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Category Archives: CMS

phpExcel: Adding accounting format and review

While working on a long-standing CMS (Content Management System) project I needed to find a way to export database results into a working Excel document. For years I have been creating functions which exported .CSV files which were then easily imported into Excel, but for this project a working Excel document was needed and I was lucky enough to stumble across PHPExcel. I am very pleased with this code and I have spent the last week learning it and writing an export function. You can download your own copy here https://phpexcel.codeplex.com/.

The functionality of PHPExcel is very in-depth and I only scratched the surface of what it can do. Basically it can do just about anything Excel can do. One thing it didn’t do was save number formats in the Excel accounting format, which was having the $ sign on the left of the cell while the numbers would be aligned right. Luckily it is very easy to modify and contribute to PHPExcel and I managed to figure out a way to add the accounting format.

This is how you add accounting format to PHPExcel


First open PHPExcel_1 > Classes > PHPExcel > Style > NumberFormat.php

Within this class add the bolded text.

class PHPExcel_Style_NumberFormat extends PHPExcel_Style_Supervisor implements PHPExcel_IComparable
// Add this
const FORMAT_ACCOUNTING = ‘_(“$”* #,##0.00_);_(“$”* \(#,##0.00\);_(“$”* “-“??_);_(@_)’;


Then when writing your export code you now have a new number format

‘code’ => PHPExcel_Style_NumberFormat::FORMAT_ACCOUNTING

One very important Item to note, this only works in Excel itself, not Open Office! If you are using Open Office it will not display the number format like Excel does, this is because of Open Office limitations, not PHPExcel.

While I haven’t found an official WordPress plugin for this, this site is a WordPress site and as you can see I have integrated the functionality into my website. Please use the form below to test out and see how it works. I hope you find this functionality as useful as I do.

Test it out yourself and export an Excel file


Only a text only name a proper number will work!!

Content Management Systems’ (CMS) have become the norm for web design

wordpress dashboard12 years ago, when I started in the web design business I spent a lot of time building static web sites. Most of my time was spent in Photoshop at the design stage of web development. Here, I would export my design as slices in a table layout. From there I would designate a few spots for HTML copy, then add in my Flash and JavaScript elements. For these websites I would usually do any number of requested updates to the site on a certain day of the week and invoice my clients monthly for these changes.

I would also get projects which required having an image gallery, press feed, bulletin board or an e-commerce component. For these I would build a dynamic database driven content management component which would allow the client to manage this content.  For these projects I would integrate my static HTML code with the dynamic PHP and MySQL components. On other occasions I would get projects which were company intranets/extranets and all the content was database driven.

Let’s define a content management system. As per Wikipedia a CMS is described as:

“A content management system (CMS) is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment.[4] These procedures can be manual steps or an automated cascade. CMSs have been available since the late 1990s.”

CMS websites are typically used for content control, user management and tracking, searching and editing data, creating reports, eCommerce, blogging, and publishing a news feed among other functions. There are thousands of CMS systems out there for a variety of website sizes and requirements, and on top of those developers would need to develop plug-ins or an entire custom CMS system.

For websites which were a fusion of database driven content and static HTML code, the Content Management Systems (CMS) component was always an extra item, one that was specifically asked for based on an estimation of how often the content would have to change.

What has changed in the last few years is the emergence of open source projects, sites such as WordPress, Magento, Drupal, and Joomla, to name a few.  These sites are free and developed by countless web developers worldwide. I think because of the combination of cost (free) and the input from many developers working towards making the systems easy to use and update, these CMS systems have now become the standard. They are what is expected by web site owners.

This works best for both the developer and the owner. Content updates in the past, which were critical to the website owner to promote or showcase new goods or services, were sometimes inconvenient for a web designer to do immediately, as they were usually in the midst of another project. It makes sense to use a CMS such as WordPress for a small to medium sized website because

  1. Doing so allows the customer to manage all the text, image, press, products updates themselves
  2. Website owners have started to expect and reply on this content control.

The critical benefits which Content Management Systems (CMS) offer are greater content control and superior flexibility. Not only do they allow you to update content information on your website more efficiently, they also free you from being tied to a specific developer. With an open source CMS, you can get almost any developer to add functionality to your website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Checklist

google searchSo your very excited, you have a great new website and want to share it with the world to generate some interest in your business. The problem is that no one is finding it and other than through word of mouth you don’t know how to let the world know your awesome website exists. So we have come up with this list to help get you started, it is by no means complete, but it certainly is a great start.

1.   Submit your website to search engines

I would recommend that you at least submit to the big three search engines, Google, Bing, Yahoo.
For Google submit your content here:
For Bing submit your content here:
For Yahoo submit your site here:

2.   Take advance of Google Webmaster Tools

Create a sitemap and submit it to Google webmaster tools:  Google will then start to crawl your website and you will start coming up in Google search results, do this in addition to step 1.

3.   Search Engine Optimize (SEO) your website

Make sure your website message is clear. This is a very large task and we have more tips for this by visiting this blog about SEO. When you have search engine optimized your website, the search engine will be better able to crawl your website and you will be found more frequently when people search.

4.   Keep your content current, up-to-date and easy to find.

Don’t let your copy and content get stale.  Make a content  schedule for editing and adding new content.  The search engines like fresh content and a visually appealing and easy to navigate web design encourages users to come back again and again.

5.   Blog

A blog is great way to generate new content and draw users to your website. If you write something interesting, users will come back for more and share your articles on social networks. In addition, most blogs (such as WordPress) have update services which share every new article on news websites around the world. Other websites surf these websites for content to use and will sometimes pick up and re-share your content.

