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Case Study: ASP.NET social networking website with PHP blog

Abstract

This client is an Italy based company operating a social network website. This web site comprised an outmoded blog module written in ASP.NET which was difficult to maintain. Therefore Nova helped the client to develop a web control for the function of sending batches of emails, replace the old blog system with WordPress which is a famous blog system, and customize it to eliminate the weakness in uploading files by WordPress.

Situation

This client is an Italy based company operating a social network website. This web site comprised an outmoded blog module which was difficult to maintain. Then the client was thinking of replacing the old blog with WordPress. However he was also unsatisfied with WordPress' weak function for uploading files. Therefore he decided to engage our expert to develop a web control for the function of sending batches of emails. In addition to further enrichment of the site functions, he also looked to customize the WordPress.

WordPress is the most famous blog system now.

Requirements

The project was divided into three sub-projects: File Manager Control, Mass Mailing Control and Blogs Integration.

File Manager Control

We were required to use Fancy Uploader to realize the file upload function and make all the interface can be customized by amending relevant XSLT template.

Mass Mailing Control

The sub-project should realize the function of Email collection and filtration, as well as the procedure of sending Email through Widows Service of the background.

Blogs Integration

The part should integrate the blog of WPMU to the current system.

Solutions

Technology required

  • XML/XSLT
  • JavaScript/Prototypes
  • Windows Service
  • Asp.net/Custom User Control
  • PHP
  • Custom Word Press Mu Plug-in
  • SWF File Uploader

System Architecture

We adopted a multi-user version called WordPress Mu(sometimes WPMu for short) because this version had some functions that were closer to the client's requirements.

But the website was wrote in ASP.NET, so we added the layer Proxy/Gateway to communicate between the website and WPMU

ASP.NET web site

This was a social network website of the client which we integrated to WPMU.

Proxy/Gateway

As we knew WPMu was a PHP project using the database MySql while the client's original web site was an Asp.net project using the database SQLServer2005. So we decided to develop the layer to communicate between PHP and ASP. We reserved the user's information in the ASP.Net and used PHP to deal with identity authentication information. At the same time Asp.Net also could call the custom network API written in PHP to access the data in WPMu.

WPMU layer

WordPress is a PHP open source project that has multiple versions and supporting Plugin and Theme. To realize accounts synchronization, we implemented account authentication by intercepting API function through plug-in.

Challenges of the development process

  • In the development of the sub-project "File Manager Control", we were required to use Fancy Uploader to realize the file upload function. However there was a stubborn problem: the Fancy Uploader control also used a JavaScript framework named MooTools which would conflict with prototype.js.

    As the time was very tight, we advised that temporarily rename the related method in MooTools for the purpose of resolving the conflict.

  • WPMU supports two types of deployment, one is deploying through visiting the directory and the other is deploying through supporting subdomain. We adopted the client's suggestion to deploy using subdomain. But the subdomain was often parsed to wrong websites.

    We found that IIS filter plug-in didn't support the subdomain well. So we gave up deploying on IIS and switched to use Apache deployment on the Linux platform

Benefits to the Client

  • The completed code has greatly enhanced the expansibility, stability and maintainability.
  • The original web site has added more members after the system integrated the Word Press Mu blog to the Asp.net.
  • The new system is easier to update for the client and brings the latest user experience.
  • We have helped our client reduce their development cost.