I’m the IT Manager for Jadecliff Ltd, a UK-based wholesaler of Christmas trees with plantations across Europe as well as at home. When I joined their IT systems were outdated or non-existant, but there’s been a steady encroachment since I joined and one of the first parts was building a modern website to represent the company.
Today’s post covers the website I built for Marldon Christmas Trees, my workplace, for the 2014 festive season. The basic website is built on WordPress, with a slew of custom plugin code to handle two booking forms and a customized letter from Santa designer which we’ve seen before. So, let’s dive in.
Long time no blog!
I’ve been so busy at work recently I haven’t had any time to work on other stuff, and for the record, I’ve now got plans to rewrite my sort-of-game engine under Haxe 3 and OpenFL, so whenever I get around to that expect some new articles!
But today I have a little php nugget I had to put together recently that I think someone will find useful!
In the past I’ve dabbled with generating images dynamically in php – usually basic stuff, website statistics etc. But recently I had to do something a little more advanced in generating preview images of letters that people would be paying for. This involved placing a large amount of text within a series of template images – including ones with oddly shaped spaces where the text would have to go, which presents the problem of getting it to fit in the gap. I guess you could brute force it – manually position each line – but that’s frankly ludicrous and not future-friendly at all.
So, let’s make a solution. (more…)
Long time no blog, so here’s a quick catch up: I got a job at a small start up doing many varied and interesting things. The first project I was given built on my experiences with game development, and somewhat outstandingly I got to start writing a new game in Haxe NME! I can’t go in to details about the title right now, but it’s 99% complete and looking good.
One desired aspect of the game was an online leaderboard of some sort, so we can assign rewards to weekly/monthly winners. I’d never even looked at NMEs web function before, vaguely deciding I’d worry about highscores in Tower Defence “at some point”. To my relief it’s super simple to use, and with a few php files on a server I’ve got a nice simple highscore system running… Someone’s bound to find this useful since I couldn’t find any complete samples online, so here we go… (more…)
Before the current Nerdshack, and before the previous Nerdshack, there was the original Nerdshack – the same site really, blog, portfolio and random drivel, but in a more designed shell. I recently found this single screenshot of the old design and figured I’d publish it for posterity. I still like it – those boxy headline backgrounds were based on the window frames from the Watercolour theme in Windows Whistler (XP) builds 2410-2419, and the boxy layout of the sidebar complimented it nicely. In the final iteration, the lower boxes on the sidebar contained links to recent blog posts, and clicking any link in to the blog triggered a smooth transition to the identically laid out but much darker design of the blog. I’m currently investigating building a similar theme for the current site – the grey is nice but it is a bit depressing after a while!
I regard Pixita as my first “real” programming project, way back around 2006/07. I had been experimenting with Visual Basic since about 14 (although how much I understood what I was doing is questionnable) but trying to make sense of other languages made my head spin; It wasn’t until University started teaching me Java that suddenly everything clicked in to place, and now I can understand most any language thrown at me.
Just a quick one: In re-creating my blog I had to go through one of my least favourite ordeals, choosing a theme. Given time I’d create my own (but, also given time, I’d probably just write my own bare bones CMS) but that’s not an option, so I usually look for simple, clean themes that I can perhaps customize a little bit and be done with. This theme is called Greyville, by the way, it’s rather pretty I think.
I actually set this blog up locally using Xampp first so I could import a few posts, do those theme mods and make sure everything worked before it went live. I was using the Greyville theme for a while, and had gotten used to it, when I realized it didn’t support a proper menu bar. So I decided I’d add one, how hard could it be?
Fairly simple it turns out, if you have the WordPress API imprinted on your mind. I spent most of my time looking up functions and then trying to chase their dependencies around the internet to find out why they weren’t working right. But I got there eventually, and I thought posting this information could help someone else who just wants to add a menu bar, or wonders why none of his custom php works…
In 2008/9 I visited a bar near where I lived called The Indie Lounge frequently. Friendly staff, live music and cheap drinks beckoned me in, but after a while I began work on an altogether more professional project with them – creating a website.
There was some interest in having an online presence which could be customized and styled, unlike the bars most prevalent means of communication at the time, Facebook. So I went and built a design I felt reflected the bar, grungy and dark. From there, things got a little strange…
As a teenager I was very active on technology discussion forums, and became the in-house developer for several. Modifying themes for Invision Power Board (now IP.Board), and tweaks to any external web sites or front pages were my general jobs, although I did make a few skins from scratch way back when.
The largest project I ever undertook was for a large community of over 30,000 members – the site had previously had a web site front end linked to their forum, but lost it during some upgrades. I created a new portal for them which linked in to their forums and displayed the top news posts, as well as most recent posts across the whole board, popular downloads, and a custom poll widget. I also created an extensive admin panel allowing admins to control exactly which forums the top/most recent posts were drawn from and set the poll.