McDonald Real Estate site redevelopment

January 5th, 2010


Momentum enjoyed the opportunity to redevelop the McDonald Real Estate site (  from the ground up.

A real estate site is a great technical challenge – hundreds of listings and thousands of photos changing daily, as well as complex searches and regular content changes.

We decided to use a free, open source CMS called Silverstripe.

Silverstripe is a PHP/MySQL based CMS that makes both development and future maintenance a breeze.

Silverstripe utilises an MVC (Model-View-Controller) approach to separate data, web pages and actions.

An easy to use admin interface means clients can edit content easily, and add and edit objects such as estate agents, branches and rental properties

Listings and photos are uploaded daily from a third party real estate aggregator. They arrive in XML format, and a nightly Linux cron job loads these listings into the database, using the wonderful SimpleXML PHP extension to parse the XML feed.

The site uses a combination of Flash and Javascript to enhance the users experience -
a Flash carousel showing a random selection of properties provides pizazz to the homepage, and prettyPhoto (a javascript library) is used to provide a popup slideshow of property photographs.

Other technical features includes an email to a friend function, which pops up a dialog, emails someone, and notifies of success, all without leaving the page. Also included is a print PDF function, which dynamically generates a PDF document on the fly.

Behind the scenes, agents can login and get a tailored vendor report that pulls back statistics from Google Analytics and builds graphs showing visitor numbers and global location.

We used a combination of the Google Chart API and the Google Analytics Data Export API to create these custom reports.

Technology used:

Silverstripe CMS

jQuery (a powerful, multi-purpose Javascript library)
prettyPhoto (jQuery based lightbox clone)
Datejs (a very nice, open-source Javascript date library)
SimpleXML (PHP extension for working with XML)
Google Chart API (Powerful tool to generate a wide range of dynamic charts)
Google Analytics Data Export API (Allows direct access to the data generated by Google Analytics)


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