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Using the CakeDC Tags plugin for CakePHP

This is an introduction to using the CakeDC Tags plugin for CakePHP. I'll take you through a new project creation, and the addition of the Tags plugin to your project for use with tagging a Blog model on your project. You should be able to take the skills learnt here to any other project, and start taking advantage of the Tags plugin for tagging your models appropriately.

Lets get started by baking a new project:

cake bake project blog1

Follow the prompts to complete the baking operation.

You will now have a "blog1" directory available. Change into that directory:

cd blog1

ensure that the `tmp` directory is writable:

chmod -R 777 tmp

Open up the `config/database.php.default` file in your favourite editor. Immediately choose to "Save as..." and save the file in the same location omitting the ".default" part of the filename. So save the file as `config/database.php`.

Configure the options at the bottom to match the database credentials for your application. Mine are as follows:

<?php
class DATABASE_CONFIG {
   var $default = array(
      'driver' => 'mysql',
      'persistent' => false,
      'host' => 'localhost',
      'login' => 'dev',
      'password' => 'dev',
      'database' => 'blog1',
      'prefix' => '',
   );
}

For the moment, I have remove the 'test' datasource, as we won't use that right now.

Go ahead and create your MySQL database, and a simple table to hold blog items:

CREATE DATABASE `blog1`;
USE `blog1`;

CREATE TABLE `blogs` (
   `id` CHAR(36) NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
   `title` VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL,
   `body` TEXT,
   `created` DATETIME,
   `modified` DATETIME
);

Now lets bake the controller, model and views for this blogs table, in order to be able to add and edit content. Once this is complete, we'll begin integrating the tags plugin into the application.

First bake the model:

cake bake model blog

Next bake the controller. The following bakes all the "public" actions for this controller:

cake bake controller blog public

And finally, the views:

cake bake view all

Browse around your application at the address: /blogs to begin with to ensure that your app is functioning correctly. You should be able to add, edit, delete and view blog entries.

Time to get cracking on the Tags plugin. Our objective here is to tag each blog entry with an arbitrary tag at add / edit time to allow us to easily categorise content we are posting.

In order to download and install the Tags plugin, I'll be using git. You can however download an archive from the github website, and extract that archive into your `APP/plugins` directory. In either case, the result will be a `tags` directory in your `APP/plugins` directory, containing the contents of the CakeDC tags plugin.

From your `APP` directory (in this example, the APP directory is `blog1`), clone the tags repository:

git clone git://github.com/CakeDC/tags.git plugins/tags

The first thing that we need to do now that the Tags plugin has been added to our project, is to create the tables required to store the tag information. These are available in schema's and migrations within the Tags plugin, so you don't need to handle the SQL yourself, just use the cake console to create the tables for you:

If you prefer using the builtin CakePHP schema mechanism, or you are not sure what the "migrations" plugin is, you can create the database tables like this:

cake schema create schema -plugin tags -name tags

If however, you are familiar with using the migrations plugin, or you want to use the migrations plugin for this project, add the migration plugin to your project, and then run the migrations:

git clone git://github.com/CakeDC/migrations.git plugins/migrations

cake migration -plugin tags all

Either method is fine.

Next up, we need to add the `Taggable` behavior from the `Tags` plugin to our model to enable all the awesome functionality. Add the following variable to your `Blog` model in `APP/models/blog.php`:

public $actsAs = array(
   'Tags.Taggable'
);

Finally, we need to add a new input for the tags on our add and edit screens, to allow users to customise the tags they want for the blog posts. Simply add a new input called 'tags' to your forms, such as the following:

echo $this->Form->input('tags', array('type' => 'text'));

Note that this needs to be done for both your add and edit views.

You can also make this be of type `textarea`, if you need gigantic amounts of tags. `text` is fine though, to allow a good number of tags, and to minimise the input space.

This is all you need to do to enable your content to be tagged! Looking back at all the instructions so far, the bulk of the content has been on how to create a new project, bake the model, views and controller, and the addition of plugins. In terms of code addition, we've only added a behavior to the Blog model, and a new input to the add and edit views.

To test your tagging, use a comma to separate your tags when using the tags input. Using a comma allows you to enable users to add multiple-word tags.

What now!? You can tag stuff, thats pretty cool. You probably want to look up blog posts based on tags now. Thats already provided for you in the Tags Controller quick comes with the Tags plugin. Browse to `/tags` to see the tags controller index action from the tags plugin render all the tags that you have added to your blog so far.

There is a whole lot more that you can do with tagging in terms of both operation and the visual representation of the tags themselves. Stay tuned for more blog articles explaining our plugins and other interesting PHP and CakePHP code from myself and the rest of the CakeDC team.

UPDATE: An excellent guide on how to style the tags with CSS has been written by @WyriHaximus, check it out here.

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Difference between UX and UI

UX and UI are often misused in the tech industry. Understanding the key differences between UX and UI is beneficial, we take a quick look at both. UX, User Experience Design, and UI, User Interface Design, are both crucial to a product, such as a website, and work closely together while remaining vastly different disciplines. UX design tends to be more analytical and technical, while UI is not. A basic example for UX design would refer to how users interact with CakeDC.com, where they find the navigation menus (is this as per industry norm or do they have difficulty navigating around the website to find the information they are looking for, or how to contact CakeDC via our contact form or telephone number). Whereas UI design looks at ensuring brand relevance through the look and feel of the site, keeping color standards as per best practice. UX, User Experience Design UXD or User Experience Design refers to the process of enhancing the experience that a user has with a company, its products or its services. This is done by focusing on increasing the ease of use as well as improving the overall interaction between the user and the product or service. Good user experience design translates to customer satisfaction and loyalty so it's vitally important to ensure good design is put to practice! As a UX designer, you will  need to understand your site’s users and potential users, from creating persona’s to determining user stories and carrying out user testing. A persona could be an example of a customer who is seeking more information by contacting you versus a visitor who would like to learn more by reading your blog. UI, User Interface Design User Interface Design is the look, feel and interactivity of the product, basically referring to the means by which the user and a product (such as a website) interact with each other. The end goal of UI Design is to “achieve structure, analysis and optimization of a customer’s experience with the company and product.” UI Design includes activities that range from user guides and story lines through to UI prototyping and implementation with the development team.
  While there are differences between UX and UI, there are some similarities, let’s look at these:

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  • Focus on the user and his/her interaction with a product/service such as having an easy to navigate menu
  • Can be applied to any product
Here is an example of the planning behind CakeDC.com

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  3. Define your target audience - who is your idea visitor? Look at your customer journey and describe your customer.
  4. Have you checked out your competitors? Conduct competitive research - their overall look, problem areas, good ideas that appeal to you and your product/redesign.
  5. Outline your key features - identify what is most important to your website redesign. From shopping carts to news posts, landing pages, social sharing, security updates.
  6. Set your budget - outline what you want and how much you’d like to spend on it. Who - an agency, a freelancer etc - as well as the size or scope of your project, backend applications or additional features that you are looking for.
  7. Create a timeline and schedule your milestones - When do you expect to see things happen.
  8. Have you considered optimization? Don’t forget to make sure that your site is optimized social media and search engines.
  9. Test and revise - before launching!

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