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Community => Knowhow Trading Post => Topic started by: Databits on September 09, 2008, 11:30:44 pm

Title: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 09, 2008, 11:30:44 pm
Ok so, this poses an interesting question as I'm bored and need a project to work on outside of normal work stuff.

What is it that people look for in web comic software? Like what sorts of features aside from being able to upload the pages and browsing them?

I mean as in certain things that people look for in different packages. Things that people wish were provided but rarely are. Certain useful features that exist in most suites. Plugin options, advertisement systems, surveys, etc...

Multiple DB support options (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, File System, etc...)

(no Xeph I'm not thinking anything like Artica, I'm looking at stand-alone setups with simplistic installation methods)
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: sagebrush on September 10, 2008, 01:14:04 am
Things that are nice:

Batch uploading image files/ability to put them in via FTP (if you're converting from another system to the new one) without having to enter info for each file separately.
Being able to go back and change files, insert new pages between pages already posted, being able to update file information later.
Navigation by page, by chapter, by keyword, by date, by archives...
Having a comment section for each page, a general comment box (shoutbox), a forum, a fan gallery, (SPAM protection is the big thing here).

Something that would be cool, especially for those users who have little web design ability, would be the ability to drag and drop components to different locations on the screen.
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: fesworks on September 10, 2008, 03:05:50 am
All I ever wanted was something that would take a base HTML, and I'd get an automated page for each image, including the navigation working correctly... like how ComicGenesis does it, only not as complex with all of this and that. and I don't even need it done on the server.

Oh, something to allow comments and individual author notes below the comic as well... like Drunk Duck.

I suppose I should look into ComicPress, but damn, that's WAY more than I wanted to look into... too me a long time of trial and error to figure out what did WHAT with WordPress and The Webcomic Beacon.

It would make redoing pages a lot easier. Xepher keeps telling me that there is a program that could go through a edit out and in stuff to each subsequent file, but I forgot.

I guess, all I am saying is that I wish there was simple and minimal with allowing individual text to exist on each comic page. I know there is PHP stuff, but for practically every comic I have, there is text or links below the comic.

I suppose I should sit and learn ComicPress, however, I'd need to go through the script of all of my archived pages (and others) to NOT point to the "index.php" so I could actually play with ComicPress without essentially shutting the site down.... unless I redirect the domain to go to a name with an index.html ... and divert the ComicPress to use the base XEPHER name with the index.php

Ok, I'm just babbling now... enough derailing.
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 10, 2008, 03:44:52 pm
Well if I were to make something like this it'd probably use a templating system like we use for the ecommerce system I work on. Primarily, you can set up multiple template (having one as the default) which allows different pages to use a different template depending on what's choosen for that that page (yes you can change them too). Nice for things like holiday theme layouts and the such.

It would more or less be HTML with a few optional widgets to add in which would be built into the software. More or less things like <% calendar %> to auto-insert a calendar widget which you could have styled with your own CSS (it'd have a standardized class naming scheme to override things, and a default style of course).

Outside that, most of this kind of stuff is standard to a CMS (Content Management System). Including page generators and advanced direct HTML page control.

The issue I hear of more often than not is ease of installation and setup. That seems to be a huge issue with most open source web software installations for some odd reason. So I guess the best idea would be to go through a listing of possible features and add/remove things. I.E. a design process. Probably should come up with a name for the software title too. :P
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: dragyn on September 10, 2008, 06:02:43 pm
All I need in one is one that shows comics on the day I want it to, has easy access to the archives, and is easy to work with.  A calendar widget would be nice.

Of course, so would tech support.  The one I currently use hasn't had tech support available since long before I started using it.  I only use it 'cuz it was the only one I could get to work right on implementation.
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Miluette on September 13, 2008, 09:37:16 am
A lot of the stuff sagebrush brought up is what I'd be looking into, too.

I'm kind of wary of implementing a script, however. I don't want to end up re-renaming things... Of course, if both of my comics are eventually going to be thousands of pages, then doing everything manually won't be so desirable after a while.

If it's something new and made by you, however, Databits... <3
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 15, 2008, 05:27:06 pm
Ok, in terms of a forum this means that it'll need to incorporate a user system of some sort. That said, since it'd be part of the actual software in that case, what other things do you think users could be used for?

For instance, someone mentioned posting comments on individual pages. Should that require a user or be allowed to guests as well?
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: sagebrush on September 15, 2008, 06:52:58 pm
Maybe users' posts go up immediately, but guests' posts go into a moderation queue?
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 16, 2008, 12:19:09 am
Hmm, yeah guest posting is the tricky part. You don't want people to be able to post things that are rude or illegal, probably not advertisements either. So it's generally a good idea to generate a hash cache type system to help prevent bots on submission spam.

