Ask John

And now, the blog post you’ve all been waiting for!
About a month ago we asked you to send in your questions for our head developer to answer and you did not disappoint. We received tons of questions spanning many different topics and have spent the past couple weeks sifting though and picking out a few that John will answer today.
So without any further ado, take it away John:

1)  When will you release a new version of SE PHP? And do you plan to continue working on it and releasing monthly updates like before?

We just released version 4.7 on November 5th. You can see our blog post on this here, which includes a list of the fixes and improvements. We plan on on releasing new improvements on a regular basis!


2) Can you suggest a way to take automatic-scheduled backups of database and files? That would be excellent advice. =]

There are many different ways to setup automated backups of your SocialEngine installation. First, check your existing hosting control panel (cPanel, Plesk, etc.) to see if there’s an automated backup feature there – you’ll usually find one. If that’s not in place, you can ask your hosting provider to set one up for you. Or, if you’re more technically included, you can setup a cron to tar the files, dump the database and copy/store it somewhere, like Amazon S3 for example.

You could do it with a bash script with something along the lines of:


BACKUP_FILE_NAME=$(date ‘+%Y-%m-%d-%H%M%S’)

tar cf ~/se$BACKUP_FILE_NAME.tar /path/to/socialengine

mysqldump -uuser -ppassword socialengine_db > ~/se$BACKUP_FILE_NAME.sql

scp ~/se$BACKUP_FILE_NAME* anotherServer

// or

s3cmd –acl-private –recursive put ~/se$BACKUP_FILE_NAME.tar s3://backups-bucket

s3cmd –acl-private –recursive put ~/se$BACKUP_FILE_NAME.sql s3://backups-bucket





3) Site speed has been an issue for me. Also site urls could be more SEO friendly. Are there solutions for SE site owners who would like these issues fixed?

We have made some improvements on page loading times by minifying/combining some javascript files and deferring their load. The plan is to refine this further. Additionally, with our release of version 4.7, we’ve optimized the size of all the images. We also plan to work on backend performance and will look into SEO-friendlier URLs in the next SE PHP release.

4) I am missing something. I see instructions to go to Admin and change language manager. But I don’t see that. I don’t see layout editor or how to create a page of content with an editor. Can you point me in the right direction?

If there’s a problem with the menu, you should disable any third-party plugins temporarily as sometimes they can cause problems with the menu. Otherwise:

5) I’ve found the Social Engine and Plug-in framework a robust set of tools for addressing architectural issues of a community. But I’m perplexed at what appears to be an aversion to addressing or improving content publishing and maintenance (HTML tools). I have found the existing resources lack the flexibility to incorporate site/community wide layer of publishing similar to what one would encounter in WordPress.

While SocialEngine does have lots of CMS functionality built in, it’s admittedly not the core focus of the software. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. WordPress is an awesome platform for blogging and publishing, and works very well as a CMS. You can certainly tie SE into a WordPress-powered site if you want to. The point is, at SocialEngine we are focused on helping you add social features to your site – which in general, is less about publishing, and more about enabling your own members and visitors to contribute their own content. Regardless, we’ll continue to make improvements to the CMS-related functionality in the platform as we push forward. In the meantime, you can use the Layout Editor to make visual changes or add new content to your SE PHP site, or access any of the HTML templates to make direct custom changes to the layout.
So there we have it! Thanks to everyone for writing in. We apologize for not being able to get to everyone but we hope this helps.
If you have any questions for our next installment of Ask John, please leave a comment or email and put “Ask John” in the subject line.
See you all next time!

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