on the mailing list?
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Postby Leng » Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:23 am

Posted to the mailing list as requested.

If anyone has more input for improvements to the skins site, please feel free to suggest them! We are always looking to make not just Nucleus, but the Nucleus community, better.
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Postby danielck » Sat Nov 18, 2006 7:33 pm

Some random thoughts:

1. skin rating - allows us to rate if skin is good
2. download counter - an idea of how popular the skin is
3. comments - let us feedback about the skin
4. skin creator's details

The skins could be shown as smaller thumbnails first. We can do a quick scan to preview the designs and select the best one to preview/demo. There could be a link to a bigger screenshot or demosite.

The ability to sort 2 column or three column design, sort base on colors and theme would be good. Perhaps these feature could be implemented when the skin collection increase. ;)

There could be a link to a list of freelancers who is available to do skin customisation for a fee.
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Postby hcgtv » Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:21 pm

danielck,

2, 3 & 4 were available in the old skins site that assigned a blog per skin.

http://web.archive.org/web/200502100256 ... org/item/2

I managed the skins site just fine, apparently the way I was doing it was too cumbersome for some, so it was changed.

It used to take me 15 minutes to add a skin, twice a month I updated the stats which took me about 20 minutes each time.

Progress or regress ;)
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Postby Leng » Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:06 am

danielck wrote:Some random thoughts:

1. skin rating - allows us to rate if skin is good

The FAQ currently uses moraes' NP_ManyTools which looks after the FAQ article ratings as well as the number of views. This can be moved to the skins site to add this functionality. However I think it may also require some tweaking with NP_SkinAdmin as the content for each skin is generated dynamically to populate with author, etc.

danielck wrote:2. download counter - an idea of how popular the skin is

This is a good idea and should be able to be done with existing plugins, but again, I think some integration is needed with NP_SkinAdmin.

danielck wrote:3. comments - let us feedback about the skin

This one is going to be more difficult, because all the skins run off the same filler content, and are not actually individual items. What I can do is allow comments on the skin announcement posts, and then perhaps there could be a field in NP_SkinAdmin that allows the permalink to that post to be input and generated in the skin content. Perhaps even this needs to be multilined as some skins have more than one post.

danielck wrote:4. skin creator's details

This is already there, albeit somewhat limited. Could you be a bit more specific about what other details you would like? Do you mean something like "other skins by this author"? Maybe each author/porter could be set up in SkinAdmin as a multiple checkbox selection, then we can accommodate multiple authors as well.

danielck wrote:The skins could be shown as smaller thumbnails first. We can do a quick scan to preview the designs and select the best one to preview/demo. There could be a link to a bigger screenshot or demosite.

This is already available at http://skins.nucleuscms.org/screenshots.php

danielck wrote:The ability to sort 2 column or three column design, sort base on colors and theme would be good. Perhaps these feature could be implemented when the skin collection increase. ;)

This is also a good idea. Probably needs to be added to NP_SkinAdmin though, due to how skins are treated. Should be in the form of a multiple checkbox selection, with the ability to add additional checkboxes as required.
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Postby danielck » Tue Nov 21, 2006 4:48 am

hcgtv wrote:danielck,

2, 3 & 4 were available in the old skins site that assigned a blog per skin.

http://web.archive.org/web/200502100256 ... org/item/2

I managed the skins site just fine, apparently the way I was doing it was too cumbersome for some, so it was changed.

It used to take me 15 minutes to add a skin, twice a month I updated the stats which took me about 20 minutes each time.

Progress or regress ;)



No wonder I didnt noticed these features. Perhaps by the time I was active in this community, the new skin site was implemented.
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Postby danielck » Tue Nov 21, 2006 4:58 am

Leng,

From what I understand, the Skin website is powered by NP_SkinAdmin while the FAQ site is powered by NP_ManyTools.

For the Rating system to be implemented, we will need to integrate NP_SkinAdmin with NP_ManyTools.


"other skins by this author"?


Yep, that is one of the features what I hope for.
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Postby Leng » Sat Nov 25, 2006 5:16 am

danielck wrote:From what I understand, the Skin website is powered by NP_SkinAdmin while the FAQ site is powered by NP_ManyTools.

