Fisconelmondo.it and AlessandroBonelli.it with XOOPS!



2008-06-03

Fisconelmondo.it (May 2005) and Alessandrobonelli.it (August 2007) are two Italian websites published with a relatively long time difference from each other, but they share a common denominator, the Xoops platform!
Both sites have been developed by me in a short time, thanks to the famous qualities and implementation possibilities shared by Xoops, that are well known salient characteristics of this platform.
www.Fisconelmondo.it, an open window on international economics, is an institutional webzine realized for the agency I work for as an IT specialist (you won't need much time to understand which one it is if you take a look at the site).
The original idea was created by the communications’ director that considered the IT panorama as mature enough for an editorial product focused on international economics. The webzine offers to the reader analysis and comments on tributary European and extra-European legislation, indications on latest developments in terms of normative and laws of UE and extra-European countries, lessons on international economic laws and a glossary of most common terms in the commercial field. Moreover, it grants access to the useful Country charts: these charts allow the reader to gather information on institutional, economical and tributary laws and rules of many countries in the world, mostly European ones, in an easy and swift way (just by clicking on the country map). Last, on the site, the reader is also able to obtain many updated documents regarding rules on VAT and double impositions tax matter useful to understand actual laws and economical treatment on different European countries and other of UEM (monetary and economic Union). Before it all started to exist, there was a similar by contents product, published and distributed on paper, that was subsequently developed as a .pdf file (the MemoEntrate). This next step represents a more compliant product, in terms of quality and usefulness in accessing different contents.
The site grew constantly and linearly in time, reaching 1500 visits per day, with peaks of 1800. For being such a ├ó┬Ç┬£specialized├ó┬Ç┬Ø site, for the kind of arguments reported, the results are more than appreciable and the site, right now, represents a well known tool in the panorama of Italian sites regarding economics.

The second site is my own personal one, that I developed for playing a bit and for sharing what I like with friends and colleagues. Number of visits doesn’t concern me much, as it is 100 times smaller than the numbers obtained by www.Fisconelmondo.it. Before I created this site, I also spent some time developing another personal site, that I developed by HTML (old times, old times…) using the always excellent Dreamweaver. Slowness in updating pages and connected technical difficulties were obviously too hard to keep it that way, so a step in the direction of a content manager was necessary in order to make the website ddynamic.

The construction of the site followed a well defined path: first of all the research of nice and easily modifiable templates (with style sheets well developed and with little/without tables), the customization of modules completing the core, the customization of a professional hosting (fitting for real necessities of security and performance). More than this predominantly technical requisites, the concept part of creation was the one to require more time than the other ones and more resources (as it was supposed to be). www.Fisconelmondo.it had to possess a long series of services like articles, RSS, a fast research motor for inside the site, a newsletter, all with a simple and efficient style, so that reader’s attention could be focused on contents instead on the creating the the contents. On the contrary, in my site, I’ve been able to play on multimedial contents, adding then, i.e., videos, dictionaries, images from Meteosat.

Sites have recently been updated with last version of Xoops (2.0.18.1). Among installed modules:
* C-Jay Content e Edito (static contents)
* News e SmartSection (dynamic contents)
* Liaise (contact modules)
* Wordbook e Lexicon (glossary/dictionaries)
* MultiMenu (dynamic menu)
* Protector (security management)
* xhld (external rss management)
* MyAlbum-P (images managing)
* SmartPartner (external link management)
* WebShow (video management)

For the ones already translated in Italian, customization working was relatively easy; for the other ones, I had to work hard in order to translate user interface (for the backoffice, English worked good).
Sites were developed using Windows with Wamp and Notepad++/Ultraedit. Using Firebug extension in Firefox, in order to clean the code and reach the so much desired XHTML validation 1.0 and CSS, was of great aid. The passage to Unix/Linux for the chosen hosting was not difficult, except for settling all permissions on files/directories in the correct way.

Among problems encountered and ├ó┬Ç┬£learned lessons├ó┬Ç┬Ø, I could mention:

- The importance of continuously making a backup of the site and database (for this last one, take care of codification in the export phase, as if it’s incorrectly made, it causes the lost of characters, typical of non-English languages);
- The importance of writing easy to understand manuals for articles’ writers,(this for Fisconelmondo.it only) as it is essential in order to get rid of a necessary cooperation, that can be real hard if lasts for long times, without being able to release what has been created for the final user;
- The optimization of the site by an accurate managing of caching mechanisms can make delivery of contents much more effeccive
- Many problems were encountered for the XHTML validation, especially with MultiMenu module, that needed a substantial restyling.
Alessandro Bonelli
Gianluca Di Muro (Chief editorial staff for Fisconelmondo.it)


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