Plone's Content Types
Common Content Types
Plone comes with several different Content Types. In addition, your web admin may have created some new ones. Or, the admin may have installed a product such as Faculty Staff Directory, which includes Content Types such as Person.
Having a good understanding of different Content Types, their purposes, and where best to place them on your site will help you to keep your web presence well architectured—that is, organized to best meet the needs of your users. If you'd like to learn more about web information architecture, WebMonkey has a good introductory tutorial...
Here are the Plone Content Types you will use most often:
- News Item
Some of Plone's content types—see the two listed below—serve as containers for other content types. These are sometimes referred to as folderish or containerish Content Types. More about these later.
Folderish Content Types (Containers):
Logged-in Versus Anonymous View
Before we go into detail about each content type, you should know that what you see while you are adding and editing content is somewhat different from what anonymous users—the public—sees. It's a good idea to keep both a logged-in and an anonymous view open so that you can check back and forth. Depending on how your site is set up, here are a couple of ways you can do this:
- Open two different browsers. Stay logged out of one.
- If your site uses https, open a different browser tab. Remove the s from https in the second tab.
The Event Content Type—not surprisingly—is specifically used for managing information about upcoming events. It allows you to post events without worrying about removing the information from your site once the event is over.
The Event Content Type also includes a function that allows your users to add your posted events to their own calendars, using iCal or vCal.
The Event Content Type is...
- Used for upcoming events
- Think of these as calendar items
Event: Event Folder(s)
In theory, you could add an event anywhere on your site. However, your site administrator most likely has provided a specific folder (or folders) for adding events. Plone sites have an Events Folder by default.
Event: Adding an Event
In your site's event folder(s), click Add Event.
Event: Title and Description
Event: Location and Dates
Add the event's Location. Be as specific as you need to be.
Add the Start and End dates and times. Your event will no longer appear in your site's listing of upcoming events once the End date and time have passed—you don't need to remember to unpost it.
Who should attend your event? Who might be interested? Is it for a certain group only? You can provide this information under Attendees.
Event: URL and Contact Info
Is there a website with further information about the event that readers could use? Add this under Event URL. Be sure to include the http:// part of the web address.
You can also add the Name, E-mail, and Phone of whom to contact for more information.
Be sure to Save your work!
Your Event will not be viewable by the public until you Publish it. To do this, change Private to Publish under the State menu.
Event: Published View
Your Event is now published! This is essentially what the information will look like to the public (though your site administrator may have made some styling changes):
To make further changes to your Event, click Edit.
Your site administrator may have set up some Categories (also known as tags) under Event Type(s) so that you can choose the appropriate one(s).
Event: The Importance of Categories (aka Tags)
These Categories can be very important. Depending on what your site administrator has set up, Categories can influence where your Event appears on the website, whether it shows up on the home page, and that sort of thing.
Event: Publishing Date
There is another set of Dates controls that may prove useful for your Event posting. This Dates link is in the bar of links under Edit Event, next to Categorization.
Event: Publishing Date
You can specify a Publishing Date and Time when you would like an Event to be viewable by the public on your site. This is handy because it can allow you to place Event information on your site far ahead of time and set it to publish itself closer to the time of the Event—one less thing for you to remember to do.
Note that there is also an Expiration Date. When working with Events, most of the time you should leave this blank. An Event removes itself from your site's Events listings once the Event's date and time has passed anyway.
As you will see, the Expiration Date can be very useful for other content types, though.
News Items are used to post the following kind of information:
- News Stories, Press Releases
- Announcements: New Hires, Awards...
- Wrapups, Results of Past Events
- Newsletter Articles
- Job Postings
News Item: News Folder
In theory, you could add News Items anywhere on your site. But chances are, your site administrator has provided a specified News Folder (Plone sites actually have one by default). Some sites have News Folders in different site sections.
News Item: Adding a News Item
You add a News Item in the same way that you add an Event. Go to the News Folder, and select News Item under the Add new... menu.
News Item: Title, Description, Body Text
Place the main content of your News Item in the Body Text field.
News Item: Image and Caption
You can add an Image and Image Caption to your News Item using the fields below the Body Text.
News Item: Save
Now is a good time to save your work:
News Item: Saved Changes
Below is how a News Item's Title, Summary, Body Text, Image, and Image Caption appear in Plone once its Saved. Your site administrator may have styled your News Items to appear slightly differently.
News Item: Edit
To continue editing your News Item, click Edit:
News Item: Internal Link
If you wish to link to information elsewhere on the same site, this is called an Internal Link. To create an Internal Link, highlight the text you want to link, and click the Chain Link Icon in the Body Text editing area.
News Item: Internal Link
In the box that opens, use the Search feature in the left column to find the content to which you want to link.
Select the button next to the content in the middle column of the box (in this case, Finch Behavior Explained).
Then click Insert at the bottom of the box.
News Item: External Link
A link to another website is called an External Link. To make an External Link from your News Item, highlight the text you want to link and click the Chain Link icon.
News Item: External Link
In the box that opens, place the web address in the field under External Link.
Click Preview, and you will see the page to which you are linking in the window below the web address field. This Preview demonstrates that the link is working—that is, the page hasn't been moved or deleted.
Click Insert at the bottom of the box.
News Item: Categorization
As with Events and other content types, Categorization is very powerful. Categories can be used to make your News Item appear in different places on your site, depending on what your site administrator has set up.
News Item Tags
Select Tags (Categories) for your News Item the same as you did for your Event.
