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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:08 pm
Posts: 2
I'm looking for some experiences developers have had attempting to integrate either a third party web app or their own with a content management system such as Drupal, Joomla!, or WordPress. I'm attempting to develop a standardized approach to developing applications in the LAMP environment which are intended to be stand-alone applications but can be easily integrated with these systems.

I've come across interoperabilty issues several times in my own experience. For example I have attempted to integrate DokuWiki with a Joomla site but it involved modifying the original code in such a way that updates were no longer easily performed and I was only able to get a far as unifying the users and their passwords. I have also attempted the same thing with ProjectPier but failed. I find that I am often being asked to integrate applications such as these into a CMS and the most important issue for end-users is unified login but I think it would often be desired to enable a common look and feel.

Had you had any experience in this area? Did you succeed? What were the major issues you encountered?

Anything related to these issues would be greatly appreciated,
.godwin


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:39 pm
Posts: 254
In my experience it has been much easier to build on top of an existing CMS (like making custom modules and plugins) than it is to integrate an already-existing application. Like you described, the rewrites and code changes that this entails make it not worthwhile.

I have had to do this enough that I ended up putting together my own bare-bones CMS which I now build on top of, which supports running essentially separate apps over the bottom layer, which is just user login handling, flexible content storage and management, and various back-end and front-end tools for content input. Everything else can be handled by the client-specific top layer. This way I maintain the separateness that I think is necessary for a task like this, while also allowing for complete flexibility in terms of the actual application - I'm not limited to the CMS's API as I would be with Joomla or WordPress. Granted, most of the time the APIs of these projects are flexible enough to accomplish what I'm trying to do, but I always end up using ugly "hackish" programming to accomplish what I want.

If you do this often it may be in your best interest to do the same, if not for anything other than the fact that complete familiarity with a system like this will save you countless hours when trying to modify or build on top of it.

Hope all that made sense, it's 4 in the morning here :-)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 5:38 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:08 pm
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Thanks, (and sorry for the long time between replies). In some ways I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one running into this problem, it's what's driving my research. I believe I can create a design that web-apps (mainly open-source projects) can follow in order to make this process simpler and thus allow for their 'product' to be used by more people.

What I'm eventually trying to do is design a web application that works on its own or can be installed 'inside' of a content management system and share data and a UI with the CMS. It should also remain autonomous enough that it can continue to be upgraded to new versions when necessary. I wouldn't want to suggest a new CMS system altogether, there's already enough out there and people have already made their choice for their specific reasons.

Any other experiences would be super helpful (any applications or integration steps that were found to be either very trivial or very much non-trivial or anything else).
Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 3:57 pm
Posts: 3360
I have reasonable good experiences with integrating things in Wordpress. Either self made php scripts or Zend framework stuff. The advantage with Wordpress (IMHO) is that the theme and templates are made of plain PHP. So if a certain template (say "page_withsomeformonit") needs some PHP logic I can easily write it in that template. That can be a few lines of PHP or a few includes starting up ZF and using ZF code.

There's also the other way around: putting a PHP app inside a regular folder on the server, next to the wordpress files. And then in the Application templates include the Wordpress header and footer templates, and in that way reusing the layout/design.

In both cases:
- there's only one codebase for the layout
- someone surfing the website never knows he switches from a awordpress page to an app page

And because everything custom is inside the theme, upgrading Wordpress never causes problems.

Must admit, there might be better solutions, but it's not too complicated or hackery and works pretty well.


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