mojoPortal Released

I'm happy to announce the release of mojoPortal

This release contains some significant database schema changes, almost every table has some new columns. As with every upgrade, its important that you backup your site and your database before upgrading so that you can get back to a known working condition should anything go wrong. I fully expect the upgrade to go smoothly and my advice about backing up is no different than any other release. I just figure that since the upgrade scripts are touching so many tables it merits emphasizing this precaution.

So why were so many tables modified this time? Well its laying the foundation for some things to come.

Architectural Changes - Guids are Good

Although we are using integer ids on most tables in mojoPortal (which is optimal for performance), we have added Guids (Globally Unique Identifiers) to most tables that can be thought of as supplemental primary keys and foreign keys. Guids are guaranteed to be unique across machines. It seems almost impossible but supposedly you can generate Guids all day and never make the same one twice or conflict with ones generated on other machines. So what are the benefits of having these Guids on your tables?

One benefit is that it makes it more feasible if you need to combine data from 2 mojoPortal sites into one site. It still would require some custom query work, but the basic idea is that the imported data would not get the same integer ids as it had in the previous system, but the relationships between rows could be re-established using the Guids.

The other benefit and perhaps the more important one is that it allows flexible relationships between tables that make it easier to re-use some functionality across features. For example, I plan soon to implement some things like Content Rating and Content Versioning. So for example I will need a ContentHistory table for the versioning so I can store a copy of every change to a content instance. Instead of implementing this versioning just for the Html Content feature, I'm implementing it in a way that multiple features can use it. So instead of having joins between the ContentHistory table and the HtmlContent table, I will store the history using the Guid that identifies the Html Content instance. It will be able to retrieve its history by passing in its Guid. I could then re-use it in the Blog feature if I want because blog items have their own Guids and can retrieve their history by passing in a Guid. Same thing for the event calendar feature. So basically the ContentHistory table doesn't care which features store their history in it and doesn't have any hard foreign key relationships, but instead loose relationships by virtue of Guids. So the ContentHistory table will have a column named ContentGuid which can relate to the Guid columns of any feature specific tables.

Consider the ContentRating table, again it will have a column named ContentGuid, but I could pass in any feature instance specific Guid, or I could even pass in a page Guid and have ratings at the page level or content instance level. I'll be able to re-use it in Blogs, Html Content, Events, Forums, or anywhere else I need to use it. It will of course be up to the feature or page or whatever to know how to retrieve its ratings or history using its own Guids.

I have not yet implemented  Content Ratings or Content Versioning, but with the Guids in place I can now implement it once and use it in flexible ways across various features. You won't notice anything in the user experience yet from this addition of Guid columns, but the value of this will be more apparent in future releases. These are just examples too, there are actually a lot more things like tagging, meta data and other sub systems that I want to be able to re-use across features and the use of Guids will make that much easier to implement.

Also, this release introduces SubSonic into our architecture which will make it much easier going forward to support all the different databases. See my previous post for more information about the use of SubSonic in mojoPortal.

Blog Enhancements

Its now possible to have a google map in your blog posts by entering a location. Not sure how often you will find that useful, but its there if you need it. A more exciting enhancement to the blog is support for Odiogo, a free service that can generate audio podcasts from you posts automatically. To use it all you have to do is enter your Odiogo feed id and podcast url into the blog settings. Both of these enhancements were pretty low hanging fruit, that is, easy to implement.

Event Calendar Enhancements

Its now possible to enter a location for an Event and have a google map appear in the event details page. The google maps api key now can be stored in Site Settings for all google map enabled features.

Forum Enhancement

A small but useful enhancement is the ability to view threads by user. For any user that has made forum posts now a link to "View Posts" appears below their forum signature as well as on the member list and profile pages.

A New Image Gallery

I blogged about this new feature here.

More work on WebStore

I've been working a lot recently on getting the WebStore feature working on MySql for two reasons. One is so that I can demo it at the MySql Conference. The other is so that I can open up a store on this site to sell premium features. Its very challenging making a living as an open source developer when you give away your products. I do ok when I get consulting work but that is sporadic and not all the work I get has any benefit to the mojoPortal project so sometimes its actually slowing down progress of the project when I take consulting work. Most of the actual progress is still happening when I'm working for free on my own time. So I'm hoping that I can come up with some premium features that you would be willing to pay for. The core of mojoPortal will always remain open source but I need to get some revenue stream going so that I can afford to keep working on improving the core features. I'm also going to roll out a corporate benefactor program soon to make it easier for companies who are building their infrastructure on mojoPortal to get involved in supporting the project financially and influencing the direction of progress.

The WebStore feature should still be considered very experimental, but as I get it running on this site and begin to use it in actual commerce, it will get polished up more quickly and soon be in a condition for others to use.

This release also includes fixes for various bugs posted in the forums since the last release.

As always, be sure and backup your site and database before upgrading, and if you run into any problems post in the forums and I will try to help.

New Tutorial Videos

Gravatar Joe Audette is the founder of the mojoPortal project and was the primary developer until February 2017.