Most applications will have one or two sidebars and often you want to control the content that should appear in the sidebar based on the action. For example you will want to show something different on the homepage as opposed to some view page. While achieving this you generally also want to avoid putting the layout into each view, as that would mean if you wanted to change the layout (e.g. put the sidebar on the left instead of the right or do some funky layout which requires an additional div tag to be added) you'd have to go through every view, which does not achieve good code re-use. It is also bad practice to have lots of if statements in column2 layout just so that you can generate the sidebar correctly.
Trying to learn and help some other programmers to find their solutions on the Yii Forum (I think is a superb way to learn the framework), I was facing one challenge with an external library that a fellow programmer wanted to use -quite good indeed: PHPExcel. And what is PHPExcel?
To fix issues with display of special language characters once and for all
there's a solution: use Unicode UTF-8 everywhere. If everything is set up to use Unicode, you can use mostly every language in your application.
CButtonColumn in CGridView can be customised to include user built buttons. To learn a great deal about including custom buttons, read this excellent wiki.
This tutorial will show how to call an action from one custom button using AJAX instead of regular GET calls.
I have seen a couple of articles about how to integrate external libraries to debug our PHP code (i.e. firePHP) but after you read this article you will realize that there is no need for such libraries when using Yii.