converting a static site to database driven

I have a client site which is heavily text based - pages of documents which would bore the pants off you and me, but which is the lifeblood of this particular sector of consultancy!

I see a content management system as the way forward, because it’s often neccessary for the client to make small updates as well as larger ones, sometimes even new pages. We both know, and I agree, that it’s not sensible for me to be doing this all the time - it needs to be in-house.

However, I also see a problem in content management. If all the old html content, which was conveniently held in ‘named’ pages which could be linked to, is now to be held in a database, what I would call ‘interpage linking’ is now going to be extremely difficult.

What I mean is, how can a client easily link between his old pages, when they are now just database entries with difficult sounding entry names or numbers? What mechanism is there to enable a client to view and link between entries?

Maybe some content management systems are suitable for this, maybe others aren’t. Does anyone know of a system which might be suitable?

Any help appreciated. CMS has to be the way forward, but only if this essential interlinking can be managed efficiently.

thanks
Hugh


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Are the links to the other named pages in content, the body of the text, or in menus?

If you use a CMS like ExpressionEngine, it uses page file names based on the title you give the entry. So “My First Page” will become my_first_page, and even better, you don’t need to have the extension. Other pages are http://mysite.com/index.php/template_group/template/my_first_page/

Depending on where you are linking from, the link may only need to be entered as a shortened form of that.

Did that help or confuse?


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Hi Joe,

Well, links could be anywhere! I see body of the text and content as the same thing - what you read on the page in the browser! i.e. the spiel of you and me on this page. that’s content and body of the text, isn’t it?

Do you think Expression Engine would be simple enough? The only problem with some of these ‘super blogs’ is that they tend to be full of stuff which is rather irrelevant and daunting to a client who wants a simple interface. i’ve used pMachine quite a lot and even think that struggles to be an easy CMS for commercial use (commercial clients are often non-techie, and also they have little time for fiddling about - systems need to be simple, functional, without superfluous features and options).

Is that what you call a friendly url? anything like that is obviously helpful, especially if a link can be chosen from a drop-down list of page file names rather than indecipherable numbers!

Yes, most helpful, thanks. But keep talking if you can think of anything else!!

cheers


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Hugh,

Yes, that’s what I meant by content and body.

Inserting links in text is always tricky, you need to have the links handy to enter. There might be a plug in for EE where you can have a list of links to other entries and it automatically enters them for you. It would not surprise me. You might want to dig around in the EE support area (forums, wiki, etc.) to find out if such a thing exists.

As far as complexity, I understand what you’re saying. One of the nice things about EE is that the entry form is customizable, so you can remove parts of it that the client doesn’t need to see.


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I just put this little ditty together yesterday for a client who is
using my home-grown CMS. While this is creating a link to a physical
file, you could easily extract this to be a lookup into a database
rather than a list of files in a folder.

###PHP

function list_files(){
	$dir = scandir(FILE_BASE . '/files');
	$out = '<select name="url" id="url" size="1">';
	foreach($dir as $f){
		if ($f != '.' && $f != '..' && $f != 'file_list.php'){
			$out .= '<option label="' . h($f) . '" value="/files/' . $f .  

‘">’ . h($f) . ‘’;
}
}
$out .= ‘Remote URL</
option>’;
return $out;
}

In the Admin UI, this bit of JavaScript creates a text box when the
picker is moved to Remote URL:

###JavaScript with Prototype.js

<script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8">
	$('url').observe('change',function(evt){
		var elm = Event.element(evt);
		if(elm.getValue() == 'Remote URL'){
			elm.replace('<input type="text" id="url" name="url" />');
			$('url').activate();
		}
	});
</script>

So the client gets to create a link to a local file by picking from a
list, or to a remote site or file.

Walter

On Mar 4, 2008, at 9:52 AM, Joe Muscara wrote:

Hugh,

Yes, that’s what I meant by content and body.

Inserting links in text is always tricky, you need to have the
links handy to enter. There might be a plug in for EE where you can
have a list of links to other entries and it automatically enters
them for you. It would not surprise me. You might want to dig
around in the EE support area (forums, wiki, etc.) to find out if
such a thing exists.

As far as complexity, I understand what you’re saying. One of the
nice things about EE is that the entry form is customizable, so you
can remove parts of it that the client doesn’t need to see.


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Hi Joe and Walt,

Joe - I’ll certainly have a look at EE, about time I got to grips with it. But I always (maybe wrongly?) imagined it was a behemoth! I might go straight to the head honcho as I had early dealings with Rick Ellis!

Walt - that looks interesting. so you mean clients could either 1. select from a drop-down list on internal files, or 2) enter an URL in a text field? Sounds good. Does your system allow for simple naming of files? Maybe you should tell me more about your CMS - we are not looking for rocketship stuff, nor all the fancy styling and stuff, more functionality to work with pretty similarly formatted text-heavy pages.

I’m always slightly bemused that this inter-linking request appears to be a bit of a difficulty in CMS. One of the foundations of the internet was surely the linking of pages and documents? Still, if there’s thousands of CMS systems out there whcih don’t really support this…then i’d have to assume there isn’t the demand!

Hugh


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If you are a registered owner of EE, their support often answers support questions on their forums within an hour. For the Core version, you’re dependent upon user support. But searching the forums before even asking often leads me to the answer.


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The thing is, most CMSs create magic menus and submenus very easily.
Want a list of all the pages in a virtual “folder”? Easy, one-word
easy. But when it comes to linking inline, say if you are editing
some text and want to add a link from the body of one article to
another article in the same system, that ball gets dropped. I agree,
it does seem odd. When I made my CMS, I made a link tool that
basically shows a site map of the entire site, so you can click on
any page and create a link.

Walter

On Mar 4, 2008, at 1:19 PM, hugh wrote:

I’m always slightly bemused that this inter-linking request appears
to be a bit of a difficulty in CMS. One of the foundations of the
internet was surely the linking of pages and documents? Still, if
there’s thousands of CMS systems out there whcih don’t really
support this…then i’d have to assume there isn’t the demand!


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Sounds about the best I’ve heard so far! Is your CMS shareable, Walter? Or developable for projects?

H.


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I downloaded Expression Engine core to look at, but any linking just provides a field to enter an URL in…which is not the sort of thing people are going to remember!

I’ve asked the question at EE forums, but no answers yet…other than someone else supporting the request!!

H


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It’s still up on blocks. I have two clients using it right now, and
there’s quite a bit of work needed to extract it from those
applications and to make it Freeway-friendly. It’s possible, but not
immediately possible.

Walter

On Mar 4, 2008, at 3:42 PM, hugh wrote:

[quote]When I made my CMS, I made a link tool that basically shows
a site map of the entire site, so you can click on any page and
create a link.[/quote]

Sounds about the best I’ve heard so far! Is your CMS shareable,
Walter? Or developable for projects?

H.


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I’ll keep my eyes peeled! Certainly interested to keep tabs with this.

cheers
Hugh


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