Ben

Assignment proposal

In Assignment, Assignment Preparation, Expression Engine on January 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Having been thinking about this for some time, I have pretty much decided the outline for my assignment proposal.
As at the date and time of this post it is:
Description
  • A dynamic website development using Expression Engine to act as an online application for playing albums of music and displaying various information associated with the album, including the functionality to listen to albums while still browsing the rest of the site.
Objectives
  1. Learn to use Expression Engine (EE) as a framework for dynamic web development
  2. Develop a process to parse stored data within EE to Flash movies to add extra interactivity
  3. Develop upon previous Flash mp3 player project (a personal project outside of the degree programme – see it online)
  4. Ensure all final markup validates to a strict doctype
Sites for inspiration
  • BBC iPlayer – I love how this site functions as an online application for streaming media
  • You Tube – Equally, great functionality (although recently, its inclusion under the google banner means that things are more ad orientated and targeted)
  • Earth Monkey Productions – Is a Net Label that a friend of mine set up in Cumbria to promote electronic and experimental music. It’s not how the site functions or looks but the content within it that inspires me.
Reflections

So far I have installed XAMP and EE and looked into how the weblogs (the way EE stores data – weblogs is not a good name and I think they have changed it to “Section” in v.2) interact with the templating system. I have also dabbled with some php which is necessary to add the Flash functionality and got it to work at a basic level. I am confident that I can parse data from EE to Flash,┬áboth inline as HTML markup and also by Flash communicating with an XML file generated by EE.
I am currently at the stage where I need to decide the best way to granulate the stored data in a weblog for the albums. My initial implementation has been to think that logically, an album can have any number of tracks; therefore the best way to set up the custom fields in the albums weblog would be to have a single text field for “Track Names” and a single text field for “File URLs”.
The list of names and files would be inputted using a delimiter separated list (eg. TrackName1|TrackName2|etc ) which php will later pull apart and create arrays from.
Although I have got this to work I think it leads to an overly complex EE template and I still do not know enough about Categories and Tags – but currently conclude that I now believe a better way forward might be:
  • To separate the songs from the albums as entries in a weblog and connect them back to an album using a custom field, category or tag…..?
I understand that the more that content data is granulated (ie. broken down into smaller chunks), the more it can be re-used without the need for replication of data. However, this approach requires a much deeper level of development time and testing as relationships between data elements are built. I am also very new to EE and need to learn more about it!
Lastly – it’s the M-V-C (Model – View – Controller) concept that is beginning to take shape in my mind. ie:
  • Model – EE provides the framework to easily connect how you want your content to look, with your content!
  • View – A completely flexible method for deploying your CSS and HTML markup
  • Controller – A very efficient way to manage raw content . . . bring it on!
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