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concrete5 beginners guide, 2nd edition

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concrete5 Beginner's Guide
Second Edition

Create and customize your own feature-rich website
in no time with concrete5!

Remo Laubacher

BIRMINGHAM - MUMBAI

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concrete5 Beginner's Guide
Second Edition

Copyright © 2013 Packt Publishing


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the
publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
Every effort has been made in the preparation of this book to ensure the accuracy of the
information presented. However, the information contained in this book is sold without
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and distributors will be held liable for any damages caused or alleged to be caused directly
or indirectly by this book.
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However, Packt Publishing cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.

First published: March 2011
Second Edition: April 2013

Production Reference: 1160413

Published by Packt Publishing Ltd.
Livery Place
35 Livery Street
Birmingham B3 2PB, UK.
ISBN 978-1-78216-931-4
www.packtpub.com

Cover Image by Jarek Blaminsky (milak6@wp.pl)

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Credits
Author
Remo Laubacher
Reviewers

Project Coordinator
Abhishek Kori
Proofreaders

Ryan Hewitt


Maria Gould

Šarūnas Narkevičius

Aaron Nash

Werner Nindl

Stephen Copestake

John Steele
Indexer
Acquisition Editor

Tejal Soni

Mary Nadar
Graphics
Lead Technical Editor

Sheetal Aute

Savio Jose
Production Coordinator
Technical Editors

Conidon Miranda

Sharvari Baet
Ankita Meshram
Kirti Pujari

Cover Work
Conidon Miranda

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About the Author
Remo Laubacher grew up in Central Switzerland in a small village surrounded by mountains
and natural beauty. He started working with computers a long time ago and then, after various
computer-related projects, focused on ERP and Oracle development. After completing his
BSc in Business Administration, Remo became a partner at Ortic, his ERP and Oracle business,
as well as a partner at Mesch web consulting and design GmbH. At Mesch—where he's
responsible for all development-related topics—he discovered concrete5 as the perfect
tool for their web-related projects and has since become a key member of the concrete5
community. You can find his latest publications on http://www.codeblog.ch/.
He has also authored concrete5 Beginner's Guide and Creating concrete5 Themes.

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About the Reviewers
Ryan Hewitt has been a web developer for over 10 years and has worked extensively
with concrete5, with it being his content management system of choice.
Ryan's background includes working for both large and small development companies,
wading through oceans of code and fighting SQL beasts, PHP devils, and CSS nasties. He
has written numerous custom online systems and scripts—finding solace in the advantages
that well written frameworks and libraries such as CakePHP, jQuery, Boostrap Twitter,
and concrete5 bring forth.
Ryan started his own web development business in 2011, with his partner Lelita Baldock,
called Mesuva Web Development. From the beautiful coastal town of Goolwa, in South
Australia, Ryan and Lelita build a wide range of websites and online shops using concrete5,
often heavily customizing them with custom-built blocks and packages.
One of concrete5's greatest strengths as a CMS is its active online community, and Ryan
takes pride in contributing answers and insights to the online forum, as well as providing
free concrete5 packages and support.
The Mesuva website can be found at https://www.mesuva.com.au and Ryan can
be contacted through it.

Werner Nindl is an Oracle Hyperion consultant by day and a concrete5 web developer
by night. As a consultant, he has lived and worked in Europe, China, and the US. During his
day job, Werner manages consulting programs for Financial Consolidation and Reporting.

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Intrigued by the capabilities of concrete5, he has started to convert his clients' web sites
to concrete5. Participating in the review of this book has helped him to plan for future
enhancements. He believes that he can implement those enhancements now at a much
lower resource cost then previously planned.
I want to thank the publishers for the opportunity to participate. First and
foremost I want to compliment Remo on his tremendous insight into, and
knowledge about, concrete5.

