Content Management

  jgosden 16:31 20 Mar 2004

i am making a site that a content management system would be really usefull. Most of what i have found are portals, phpnuke etc. I am looking for a wysiwyg editor that will allow users only about 5 to edit the page, and add more to a template,

  Taran 16:51 20 Mar 2004

How many pages on the site and will you need the ability to add more and create links to them or is this just a way of allowing users to alter text on existing pages ?

Embedding a javaScript HTML editor into your web pages is tricky and unless you pay a lot of money for a third party product or program your own [like I did] it will be limited to working in Internet Explorer 5.5 or above and won't work at all on Apple Mac or Linux machines.

There are ways of setting up web forms to write to a document on the web server, so a user can open a form that allows them to alter the text as it appears in a textbox. It's a bit limited but works well for reliable and redluar alterations to page text copy. Imagine your page divided into a text area for each paragraph and the user opens that page, alters the text in the textboxes then the submit or save button updates the page on the web server.

Programs like the excellent CoffeeCup HTML Editor cost very little [half price sale at the moment - see the thread titled "Coffee CUP Software DEAL" or click here] and it has a QuickPost feature. This means that as long as you put the quickpost tags into the page when you create them, you can select the page to open using QuickPost and it loads a copy of it from the web server, you edit it in CoffeeCup HTML Editor then when you save it it uploads direct to the web server and overwrites the existign file.

If you must try a JavaScript HTML editor embedded into a web page have a look at htmlArea click here

It may look impressive and I suppose that in the face of it, it is. Keep in mind though, that for anyone to use it effectively you'll have to spend time and effort in teaching them how to use it as well as correctly configure it into the web pages/site. It's a pain and, in my opinion, is not worth the hassle by a long shot.

You do understand that to use such a system you need several other things running nicely ?

You need effective authentication set up to disallow access to anyone who does not have permission to use the system.

Your directories will have to be ordered and secured in certain ways for something like htmlArea to work properly.

Your content will have to editable in one or another way, which could mean anything from storing it in and calling it from a database to referencing data text files and allowing them to be written to for updating and read from to include their content in a page.

Without wanting to rain on your parade, there's a lot more to this than bolting on a WYSIWYG editor and letting your site owner/managers get on with it.

  Taran 17:02 20 Mar 2004

I meant to mention that even if you embed a WYSIWYG editor into the site, it can cause more problems than enough.

HTML is a potential weak point since the language is rife with trip-up points and using something like htmlArea willy nilly can really make a mess of a page. Think of it like this: the person sitting using it may well be thinking we'll have a bit of bold there, some red here, change that, itallic this, underline that, and pretty soon you can find that the page content can break its own layout, if you aren't careful.

Example for you. You set up a site and being the considerate chap you are you code it with CSS controlling the format. The first site user who tweaks things with htmlArea promptly messes the whole lot up completely since the changes are made using plain vanilla HTML on those areas that have been selected. You'd be surprised at how many browsers throw a wobbly when you have CSS and contradictory HTML on the same page. It can literally blow the site to bits and make things look a real mess.

Using something like htmlArea is more or less the same as handing someone Dreamweaver and saying "There you go, crack on with it".

The potential pitfalls often outweigh the benefits.

For simple editing you could do worse than set up a form system where submitting the form updates the document. New pages cannot be created in this way, but it's fairly easy to set up and limits the damage your users can do to messing up spelling and grammar.

Believe me, one of the biggest considerations in implementing a CMS is how your users are going to break the whole system and, if it is at all possible, they will.

  jgosden 20:24 20 Mar 2004

ahhh, didn't think it would be that complicated. There will only be a few users probably 5 and it will have about 50 - 100 pages. I had thought about using a forum , yabb forum and have been experimenting with this on my website it works pretty well!!!! I just wondered whether there was a complete open source system that would do this for me. I have looked at html area which looks excellent. The people have no knowlage of html so that is a must!! i need to be able to set content edititable regions they then logon and can change content. setting up new pages would be nice but isn't essential. Is there a good system i could use.

  Taran 21:50 20 Mar 2004

"50 - 100 pages" ?

Of static content ?

Seriously ?

You've just described my worst nightmare !

I have three options for you.

1. Either turn over the running of the site to someone who knows [and I mean REALLY knows] how to use either Dreamweaver, FrontPage or a similar program with their template driven site features and auto-update hyperlinks when documents are moved or altered.


2. Give some serious thought to making one or two template pages and load content into them from an online database and write some pages to allow access to said content for update purposes.


