Thomas A. Limoncelli

Thomas Limoncelli Everything Sysadmin.com
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Everything Sysadmin.com

I am a professional system administrator but I use PRO-IT for installations, upgrades, and hosting to free up my time for other projects. It's like multiplying myself! PRO-IT's expertise in MovableType impresses me to no end. Even tricky things like moving from a static site to a dynamic site, or fixing strange Perl Library problems are no problem for them. I plan on using PRO-IT in the future!

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Healthcare Shopper Redesign

Healthcare Shopper Redesign

Description:

HealthCareShopper.com needed help for improving the Website architecture and for completely redesigning its look and feel.


Project Details:

My working relationship with Phil Daigle from Healthcare Shopper is very strong. This time Phil wanted to completely redesign his project, and to also change a bit the Web site architecture in an attempt to make the project more appealing and accessible for his audience.


Technical Specifications:

It's so nice to maintain a long term business relationship! This is the feeling I have when I think about Phil Daigle as well as most of my customers.

Coding the Website Layout

Phil told me about his goals and gave me a completely redesigned Website interface which I've then hand coded in web page format based on xhtml v1.0 transitional and css v2.0.

Movable Type Redesign

Then we've integrated the new design within the movable type installation the project is running on.

The Website is quite complex, but two of its sections called "Advice" and "Blog" are movable type blogs based on the Unity Blue standard theme and on a TWT layout (thin, wide, thin).

While the work on applying the new design to the other sections was quite complex, on these 2 blogs I've just integrated the site-wide header and tweaked a bit the Unity Blue theme to match the rest of the site.

Movable Type Upgrade

We've used this occasion to also upgrade movable type to the latest release in an attempt to benefit of the latest Six Apart efforts on making the movable type publishing platform even better.

Movable Type Custom Fields

Over time we've added a couple of custom fields to the HeathcareShopper.com Website.

At that time the most effective technique was to create the custom fields as individual columns inside the entries table from the movable type project mysql database. To allow that I've had to hack some movable type source code files.

While initially hacking those source files wasn't such a big deal, over time that process became a pain as with each and every upgrade I've had to again hack a couple of movable type source files. The pain was even higher as very often I've had to recode the hacking from a version to another, as Six Apart continuously improved the movable type source files.

Six Apart included a native custom fields facility starting from the v4.x series and this made us decide to switch from hacked custom fields to this native function so we could upgrade movable type easier.

I've replicated the custom fields using the embedded movable type facility, but the problem was how to port the data from the hacked fields into the native one.

Migrating Movable Type Custom Fields Data

Porting the data from hacked custom fields into the native custom fields' facility was a very tricky task.

The only option I've had to make this possible was to code a custom plugin for it.

The plugin I've coded allowed me to automate the data migration!

The last thing I did on the custom fields task was to replace the movable type tags specific for the hacked custom fields with the movable type tags specific to the movable type native custom fields.

Screenshots

You could see the project live online, but let me show you two screenshots right away.

Home Page

HealthCareShopper.com Home Page

http://www.healthcareshopper.com/


Advice Section Individual Page

HealthCareShopper.com Advice Section Individual Page

http://www.healthcareshopper.com/advice/


Contracting:

Contracting from HealthcareShopper.com, Laguna Beach, California, U.S.A.


Period:

February 2010