6.   Maintain Social Networks

Create accounts with Google+, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pintrest, etc., and keep posting content from your website to these networks.

7.   Use Online Marketing Techniques

This is another big subject, one easy and effective way to dip your toes into this field is to use Google Ad Words. They have a very easy to use interface, which allows you to create and post ads on search result pages and partner websites.

8.   Aquire Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites that lead to your website. This has two purposes, the first being that users from that site have a quick way to find your website and, in addition, search engines will find and crawl your website more frequently.

9.   Give away free stuff and discounts

Using your social networks, give away a few free products or services which will then entice people to come back for more and share your free stuff with their friends on social networks.

10. Send a Newsletter

Create an email newsletter which provides users with your offers and new content updates, which then link back to your website. Be mindful that you don’t send it out too frequently or users will ignore it. This also reminds people that your business exists and keeps you in the back of their minds.

In conclusion, avoid any blackhat or too good to be true offers from companies that promise instant traffic results. Patience is important as well as nurturing and caring for your website with new and improved content. Monitor your website’s health with free tools form Google which include Google Analytics and Webmaster tools. We hope this list helps to get you started with sharing your website to the world

New responsive WordPress website with structured data

We are happy to announce the launch of our upgraded website. We realized that we were building responsive websites with structured data but hadn’t added those features to our own website (sometimes you just get too busy).

So now we have made this website fully responsive to all devices, try it out on your iphone or ipad, or resize your browser window and see how the page and content responds.

We took our existing website design and transformed it into a custom WordPress theme and integrated structured data right into our blog theme templates so the structured data tags are added automatically.

Case Study: Custom Extranet and CMS for a Unique Business

We have just recently completed a project for a long standing BEI logoclient (Bluestein Export Import Inc.  aka  BEI) which involved a content management and accounting system for their business. What made this project unique was that this client is the only company that does what they do and finding an out of the box CMS or accounting system that would do what they needed was next to impossible. They tried other applications and found them to be lacking.

We have been working on this project piece by piece for the last 10 years and we had a pretty good understanding of how the business worked. Since the project was developed over 10 years, it was constantly evolving as BEI realized they needed more and more functionality.  So the last year we completely redesigned the extranet website to be much more efficient, streamlined and user friendly (these were some of the top priorities) by adding jQuery technology, better navigation, more control by the administrators and more effective PHP and MySQL coding.

The main function of the website is that it does exactly what BEI needs it to do to manage their businesses data, they do not have to change their system to conform to an out of the box application. Out of the box applications can be very effective and cost saving tools, yet in some situations it is more efficient to build a custom application, especially when your business is very unique.

Some of the main features of this website include:

  • Multi-user and security level management
  • Administrator can browse and work as any user
  • Content control for all drop down / select menus
  • Complex financial reporting for both users and administrators  (users submit daily reports, administrators can summarize all reports)
  • Invoice creation with printable versions
  • Expense reporting
  • Quick summaries and views of financial data
  • CVS exporting into Excel
  • Email notifications
  • Financial and report validation

To summarize, we now have a very efficient and highly useful website which works for BEI and allows them to focus more on their business rather than their process. It uses modern coding practices and it is future friendly, ready for any new evolutions that need to be added. A website that does exactly what they need it to do.

Doctors of Thoracic Surgery WordPress Website

Doctors of Thoracic Surgery Wordress ThemeWe are pleased to announce the launch of the Doctors of Thoracic Surgery (D.O.T.S.) WordPress website. Working with Blammo who handled the graphic design and project management, we built a custom WordPress theme for this fantastic life saving organization.

One of the challenges of this WordPress theme was the many different levels of navigation including a primary, secondary and footer menu, with some of the menus going 4 levels deep, and of course automating the menus for ease of use by the client. And with most of our custom themes, we code custom PHP functions to create a website that works best for the clients needs.

Being a WordPress website, this site has a full CMS (content management system) to manage everything from page content,  image and PDF management, menus and of course  plugins and widgets.

2 new WordPress websites with geolocations

Over the last month we have launched 2 custom WordPress theme websites, both of which  are integrated with Google’s geolocator. What this does is allow locations to be searched by postal code to provide end users with the most relevant data for them.  In both cases we seamlessly integrated the locations into the WordPress administration panel for ease of use by the website administrator.

As is our specialty recently, this is a custom built WordPress theme website. We can turn any design, from any designer into a fully functioning CMS website.

cremation basicsarbo memorial

Jar Creative WordPress Website Live

Wearing my hat as the website developer for Jar Creative I am happy to announce the launch of their new website. This website pushed the limits of WordPress theme development and I am very pleased to be have been part of the team which includes Designers, Creative Directors, Project Managers and SEO Specialists.

One item I especially proud to have developed is the image focused blog as seen below on the left.

jar blogjar data pagejar home page

New WordPress Website launched – Rohmer and Fenn Law

rohme fenn law websiteOver the holidays we launched the Rohmer and Fenn Law website. We handled both the design and development of this website and created a custom WordPress template for the client.

It includes a full WordPress content management system, SEO (Search engine optimization), and all content is easily update-able by Rohmer and Fenn.

Green & Clean WordPress Website

Green & Clean Energy Company WordPress websiteThis summer Darkstar Media designed and developed the Green & Clean Energy company website. It is a WordPress template which has multi language support.

It includes a CMS for managing all content, which includes text for both languages, images, and the callouts and calls to action. The ability to create custom meta tags and descriptions is included in this website as well which is important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

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