Ski Burke
Launch Site

SkiBurke is mountain synonymous with Vermont skiing. Although they offer top notch skiing, they needed help coalescing their web properties and branding. They had recently gone through a web redesign to tie all the properties together under one site and found me to bring the tech.

With a project this size I decided to team up with none other than Mark Ursino. We've had a long working relationship and I knew together we could easily deliver the goods. We went through a round of discovery and determined we would need to incorporate a CMS, e-commerce, blog, events listing, inntopia booking widget, social media, tail/town/bike maps, weather widget, press page. Seamlessly.

One of the most complicated aspects of integrating this much functionality into a site is finding the right platform. We were working on a PHP environment and as a result of some research I had done on CMS' and decided on Silverstripe due to it's support of page templating. From a development persective there's few platforms that allow you to define a new page with it's own set of fields (images, text, radio buttons) and assign a custom layout to it. Most CMS' will allow you to create HTML in a rich text editor but let's face it content editors, even adventurous ones, don't want to become HTML developers. Think of working with Silverstripe as the difference between buying canned soup and making it fresh at home. There's also the added benefit of the community which has built modules of many of additional elements we needed inclucing the blog and events listing. There was a lot of work lining up the correct versions to make them work together and fix issues resulting from incompatibility but it did save a lot of time from building it all by hand.

Now when it comes down to e-commerce Magento is the go-to open-source package. I've worked with it previously and found it to really offer an overwhelming amount of utiltity for free. It's the type of system that a small business can thrive on. There's built in customer management, sale history, wish lists and if you're like me you'll really like it's caching feature. Skinning it can take some time due to the vast number of pages involved from product reviews, checkout pages and print stylings but again Magento is a workhorse that does a lot of heavy lifting and provides clients with a really reliable platform. One obstacle we did have to overcome was getting both Magento and Silverstripe working on the same domain and share the global navigation. Ursino quickly took to task massaging the two until they were friends and I built an request page in silverstripe to query all the navigation so that when the client changed it there wasn't any issue.

Another aspect of the build which I hadn't been familiar with before was Scalable-Vector-Graphics (SVG). Burke wanted to have a map with highlighted trails that could be turned on and off with the click of a button. To be able to do this I needed to figure out how to draw curves in such a way that they could be turned on and off and updated if for some reason the trails change. There's a handful of javascript packages that can draw lines but none do them with clean curves. Fortunately curves drawn in Illustrator can be exported to svg xml. This xml can be loaded into the page with javascript fairly easily save for one browser: IE. Why it doesn't support SVG is beyond me but it can still be loaded into an html file and that html can be loaded into an iframe into IE. Phyrric Victory.

For the most part the rest of the functionality was straight forward; social media, couple custom pages in the CMS, weather widgets and a booking engine tie-in. All in all it took roughly four months to complete and I learned a lot about a handful of very useful technologies and have another bright feather for my cap.

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