Personal SFML Website Updated

A bit late, but better late than never: Happy New Year to everyone!

So the past few days I’ve been working on a new front- and back-end for my small personal website, targeted towards anything related to SFML. Active SFML developers and/or SFML forum readers might already know that I’ve been providing SFML Nightly Builds for a handful of compiler, up to now the downloads were provided through a small self written PHP file and linked in the static HTML download section. Now they’ve got a dedicated place and user-friendlier URLs.

Now let me talk a bit about the two frameworks, which currently power the new website. Both of them were fairly new to me and thus I had a lot to learn and read.

As for the front-end I used Twitter Bootstrap, the evermore popular collection of CSS and JavaScript assets, that give your site with a very simple HTML skeleton a somewhat standardized look and feel, which a many find quite intuitive and appealing to work with. The small SFML website wasn’t the first project with which I got myself introduced to Twitter Bootstrap, but it had recently refactored an older database-project, I had made for a friend of mine a few years back. The simplicity and powerfulness of the framework really surprised me and with the help of the online documentation working on a nice HTML site is a very easy task.

The decision for a proper back-end was a bit harder, since there are so many different ones and each of them provide again different features, which might sound genius, but can have a huge learning-curve, so you’d end up digging through tutorials and documentations for hours. The first framework I’ve had in mind was Symfony 2. It is a well-known and respected PHP framework and one can do any kind of web application with it. But because it’s so loosely coupled and generalized the learning curve is quite big. Although they provide some nice introduction tutorials, I’ve never gotten a good overview and never really understood how one would get to write a simple application with it.
In the search for something less clumsy and complex I went to Wikipedia’s web framework list and clicked me through one after the other, until I reached CodeIgniter. Looking at the short feature list on their website, I was immediately hooked and was pleasantly surprised as I switched to the documentation, which is structured cleanly and lets you choose on how deep you want to go, but builds up your knowledge about the basics step by step. Within a few minutes I had a running back-end with custom URL routing. The only problem I ran into was the correct mod_rewrite routing and I could only resolve it with some googling. So in case someone would by accident find my blog, here’s the correct routing I use to abstract the index.php away:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond $1 !^(index.php|img|css|js|robots.txt)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /index.php?/$1 [L,QSA]

That way one gets a nice URL like https://my-gate.net/about/ which will get redirected automatically to the index.php.

Anyways I’m quite happy with the combination of Twitter Bootstrap and CodeIgniter and will most certainly use them further for different projects. I’m here specially thinking about SFMLUploads, which has as back-end only a few very hackish PHP files and thus is constantly failing and very hard to maintain.

Do you have any experience with CodeIgniter, Boostrap or any other framework you want to drop a line in the comment section?