To be honest, and I'm unsure how people would respond to this, I'd actually almost prefer to make the code a compiled php code module, rather than open source. Don't get me wrong, I love open source, but the issue is when any software becomes well used it tends to be targeted with automatic bot scripts designed specifically to get around any security measures that the software may have built in.

Generally now days, the easiest way to stop bots is to ask a question that's required for registration but requires at least a small bit of human intelligence. Sometimes even a simple math question suffices, but even that can be fooled. So I'm thinking that at the very least I'm going to allow the owners the ability to set a list of optional security questions and answers, one which would be randomly selected upon registration to help prevent bots from just making accounts to spam things.

But people would need to keep in mind, these would need to be question/answers that can be solved easily by a human being. For instance a question like "What do you get when you add the numbers one and two?", where an acceptable answer would be "three" or "3" (minus quotes of course). I'd make answers forced to lower case to keep from a case-sensitive issue too. There would also be no default questions included. The reason again is, its easier to write a bot for pre-written questions to break security.

That said, it may be noted, I'm a security nut. The reason being that my primary job is dealing with the checkout and order back end of an ecommerce software that had a little more than 4 million dollars run through it last year alone. :P

That said, I've also got experience with writing store stuff, so I may include that as an addon module at some point, but that's nowhere near even being in the initial design document (though allowing ordering prints would be neat).
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Xepher on September 16, 2008, 04:37:40 pm
Sounds like a job for... KITTENAUTH! http://www.thepcspy.com/kittenauth
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 16, 2008, 06:13:40 pm
There's a dozen methods out there that do things like this. It's playing off the same principal as what I stated earlier. Using something that requires a form of human intelligence in order to pass validation.  :P

The problem isn't so much as stopping the bots as it is making a method to stop them that doesn't come with the software by default. It has to be configurable by the person running it (preferably initially during installation). Otherwise bot authors will just target it to what the software comes with enabled by default.
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 17, 2008, 09:36:43 pm
Ok so, this is what I'm getting for a feature list:

Should HTML be allowed within user postings per page? Generally I would strongly advise against something like that, because it's insecure as hell (a user can add a blurb of something like JS to their comment which could compromise security on the users browser for that session). How about max posting lengths?

Also, how would people feel about the ability to have auto-panel layouts? Basically, a means for you to set up a comic page's panels which would display differently depending on how much screen space the user has for the comic. XKCD has done this on some pages.

What other sorts of things did I miss out on here? I know that this is a quick list and is probably missing stuff in it, but short and sweet anyone see anything obvious that I missed?
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Xepher on September 18, 2008, 02:41:45 pm
Yes! It needs to read my scripts and then generate 3D images in a storyboard format, using advanced AI to generate character personalities, appropriate backgrounds, correct my grammar, and fill in p(l)ot holes. :-P

In actuality though, I really would like to see the artist have an option to post transcripts with each comic, so that the archive can be full text searchable. I can't even count the number of times I've wanted to show someone an old comic, and had to dig for an hour through archives because the only thing searchable were the surrealistic/nonsensical/unrelated titles. (VG Cats, Penny Arcade, I'm looking at you!) And better yet, make sure it's highly visible right there with the image upload form, so that people actually end up using it!
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 18, 2008, 04:29:22 pm
Hmm, yeah being able to actually search comics would be a nice option. Although, doing a full text search system would more than likely require a database or a hell of a lot of thought in the file system structure. I suppose it could be a plugin available only for SQL-based installs too.

Also keep in mind that things like MySQL's full search system can only search words of more than 3 characters (unless you make changes to the server and recompile). Which at times can make things annoying when searching.
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Miluette on September 19, 2008, 08:17:16 am
There's already a thing out there that allows anyone to add transcripts to individual comic pages so they can be searched... but many of the comics I read don't use it.

HTML - limit it like some forums do!
Comment length - yeah! limit that too! but allow it to be adjusted!
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 20, 2008, 12:24:36 am
The idea isn't to make something that needs other things to work, it's to make something that has enough features to replace other solutions.
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Miluette on September 20, 2008, 02:52:35 pm
Ah yes, of course...
(Of course Sen! That's why this whole thing's so great!)
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 20, 2008, 06:38:24 pm
Ok I've also recruited another person who will most likely be helping on this project. I'm also using it as kind of a training session to work on some of the bigger contract stuff I do, that way he can get started working with some of that too some day. :P

Now an issue is... I need a name for the software.  ???
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Xepher on September 20, 2008, 06:54:42 pm
I still say "JAWS" like we talked about on IM... "Just Another Webcomic System"
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on September 20, 2008, 07:01:00 pm
The problem is getting the domain name. With anything web-based, domain name is kinda key.  :-\
Title: Re: Webcomic Software Solutions
Post by: Databits on October 16, 2008, 05:04:58 pm
This idea hasn't died yet. I'm currently working on getting a new server into a local data center so every other project is on hold at the moment while I'm preparing the server.