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Documentation > General Documentation > Webtop > Blog Module

Blog Module

posted on 2:07 PM, February 1, 2016

Blogging

Table of Contents

Introduction to Blogging

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:

  1. new articles are automatically placed "on top", with older articles appearing farther down the page
  2. old articles can automatically be expired into an archive, but called up later by browsing the archive, or searching
  3. articles can be organized by date, and also grouped by topics or keywords
  4. there is no limit to how many articles you can add; unlike with new web pages, your site map and menus do not become crowded and complicated when there are too many articles
  5. you can provide previews to your articles via RSS

Creating a Blog

The easiest way to set up a Blog is to use the Blog plug-in. This is a simplified variant of the E-Zine plug-in, designed especially for blogging. (You can also use the E-Zine plug-in, which will give more options and controls than are described below, not all of which will be useful for blogging.)

Using the Blog plug-in, click Create a new Blog. Provide a title for your Blog - this is analogous to the name of a regular column in a magazine or newspaper. (Individual articles/posts will get their own titles.) Submit this, and your blog will be created for you.

Once your blog is created, simply click on its name to enter the blog and add posts.

Posting to your Blog

Click the new button to add a new post to your blog. You will be prompted to provide the following information:

FieldDescription
Title This is the human-readable title of your post.
Name for URL This is an optional computer-friendly version of your title that is used to make URLs/links to your post. You do not need to provide this, because the Blog plug-in will automatically create a name for you, based on the title you entered. However, you can specify your own if you want more control over the link URL that is used. (Note that the name is only used with friendly URLs.)
Article This is the body of your post. You can use the rich-text HTML editor for easy formatting, or you can switch to plain-text if you want direct control over your HTML formatting codes.
Footnotes This text is placed at the end of your article, and can be styled differently. It is handy for footnotes, copyright notices, attributions, and the like.
Status A status of "active" means the article is viewable by your readers. A status of "inactive" means that it is only viewable by you - for example, if it should be treated as a draft. (The other status values are not important for regular blog posts.)

You can also provide pictures and captions. These are described below in the "Adding Media" section.

Drafts and Hidden Articles

To add a draft article, without taking it public yet, simply set the status to "inactive". When you are ready to release the article, use the configure button to change the status to "active".

You can also use this to remove/hide articles that have already been released. Use the configure button to change the status to "inactive", and the article will be removed from view.

When viewing your blog in an administrator view, active articles are shown with a green check icon, while inactive articles are shown with a lock icon.

Indexes

The index is the listing of your articles under your blog. By default, the articles are displayed in full, ordered most recent first. Up to 10 articles will be displayed at once, with an archive button to find older articles.

You can change the appearance of your index, using the following configuration parameters, found under the configure button:

ParameterDefaultDescription
Indextype basic Defines how a list of articles is presented to the viewer.
Indexformat full Defines how individual articles in the list are displayed.

Note that there are many options here from the underlying e-zine system, and not all of them are useful for blogging. However, there is no harm in trying them to see what the effect is. If you want to go back to the default, just change the settings back to nothing (change back to the "==select==" option).

Archiving

The blog automatically moves old or excess articles into your archive area. Readers can click the archive button to find older articles.

Articles are automatically archived based on the following configuration parameters:

ParameterDefaultDescription
Indexlimit 10 If there are more than this number of articles in the blog, the oldest ones will be moved to the archive.
Indexage 60 Articles that are older than this will be moved to the archive.
Indexmin 3 The minimum number of articles that will be kept in the main index, regardless of the above settings.

The first two parameters can be customized for your blog, using the configure button for the blog. The last parameter is a system setting, which can be configured in your blog configuration file by the webmaster.

In addition to automatic archiving, you can explicitly archive articles that you want to expire ahead of time. To do this, use the configure button for the article, and change the article status to "archived".

Adding Media

You can add pictures and videos to your blog posts in a variety of ways.

