Frustrations with Pulse

I am writing this as my observations of trying very hard with Pulse and Freeway sites. I do not intend any criticism of the system or any individual. However, my experience with Pulse has been frustrating to put it mildly, and this I feel is down to the difficulties in getting advice and support.

I started off with a requirement to incorporate a simple CMS into a client site, so that he was able to edit and insert items of stock he had for sale. I use Freeway to design my web sites, and so I asked on the Freeway Talk forums for advice. I was pointed in the direction of Pulse v3.

So, I downloaded the trial version to see if Pulse would meet my needs. In principle, it looked like it would.

I had huge difficulties getting Pulse v3 to do even basic things, like logging in to the admin panel. Passwords being rejected, etc. etc. After many hours of toil, I sought advice both here and on the Freeway forums. In the end, someone (I can’t remember who!) eventually solved my problem. It was down to the fact that Mac OS X uses ‘smart quotes’ as a default, and that was causing issues in my Pulse config file.

I resolved the issue by using a separate App from the OS X default TextEdit, and these issues disappeared. I have to wonder however, why this issue is not mentioned anywhere in the Pulse docs. I had never even heard of ‘smart quotes’ before all this.

Following this, I was able to get Pulse 3 working satisfactorily for my purposes, with some help from Tim Plumb on the Freeway forums.

As I had seen various quotes from Michael about Pulse v3 not being supported in the future, I decided to try and replicated what I needed in Pulse 4. This is when my major problems started. In order to simplify what I was trying to achieve, I put up a simple test site of a row of 3 boxes with content using Freeway, and tried to replicate them as a Pulse template.

Again, after many hours trying, I sought advice from the forums here and at Freeway. One example is here Can't get Pulse 4 to work on existing site

The problem is that on the (always very helpful) Freeway forum, although people were prepared to help, no one had any in depth knowledge of Pulse, except for Tim, and although Tim chipped in from time to time, I was getting nowhere. I also had an exchange of emails with Tim, but, in the end, I stopped getting replies. There is no criticism intended there, as I appreciate that people like Tim give their help for free, and are very busy people.

Similarly, seeking out help on the Pulse forum, I got a similar - but opposite - type of response, i.e. some people were prepared to help, but no one seemed to have any knowledge of Freeway – except Tim. Even Michael, in his email replies to support request, suggested that I put my question to the forums as he had no knowledge of how Freeway works, and suggested that Tim would be my best bet to help.

So, it would seem that my only hope is Tim, who has knowledge of Freeway and Pulse, but Tim is obviously a busy man with limited time to respond to requests for guidance.

I am not a novice in a lot of fields, I have developed apps for the Apple App Store and have knowledge of certain coding environments, however, I chose Freeway as a web design tool as it does not require much coding knowledge. I had hoped for the same situation with Pulse, i.e. an easy to use CMS that I could incorporate into my existing Freeway sites. My experience has been that is not the case. Although I can see how Pulse 4 works with existing templates, and how attractive designs can be achieved, I have not been able to do fairly simple things using simple test sites from Freeway. Even stuff I have managed to do has involved adding custom code, organising ids and classes, and manipulating existing code a lot more than I had expected.

Maybe my expectations were unrealistic, but my experience of trying to get Pulse working with existing sites has involved days of frustration, and I am now going to rely on v3 to keep going and be supported my Michael for the foreseeable future.

I just want to repeat that I am not intending any criticism here, just documenting my frustrations and observations!

It would appear that I’m in demand here @imacken :slight_smile:

If you look at the involvement I’ve had over the last 15 years in the Freeway community and more recently here in the Pulse community you’ll see that I’m the sort of person that wants to help others. When I first started out in web design I knew very little about it but thankfully found myself surrounded online by a handful of people that were not only knowledgeable but were also very generous with their time. That ethos became infectious and I’m always keen to give back to the community that showed me guidance early on.

Having said that my time isn’t limitless. What I do here with Pulse and over with my various Freeway ventures are all done when I’m not working on client projects. My availability, like most sole traders, can fluctuate as violently as my income. If you don’t see me on this forums for a few days or weeks then it almost certainly means I’m busy with other projects.

In answer to your issues I think you may have somewhat under estimated the process of setting up and running a CMS like Pulse. Compared to other systems Pulse is very easy to get up and running BUT you do need to know your way around an HTML page to do so. The elements I see making up the ‘perfect storm’ of your frustration are;

  1. You are using Freeway which will naturally abstract you from the code it produces. You have to try really, really hard to get to see the HTML the application generates for your page and when you do you have to know where to add the markup to get the application to alter that HTML on output.
  2. You are using the Backdraft template. This template is great for the majority of Freeway users as it simplifies most of the things you need to think about when creating inflow responsive pages in Freeway. However, it wasn’t designed to be used in a CMS environment which is why its reliance on IDs rather than classes in styles became an issue for you. Trying to change those ID styles to classes could be done but it isn’t a pretty process.