Depending on your permission level on the site, you may or may not have the ability to add New tags.
News Item: Location
You can also add a geographical Location, so that individuals doing web searches for that Location will be more likely to find your News Item.
News Item: Related Items
Add Related Items just as you did with your Event.
News Item: Related Items
Select the checkbox next to the Related Item that you want associated with your News Item.
News Item: Publishing and Expiration Dates
As with Events, you can also set a Publishing Date.
News Item: Publishing and Expiration Dates
If you want the News Item to disappear from public view eventually, specify an Expiration Date.
- Your site's core content
- The main information your users need. The main tasks your users want to accomplish.
- The information's pertinence does not hinge on a beginning or end date
Page: Adding a Page
The following page has content with no appropriate structuring (formatting) applied. Let's make some changes so that it is more readable and search-engine friendly, not to mention more engaging to the reader...
Why are we making these parts of the page Headings? Why not just bold-face the text? On the web, readers don't read; they scan. Headings help the reader scan a page's content. They also help give an understanding of the hierarchy of the content presented on the page. Headings also search-engine friendly; directing visitors using search engines to your content.
Notice that the text in the last sentence of paragraph 3 is essentially a list of items. Converting this information into an Unordered List allows your readers to more easily scan the content.
Right now, all the content of this page flows in a single column. That's not bad; however, placing appropriate content in a Pull Quote can make the page a bit more interesting and set off that content so that it is more noticeable for your readers.
Highlight the text you want to be a Pull Quote, and select Pull-quote from the Style menu.
The text will now appear in its own area with its own appearance, depending on how your site is styled.
Page: Other Style Elements
Plone has a number of other styles available by default; your site administrator may remove some of these, however:
Always check your paragraphs to make sure they have the Style Normal paragraph.
The Literal will create a block of text in which each letter can be placed exactly. This is useful for displaying text that must be specifically formatted, such as poetry, or code.
The Call-out style creates a block of text styled in its own way so that the reader's attention is drawn to it. Its effect is similar to the Pull-quote's, but it is styled differently.
Clear floats is a style that your site administrator may use to place elements on a page. It is generally not used by content providers.
Discreet creates smaller, more subtle text.
Highlight adds a background color behind text, as though a highlighter has been drawn over it.
The Page Break (print only) allows you to insert a page break for printing purposes.
Page: Formatting Options
In addition, there are a number of formatting options available, similar to what you see in word processing software. Your site administrator may have removed some of these, also:
Page: The Last Word on Styles and Formatting
- Use styles and formatting with a light touch.
- It is very easy to over-style a web page.
- This makes the page user-unfriendly and appearing cluttered.
Image: Make it Web-Ready
- Reasonable Dimensions
- Cropped Appropriately
Image: File Names
Plone goes a long way in making up for bad file names. However, all files uploaded to the web, including Image files, should have web-friendly names.
To make a file name web-friendly, give it a short, readable, all-lower case file name. Use no spaces or capital letters. Use hyphens (and no spaces) to parse out multiple-word file names (my-pup.png), not underlines.
- A Very Nice Tree.jpg
Image: Adding an Image
Add your images to the Images folder provided by your site administrator.
Image: Title and Description
Image: Your Recently Added Image
Image: Adding an Image to a Content Item
Now that you've uploaded an image, let's add it to a page.
To add an image to a content item such as a Page, use the Image icon in the editing area:
Image: Searching and Placing
This opens a box in which you can search for, and select your Image. Once you make a selection, a preview appears so that you can make sure you have selected the correct Image.
Image: Content-Specific Alt Tag
Note that the Image's Description appears here as well. The Description serves as the Alt Tag for the Image. You can change this Description to make it more closely related to the content of the Page, if you wish. This does not change the Image's original Description, just what the Page includes.
Finally, you can select from several size options:
Image: Added to Content Item
Once your Image is added, you can select it and change its size, alignment, and description.
You can remove the Image from your content by selecting the image and then hitting the delete key on your keyboard.
File: Adding a File
Add a file the same way that you add an image. Go to the folder on your site meant to contain files, and in the Add new menu, select File:
File: Title and Description
Give your file a Title that matches the title of your document. It's good for your users if you add other helpful information in your title, such as indicating that it is a booklet, or a flyer, and whether it is a PDF, PowerPoint, or other file type.
Provide a brief Description that gives further helpful information about your file. Remember, a good Title and Description helps users—including yourself—find this content on your site.
Upload your file, and Save.
Files: Your Recently Added File
Once you have added the file, you can use the Edit tab to modify the Title and Description or upload a file to replace the existing one.
Links: Adding a Link
The Link Content Type can be handy if you want to add items to folder contents and/or navigation that are links to
- External Web pages
- Items in another section of the same site.
For example, in your News folder, you may want the option of listing news stories published elsewhere:
Links: Title, Description, URL
Most of the time you will want to give your Link the Title of the Web page or Item to which it is linking.
Provide a Description that will help explain what the link is about and that will aid in Web searches.
If it is a link to an external Web site, provide the entire URL, including the http://.
If you are linking to a page elsewhere on the same Web site, provide just the path in the URL field. For example, if the item's full URL is http://chickadees.footiepajamas.com/nesting/traits, the URL field should contain just /nesting/traits/ and nothing else.
Save your work once you've populated these three fields.
Remember to Publish your link when you are ready for the public to see it.
Links: Published Link
Your Published Link will appear in the Folder's listing and navigation just like any other Content Type.