User:Milhaus/Webmasters Guide

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Webmaster’s Guide: Customizing and Configuring Your APC ActionApps

This section guides you through the typical administrator tasks of using the APC ActionApps. One of the primary tasks of the slice administrator is to configure how your slice appears on your organization's Web site, and how ActionApps appear to staff members and volunteers. Here you will find step-by-step instructions for how to perform the most common tasks. For more detailed information and advanced features see the ActionApps FAQ: <>

To customize your ActionApps slice, you must have slice administrator privileges and be skilled in HTML editing. If you do not feel comfortable customizing the look of your application, ask your APC member to do this work for you.

How to Navigate the Admin Link

Clicking the Admin link in the top navigation takes you to the administration view. You will know that you are in the Administration section because the title across the top of the pages changes to Admin - Main settings - Slice. From here, you can access several control panels, each for configuring a different aspect of the slice.

The control panels are:

  • Main Settings: Slice
  • Main Settings: Category
  • Main Settings: Fields
  • Main Settings: Email Notification
  • Permissions: Assign
  • Permissions: Change
  • Design: Index
  • Design: Fulltext
  • Design: Views
  • Design : Item Manager
  • Content Pooling: Inner Node feeding
  • Content Pooling: Inter Node Import
  • Content Pooling: Inter Node Export
  • Content Pooling: Filters
  • Content Pooling: Mapping

Setting Up a Slice

You will need to follow this process any time you add a new slice to your organization's Website. If you have any problems, contact your APC Server Administrator.

To setup a new slice:

  • Have the Server Administrator create your slice and send you the login information for administrating your slice (see [#_How_to_Log Section 2.1] for more information about how to log in).
  • Configure your slice in the administrative interface. When you are first configuring your slice, refer to these sections of the manual:
  • [#_Designing_APC_ActionApps Section 3.4: Designing APC ActionApps Output]
  • [#_Creating_Input_Forms: Section][#_Creating_Input_Forms: ][#_Creating_Input_Forms: 3.6: Creating Input Forms: Working with Fields]

Note: Remember, if you are not skilled in HTML, ask your ActionApps provider to help you configure your slice.

  • Add some data and test your new slice.
  • Further configure your slice. Once you are comfortable adding items and like the Web page output, you are ready to think about organizing the workflow and categories of articles. Look especially at these sections in this manual:
  • [#_Setting_Categories Section 3.6.1: Setting Categories]
  • [#_How_to_Configure Section 3.8 How to Configure Content Pooling]
  • [#_How_to_Manage Section 3.7 How][#_How_to_Manage ][#_How_to_Manage to Manage and Modify User and Group Permissions]

How to Control Your Slice’s Attributes

The Slice Attributes function allows you to define the general characteristics and notification information for a slice. For example, the name attribute sets the name of the slice. Other slice administrators will see the name of your slice if you select their slices to be a Content Pooling partner.

You control your slice's overall attributes in the Main Settings: Slice control panel. When you click Slice in the left navigation, the title changes to Admin - Slice settings.

To configure your slice's settings, you must fill in information for a number of fields.

The Admin - Slice settings page File:Image

Title Field

The Title of your slice is the name of your slice within the administrative interface. This name appears in the top right hand corner of the screen. If other organizations feed content to your slice, this is the name they will see when they select your slice. Choose an obvious name for your slice, such as the name of your organization and the slice feature (e.g. News - Your Organization).

URL Field

If you are delivering your slice using Server Side Includes (SSI) encapsulated within an .shtml page, then you should put the URL of your slice into this field (e.g. This will ensure that the View Site preview function in the Item Manager works properly.

Note: If ActionApps deliver your whole page, you do not need to complete this field. You will only need to complete this field if your slice is embedded in an .shtml file.


The Owner of your slice should be the name of your organization. Although this field is not used in the current version of ActionApps, in future versions it may be used for a variety of purposes, so it is best to set this field now.

Listing Length

The index page will have a certain number of content items on the front page. In ActionApps, this is the listing length. If a slice has a listing length of 20, for example, and the slice has more than 20 items, the Index page will show only the first 20 items, then it will display a More Items link at the bottom of the page. If you want to display all items on a single page, then set this to a very high number, for example 10,000.

Anonymous Posting of Items

Normally, only people with Author or Editor permissions can contribute content to your slice. However, you can set up a form which allows for items to be submitted via a public Web site; this is called Anonymous posting.

  • Enable anonymous posting

    The first step is to permit anonymous posting from web, using the drop-down selection on the "Admin" -> "Main settings - Slice" for "Allow anonymous posting of items". Select to which bin the anonymous posted items should go. If "Active" is selected anonymous submissions will be published automatically. If "Holding bin" is selected the editor will have to approve or reject the item.
  • Create the form

    To create a form for anonymous submissions via the web, view the source code for the "add item" form of the slice concerned, and copy the code between the <form ...> and </form> tags. This code can then be pasted into the html page you create for anonymous submissions.

