OpenACS Packages

Using the APM application to install, distribute and remove packages specifically used in database applications.

OpenACS packages, distributed as .apm files and managed with the APM application within CVS, make it possible to create and distribute web/database applications. Once imported, an APM package can be instantiated multiple times, each with its own permissions and associated parameters. As we will see next month, you also can use APM to create your own web/database application packages and distribute them easily to coworkers and other community members.



Reuven M. Lerner is a consultant specializing in web/database applications and open-source software. His book, Core Perl, was published in January 2002 by Prentice Hall. Reuven lives in Modi'in, Israel, with his wife and daughter.



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Re: At the Forge: OpenACS Packages

Anonymous's picture

I am interested in the statement you make I have found parameters to be a particularly useful part of OpenACS, in that they let me create an application once and use it many times, but give each instance its own configuration.
Can you give some detail and examples of the configurable parameters for applications? I am especially interested in how configurable the UI to OACS application pages is. For instance, if I have several instances of bulletin boards configured, can I have them all look different? How would I go about modifying the basic look of an OACS application per instance?
Thanks for your insight:)

Re: At the Forge: OpenACS Packages

ReuvenMLerner's picture

If you're familiar with object-oriented programming, then you can think of package parameters as instance variables: Each instance has the same variables, but different values in each variable.

And just as different objects have different instance variables, different packages have different parameters. The calendar package might have a parameter asking for what language you want to use to display text, and whether weeks start on Sunday or Monday, and what the name of the CSS file is for that package. The bulletin board package might have a parameter to indicate whether it displays messages in threads or chronologically,

Permissions are explicitly not handled by parameters. Permissions are a separate animal, and are set with a different administration page.

In theory, a package can allow its look and feel to be modified using parameters. In reality, most packages only let you change some basic features, and expect the basic look and feel to stay the same. If you want to really change things, then you use CSS at the global level, or the "default master" for the particular site or subsite you're using.

I expect that over time, as people want to customize the user interface more and more, the number of parameters will grow. At the same time, OpenACS is designed to be taken apart and modified, for a variety of reasons.

Does this make sense?


Re: At the Forge: OpenACS Packages

Anonymous's picture

Hi. Yes, thanks.

I also noticed a "skin" package that seems to help customize look and feel of subsites.

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