3. Turn 50 to 100 pages of content into a more manageable 20 or 30 with some hefty pruning and careful editing.

It is obviously possible to run large sites using static pages but managing them can become very inconvenient and unwieldly.

Even breaking down up to 100 pages of individual Word documents into categorised folders is no small task and with a website you have the added inconvenience of hyperlinks to documents in their respective folders, links to images and all kinds of other nice things.

No, I don't know of something off the top of my head that would do what you want and if I did I'd probably be using it myself instead of programming it.

  Taran 00:27 21 Mar 2004

Here's a roundabout way of dropping you some very broad hints which, I'm hoping, should give you some ideas.

Anyone can edit a Notepad text file, right ?

Now, before you get excited, this will take a lot of work to set up, but if you want an easy to edit solution for the text of the site, once set up it could work.

Start by dividing the site into small, manageable chunks in subfolders of the main web root.

If you made the page content into textfiles, one textfile for every empty page, all you need to do is save the page with a .php extension and use the "readfile" capabilities of PHP, like this:




That would read the index.txt file which would fill the index.php page with content.

Anyone wanting to update the site has to edit the contents of the Notepad textfiles and save them back to the web server.

It's obviously a very clumsy way to work and means you'll have lots of files kicking around, but if you think about it [as I'm hoping you will] you'll come up with ways in which you can read your content from one textfile per page by embedding HTML tags into the textfile to help format it with line breaks and paragraphs.

This brings you down to one web page with one accompanying textfle and the web page reads the textfile and loads its content into the page then delivers it to your visitors web browser.

If you put <br> and <p></p> tags between the text in the textfile you can format the paragraphs and if you want to display an image you include something like this in the textfile:


echo("<img src='filename.jpg'> ");


As long as the person/people working on the site understand that anything in code brackets <> is to be left well alone and you make sure you put several hard returns between all text paragraphs and separating code, it will work.

Now, before I get stoned [with rocks] in the village square, I'm not suggesting that you consider working like this at all. I want you to think about it and take it to its next logical step. Load all that text from the textfiles and image references into a database and call it from that database to populate the pages in question.

Make an admin page that allows someone to view the content of all pages on the site and alter it by updating the database.

I'm trying to get you to think about the concept rather than just hand it to you and please, don't anybody seriously think for a moment that I'm suggesting you use a texfile for every web page running through PHP.

Personally, I'd still suggest that you stick with a good WYSIWYG editor and make sure that whoever wants to update things knows what they are doing. it's less work for you to teach someone to use such a program and if things go wrong you can always step in a fix them.

  jgosden 09:22 21 Mar 2004

i have been playing around for a while and trying your suggestions and i think i have an answer, I am going to have an admin forum which posts from it will be displayed on pages using ssi call. see click here , i can change the template the post comes in so it just looks like plain text. (i think) content management seems really complicated but i thought there was somrthing (like phpnuke) that would work or could be adapeted to work.

I would rather not give ftp access to the users as to be honest i don't trust em not to muck it up!!! Most of them are computer ilitirate!! The amount of pages could also be cut down as looking at it most are a waste of time.

I thought php website looked quite good you can see a demo here click here and was wondering about using something similar?

To be honest this content management is all a lot more complicated than i thought, but i just don't have the time to manage the site myself

  Taran 09:51 21 Mar 2004

This is the Catch22 of web design.

You can easily end up by not having the time to keep a site up to date, especially if it's something you do for free out of the goodness of your heart, but the alternatives are as much if not more work to set up.

The only reason I'm investing as much time and effort on my own CMS is because of the sheer volume of work I do on web sites means I stand to save a relative amount of work. There is also the larger picture of building a comprehensive intranet application which, I've been told, has serious possibilities commercially.

  tbh72 13:56 21 Mar 2004

Do a google search for "Wiki Wiki" you may find something of interest there.

I caught it on the BBC webspace program, I think from what I saw it's a process of using simple CGI script to enable anyone to edit pages.

  Taran 16:59 21 Mar 2004

I find it amusing that you don't like the idea of letting someone loose with FTP due to lack of IT skills but you're quite happy with the concept of a CMS that allows them to completely alter the entire content of a site.

It's the same potential to mess things up just as much, if in a slightly different way.


  jgosden 17:13 21 Mar 2004

i guess, i hadn't thought of that!!!!! ;o)

but i thought that i would be able to have different settings for different users and allow them to only edit the page content which would be ok. They should have less ability to mess up the site. I also don't want to have to provide html software and ftp software for everybody. I just don't think it would work.

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