Vince Rants

What Is Altaform

Why does the "Vince Rants" blog even exist in the first place?

Hi, I'm Vince, and I'm the guy who loves to rant a lot! But there is a very particular reason why I've put this site together.

The "Vince Rants" web site is one of a collection of web sites that runs on the Altaform development platform. But what is Altaform?

Altaform is an in-house PHP based micro-framework for developing custom web sites. The intentions and purpose of the framework has changed greatly since the idea was initially formed.

The very start of Altaform came about because I wanted a way to document my PHP Universal Database Library (PUDL) that I was developing at the time. PUDL can be thought of at the very basics as something similar to PHP's built in PDO objects. PUDL, however, takes this several steps further by having a fully integrated SQL query generator that is compatible across several database backends without the need to modify or write conditional application code at all.

During the very early stages of Altaform's first site, the PUDL documentation, something else caught my attention. I started to use Altaform to develop the second site, Cospix. This took things in a wildly different dirrection. Cospix is a social networking platform for cosplayers and photographers, offering user profile, image hosting, convention tracking, and many more features. Because this took up a significant chunk of my time, the initial Altaform web site was pushed to the side.

My day-job dealt with building a custom system for an antique autoparts company. Their entire inventory management system, customer account management, invoicing, and purchase ordering was all handled through a web site that I had designed and built from scratch over the years. Due to the rapidly increasing featureset of Altaform, I quicked decided to convert their web site over to Altaform from the previous PHP framework I had developed. Hagen's Auto Parts, Inc. (HAPINC) marks the second publicly accessable web site built on top of Altaform.

But what about this blog? I wanted to build a tool set on both Cospix and HAPINC which featured a rich WYSIWYG text editor directly on both sites. Rather than build them into each site individually, I decided to take the crazier approach, and replace my existing WordPress blog with something custom built in Altaform. "Vince Rants" was born out of this particular need!

This blogging platform built on top of Altaform is the third publicly available representation of what Altaform can do. As of this writing, this blog consists of roughly only 200 lines of combined PHP and HTML template source code, with Altaform handling the rest. Below is an example of the code used to generate the homepage.

_index.php

<?php $af ->header() ->load('_index.tpl') ->block('rant', $db->rows( 'rant_article', $af->visible(), 'rant_id DESC' )) ->render() ->footer();

_index.tpl

<ul id="rant-list"> <li class="rant-draft-[rant.rant_draft]"> <a href="[afurl.base]/[rant.rant_title;f=urlname]"> [rant.rant_title;block=li] </a> </li> </ul>

The fourth site in development using Altaform is going back to the original idea of documenting PUDL. But things are once again taken leaps and bounds further with the idea. As of this writing, the Altaform web site is still pre-alpha release, just a series of tech demos, but it will include more than initially intended. The Altaform site now automatically parses the PHP source code for PUDL, Altaform, and a few other projects to generate documentation automatically. This site can be viewed at: Altaform.net.