I have been making solid progress on the next release of this site, version 5.2, and hope to release it in a couple of weeks. I am very happy with this release as it contains solutions for a number of technically difficult problems which required a lot of careful design and planning work before they were implemented.
I have finished all of the new feed functionality which will be included in Alpha. These features are very flexible because they allow you to nominate any business object from the model and serve up details about those business objects via a feed in any one of three supported formats (RSS, RSS 2.0 and Atom). I hope to take a similarly flexible approach to business objects when it comes to implementing web services support in the Alpha Framework.
I have also finished the front controller for Alpha, and will use it sparingly on here in order to test it out on a live site, perhaps initially to just serve up the news feeds. With the addition of the front controller to Alpha, there are now three ways to access the same page controller:
Via a direct link to the page controller, e.g. /alpha/controller/site_map.php
Via a standard front controller request, e.g. FC.php?act=site_map
Via a secure (encrypted) front controller request, e.g. FC.php?tk=sjfgs453qui.....
You can already see examples of the first method dotted around this website. In the second method, we are telling the front controller which page controller to load via the act parameter. In the final example we are also providing the the act parameter along with any other GET parameters we need, but they are being sent via an encrypted token to the front controller using powerful 256bit encryption.
The third method will be particularly useful for anything that is passing sensitive information via the query string on the request. While this is overkill for most applications, there are some that might require it so I decided to add it as an optional feature Alpha itself. I will document all of these features with tutorials on the Alpha Framework website in the months ahead when we get closer to the version 1 release of the framework.
Updated 2021 : note that the above post is out of date as it was originally published in 2007, but is left here for archival purposes.