For the Rating system to be implemented, we will need to integrate NP_SkinAdmin with NP_ManyTools.

Yes, that's correct. A task and a half in itself, because each FAQ article is a Nucleus item by itself, while each Nucleus skin is only a line in the SkinAdmin table, I think.
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Postby Ma.rkus.nl » Mon Dec 25, 2006 1:54 pm

Leng wrote:If they are happy to do so, I will post the code here so others can help make the required changes below.


/me raises hand :D

I'd love to help you out here, so if you could post the code that would be great :)


This is in reply to another cry for help in this thread
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Postby Monkeybrain » Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:09 pm

Some blurb that popped out of my left ear....

1. Set up the "skin" site as a comunity site, where authors/skinners can create an account and upload/maintain their own skins.
2. A forum for skinners to discuss different aspects and ideas about skinning.
3. A skinning "walk-trough" for beginners.

Comments to my own ideas:

1. This would be a great way to always have updated versions of the skins available. I know I've made many changes to the "contest" skin I made, but these changes are only available to the ones who dl it from my own skin-showcase. If the author make any changes, everyone will benefit from them. And it will be easy to see what skins each author have made.

2. As it is now, you have to randomly browse the current forum to find any posts about skinning. This would also be a great "knowledge base" for new skinners.

3. This has been requested/proposed earlier (in another post on the forum), and would be a great tool for new people who want to change the looks of their site/skin.
The walk-trough could be realy simple, with some screenshots to explain certain details.


The way the skin site is right now, I find it confusing that some skin-translations are posted as their own skin (if you know what I mean). At the same time you have to download language files til translate everything. The way it is now, you can download the german translated original skin, and still use the english/default language file, for a complete mix-up and confusion.

Well... that was just my 2'cp on the issue right now :wink:
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Postby Leng » Tue Dec 26, 2006 12:14 pm

Ma.rkus.nl wrote:/me raises hand :D

I'd love to help you out here, so if you could post the code that would be great :)

This is in reply to another cry for help in this thread

You are a legend!

Being that moraes no longer has the time to work on the skins site and we really, really need to get this moving forward, I have uploaded the code here in a .zip file:

http://leng-lui.info/media/files/NP_SkinAdmin.zip

I will take the link and file down if anyone believes it should not be made available.
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Postby Ma.rkus.nl » Tue Dec 26, 2006 2:18 pm

Fetched it :)

I really like the various ideas posted here so I'll do my best to implement them.
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Postby Leng » Thu Dec 28, 2006 2:46 am

Oops, meant to respond to this the other day and forgot.

Monkeybrain wrote:Some blurb that popped out of my left ear....

1. Set up the "skin" site as a comunity site, where authors/skinners can create an account and upload/maintain their own skins.

1. This would be a great way to always have updated versions of the skins available. I know I've made many changes to the "contest" skin I made, but these changes are only available to the ones who dl it from my own skin-showcase. If the author make any changes, everyone will benefit from them. And it will be easy to see what skins each author have made.


I think you have correctly identified a problem that we need to fix, but perhaps the proposed solution is not quite right. The key issue is at the moment, we check all submitted skins for compliance with the skin submission guidelines. The criteria is there to help users to customise their skins.

Sadly, a lot of the time I get submissions in the skins email that do not meet the criteria (the lack of a readme.html being the primary offender) and so don't end up on the skins site. Quite often I email the authors/porters back and request them to make amendments. Other times I have to make the changes myself before it gets uploaded.

At the moment, I believe there are a lot of skins uploaded that do not meet the submission criteria either. Key offenders being:
* invalid xhtml/css
* lack of a readme.html / inadequate readme.html

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we still need a human review of skins by someone from the skins team to make sure the submission guidelines are being met. While it is great to have a lot of skins, we need to make sure they are also of good quality.

