Advice for my Dad

Hi all,

I’m a back end web app developer (Java) and my dad wants to start a website. He had no real programming or html background but is pretty quick picking up new things. The site he wants to build will have a few main requirements. Easy to build / add content, decent looking output without much hand-coded html or CSS and the ability to a few complex forms with calculations. The last part is the trickiest, he basically has a few spreadsheets that he wants to turn into interactive pages on the site. My guess is this will require some server side programming or custom JS/jQuery. I’m fine doing this part for him (if necessary) but wanted to get others opinions on what the best platform to start with would be. Wordpress? Drupal? Other?

All thoughts appreciated.

Apart from the spreadsheets, it sounds like a CMS job, so Wordpress, Joomla or Drupal should be fine. There might even be an add-on for the spreadsheet requirement, who knows.

With Wordpress, how easy would it be to use a form builder and have the form post to custom coded php or java? Or better yet, run some custom JS. I dont have much experience with CMS so I’m not sure how limited I will be later on.

I would definitely go with Wordpress. Joomla and (soon) Drupal have a million more plugins (probably literally), but the code is awkward to navigate…especially if you have little experience. Wordpress is a cinche to work with, has a very intuitive directory structure, and their codex is at least better than the ones for the other CMS’. Adding your own custom Javascript/PHP/etc is (almost) as easy as dropping your folder into the plugins directory and setting up a few required lines of code which you can just copy/paste from the site.

There are tons of places to get templates for Wordpress, so you can find one that matches the style your going for and adjust it to your liking pretty easily. I actually use Wordpress now to prototype some of my web apps…I swear by Wordpress.

There will of course be a learning curve, but it won’t be as steep as some of the other options out there.

As for your question about how easy it is to create a form builder, it really depends. Wordpress provides a ton of functions that allow you to easily add/remove data from individual posts. There are also some tools available that will allow you to convert a spreadsheet into a file you could easily work with in PHP, if the spreadsheets are static.

I get really excited when I talk about Wordpress as you can see, so I’m a little biased :stuck_out_tongue:

Since you get excited I’ll give you a chance to talk more :slight_smile:

The spreadsheets aren’t static. They are a set of calculations to estimate the value of something. I dont expect (although it would be great) for any plugin to generate the calculations for me. My question is about how easy wordpress will be to integration the wordpress form with the calculations (either through server side code or JavaScript).

It wouldn’t be that difficult, but then again I’ve been coding for a while. Since you’re willing to help with the code if necessary, I’ll assume you know some PHP/JS.

Here’s a mockup of one way it could be done (you’ll see it’s not really that difficult);

  1. You create the form in the wordpress page using standard HTML.
  2. The form Posts the numbers to a page called “calculations.php” inside “…/wp-content/plugins/spreadsheets/calculations.php”, which looks something like this:

require_once('WP_Load'); //Load necessary wordpress functions

//Get the values from the form
$interest = $_POST['interest'];
$cash = $_POST['cash'];
$period = $_POST['period'];
$page_id = $_POST['page_id'];

//Calculate total after period
$estimate = ($interest/12 * $cash) * $period;

//Save this value back to the spreadsheet in the current page
add_post_meta($post->ID, 'estimate', $estimate);

//Redirect to the page

  1. Then you just add a hook to the required wordpress file (probably “functions.php”) that looks at all the “estimate” values stored inside the page:

add_filter('the_content', display_spreadsheet($content));
function display_spreadsheet($content){

  $content = '<table>';
  foreach(get_post_meta($post->ID, 'estimate') as $estimate){
    $content .= '<tr><td>' . $estimate . '</td></tr>';
  $content .= '</table>';
  return $content;

I mean that would be it in a nutshell. In fact, you could probably copy+paste that code and it would work lol

As soon as I saw the 'keywords"

no real programming or html background, easy to build / add content, without much hand-coded html or CSS

I thought about WordPress - if you’re a developer, all of the three CMS seem perfectly ok, but I can see them from your father’s perspective, being not much of a techie myself. I’ve recently moved over from Joomla to WP, and found it so intuitive! I wish I had moved much earlier! However, I am not sure about the forms part since I’ve no idea how to do it. But your father’s got you, so what’s the problem?:slight_smile:

Good luck!

Google drive spreadsheet -> file menu ->publish to web

(also make sure it’s sharing is set to public)