In the past couple of weeks we have focused on improving Phpfox in ways that we had only sporadically done in the past, more specifically performance, search engine optimization and security, to me personally these are the three pillars of a solid base script and I am really happy to be part of this.
In terms of performance we have taken two main fronts, first we looked at the database logs and worked with the slow query log to find inefficient queries and worked on improving them, in some cases it meant adding an index in the database and in others just changing the way the query worked; second, we implemented a more aggressive caching approach, we now cache things like the feeds (with their likes and comments), user information, list of friends (mutual friends, random friends displayed in the profile,...), recent viewers to a profile, events, user ratings, featured users,.... This allowed us to drop the calls to the database dramatically. There are two ways a cache item can be refreshed (meaning it needs a call to the database), one is that the cache expiration time is reached and the other is that the item changed, for example if a feed does not get new comments it will not be reloaded from the database, you can view it many times and it will be "free", but if you add a comment then it will require a database call and then be cached, subsequent views will be "free".
In regards to minifying CSS and JS we tried a few ways, a couple did work very nicely but for custom themes it wasn't so easy to profit from this benefit, so we opted for generating Master files (one JS and one CSS), the benefit is that JS and CSS code used throughout the site will be cached separately by the browsers, and smaller files are quicker to download for the browsers. Besides the Master files we also create a css and js file specific to the page being loaded, which ends up being a much smaller file because it does not contain the code from the Master. To further illustrate this let us say that in a brand new site a user goes for the first time to PageA, at this point the script generates the Master files and the CSS and JS files specific to PageA (4 files created), the user then goes to PageB and the script only creates the CSS and JS files specific to PageB (2 files) because the Master files were already generated, if the user then goes back to PageA the script will not create the files again because this was already done. This is different than in current versions since we create more files, but the benefits of this are well worth it since more code is cached is more efficiently both by the script and by the web browsers. Still, to place the cherry on top, these files can now automatically be pushed to CDN which was not possible in previous versions. A last improvement we made in this regards was to rename the cookie, the new name is "chocolate_sparkles" and it seems that web browsers like this better and run to get it faster than before.
Current add-ons and themes will remain compatible. This minification routine is intended to work with any theme in use: custom themes, edited default themes and themes using the custom.css will all work automatically, without any change needed by designers or developers.
We also implemented deferring of images, the effect is that instead of loading full images the script will send a tiny little image (36 bytes) and when the browser finished loading the page it loads the full image, in reality this only changes the order in which items are loaded and displayed to the user, making for a smoother experience as the page seems to load faster.
Of all the changes the only one that is not bound to a setting is to move the JS files to the end of body, but using the new minification routines and everything else can be switched off from the AdminCP.
For now this is all I have to report, we will continue keeping you updated with the progress made, our next step is to focus on SEO and Im sure this will be a great adventure.
All the best!
We just wanted to take a moment to welcome Mostlymom to our staff of moderators. She has proven to be a very valuable asset to the community and offered assistance to a multitude of clients.
For all the assistance and guidance she has provided in the forums the PHPFox management is very thankful.
Welcome to the team Mostlymom!
We are pleased to announce that phpFox version 3.5.0 Beta 2 has been released.
Please note that this is a beta release and is not officially supported by our team. We advice to not upgrade your live community until our product reaches RC (Release Candidate). You can upgrade a development site so you can start testing the upgrade script and report any issues to us.
Our next release will be v3.5.0 RC1 and is scheduled for February 18th.
To find out what is new with v3.5.0 check out our Beta 1 announcement.
Live DemoView this version in action here.
DownloadThis version can be downloaded directly from our clients area. When you have selected a license and reached the download page look for and tick/select "Download Older or Beta/RC Version". Then select "3.5.0beta2" from the drop down list. During Beta and RC anyone with a valid license will be able to access and download v3.
RequirementsRequirements for v3 can be found here.
This inFocus article is featuring Template Mechanic. A lot of you are already familiar with their Add Ons. They also are active in the phpFox forum assisting with member questions when they have time. They've done a lot behind the scenes to help members of the community and so we are focusing on them for our first developer inFocus article.
