Tuesday Feb 17, 2009

Structures, Templates and Web Content : CMS's MVC

In my previous post, I had demonstrated how to add content to a page in WebSpace using the Web Content Display portlet. I had used the Web Content Display portlet to add a review article about a Car. Now imagine you have a website where reviews about different cars have to be posted everyday. Creating and formatting each article using the WYSIWYG editor is definitely not scalable. It also poses some maintenance problems. Assume that you have some 100 different review articles about 100 cars on your site and your boss is not happy with the format of the content. He wants you to change the format of all the articles. Now that would require you to edit each article and modify the format using the WYSIWYG editor. Isn't that going to be tedious. And by the way 100 articles is really a small number. I have come across customers who have to maintain more than 10,000 articles on their site.

Don't worry. Here comes Structures and Templates to your rescue. Structure is meta-data for content. It defines what the content would be made of. The structure for the review article would indicate that the article is made up of a Title, Image, Author Name, Date, and Body. It is analogous to the schema of a table. Template would define how the content would be laid out on the page. For example, the template would define the Title to be bold and centered, Image to be displayed in a fixed width of 100x100, Body text to be in red color and so on. A structure can have many number of templates associated with it. Once the structure and templates are ready, you can create content corresponding to the structure by specifying values for the fields defined in the structure. This is analogous to adding a row to a table by specifying values for the columns in the table. While creating the content, you can select one of the many available templates that has to be applied while displaying the content. In this way, if you want to change the look and feel of the content, all you have to do is just assign different template to the content in place of the old one.

The following screen cast demonstrates how to apply the concept of structure and templates to create and publish review articles on to our site.

If you want to try out the above exercise, download this file exercise.txt since it contains all the content that you need to create structure, templates and web content.

For more information on the Web Content portlet, visit here.

Thursday Feb 12, 2009

Adding content to portal page : The easy way

In my previous blog post I gave an overall view of Content Management System in WebSpace.
In this post, I am going to show you how easy it is to add content to a page in WebSpace using the Web Content Display portlet.

Screenshot 1

Screenshot 2

Screenshot 3

Screenshot 4

 Here are the steps to add content to a page using the Web Content Display portlet :

1. Login to WebSpace as Admin User.
2. Go to the page where you want to add content.
3. Click Add Applications from the welcome menu.
4. Drag & drop the Web Content Display portlet to the part of the page where you want to display the content. The portlet will display a message "Select existing web content or add some web content to be displayed in this portlet"(See screenshot 1)
5. Click "Add web content" icon present on the bottom-left of the portlet. This will open up the page where you can design your content using a WYSIWYG(What You See Is What You Get) editor. (See screenshot 2)
6. Enter a name for the content and use the WYSIWYG editor to add and format your content. I will create a Car review article.
7. Once you are satisfied with the content and its format, click on "Save and Approve".
8. Now you can see that your content appears on the page within the portlet. (See screenshot 3)
   You can remove the portlet borders by :
    - Selecting Configuration-->Look and Feel
    - Uncheck the box next to Show Borders and click on save.
    - Refresh the page.
9. See Screenshot 4 to see how the content looks once the portlet border has been removed.
10. Thats it. You have just added new content to the page which will be available for others to see.

By repeating step 3-step 8, you can add multiple contents to a page by adding multiple instances of the Web Content Display porlet. In this way, you can build the whole page just by using the Web Content Display portlet.

In my next article, I will deep dive into structures, templates, articles and demonstrate how they can all be combined to generate web content for the portal.

Wednesday Feb 11, 2009

Content Management System in Glassfish Web Space Server 10.0

Sun announced the first release of its next generation portal - Sun Glassfish Web Space server 10.0. See the announcement here. Lets call it WebSpace for convenience. People must be wondering why the version is 10.0 and not 1.0. The reason is the WebSpace team members believe this is a revolutionary step from previous portal efforts and way ahead of other portal servers. To get started on WebSpace, visit WebSpace homepage.

WebSpace comes with its own out of the box Content Management Sytem(CMS). The WebSpace CMS comprises of the following features :

1. Document Management.
2. Image Management.
3. Web Content Management.

Document Management
Document management in WebSpace is provided via the Document Library portlet and Document Library Display portlet.
The Document Library provides a centralized repository for various documents. The documents can be organized into different folders and sub-folders. It is analogous to the file system on your hard drive. It also provides locking, versioning and tagging of documents. The uploaded documents can be converted to other formats on the fly using the Document Library. Document library can be configured to store the documents either in a JSR-170 based repository(ex jackrabbit), Amazon S3 account or file system on the server. Each uploaded document in the Document Library is assigned a unique URL using which it can be accessed from anywhere in the portal. It also allows permissions to be set on folder level as well as document level.
The Document Library Display portlet allows only viewing of the available folders and uploaded documents. It does not allow the users to add, edit or delete fodlers and documents.

Image Management
Image Management in  WebSpace is provided via the Image Gallery portlet. Like the Document Library, the Image Gallery provides a centralized repository for images that are used throughout the portal and assigns a unique URL to each image. Again the images can be organized into different folders and sub-folders. The Image Gallery also provides a slide show feature to view the images in a particular folder.

Web Content Management
Most of the time, most of the content on a website is static content. The Web Content Management feature allows the content authors of a website to create the web content on the fly and publish it on to the portal. The Web Content Management comprises of the following portlets :

Web Content portlet - Main interface for WebSpace's integrated web publishing system. Allows content authors to create, edit and publish content, as well as content templates for one click changes in layout. It also has built in workflow, article versioning, search, and meta-data informaton.

Web Content Display portlet -  Allows displaying one content at a time on a page, manually selected from the list of available contents. Web Content Display portlets comprise most of the content on WebSpace driven websites, and can be arranged on a page with the convenient drag and drop feature of WebSpace.

Web Content List portlet - Allows displaying of a list of contents that satisfy a set of conditions configured through the portlet preferences such as content type and community. The list will automatically update when new articles are added to the CMS.

Web Content Search portlet - Allows users to search for web content. Powered by the Apache Lucene search engine, search can be restricted to Web Content CMS articles.

Apart from the above mentioned features, WebSpace CMS also comprises of Asset Publisher Portlet, Breadcrumb Portlet, Categories Navigation Portlet, Navigation Portlet, Nested Portlets Portlet, Recent Documents Portlet, Site Map Portlet, Tags and Categories portlet and XSL Content Portlet. To know the function of each portlet, check out the  WebSpace CMS guide here.

I do understand that this might be bit overwhelming for a CMS newbie. I will do separate posts in the coming days each one concentrating on one particular feature of CMS.

Finally as one may have noticed, this is my first blog post. So I would appreciate any comments/criticism.

Prakash Reddy KLV


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