Introduction

Sitepackage Benefits

The development of a website can be approached in several ways. Standard websites usually consist of HTML documents, which contain texts and have image files, video files, styles, etc. referenced. The enterprise content management system TYPO3 features a clean separation between design, content and functionality of a website and allows developers/integrators to add simple as well as sophisticated functions to the system easily.

Encapsulation

Using extensions are a powerful way to get the most out of TYPO3. Extensions can be installed, deinstalled, replaced, etc. and extend the core system with functions and features not shipped with the core system. An extension typically consists of PHP files, but can also (or only) contain design templates (HTML, CSS, JavaScript files, etc.) and global configuration. The visual appearance of a website does not necessarily require any PHP code. However, the sitepackage extension described in this tutorial contains exactly two PHP files (plus a handful of HTML/CSS and configuration files) to work as an extension in TYPO3. The PHP code can be copied from this tutorial if the reader does not have any programming knowledge as such.

Version Control

By building the sitepackage as an extension, all relevant files are stored at a central point and changes can easily be tracked in a version control system such as Git. Despite the fact that TYPO3 supports several methods of implementing websites, this approach is a very flexible and professional way. At the same time the process is not overly complicated.

Dependency Management

Another important benefit of a TYPO3 extension is the fact that dependencies to other extensions and/or the TYPO3 version can be defined. This makes deployments easier and more fail-safe. This feature is called "Dependency Management". Most TYPO3 sites require a number of extensions. This could be "News", "Powermail" or "RealURL" for example. By building a sitepackage extension, which may contain global configuration for these add-ons, the dependencies can be defined. When the sitepackage extension is installed in an empty TYPO3 instance, all dependent extensions are downloaded from the TYPO3 Extension Repository and installed automatically.

Clean Separation from the Userspace

Without using an extension, template files are often stored in the fileadmin/ directory of a TYPO3 instance. As a matter of fact, files in this directory are indexed by TYPO3's File Abstraction Layer (FAL). This results in irrelevant and avoidable records in the database. From a logical perspective, the fileadmin/ area is the "userspace". This area is meant to belong to editors. Even if access permissions restrict editors from accessing or manipulating files in fileadmin/, site configuration components should not be stored in the userspace by all means.

Security

Files in fileadmin/ are typically meant to be publicly accessible per convention. To avoid disclosing sensitive system information (see the TYPO3 Security Guide for further details), configuration files should not be stored in fileadmin/.

Deployment

Modern versions of TYPO3 CMS follow the convention over configuration paradigm. As a consequence, if files and directories of the sitepackage extension use a specific naming convention, they are loaded automatically as soon as the extension is installed/activated in the system. This leads to another important advantage of the sitepackage extension. The extension can be deployed easily by using the Extension Manager and/or the PHP composer method. This also enables system administrators to automate the deployment for example.

Distributable

In virtue of the motto "TYPO3 inspires people to share!", the sitepackage extension can also be shared with the community via the official TYPO3 Extension Repository and/or in a publicly accessible version control system such as GitHub.

Last, but not least, configuration implemented in the sitepackage can be overwritten in the TypoScript setup and constants as required.

Prerequisites

This TYPO3 tutorial assumes that the reader has some basic knowledge in the following areas:

  • HTML, CSS and JavaScript
  • SSH/FTP (copy files and directories to and from the server)

It is also recommended that the reader has worked with TYPO3 before, knows what the frontend, backend and Extension Manager is and how to access the Install Tool. Missing knowledge can be acquired by working through the TYPO3 documentation, for example the Getting Started Tutorial.

Due to the fact that the sitepackage discussed in the next chapters implements a new, fresh, clean website skin from scratch, an empty TYPO3 instance is a prerequisite, too. This means, we assume we have a TYPO3 site without any pages, any design templates, any configuration, etc. However, a valid TYPO3 backend user with administrator privileges is required and SSH/FTP access to the server is recommended.