Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to Getting current News items on Home Page!

Posted by S. Y. on
Chunks looks exactly like what I want, I guess my problem with the incorporation of dynamic data with HTML is I'm really a "newbie" when it comes to the use of TCL and the entire ACS system. While I am proficient with the use of php and HTML, the ACS way is different. I'm used to the HTML being in plain sight with the php embedded into the basic HTML page. The .tcl page looks completely different, in fact it looks like a large TCL script with a little HTML embedded into it.

It's hard to follow the index.tcl page from the Intranet module because of the interaction with all the extra files in many different modules; some of which are not in the document root.

There is a significant, non-trivial learning curve in using ACS Classic and OpenACS. That's the way it is. There are certainly other alternatives (Zope, PHP, ColdFusion, Vignette, Slashcode, whatever). You will probably not be building photo.nets in your first week.

When I get back to work I'm going to print out all the pages in the OpenACS 3.2.5 distro and see what I can learn.

That's a lot of pages and Classic ACS/OpenACS are heavily dependent on things like preloaded Tcl procs, etc. If you choose to take this avenue, don't forget to print out all of the SQL that builds all the PostgreSQL tables. The data model is very important.

I don't know how you've decided how you are going to read all those pages. At least with the ACS Classic, documentation has ranged wildly from terse "Look at the source code" to the ACS version of War and Peace. I started diddling with the ACS in late 1998 and I can't imagine trying to print out Classic ACS's source + docs and trying to read it linearly. But that's just me. (I have no idea if OpenACS is markedly easier to read.)

You might be better off carefully studying relatively simple modules (I dunno: news, press, maybe faq).

ArsDigita used to have 3-week bootcamps with 3-5 problem sets. Depending on your learning style, you might be better off doing the psets first before tackling your own custom module, especially since you admitted to being an ACS/OpenACS/Tcl newbie. If you haven't read it, is still relevant. Buy Brent Welch's Tcl/Tk book; the first few chapters of the Tcl stuff should give you a good start.

I mentioned intranet/index.tcl because it's actually a good starting point. Make a backup copy (cp index.tcl index-orig.tcl) and hack down the page until it only has two dynamically generated elements. By dumbing down the page to this level, the code should be relatively easy to read. The ACS is so replete with code of different complexity and different quality (both in code and documentation), it's probably one of the best places from which to start.

Good luck.