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Basic Concepts


Contents:


Introduction

The Content Management System allows you to control the contents of your website from a special, password-protected Administrative Section on your website. A browser-based "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" Page Editor lets you edit pages without using HTML, much as you might edit simple text files in WordPad. Other browser-based tools let you create, delete, move, check, and publish the pages and directories that compose your website.

Your Website and the File System

The Content Management System provides tools for creating and maintaining a website. A website is a collection of individual pages that are presented in a Web browser. The pages are usually organized in a hierarchical fashion starting with the home page.

Individual webpages actually reside in separate computer files inside the file system of the Web server. The Web server is the computer that sends copies of the webpages to the browsers that request them over the Internet. The files are usually organized into hierarchical directories that reflect the hierarchy of the webpages. This is important because the URL of a page typically contains the hierarchical name of its containing directory and the name of its file (along with the domain name of the site). For example, the URL of this page is:

http://www.freeorbit.com/tools/man/basic.htm

The domain name of the site is www.freeorbit.com. The file containing this page is basic.htm. The file resides in directory man, which is in directory tools, which is in the root directory of the website.

In addition to the files that contain pages, other files on your website can contain images, PDFs, and other types of special content. These files are stored either stored in the same directories as the page files or in separate directories on your Web server. Before other files can appear or be linked to on pages, they have to be uploaded to the Web server.  Uploading involves copying the files from your computer to the Web server's file system using tools provided by the Content Management System.

Overall Organization

Public and Administrative Views

The Content Management System provides control over two separate views of your website, the Public Site and the Administrative Site:

  • The Public Site is the view that is visible to the public.
  • The Administrative Site is the view in which you do all your editing. The content of the Administrative Site is not generally visible to the public, but can be visible to your internal organization for review. Once you are happy with the contents of the Administrative Site, you can publish it, copying all or part of it to the Public Site.

All the Content Management tools reside on the Administrative site.

Administrative Content Management Tools

All Content Management tools reside on the Administrative Site in a password-protected directory. (If you aren't sure of its URL or how to login, see you System Administrator.) The tools include:

  • Editing tools: for creating, editing, moving, and deleting pages.
  • Upload tools: for uploading and reviewing image files and other special files, such as PDF files.
  • Checking tools: for checking for spelling errors and for broken links.
  • Publishing tools: for publishing the Administrative site to the Public site
  • Version control tools: for making backups of the Administrative site (known as snapshots ); for building the Search system's index database; for swapping versions of the published site; for comparing the Public and Administrative sites for differences, and for rebuilding internal tables of page names that are maintained by the Content Management System.

Website Features

The Content Management System supports the following features on your website. Please note that some are optional and don't appear on all sites:

  • Site Map: The Site Map presents the organization of your website by indenting hyperlinks to pages on your site to reflect the site hierarchy. The Site Map automatically tracks any changes you make to the organization or contents of your site. Entries on the Site Map are taken from the contents of the pages.
  • Search: The Search system provides users with the ability to search your site for words or phrases. It uses sophisticated "fuzzy" word matching and provides links to anchors that are automatically embedded in your pages. The Search system automatically indexes your site contents whenever you publish it.
  • Website Features Side Menus: The Side Menu on each page is designed to reflect the contents of the containing directory, making it easier to navigate the site. A small arrow typically indicates which page is currently being viewed. Feedback is provided by changing text color whenever the cursor hovers over menu entries. The Side Menu on each page is automatically taken from the menu defined in the index.htm page for that directory. Labels on the menu are automatically taken from the Short Titles of the pages to which they are linked. On some sites, the Side Menus are hierarchical.  On some smaller sites, the "Side Menus" are not used, or are placed in the body of the page.
  • Top Menu: The Side Menu that appears on the Home page automatically appears as a top navigation menu on all other pages. (On some smaller sites that don't place a side menu on the Home page, the same Top Menu appears on all pages.)
  • Backup Menu: As your users descend the hierarchy of your site, a Backup Menu is automatically created and displayed. The Backup Menu helps your users recognize where they are in your site and lets them jump to pages that are higher in your site's hierarchy. (Some sites don't display the Backup Menu.)
  • Printer Version: An optional " Printer Version " button may be placed on the side menu of any page. The Printer Version omits the Side Menu, filling the full width of the page with text. It opens in a separate window and presents text in black-and-white.
  • Page Email: An optional " Email this page " button may be placed on the side menu of any page. A link to the selected page and a plain-text version of the contents of the page are emailed to the email address entered on a form.
  • Private Content : Pages can be "privately published" on your site. Such pages aren't linked to from the rest of your site, don't appear on the Site Map, and aren't indexed by the Search system. (They are, however, checked for spelling and link errors.) Private pages typically are used to publish content that is announced to a selected audience by providing the exact URLs.
  • Calendar : An optional Calendar System displays the dates and times of scheduled events on a page formatted as a standard monthly calendar. Clicking on an event opens a page with details about the event. The calendar covers five years, starting with last year.
  • Order Form: An optional order form system allows users to submit requests for publications (or whatever else you provide). Whenever an order is submitted, it automatically sends mail to your order manager containing information the user entered along with the hidden product codes you embed in the form. (The Order Form requires use of the Markup Language.)
  • Survey Forms : An optional set of form commands supports the creation of generalized forms for presenting surveys to users. When a survey form is submitted, it automatically sends mail to your survey manager containing the user's form entries. (Survey Forms requires use of the Markup Language.)
  • Sorted Tables : An optional Sorted Tables System supports tables that can be sorted based on column contents.
  • Slide Shows : An optional Slide Show System supports slide shows of images.

Underlying Markup

The body of text appearing on all pages on your website is stored using a special Markup language that embeds formatting commands in the text of the webpage. The Markup language has proven to be an effective way to store and produce well-formatted webpages. It insures that your pages will be editable in either Internet Explorer or Firefox, and also facilitates the sophisticated automatic update features and content Checkers provided by the Content Management System.

It is generally not necessary to learn the Markup language to use the Content Management tools to maintain your website. The only website features that require the use of the Markup language are the optional Order and Survey Forms. With these two exceptions, you can freely move between the "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" editor and the Markup language or ignore the Markup language entirely.

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