Standard Image Handling

For maximum convenience, the blogging system assumes that articles will follow a standard news article format, which is:

Title

Main Image
Image Caption

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Footnotes

Extra images
Extra images
Caption Caption

If this format suits your purposes, then adding images is very easy. Upload the main image using the "Picture" field in the form to enter your blog post. You can also provide its caption there. The Extra images and captions at the bottom are added using the "Attachments" in the form to enter your blog post. The main image is shown at a medium size; the attachments are shown as clickable thumbnails. All images are automatically resized to be an appropriate size for your web pages.

Note that the main image is floatable to the right, as shown, but it will only be floated if its width is sufficiently small, and the amount of text to float in is sufficiently large. Otherwise, the image will be displayed inline, with the article text shown beneath it.

Custom Image Handling

If the above format is not adequate, you have other options for inserting images. For example, you may want to have multiple images inserted into the main text, or you may want to exert more control over the layout.

In this case, use the image tool in the HTML editing area to pick images from your image libraries, and add them anywhere in the article you please. You may want to use your Photo Album plug-in to load up the images you intend to use, first.

Note that if you edit a blog post with custom images from the Blog control panel, the images may not appear correctly. (This is due to the fact that your images are external images, and the Blog tool is not sure where to load them from.) However, the content management system knows where they are, and they will show up correctly when viewed from the regular web page that shows the blog.

Videos

The easiest way to include videos in your blog posts is to copy the embed code from a video hosting service such as YouTube. Copy the embed code that the service provides to your clipcoard, and then create or edit your blog post.

Use the editor embed tool to copy the embed code into your article's code.

Other Files

If your Blog configuration allows it, you can upload non-images into your attachment fields, and they will be offered for download to your readers. However, because the underlying E-Zine system presumes that the attachments are images, it also presumes that the attachments can be shrunk down to a reasonable, web-friendly size (less than 48K). You will have an easier time if your non-image attachments are also less than this size.

For larger files, use an external plug-in to manage the files (eg. Documents or Upload), and then use the HTML editor link tool to link to this file, rather than trying to attach it directly into your blog post.

Editing Attachments

To edit or configure an attachment, click on its thumbnail to visit it. Then you will see the usual buttons for edit, configure, delete, etc.

Keyword Tagging

If your website supports keyword tagging, and your Blog plug-in is configured to interact with the Tags module, you will get a tag icon on each post you add to your blog. Click on this to add or remove keyword tags to/from your posts.

Keywords tags are managed using the Tags plug-in. Add your dictionary of allowed tags there. You can also tag pages, documents, photos, and articles in other types of e-zines.

Removing Posts

If you want to remove articles from the blog, you have a few options.

  1. Delete the article - this moves the article, and all of its attachments and comments into the trash.
  2. Disable the article (ie. set its status to "inactive") - do this using the "configure" button under the article. This keeps the article in the system so that you have a record of it, and can reactivate in the future if you want. However, only you can see the article. Disabled articles are shown to you with a lock icon.
  3. Archive the article (ie. set its status to "archived") - do this using the "configure" button under the article. This keeps the article viewable in the system, but removes it from the main blog index. It can only be seen in the archives.

Comments

Allowing readers to comment on your blog posts is a common feature of blogs. You can control who can comment using the "Comment policy" under the configure button for the blog. This controls your comment policy for the whole blog. You can also enable/disable comments on any given article, using the "Comment policy" setting on that article.

Comment policy settings are:

PolicyDescription
forbidden nobody can add comments
members (default) website members only can add comments
public anybody can add comments

To close comments on an individual post, set the policy on that article to "forbidden".

Comments are handled just like articles. You can edit, configure, and delete them in the same way.

Moderation

Moderation is a form of censorship, allowing you to approve or reject comments made on your blog. There are two methods:

Post-moderation means you moderate comments after they are posted. They will appear on your site, but if you don't approve of them, you simply go in and remove them in the same way you would remove a post (see above). Post moderation has a few advantages:

  1. It is very easy because comments are approved by default.
  2. Comments go live quickly, which encourages discussion.

This is the default method of moderating comments on your blog.