TemplateMechanic always provides top-notch customer service; Add-Ons that install easily; niche specific templates; and affordable customized templates for those that need custom templates. We sent them a mini interview and they were gracious to take the time to answer these questions for us.
Q. How long have you been developing Add-Ons and Templates for the phpFox community?
A. We started last quarter of 2006, with phpfox v1.1.
Q. What is the difference between TemplateMechanic and Teamwurkz?
A. Teamwurkz is our first website we used to offer services to our phpFox clients. Now it’s our company website, since we’ve recently started offering more solution to our clients. TemplateMechanic has become our new website for our phpFox products and services.
Q. What advice could you give to people looking for a pre-made template?
A. Pre-made themes / templates are sold as is. People should understand that customization is beyond support on pre-made products. It is good to have some knowledge in HTML and CSS, but it’s not required.
Q. If someone finds a pre-made template of yours that they like, will you customize it if they need different colors or some things changed?
A. Yes, we do offer color change or other template customization. But we strongly suggest to keeping their site clean and simple. Too much customization especially on startups can lead to users being confused on how to use the sites. Also most clients are confused between custom mods and custom templates.
Q. What is the difference between custom mods and custom templates?
A. Custom mods include a bit of complex programming. We consider custom mods when the client requires some "functions or features" which are not included in the default phpFox script. While custom templates involve only changes in CSS, template files (HTML), displaying of blocks (eg. featured members), or moving stuffsor blocks within the site.
Q. On average, how much should someone budget for a custom template?
A. Prices vary on complexity of design. Basic custom design includes site-wide colors and custom homepage layout/design. We really don’t have an average price but we start at $500 for a premium design.
Q. How much do other developers typically charge for templates?
A. Custom templates are charged starting at $2,000 by some of our competitors. Ours start at $50 for basic custom, $200 for pro design and $500 for premium custom design. More information can be found here.
Q. For custom templates or other projects with you, what would be an average turn-around time?
A. For basic custom templates an average of 15 days. But, days are always only estimates. In reality, programming is really hard to be defined in exact time. phpFox is a very big script. It’s not just a blog script, many things need to be considered which is usually the cause of project delays.
Q. What size project will you accept? (Do you have a minimum size for projects?)
A. Currently we do not have minimum size, but we always suggest to clients to do their projects in phases especially for big ones.
Q. What's in development for future release?
A. More products and new services for our upcoming phpFox solutions. Currently, we manage several phpFox powered websites so that site owners can focus more on marketing instead of figuring technical things. However, it’s not publicly launched yet.
To give you an idea of some templates and add ons available from TemplateMechanic, we will showcase a few here. Of note is the fact that you can purchase a top-notch template with some awesome features for only $49. That is a really super deal.
Niche Specific Templates :
Video or Music:
If you need a custom template, check out their pricing here, phpFox Custom Design
Add-Ons to Check out!
- Simple Article
- They may have named this Simple Article but there is nothing “simple” about it except how easy it is to use! This is a wonderfully versatile article system that will allow you to have categories, sub-categories, etc. This will even create a table of contents for your articles! Absolutely wonderful add on for any site to have.
Daily Deals Get rolling with deals on your site! If you are looking for an add on that will allow you to create your niche similar to a Groupon daily deals site or just allow your members to add coupons or deals for on site or off site promotions then this is what you want.
We cannot forget all of the free add ons they've provided throughout the years! We list a few here:
If you want to know more about TemplateMechanic, hop on over to their website and look around. Join the site, check out their forum with tips and helpful information, get a template and some add ons!
Welcome to inFocus, a series of articles about phpFox and phpFox 3rd party developers. This series of articles will give you more information about setting up various niche websites using phpFox and 3rd party add ons; let you “meet the developer” so you can become more familiar with our 3rd party developers and what they offer; give you more information about upcoming phpFox events and possibly introduce you to some of our team.
Our first inFocus article will be coming within the next few weeks and will focus on a 3rd party developer that's been a part of the phpFox community for a long time.
If you have ideas for an inFocus article, just pm data66 with your idea and if it's possible to create an inFocus for your idea, we'll do it.
Be sure to hit the Like button if you like this idea!