John Steele began teaching himself BASIC on a borrowed Atari. He purchased his first
computer, the Timex Sinclair 1000, later trading it in on a Commodore 64. He then taught
himself 6502 Assembly followed by the C language, creating a 3D wireframe program to
design a hang-glider.
He was a Mathematics major, switching to Computer Science as soon as the degree program
was available. He worked as a Systems Programmer at the IBM Almaden Research Center
using C, Fortran, Pascal, and 8086 Assembly. Next, he worked as Systems Analyst and Lead
Programmer for the largest selling POS software for video stores. He was a beta tester for
every version of the Microsoft C compiler.
Fascinated by the Internet, he taught himself PHP3 and MySQL programming and started
his business Steelesoft Consulting. He's used just about every Unix-based operating system
since the DEC PDP-11 and owns the first version of Linux on CD.
He's also been a technical editor for two PHP4 books by Osborne-McGraw Hill.
I'd like to thank Remo and all the fine folks at concrete5.org and the
wonderful people who help others on the Forums everyday.

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Table of Contents
Preface1
Chapter 1: Installing concrete5
7
Preparing for installation
Web browser
Text editor
Archive utility
FTP client
Installing Bitnami
Time for action – installing Bitnami WAMP stack
Downloading concrete5
Time for action – downloading the latest version
Creating an empty MySQL database
Time for action – creating a MySQL database
Installing concrete5
Time for action – installing concrete5
The configuration file
Disabling caching

7
8
8
8
8
9
9
15
16
17
17
19
20
23
24

Time for action – disabling caching
Enabling pretty URLs

24
25

Time for action – enabling pretty URLs
File and directory structure of concrete5
Dispatcher process

Summary

25
26
27

28

Chapter 2: Working with concrete5
Getting familiar with concrete5
Time for action – logging in to concrete5
Adding new blocks
Time for action – adding new blocks

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29
30
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Time for action – editing existing blocks
Time for action – exiting edit mode
Working with the dashboard
Time for action – changing the site's name
Adding more pages
Time for action – adding pages to create a news section
Time for action – adding blocks to a new page
Managing page defaults
Time for action – adding default blocks to a page type
Adding blocks to existing pages
Time for action – adding blocks to existing pages
Moving and sorting pages
Time for action – moving and sorting your pages
Splitting content into columns
Time for action – creating a multi-column layout
Copying blocks using the clipboard
Time for action – copying the block using the clipboard
Working with stacks
Time for action – working with stacks
Styling with design and CSS
Time for action – styling your blocks
Summary

Chapter 3: Managing Permissions

36
37
38
40
40
41
43
45
45
46
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47
48
49
49
52
52
53
53
55
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60

61

Managing basic permissions
Adding users and groups
Time for action – adding groups

61
62
62

Group expiration options

63

Time for action – adding users

64

Working with user attributes

65

Granting sitemap and file manager permissions
Time for action – assigning sitemap permissions
Time for action – granting file manager permissions
Granting page editing permissions
Time for action – granting edit access
Managing edit access on a page by page basis

Creating a protected website section
Time for action – creating a protected website
Granting partial dashboard access
Time for action – granting partial dashboard access
Restricting block access
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Time for action – restricting access to blocks
Working with the advanced permission mode
Time for action – activating the advanced permission mode
Managing advanced page permissions

75
76
76
77

Time for action – removing permissions to change permissions
Managing area permissions
Managing block permissions
Managing subpage permissions
Time for action – setting subpage permissions
Summary

Chapter 4: Managing Add-ons

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79
80
81
81
83

85

Introduction to add-ons
Installing add-ons from the marketplace
Time for action – installing an add-on
Time for action – uninstalling an add-on
Manually installing an add-on
Time for action – installing an add-on manually
Working with theme add-ons
Parts of a theme
Theme file structure
Working with block add-ons
Block structure
Packages
Summary

Chapter 5: Creating Your Own Theme

85
86
86
88
88
89
90
91
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94
94
96
97

99

Starting with a new layout
The HTML code
CSS rules
Converting HTML and CSS to a concrete5 theme
Time for action – creating the concrete5 theme header
Time for action – creating the concrete5 theme footer
Time for action – creating a page template
Time for action – creating more page templates
Installing your theme
Time for action – installing theme
PHP constants and functions
Time for action – getting a list of available constants
Time for action – listing all available functions
Time for action – checking for edit mode

