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:
- new articles are automatically placed "on top", with older articles appearing farther down the page
- old articles can automatically be expired into an archive, but called up later by browsing the archive, or searching
- articles can be organized by date, and also grouped by topics or keywords
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
- you can provide previews to your articles via RSS
Configuring a Blog
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.
|Type ||set this to "blog" |
|Status ||this should be "active", but you can set it to "inactive" to disable a blog and prevent it from being viewed or updated. |
|Site ||this determine which site/section is allowed to display the blog. If not set, then any section can display it. |
|Owner ||this determines who is allowed to update the blog. If not set, then only a system administrator can update the blog. |
|Title ||this is the title or name of the blog. |
|Subtitle ||an optional subtitle. |
|Summary ||an abstract or summary, which is displayed at the top of the blog and
in some types of indexes. This can be used to provide a more detailed
description of the blog and its subject. |
|Upload Picture || this image or logo will always be displayed at the top of the blog.
The thumbnail will automatically be generated if you do not provide one.|
|Caption ||a caption for the picture, which is optional. |
|Index Display Limit ||the maximum number of blog articles that will be shown. If there are
more articles than this, the oldest will be put into the archives. The
default is 10. |
|Index Age Limit||the
maximum age of articles, in days. Articles older than this will
be moved to the archives. The default is 60 days. |
|Index Type ||defines how articles are listed in the main blog view. |
|Index Format ||defines how each article is formatted in the main blog view. |
|Comment Policy ||defines who may add their comments to your articles. |
|Privacy ||defines who may view the blog. |
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
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 Blog Description
- Most recent blog post.
- Next most recent blog post.
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:
|Name ||this may be used to address the article in URLs, eg.
http://mywebsite.com/blog/Article_Name. You can leave this blank,
since a name will be created for you, based on the title. Or you can
define it if you want to control what the name should be. |
|Title ||this is the actual title of the article. |
|Article ||enter the text of the article here. If using a capable browser, you
will be able to enter the article in WYSIWYG mode, which allows for
easy entering of text styles, lists, and other special formats. If you
prefer to work with raw HTML, you can switch the form over to
plain-text mode (WARNING: all edits so far will be discarded). |
|Footnotes ||anything entered in this text will be shown at the end of the article, possibly in a different font or style. |
|Upload Picture ||you can upload a picture that will be displayed at the top of the article. |
|Caption ||this is a caption for the picture you uploaded, and is optional. |
|Attachments ||attachments are shown at the end of the article as clickable thumbnails. |
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.
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.
- Delete the article - this moves the article, and all of its attachments and comments into the trash.
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 the administrator can see the
article. Disabled articles are shown with a lock icon.
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.
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.
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:
- forbidden - nobody can add comments
- members - website members only can add comments
- public - anybody can add comments
Publishing the Blog
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
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:
- 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
- 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 or IE7).
System administrator (level 3 admins) are allowed to access and update all Blogs on the system.
(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
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".
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 stie that also make use of the Zine
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.)
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
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.