WebGUI is really an application server dressed up like a content management system. Lots of content management systems offer the ability to manage little bits of functionality (discussion, syndicated feeds, etc) in addition to static content, but the range of functional objects is generally relatively small and difficult to build upon. In contrast, WebGUI offers a broad range of functional objects in addition to the static content stuff (inluding discussion, syndicated content, blogs, calendars, link lists, and lots more). And just as importantly, the WebGUI architecture is specifically designed to make it easy to build an plug in new objects of these sorts, as well as to edit the existing objects. Almost every site we develop at the center needs to do something interactive in addition to its static content, so WebGUI was a good choice for us.
This week I used the WebGUI SQLReport wobject for the first time. The user didn’t like the way the standard user management screen was laid out for our ILAW site and wanted additional fields added. I could have mucked with the code that drew that list, but instead I spent about an hour building a custom page that performs its own query using the SQLReport object. Easy as pie, integrated painlessly into the existing site, and will be trivially easy to update as the user’s needs change. The SQLReport feels like a widget built by a programmer to scratch an itch, which is the best way to build things as long as the programmer is good (which this one was, I’m happy to say!).
I also mucked around with the layout of the Digital Media Project site to make the main navigation menu more clear. It seems to have turned out well and was not too much of a pain (it was a bit of a pain, but that’s because I spent half an hour trying to figure out why a macro wouldn’t work only to finally figure I was typoing the url of the page the macro referred to — ugh).