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Table of Contents

Time for action – hiding content from anonymous visitors
Time for action – restricting numbers of blocks per area
Time for action – inserting a block wrapper in an area
Working with page attributes
Time for action – using attributes to set background picture
Time for action – accessing attribute data from a template
Inserting blocks in templates
Time for action – replacing the header area with a template block
Time for action – finding autonav block properties
Time for action – specifying block templates in an area
Applying a theme to a single page
Time for action – creating a single page layout
Time for action – adding variables to handle login errors
Creating customizable themes
Time for action – creating a customizable theme
Summary

Chapter 6: Customizing Block Layouts

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128
128
130

131

Custom templates to modify a block layout
Thumbnails in a page list
Time for action – adding thumbnails to a page list
Time for action – restricting thumbnails to a custom dimension
Block template folder
Time for action – creating a template folder
Picture pop-ups in a content block
Time for action – building a lightbox gallery
Adding a Gravatar picture in the guestbook
Time for action – adding a Gravatar picture to the guestbook
Avoiding duplicate code in a custom template
Time for action – including an existing template
Transforming a slideshow into a gallery
Time for action – creating a gallery template for a slideshow
Time for action – adding a slideshow gallery
Slideshow using file attributes
Time for action – adding file attributes to our slideshow
Time for action – using file attributes in the gallery
Using advanced tooltips in the content block
Time for action – creating advanced tooltips
Summary

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Table of Contents

Chapter 7: Adding Site Navigation

159

Introducing the autonav block
Preparation
Time for action – undoing autonav block integration
Autonav options
Autonav page structure
Page order
Example 1 – showing all pages
Example 2 – showing relevant subpages
Example 3 – showing relevant subpages starting from the top

Autonav output
Adding navigation images
Time for action – creating page attributes for navigation pictures
Time for action – creating a block picture navigation template
Adding a CSS3 hover effect
Time for action – creating a CSS3 transition autonav template
Building a drop-down navigation
Time for action – creating a SooperFish template
Sliding mobile navigation
Time for action – building a mobile navigation
Summary

Chapter 8: Creating your Own Add-on Block
Building a product information block
Steps for creating a block

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162
164
164

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177
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180

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182

Adding the database schema

183

Time for action – creating the database structure
Time for action – creating the block controller
Time for action – creating the editing interface
Time for action – printing block output
Time for action – installing a block
Checking for mandatory fields
Time for action – adding a check for mandatory fields
Adding product categories
Time for action – adding product categories
Building a product list
Handling multiple block versions
Time for action – handling multiple block versions
Creating a product list block
Time for action – creating the product list block
Creating a picture magnifier

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Table of Contents

Time for action – creating the picture magnifier block
Creating a PDF-generating block
Time for action – creating the PDF generation block
Using generate_pdf.php
Creating a simple gallery
Time for action – creating the simple gallery block
Summary

Chapter 9: Everything in a Package

201
204
205
208
208
209
213

215

What's a package?
Package structure
The package controller
Time for action – creating the package controller
Moving templates into a package
Time for action – moving templates into a package
Moving a theme and blocks into a package
Time for action – uninstalling blocks
Time for action – moving the jQZoom block into a package
Time for action – moving the PDF block into a package
Hooking into core events
Event types
Extending an event
Time for action – hooking into an event from a package
Working with maintenance tasks and jobs
Time for action – executing concrete5 jobs periodically
Creating a new job
Time for action – creating a job to check for broken links
Injecting header items
Adding tooltips for every title tag
Time for action – creating global tooltips
JavaScript browser fixes
Time for action – integrating a CSS fix in a package
Summary

Chapter 10: Dashboard Extensions

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222
223
225
226
228
228
230
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245

Working with the MVC pattern
Adding the broken link interface
Time for action – creating the broken links dashboard extension
Moving database access into a model
Time for action – creating a package model
Working with multiple controller methods
Time for action – adding a second controller method
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Table of Contents

Embedding a file editor in the dashboard
Time for action – creating the file editor add-on
Controllers without logic
Summary

Chapter 11: Deployment and Configuration
Deploying a concrete5 site
Preparations for deployment
Time for action – disabling pretty URLs and the cache
Transferring MySQL databases
Time for action – transferring MySQL databases
Transferring files to the server
Time for action – transferring files to the server
Time for action – updating the configuration file
Setting file permissions
Time for action – setting file permissions
Updating production configuration
Updating the configuration file
Base URL redirection
Changing the concrete5 language
Time for action – installing a translation file
Improving performance with a cache
Time for action – getting PHP information
Caching with APC
Measuring site performance