I guess what I’m trying to say is if it were me I wouldn’t have started your journey there. Freeway, Backdraft and Pulse isn’t a magic combination for an instant CMS solution. I’ve made numerous sites with Freeway and both Pulse 3 and 4 but you do need to know what bits of Freeway to pull out and replace with other bits of PHP or Pulse code.

I agree that the use of a plain text editor could have been emphasised more in the documentation in regard to editing the config file but it seems that your initial troubles were all down to adding in an invalid character into the config file. This blew Pulse apart and it looked ‘half broken’ because you could still do some stuff in the CMS because you were still signed in as a valid user. I found the curly quote when you sent me the FTP details and I corrected the file for you.

My suggestion to you, or anyone else, would be to read the documentation on Pulse template creation, figure out what the tags do and where you should use them and then take a good look at the HTML page you want to make into a Pulse theme. If it uses IDs for styles and you want to turn a section of then page into a repeatable block or blog post then you are going to end up with a non validating page. Also take a look at the differences between Pulse 3 and 4. Pulse 3 is great for just dropping in editable regions into a site. Pulse 4 is much more powerful in that it handles whole pages as well as just blocks but with that extra power comes a slightly steeper learning curve. Figure out what you want from your CMS and pic the solution that delivers those features.

I think if you deep breath and take another look at Pulse you’ll find it is quite a capable CMS.

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Thanks @imacken for your comments here, it’s appreciated

@TimPlumb has done wonders to both the Freeway and Pulse communities. A stalwart in both. And of course he has other commitments offline like all of us.

I wanted you to post your requests here as I didn’t want you to take too much of Tim’s time unnecessarily as others might have had similar issues. Posting in the community helps yourself and others - if they have similar problems they can learn from what you discover, and quicker. Sharing is caring. That said and to be fair, your comment here doesn’t really help anyone? :confused:

How were you editing config.php before using text edit? What app?

Remember (although I’m a mac addict) there are other operating systems than just OS X and a lot of Pulse users don’t experience this issue. It’s unique to the latest Mac OS versions.

Creating templates / themes is not child’s play. Hence there’s the Pulse Professionals service if you need customization, there’s a growing selection of themes in the addons section and then there’s Tim’s theme-o-matic.

But as people alluded to in the Freeway forums where you posted, making templates for a CMS is easy if you can edit HTML (probably takes 30 minutes to convert an HTML Bootstrap theme > Pulse CMS) but you have to know what you are doing.

I’m sorry I don’t know every web building app out there (like Freeway) but integrations are happening and things will get easier in the near future. Pulse is an awesome CMS but it is intended more for Developers. The end users are non-technical users but the makers or theme incorporators / Pulse setup people need to know how to do basic HTML, FTP and so on.

Sorry for your frustrations but it’s also frustrating for people on this side when users aren’t clear about issues they are having, don’t document it in a forum or email and just torpedo emails to a variety of people without remembering that we are also human beings too and are slaving away to make this great for everyone - without asking for anything back in return. Tim in particular is doing this out of the kindness of his heart and I think some of the comments here on him are slightly unfair. You have to give clear information and questions before getting clear answers.

Reminds me of this --> we are real people a lot like you:

Hope you stick around, become an active member in this community and can help others get running quicker than you did. As long as we learn from these things then we’re moving forward.

Happy Pulsing!

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Thanks for that, Michael. However, I find your response rather patronising.

As a business man myself, I fully understand the value of time, and I went to some length in my original post to say how much it is appreciated that people like Tim give their time for free and how generous that is given the pressure of us all trying to make ends meet.

Time is valuable to me as well, as I have various businesses including a bowling alley, and restaurant as well as my web and graphic design business. Despite the pressure on my time, I am very much a net contributor to many internet forums, including Apple Developer Forums, Apple Support Communities, photography forums, and others. I am knowledgeable in a few fields and am very happy to help others whenever I can.

So, of course I understand the value of time.

On this topic, my point was/is that the situation here with Pulse is rather unusual in the respect that it relies on one person’s goodwill – Tim – to help with Freeway related issues. Usually, to spread the load, there are several people who have the knowledge and inclination to help others when they are struggling. That’s what makes internet forums a very valuable source of information helping out others with similar interests.

