Forum OpenACS Q&A: Hello! New to AOLServer and OPENACS. Question...

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Do people generally use ACS for ideas, do they extract code and pieces to build thier own sites, do they always run the whole shabang...
I'm new to AOLServer, but within the last 24hrs of programming on it, I LOVE it. I've already created my own vehicle service tracker. (www.snyderworld.org/VST). Anyhow, I would like to create a simple paired down version of a digital image library (I don't need a full photo.net implementaion), and I see one in OPENACS. However, installing OPENACS to see what's there is good enough, but I don't want my real photo library to to be running in this type of environment, I want it to be separated from this ACS environment.
I know it may sound stupid, but I'm having troubles pulling what I want out of ACS alone, I know I can do it with enough time, but I was wondering if this is what people usally do, or am I missing somthing completly obvious.

Ken

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Posted by bill kellerman on
hi kenneth.

there are plenty of docs laying around on the background and purpose of openacs.  basically, it's a set of tools (database connectivity, templating, cacheing, on and on) that you'd use to build your own functionality (like the photo album) without having to start from scratch.

instead of picking code to use in your own system, you'd want to install the openacs core framework and either add packages on top or write your own packages.  you'll find doing this makes things *much* easier as a lot of work will have already been done for you.

why wouldn't you want to run the whole thing?  what kinds of things are you looking to do on aolserver outside of openacs?

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Kenneth, people who want to use at least some of OpenACS just about always install all of the OpenACS core, plus whatever additional packages they're interested in.

There is some interest in refactoring a bunch of the OpenACS Tcl code (e.g., the database API, templating system, and user authentication) to make it easier to use in non-OpenACS AOLserver environments, but currently it's not especially easy to do, and it definitely won't work that way out of the box.

So unless you have unusual or extreme requirements (e.g., an application server with no human users and which must not use a database at all), I recomend just installing the OpenACS core and using it, rather than trying to extract medium-sized chunks of functionality from the toolkit in order to use them stand-alone in AOLserver.

Once you are more familiar and proficient with OpenACS, you will probably see for yourself those few applications where you really might be better of just using some code taken from OpenACS, rather than installing OpenACS. But those areas are probably much fewer than you'd at first think, and hardly anyone does it, so you should definitely start out with the "mainstream" path of installing the OpenACS core and using it.

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Posted by Kenneth Snyder on
The only reason I wanted to do it was because the ACS core seems like a lot of overhead, especially on ones database,  especially if you want just one app from it. PLus, and this is probably just me missing something, but I just can't seem to make ACS work unless it's my top level page(all links are back to your root, and if it's not the ACS root page, it doesn't work), like I said, I'm new to AOLServer/OpenACS and just havn't had a lot of time yet to play with it and am probably missing something basic.
I have installed ACS, and it is really a wonderful thing. I san see many hard years of work here.

Ken

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Yeah, there is some performance overhead to using OpenACS, but since everyone else tends to see the same overhead from the core, the experts eventually tend to beat on it until the overhead knows its place again and stays small and meak. :) Like Don improving permissions performance and scalability way back when, etc.

And actually, sometimes the worst performance problems you see are due to making silly AOLserver configuration mistakes, which can bite you whether you're using OpenACS or not. I know because I've made that mistake myself. :)

I'm not sure what you mean about your top level page problem, can you elaborate?

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Posted by Kenneth Snyder on
The top level problem is :
if the ACS root page is not in my pageroot directory(lets say pageroot is /aolserver/www), say it's somewhere else, like mydomain.com/acs (so that would make the physical directory /aolserver/www/acs), the main ACS page  will come up, but none of the links will work because they are relative pathed from aolserver's pageroot directory.
I think I just need to play with config.tcl file some more.
I'm running AOLServer 3.5.5, is the special acs version of aolserver required?

In an unrelated topic, is there an AOLServer forum or NG like this. I can find the "chat logs", but I can't seem to find any forums. I have some questions regarding AOLServer, like exactly how do I have multiple servers "virtual servers" on the same machine. So like snyderworld.org would go to one page, and snyderworld.net would go to another, even though it's going to the same physical machine. Is nsvhr required for that,  Anyhow that and a few others...most of it surely can be solved by myself with probably just some more time invested in playing, but it would be nice to save some time.
THanks for your response.
Ken

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Posted by bill kellerman on
kenneth,

aolserver's mailing  list is at http://listserv.aol.com/archives/aolserver.html (with archives).

before i started using openacs, i used aolserver 4's internet virtual hosting which worked great.

then once i started using openacs, it was much, much more simple.  define a url in your site map and use the host-node-map settings in site settings to attach a hostname to a root url.

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Ah, I see. I've never heard of anyone using OpenACS where their mysite/ URL was not the same as the OpenACS pageroot URL. So probably you're trying to do something no one ever wanted to do before. It is likely feasible, but it might mean hacking the OpenaCS request processor.

Presumably you have some legacy (before you started using OpenACS) content which you want to use as your front page? You should be able to do that regardless. I'd suggest making your AOLserver and OpenACS page roots match the way most people do and trying things a different way.

On AOLserver versions, you need 3.3+ad13 for internationalization support which OpenACS uses. There may be other little reasons why 3.3+ad13 (or soon, 4.0) is required, but I don't really remember. If you're using it already, 3.5.5 will probably work fine, until you run into some minor obscure bug. If you have problems just upgrade to AOLserver 4.0. Currently 4.0 does not have SSL support, other than that it should be ready to go for use with OpenACS.

You can join the AOLserver email list.

There is lots of AOLserver virtual server info scattered in all sorts of places. For what you want, AOLserver 4.0 is probably the simplest choice, it will let you run both snyderworld.org and snyderworld.net within a single AOLserver process.