259
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270
272

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Time for action – measuring site performance
Where to go next
Summary

Pop Quiz Answers
Index

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291

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Preface
concrete5 Beginner's Guide covers everything you need to build your own website with
a number of customizations and add-ons built from scratch, for those who need a pretty
site that also offers some slick functionality.
concrete5 is one of many CMS' out there, but it manags to shine with a number of ideas and
impressive solutions. For example, there's a very intuitive in-site editing concept where you
can manage the content of your site in the actual layout of it and don't have to understand
a complicated backend. The book gives you a quick introduction about this concept, but is
focused on developers with the intention to build websites and-applications.
You'll therefore need some experience as a web developer, if possible with the technologies
used by concrete5: PHP, MySQL, and jQuery. Experience with concrete5 isn't necessary
though. The book guides you step-by-step from installation to the customization, and even
to the creation of add-ons.
As you'll see towards the end, the packaging system of concrete5 you use to build your
add-ons is very powerful and, thanks to the marketplace, you can easily popularize your
own work and, if you want, also get some money by selling your add-ons.

What this book covers
Chapter 1, Installing concrete5, helps you to get a test-site running on your local computer,
from where we'll continue to work with concrete5.
Chapter 2, Working with concrete5, discusses the basics of concrete5 you need to know
to manage the content of a site, basically a compression of an end-user manual.
Chapter 3, Managing Permissions, looks at the powerful permissions of concrete5. You'll
learn how to restrict access to a part of your site as well as allowing editors to see parts
of the managing interface of concrete5.

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Chapter 4, Managing Add-ons, explains what an add-on is and how you can install them
from the marketplace.
Chapter 5, Creating Your Own Theme, shows how to convert an existing HTML layout into
a concrete5 theme.
Chapter 6, Customizing Block Layouts, looks at ways to customize block layouts—blocks
are layout elements in concrete5—making them look well in your own theme.
Chapter 7, Adding Site Navigation, teaches you how to add a dynamic navigation to
your website.
Chapter 8, Creating Your Own Add-on Block, teaches you to create your own block, and
the content elements of concrete5 from scratch.
Chapter 9, Everything in a Package, discusses how packages make it easier to work with
add-ons that contains different things. We'll wrap a few things we've created in the
previous chapters into a package.
Chapter 10, Dashboard Extensions, teaches you how to extend the dashboard, which is the
place in concrete5 where you manage users, settings, and a lot more.
Chapter 11, Deployment and Configuration, explains how to copy the site from the
local computer to a live server and also explains a few configurations.

What you need for this book
You're almost free to use any kind of tool you want. The screenshots in this book were
taken on a Windows computer but Mac OSX as well as Linux works fine as well. A text editor
such as Notepad++, a web server such as Apache with PHP and MySQL, and an FTP client
such as FileZilla are all you need.

Who this book is for
This book is aimed at developers, knowing the basic web technologies such as HTML, CSS,
JavaScript, and PHP required to master the content of this book. Experience with concrete5
isn't necessary but it's helpful to have some experience with PHP and possibly other PHP CMS.

Conventions
In this book, you will find several headings appearing frequently.
To give clear instructions of how to complete a procedure or task, we use:

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Time for action – heading
1.
2.
3.

Action 1
Action 2
Action 3

Instructions often need some extra explanation so that they make sense, so they are
followed with:

What just happened?
This heading explains the working of tasks or instructions that you have just completed.
You will also find some other learning aids in the book, including:

Pop quiz – heading
These are short multiple-choice questions intended to help you test your own understanding.