Pre-moderation means you moderate comments before they are posted for public view. Nobody sees the comments until you have moderated them. Your webmaster must enable moderation on blogs (or on your blog only) using a setting like this in the Blog configuration file:

blog.comment.status = pending

Then each new comment will require your approval before it goes live. You can moderate (approve/deny) comments from your administrator view, or from your email. The advantage here is that inappropriate comments can never sneak onto the live blog without your explicit approval. Denied comments are kept on file, and you can always change your mind and approve them again at a later time.

Presenting the Blog

Creating the blog and adding posts to it may not be enough to actually present the blog to the public. This is because your website needs to know where the blog should be placed and how it should be styled.

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 "Blog" plug-in. It will offer you a choice of blogs to insert into the page; choose the preferred blog from this list if there is more than one. Add the blog, and then save the page. This page is now the location of your blog on the website. It can be given a title, menu label, and position in your site map that is appropriate.

If the page is dynamic or private (members only), it will always display the current articles of your blog. If it is public and static, then it will only display the contents of the blog at the time it was last published. In the latter case, the page or site should be republished whenever you update the blog.

Design and Layout

Blogs are output with lots of HTML code to allow them to be styled in different ways. In the administrator view there is some basic CSS that styles the appearance of the blog to make it readable, but in the webpage that you use to display the blog, you may not have any such CSS. You will want to add the necessary CSS code to your template to make your blog presentable.

There is a Blog.css file that is used in the adminsitrator view, which can be studied for ideas on how to style your blog. There is also some help documentation in the E-Zine plug-in that gives some general descriptions of the CSS structure of E-Zines, including Blogs.

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:

ButtonDescription
comment, reply add a comment to an article or reply to another reader comment
link this is a permalink, a URL that will always take you to the given article, even after it has expired into the archives
archives browse older articles by date
rss connect to an RSS feed of the blog so that you can monitor its posts. An RSS-aware reader or browser will be needed (such as Firefox, Safari, or IE8).

Customizing/Configuring

The blog will have reasonable default configuration settings, so there is no need to configure it. However, if you want to modify your blog's settings, you can use the configure button to change the default behaviours.

Warning: Configuring is an advanced function. Careless use of the configure option can cause articles to seemingly disappear. Some useful configuration changes are described above. Making any changes other than these is not recommended.

Important note: There is a configuration button for the whole blog, and a configuration button for every article, comment, and attachment. The blog configuration affects the overall blog and the behaviour of the index. The article configurations affect only those individual articles. However, the configuration forms look very similar. Make sure you are using the correct configuration button for the thing that you are trying to configure!

Here are the settings, and what they do:

Field(s)Description
Type The main blog should be type "blog". Your posts should be type "article". User comments should be type "comment". Attachments should be type "attachment". Other settings will probably have unintended consequences.
Title, Name, Article, Footnotes, Status These are the same fields you use to enter/edit your blog post. Changing them here is the same as editing them in the regular edit form. However, in configure mode you always edit the article text in raw HTML mode.
Subtitle, Summary These are additional descriptive fields that will be used for formatting the article or blog. They are not used by default with blogs, but you can override that by specifying them here.
Content type Specifies whether the article text is already formatted as HTML, or if it is plaintext that needs extra formatting to be applied.
Picture, Caption These are the settings for the main image on the article.
Thumbnail You can customize the thumbnail for the picture using this field. Simply upload the image that should be used for the thumbnail here.
Sortkey This is used for ordering articles in sorted indexes. Blogs are normally sorted by date, so this field is not normally used.
Index type, Index format Defines how your blog index is displayed, as described above. For individual articles, you can change the Index format, and this will override the Index format defined for the overall blog.
Index display limit, Index age limit When defined on your blog, these define how your articles are automatically archived. They have no effect when defined on individual articles.
Parent, Thread, Reference Defines how this blog or article relates to others in the system. Don't change these unless you really know what you are doing!
Updated, Posted Sets the dates/times when your article was last edited and when it was originally posted. You can change these to affect how it gets indexed or archived based on age.
Comment policy, Privacy These are security settings for your blog or the individual articles, which controls who may view or post comments.