MiaCMS Release Notes


Version 4.6.5 (6/5/2008, code name Eclipse)


Cliffnotes/Executive Summary

  1. Cache Fixes & Enhancements
  2. Enhanced Statistics & Poll Result Charting
  3. New Templates, Site Designs, & the Official Logo
  4. External Library Updates
  5. Enhanced Commenting & Akismet (Spam Blocker)
  6. Performance Improvements & Dynamic YUI Loader

Detailed Information


Cache Fixes & Enhancements

To cache or not to cache? No deep philosophical argument here, the answer is simple… whenever you can, cache it! With version 4.6.5 we fixed numerous issues related to caching. The goal was to make sure that your sites could safely cache as much data as possible in order to reduce the load on your servers and to ensure the fastest possible page load time for your visitors.

At this point we’re pretty confident we have nailed caching in Mia (i.e.) hit counts are updated properly, newly added comments appear for the next visitor, Mia tries “not” to clear the entire cache when simple changes happen in your site, etc. For example, when a new comment is entered, we do not clear the entire content cache, we reset that particular content's cached copy. On the other hand, we do properly reset the content cache when you publish/unpublish a content bot, or make changes to the sections and categories. Resetting the content cache is not such a bad thing either though. Only the very first user may notice a slight degradation in performance. For them it may take slightly longer for the site to generate since they are hitting an empty cache, but their minor slowdown benefits everyone else since they are loading up the cache for all additional visitors.

Aside from general content caching, with Mia's 4.6.5 release, we also introduced caching of Newsfeed Lists and Weblinks. The less hits on the database the better! RSS caching is already handled by Magpie's caching mechanism for the TTL of the feeds copy so no changes to note there. Currently, the Cache TTL is set to 900 seconds (15 mins) in the Global Configuration. In most cases even 15 minutes is too often. Unless you have a very active/constantly changing site, it is probably a safe bet to increase this number, which will in turn generate the cache less often. As your site grows caching should become a very crucial component of your overall performance management efforts. For smaller sites the caching effect is less noticeable. Caching is no one size fits all solution so your best bet is to determine your change ratio/visitor density and adjust the Cache TTL accordingly.

We didn't have time to benchmark the Cache impact in MiaCMS for this release, but we are confident larger sites will notice a significant increase in performance and speed. If you'd like to give us a hand with benchmarking please contact us via the forums.

Enhanced Statistics & Poll Result Charting

In version 4.6.5 of MiaCMS we are introducing new charting functionality. At this time the new charts can be utilized in the statistics and polls components. To chart the data MiaCMS has selected Open Flash Charts which is licensed under the LGPL license. Open Flash Charts is powerful, flexible, and the charts look great! The online support and documentation is quite good too. The PHP class is included in MiaCMS now so utilizing it within your own 3rd party components should be fairly simple. The charts do require Flash and therefore are optional because of this factor. Much more info & screenshots here.

Screenshot of Statistics Component:
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Screenshot of New Poll Results:
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Enhanced Commenting & Akismet (Spam Blocker)

For a long time now, the native commenting feature has been neglected/underdeveloped. The team just couldn’t stand it any more so in 4.6.5 we took on the task of improving this simple yet very important feature. After all “Comments” are the simplest way to accommodate visitor interaction on your site. The CMS has allowed for comments in the past, but failed to capture even the most basic information like the commenter’s name. With the MiaCMS 4.6.5 release, visitors can now leave their name, a comment, and a link back to their site. That’s it? Nope… with this release we’ve also setup Akismet. Akismet is a spam filter used by many sites around the world. The main goal with our implementation is simply to improve Mia's ability to help you collect useful comments without all that lovely spam.

In order to utilize Akismet, you need an Akismet API key. Getting one is easy. A free WordPress.com account will give you that. You don't need to host a blog there or have a separate WordPress installation. Just a free account will give you the necessary key. Akismet is an “opt-in” feature in MiaCMS. So you absolutely are not forced or encouraged to have a WordPress.com account for the Akismet API key. If you do not wish to use Akismet, then simply ignore the new option. However, if you do have an API key and would like to utilize Akismet with your MiaCMS site simply go to “Comment –> Edit Settings” in your administration console. There you can enter your API key and select “enable Akismet”.

If you'd like to know about Akismet and it's powers, just run a quick search. You'll love it. Just to clarify Anonymous comments are not mandatory either. You can disable those on the same screen if you so desire. So go forth and enjoy a less spammy experience!

External Library Updates

Much like MiaCMS itself, the external libraries we depend on are constantly evolving as well. So we of course need to keep up with the latest and greatest stable versions being offered by their owners. In this release we have updated the following:

PEAR.php 1.104 2008/01/03
Tar.php 1.39 2006/12/22
CacheLite 1.5.0 2008/04/13
YUI! 2.5.2 2008/05/31

The first version of MiaCMS offered a basic set of templates and a placeholder logo just to kick off the project. This release brings the official logo and our refined designs. We extend our thanks to the ExtremeJoomla.com team for their assistance in building our new look and welcome David Hurley to the MiaCMS core development team. The new frontend template is called borders2 and should serve as a solid example for 3rd party developers. The original borders template has been removed from the core. Like the original, borders2 is also built utilizing the YUI Grids CSS system. We have also introduced a new administrator template which goes a long way toward further standards compliance and usability. In addition to new templates for the core itself we have also launched new designs for the MiaCMS forum, wiki, and the official miacms.org site.

The New Logo
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Screenshot of Borders2 Template
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Screenshot of New Admin Template
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Performance Improvements & Dynamic YUI Loader

This release focused a great deal on performance as well. It is only the start of our performance quest though so expect much more over the next few releases. We'll be killing resource hogs, beefing up the cache, reducing database calls, etc. In addition to the cache changes mentioned earlier we have also reduced the number of HTTP requests required for each admin page by 20+ and implemented some dynamic YUI loaders. Users now have 4 options at their disposal which deal with the loading of the YUI Library JavaScript and CSS files.

The Options:
  • * Local Install (Standard JavaScript) - Raw JavaScript files which have not been minified or compressed. Useful for development and/or debugging mostly.
  • * Local Install with Minification - This is the MiaCMS default setting. Offers improved performance and strong compatibility.
  • * Local Install with Minification and Compression - This is similar to the standard minification setting except the minified JavaScript files have been pre-compressed with gzip and are quite a bit smaller making them faster to send across the wire.
  • * Serve From Yahoo Hosting Service - Users have the option to serve the YUI files directly from Yahoo's free YUI hosting service. Yahoo! hosting is optimized for fast response times, good cache hit rates, and the use of gzip compression during HTTP transport. If you chose to utilize the Yahoo! hosting service make sure you have read and understood their terms of service first - http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/articles/hosting.

Screenshot of the YUI Loader Configuration Tab
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Enjoy,
The MiaCMS Team



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