Regarding ‘textedit and the curly quote’ saga, it was textedit and OS X that were causing the issue. I spent several wasted hours on that. It was clear from one of your responses to my posts about this that you had experienced this with other users. My point is, that as this was a known issue, if it had been referred to in your docs, time would not have been wasted, and it would have potentially saved others that wasted time as well. By the way, yes, I do realise that there are other operating systems available! That does not alter the fact, however. Moving to a code editor rather than a text editor solved that issue.

Regarding my other issues, you seem to be suggesting that the problem was/is that I have not being making my issues clear, which in turn has made it rather frustrating for users to offer solutions. I would have to disagree there. If you look at Can't get Pulse 4 to work on existing site for example, I feel that my questions were pretty clear, and despite Tim’s best efforts, they remain unanswered after 10 days.

Your comment about my comments on Tim being ‘slight unfair’ leave me speechless! See above, and my comments elsewhere about how much I appreciate Tim’s time and efforts.

@TimPlumb Tim, thanks again. See other posts in this thread regarding how much I appreciate your efforts.

Regarding the technical issues, I agree with some of what you have said, but not all.

  1. the ‘curly quote’ saga wasn’t down to me inserting an invalid character, it was the way textedit was doing a conversion each time the file was saved. The config file you corrected, was corrupted immediately by textedit the next time I edited it. It wasn’t until I switched off ‘smart quotes’ in OS X and started using a coding editor that the problem disappeared. My point here is that this known issue should have been mentioned in the Pulse docs.

  2. Backdraft is a red herring here. I have not used it on any site I have developed in the past. I only used that in a very simple site to strip down my issue to the basics for reference here. The issues are exactly the same if putting together a simple 3 box inline standard Freeway site. I think is an example.

  3. I have some issues with the Freeway page action, as I can’t always get the $path variable to work correctly. Every item I add into a page via Freeway/Pulse, I have to manually edit the path to the images. For one or two, that is not a problem, but when it goes into dozens, it is.

You suggest reading the docs on templates, but my issue has always been that I can see how Pulse 4 works with its own templates, and even creating templates from scratch for whole pages, etc., but what I have been asking about is getting Pulse 4 to work in existing Freeway sites, and very simple test ones at that.

Pulse 3 does what I need at the moment, but, as you know, what I have tried to do is simply replicate it in Pulse 4 as my worry is that Michael has suggested that support for v3 will disappear and that everyone should really move to v4. I understand that v4 is a lot more powerful than v3, but, for my current purposes, I’m not interested in that extra power. I would just like to replicate what v3 does for me in v4. Like you say, v3 is ‘great for just dropping in editable regions into a site’, and that is all I am trying to achieve in v4!

Thanks for the comments Iain.

I hope that your feedback can go to making Pulse a better product so others don’t fall down the holes you’ve experienced.

In answer to your points;

  1. There are some things that bite you while doing web development that almost kill you and you learn from them. Using a plain text editor is just one of those things for me and I now know to just open up Text Wrangler (or similar) when editing these files. Adding a footnote to the edit config documentation would be a useful addition.
  2. OK but the same holds true for some of Freeway’s output as well in that they can both rely far too heavily on IDs rather than class names.
  3. I think I mentioned before that if you’ve a Freeway page that doesn’t look like it is converting correctly when using the Action you should bundle it up and send it my way for closer inspection. The Pulse Action uses the same case as the Remote Resources Action which has been around for about a decade and hasn’t seen any issues (as far as I know) for 90% of that time.

I’ve a few ideas that I’ll share with Michael in regard to how I think things could be improved.

Thanks again Tim. I’m glad you can see that I was only relaying my observations on trying to get Pulse working with Freeway sites, and realising that I had not intended any criticism!

  1. I agree with you, but I still feel that a short note in the (quite sparse) Pulse docs would have resolved that. As a side note, I feel that some basic tutorials would be a massive help to new users of Pulse. Even Youtube has almost nothing except for some basic install videos.

  2. Is there a case for making the transition from Freeway code to Pulse a lot easier? At the moment, it would seem that a fair amount of code manipulation/creation is required to get this working between the 2 apps.

  3. Yes, you did make that offer, and when I revisit Pulse v4, I will send something over to you. As an aside, v3 has similar issues, in that the path to images has to be edited. For example, here is some code from Freeway that is used in a Pulse 4 block



    Groundcare machinery we will generally have for sale include both new and used seeders, spikers, scarifiers, spreaders, top dressers, slitters, tipping trailers, chippers, compact tractors and utility vehicles

The image path has to be edited to show "/testxxx/Resosurces/…’ every time.

Now, as we have discussed before, a workaround here is to upload the images to the Pulse data/img/uploads folder and select them, but that is just as much a pain. I don’t see why, if Pulse knows the path to the Pulse_dir as specified in the config file, why can’t it get the path to Resources from that?