Forum OpenACS Development: Site map UI

Posted by Michael Feldstein on
There's a conversation about the site map UI going on in the
testing forum:

2: Response to Site map UI (response to 1)
Posted by Michael Feldstein on

Here's a new post to that thread. (I'm cross-posting it because not everybody is monitoring the testing board, and because the thread is relevant to Design as well).

I just had an opportunity to learn a bit about a product called LiveLink, put out by OpenText. It has some interesting functionality which is relevant to the use of the site map.

Livelink strictly adheres to a folders system (which means they strictly adhere to a tree hierarchy). Users start by organizing their content into a strict tree, in somewhat the same way the sitemap works. They can then create alternative trees using categories. If I understand correctly, category trees are simply alternative folder systems that may contain content or aliases for that content (similar to, say, mounting the same bboard instance in more than one subsite.)

Once the various trees/categories are set up, users may assign attributes (i.e., keywords) to the nodes. Attributes may be either mandatory or optional for items placed within a node. In addition to helping with search, this also enables the system to do some auto-categorization (I think).

Interestingly, the moment items are placed into folders, a web page is auto-generated for each node, showing links to all items underneath it. Different icons represent different types of items (folders, web pages, documents, etc.) The display logic for the pages is templated.

What's nice about this approach is that it creates a logical, easy-to-understand workflow for non-technical people to create websites (or subsites):

  1. Set up primary folder structure
  2. Drop content into folders
  3. Set up alternative trees and assign attributes
  4. Choose the templates for displaying the node pages

This short set of simple, easy-to-understand actions lets a non-programmer set up an arbitrarily large web site with arbitrarily deep navigation, an arbitrary number of alternative organization schemes (i.e., category trees), and support for richer searching and auto-categorization.

I'd love to see OpenACS adopt a scheme like this one.