posted on 3:16 PM, February 14, 2008
Introduction to Blogs
Blogs (short for "Web Logs") are a special type of content management that has proven to be extremely popular. At their heart, Blogs present and manage a sequential list of articles. The articles are sequenced by date, much like a diary. There are several reasons why this is a useful way to manage your content:
Configuring a Blog
ExSite provides blogging tools through its e-Zine article-management subsystem. A Blog is a type of e-Zine. To create a new blog, go into the e-Zines control panel, and select the "Create a new Zine" button. The setup form has many options, most of which can be ignored, as they have reasonable defaults. The most important ones are Type and Title.
There are other settings as well, but they can be ignored. If you decide to change your settings, you can do so at any time by using the configure button in the blog toolbar. If you try out a setting, and decide you don't like it, you can usually blank the field, set it back to nothing selected, or set it to zero, and it will revert to the default.
Once the Blog is created, you will see it in the Zines control panel listing of available blogs. Just click on the blog title to view the blog. (It will probably not contain anything interesting to see just yet.)
Adding Articles to the Blog
When you view your blog you will see it displayed as a sequence of sections:
The tools to manage the blog itself are under the the blog description, but before the first article. Click the "new article" button here to add a new post to the blog. This brings up a form to enter an article, with the following fields:
Add new articles as often as you like. The blog automatically reindexes itself as new articles get added, and moves older or excess articles into the archive.
You can re-edit your old articles at any time, which allows you update any of the fields noted above. It is a matter of personal preference whether you want to clearly mark changes you have made so your readers are aware of them, or not.
If you want to remove articles from the blog, you have a few options.
When you update an article in this way, the Blog may change the date of the article, depending on how it has been configured. In some configurations, it shows the creation time of the article, and in others it shows the time of the last update to the article. This can be changed by your ExSite administrator, if you do not like the default behaviour.
By default, blogs accept comments from website members only. You can change this using the comment policy setting in the blog configuration. You can also enable/disable comments on any given article, using the comment policy setting on that article.
Comment policy settings are:
Publishing the Blog
The blog must be added to a web page for it to be viewable to the readers of your site. Choose the page that will contain the blog, or create it, using your preferred CMS tool (eg. "MySite"). Edit the body of this page, and use the Web Application tool in the HTML editor to insert the "Zine" plug-in. It will offer you a choice of e-Zines to insert into the page; choose your blog from this list. If you choose nothing (the "default" setting), then the reader will first be presented with a list of e-Zines to read. This list should include your blog.
After you have saved the contents of the page, you will have a page that displays your blog. If this page is dynamic, it will always display the current articles of your blog. If it is static, then it will only display the contents of the blog at the time it was last published; in that case you should remember to republish the page (or the site) whenever you update the blog.
Surfing the Blog
Site readers will interact with your blog by reading the front-page posts, but also by clicking on a number of tool buttons that may be available, such as:
System administrator (level 3 admins) are allowed to access and update all Blogs on the system.
Managers (level 2 admins) are allowed to access and update only those blogs that they own. The owner can be set (by a system administrator) by configuring the blog. This allows a website to have multiple "columnists" who can manage their own blogs, but not those of other columnists.
Level 1 users cannot manage blogs, but they can read blogs whose privacy is set to "members only", and they can also comment on articles if the blog comment policy is set to "members".
To disable comments entirely, set the comment policy to "forbidden".
Note that static/published pages are public by their nature, so you should not place a members-only blog onto a static page, as it will not give you the results you want. You can also place a public blog onto a members-only page, but this does not provide the same level of security as a members-only blog (because your blog articles could technically be called up from other pages on the site that also make use of the Zine plug-in).
Design and Layout
E-Zines are output with lots of HTML mark-up to allow them to be styled in different ways. However, they do not include any of the CSS to actually do this styling. (In your actual web pages, that is. The e-Zine control panel includes some basic CSS to format the output.)
For this reason, a graphic designer may have to spend some time to set up some CSS rules to make your blog format nicely within your graphic design template.
There are some help files accessible from the e-Zines control panel that explain how to go about this. The stylesheet used by the e-Zines control panel provides a good working example of how to set up CSS for styling your blogs.
best practices (5)
content management (12)
data handling (7)
graphic design (21)
html formatting (7)
plug-in modules (28)
visual tutorial (29)
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