Perhaps we can do some sort of modification of NP_SubmitSystem.php. I am thinking to go with Monkeybrain's idea of letting authors/porters have accounts and other users too, as a community site. Then the process could be like this:

* author/porter submits skin to the skins site directly, maybe to a "Pending" blog
* 2 other members (can be just a regular member, another author/porter, or skins site admin, etc) have to review the submission according to the skin submission guidelines
* submission must be reviewed by at least 1 skins site admin/team member before it goes "live" and is available for download on the main skins site
* author/porter cannot approve their own skin
* NP_SubmitSystem needs to record who has approved what submission

That way, we can ensure a more thorough review of skin submissions. It takes a lot of the workload off the skins team and gets users who are very active in the skins area but not on the skins team more involved. For example, if I know Monkeybrain or Armon has already reviewed a skin, I can trust that it is pretty good and I can just do a cursory review of it, rather than having to look through the whole thing myself.

Similarly, this will also allow for updates to skins - maybe we can make it so they only require approval from 1 other member.

Monkeybrain wrote:2. A forum for skinners to discuss different aspects and ideas about skinning.

2. As it is now, you have to randomly browse the current forum to find any posts about skinning. This would also be a great "knowledge base" for new skinners.


I see what you are getting at. At the moment, there are really the following types of skin related questions:

* How do I do X when I am using Y skin? [Nucleus skin specific question]
* Pure (x)html/css questions, mainly css related [general web design question]
* A guide to doing X [ using Y skin ] [Nucleus skin specific guide]

Question is, do we need different forums for this? Do you guys want us mods to move anything not Nucleus skin specific into General Questions (e.g. the css type questions)?

I'm thinking if we had thread icons or something to distinguish between the different types of threads we could probably keep it all in one forum but make it easier to find. Like the setup the SA forums have (especially like the setup in the Ask / Tell subforum).

Monkeybrain wrote:3. A skinning "walk-trough" for beginners.

3. This has been requested/proposed earlier (in another post on the forum), and would be a great tool for new people who want to change the looks of their site/skin.
The walk-trough could be realy simple, with some screenshots to explain certain details.


The problems with such a walkthrough are:

* how to make it still meaningful without lapsing into a general html/css tutorial
- there are plenty of good free tutorials online already, so maybe we should compile a reference instead

* the numerous approaches to making a skin. I think a walkthrough is the wrong way to approach it, perhaps if we explained the different things you might find in a skin and use current examples from the skins site to illustrate, e.g.
- using includes
- using if conditionals
- use of specific Nucleus variables that are not so commonly known but come in very handy for skin designers, e.g. <%otherblog%>, <%syndicate_description%>, etc

Monkeybrain wrote:The way the skin site is right now, I find it confusing that some skin-translations are posted as their own skin (if you know what I mean). At the same time you have to download language files til translate everything. The way it is now, you can download the german translated original skin, and still use the english/default language file, for a complete mix-up and confusion.

I believe I included this in the required modifications in this post earlier in the thread. Translation skins should probably come with an additional readme.html or something.
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Postby Ma.rkus.nl » Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:00 pm

Just to let you know here's a little update on my progress so far. Development has been slow because of the holidays but every now and then I do find the time to code a bit.

I've decided to start from scratch as the heaps of code in NP_SkinAdmin were a bit too much to master for me (e.g. the workings of Savant). Also, I think I can get things working with a lot less code. And moreover it's much easier for me to keep track of how everything is put together as my plugin evolves.

Anyway, here's what I got so far.


  • I had a go at building a new skin browser first. There's still a few things to implement (including a thumbnail browser) but the basic functionality is there. I have a working, hideable dropdown menu for selecting skins.

    Image Image
  • On the backend of the plugin there's a database with properties which can quickly be set for each skin. Custom fields (with both binary values e.g. "available for download", "contest winner 2006" and text values e.g. "author user_a", "ported by user_b") are to be easily added via a second screen.

    Image Image


There's still a lot of work to be done, but it's a nice challenge for my slightly limited PHP skills and it's a great timekiller so expect the first working demo in the near future :D
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Postby Monkeybrain » Sun Dec 31, 2006 2:28 am

Some realy nice progress there Ma.rkus.nl :wink:

I'l cheer you on into the new year! Happy New Year!!
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Postby Leng » Sat Jan 13, 2007 3:50 am

I am loving the teaser screenshots you've got there and can't wait for a working version to be released! Thank you so much for taking the project on. :D
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