Have a go hero – heading
These are practical challenges and give you ideas for experimenting with what you
have learned.
You will also find a number of styles of text that distinguish between different kinds of
information. Here are some examples of these styles, and an explanation of their meaning.
Code words in text are shown as follows: "You may notice that we used the Unix command
rm to remove the Drush directory rather than the DOS del command."
A block of code is set as follows:
# * Fine Tuning
#
key_buffer = 16M
key_buffer_size = 32M
max_allowed_packet = 16M
thread_stack = 512K
thread_cache_size = 8
max_connections = 300

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Preface

When we wish to draw your attention to a particular part of a code block, the relevant lines
or items are set in bold:
# * Fine Tuning
#
key_buffer = 16M
key_buffer_size = 32M
max_allowed_packet = 16M
thread_stack = 512K
thread_cache_size = 8
max_connections = 300

Any command-line input or output is written as follows:
cd /ProgramData/Propeople
rm -r Drush
git clone --branch master http://git.drupal.org/project/drush.git

New terms and important words are shown in bold. Words that you see on the screen, in
menus or dialog boxes for example, appear in the text like this: "On the Select Destination
Location screen, click on Next to accept the default destination.".
Warnings or important notes appear in a box like this.

Tips and tricks appear like this.

Reader feedback
Feedback from our readers is always welcome. Let us know what you think about this
book—what you liked or may have disliked. Reader feedback is important for us to
develop titles that you really get the most out of.
To send us general feedback, simply send an e-mail to feedback@packtpub.com,
and mention the book title through the subject of your message.
If there is a topic that you have expertise in and you are interested in either writing
or contributing to a book, see our author guide on www.packtpub.com/authors.

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Preface

Customer support
Now that you are the proud owner of a Packt book, we have a number of things to help
you to get the most from your purchase.

Downloading the example code
You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your
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Questions
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with any aspect of the book, and we will do our best to address it.

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Preface

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1

Installing concrete5
In this chapter, you'll learn what you need to get your own concrete5 site up
and running on your local computer. You don't need to have a lot of experience
with Apache, PHP, and MySQL configuration as we're going to use Bitnami,
which will install all necessary components in almost no time.
Before you can start working with concrete5, you have to set up an
environment, where you can test and play around with concrete5 to get used
to it. If you have a web hosting account, you can install concrete5 there, but
since that isn't always the case, we'll install everything concrete5 needs to
work smoothly on your local Windows computer. We're assuming that you're
working with Windows but instructions are available for those running Mac OS
or Linux; most instructions work the same for all operating systems.
Bitnami installs a local web server, which we'll use to build and test the add-ons
we're going to create. In the last chapter of this book, we're going to move the
site from your local computer to a live web server.

Preparing for installation
There are a few tools you need, before you can start with the installation process.
You probably already work with similar tools, but let's still make sure you've got
everything before continuing.

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Installing concrete5

Web browser
concrete5 supports all major browsers as long as you're working with an up-to-date version.
Please note: you can create a website which is viewable with an outdated browser, but the
in-context editing system won't work correctly, unless you're using a modern browser.
Whether you use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Internet Explorer doesn't really matter.
concrete5 works with any recent browser with JavaScript capability, but it's recommended
to use the latest browser version since most concrete5 community members test new
releases with the newest browsers.

Text editor
Since we're going to edit PHP files you'll need a text editor. The requirements are quite small;
you can pick almost any text editor you want. Just make sure it does support PHP syntax
highlighting. Here are some possible editors:
‹‹

PSPad (Windows only, free), http://www.pspad.com. A simple text editor with
in-built FTP support. This can make a quick fix on your website even quicker.

‹‹

TextWrangler (Mac OS only, free), http://www.barebones.com/products/
textwrangler/. A very slick and clean text editor with extensive FTP support.

‹‹

Notepad++ (Windows only, free), http://notepad-plus-plus.org/. A small
and fast replacement for Windows notepad.

There are a lot more text editors, as mentioned previously; you can use almost any editor
you want. If you're familiar with another product, just go with it. You won't find anything
in this book where you need a special text editor feature.

Archive utility
The same with the file archive utility, there are plenty of tools out there and if you want,
you can use the in-built extraction utility of Windows or Mac OS. If you're looking for
something more advanced, you can go with 7-Zip at http://www.7-zip.org/ or IZArc at
http://www.izarc.org/; both are free and do a good job.

FTP client
Once more, there are lots of choices. You'll have to change file permissions later, so make
sure your FTP client includes this option. A powerful and well known client is FileZilla,
http://filezilla-project.org/. It's free as well and has a lot more features
than we need.

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