    One change to the code is required in order for the new form to function: the script for the URL to which the form is posted must be changed to filler.php3. Change it from (for example)

    <form enctype="multipart/form-data" method= post action="/apc-aa/admin/itemedit.php3?AA_CP_Session=2bbb85e9205239910a222b4c59cee2fa">


    <form enctype="multipart/form-data" method=post action="/apc-aa/filler.php3">

    The layout and appearance of the form can be changed. Any field except the slice_id field may be deleted from the form.

For a more detailed description of anonymous submission forms see the ActionApps FAQ section on "How to create a form allowing anonymous posting from a public Web site" <>

Offline Item Filling

Offline Item Filling allows you to enter information items offline and submit them to your ActionApps slices in a batch when you connect to the Internet.

See "How to set the off-line filling up" in the ActionApps FAQ for details: <>

Designing ActionApps Output

/Designing ActionApps Output As described above, ActionApps let you control how your content appears on your organization's Web site. This involves two steps: First, you create a 'blank' .shtml file, then you customize the output from the Action Apps database. You can customize the output in the Design - Index View, Design - Fulltext View, Design - Views, and Design - Item Manager control panels.

Creating a Template File

ActionApps can be delivered one of two ways: directly from the database or via a Server Side Include (SSI) that calls your content into a customized .shtml file. Although it is simpler if you deliver content directly from the database, it does not provide much flexibility with formatting. Using the SSI gives you much more control over how your page looks because you use straightforward HTML to code everything except the dynamic content from ActionApps, so that the web page displaying the information from the database looks just like the rest of your site.

Most users will choose the SSI / .shtml approach. If you plan to use this approach, you must complete the following steps.

To create a template file:

  • Create an HTML template page with all of the normal elements from your Web site: your toolbar, logos, background colors, etc. Leave the area you want to fill with content from the database blank.
  • Find the SSI code that will be used to call your ActionApps content. You will find this at the bottom of the Item Manager page. It will look something like this:
  • Cut and paste this SSI code into the blank area of your HTML template page. The inclusion of this code will make the ActionApps content appear in the page.
  • Save the file with an .shtml extension and name it. For example, you might call you news page template news.shtml.
  • Upload your file to the server where the ActionApps software and your Website are located.

After you upload this file, an index of your content will be viewable. The URL for your ActionApps will be server name + directory path + .shtml file name. For example, APC's news slice is at <>.

Working with Aliases and Views

Once you have created a template file, you will then design the 'views' that will dynamically generated from the ActionApps. These views are simply the different formats that are used to present your content. For example, the 'Index View' is a list of the articles in your ActionApps slice. The Fulltext View is the format that is used to show an individual article from the ActionApps database.

Views combine HTML tags with ActionApps aliases in order to format your content. Aliases are simply text strings which represent a field in the database. For example, the headline field might have the following alias: _#HEADLINE.

To control the formatting used when your headline is output from the ActionApps database, you would simply need to put the appropriate HTML text around the alias. For example, the code _#HEADLINE would make your headline Bold.

The sections listed under Admin - Design on the left-hand navigation panel allow you to design four types of view:

  • Index: this allows you to design the way ActionApps-generated content will appear in your index page. If you need greater control and flexibility over the display use "Views"
  • Fulltext controls the appearance of single full text items
  • Views: "Views" offer additional functionality over the basic Index and Fulltext views, such as controlling the order in which items are displayed within categories, or displaying only those items which meet certain criteria
  • Item manager allows you to make changes to the design of the Item Manager page

Specific instructions on setting up each view are contained in the following sections. Information on how aliases work can also be found below.

Index View

After you have uploaded your template file, you should apply the design parameters that you want to use for the Index View of your Action Apps. This is the view that provides a list of the items in your slice. In the Design - Index control panel, you design the Index page. There are several parts to the control panel.

The Admin - Design Index View page File:Image


Top HTML is the HTML at the top of the slice. If you embed your slice in an .shtml page, you will probably not need to use this section of the design page.

If you display your slice by referencing the raw URL for the slice (ie not using a server side include), you will want to add at least a title in HTML to the slice e.g. “News from the APC Networks".

Odd and Even Rows

Each row in your index page will show the index listing of one item. You can have different designs for even and odd rows. Typically, people do this so that they can have alternating color schemes, making it easier to read the rows.

Odd Rows is where you combine HTML and aliases to display to produce the look you want. Aliases are placeholders for items' fields.

Here is a sample value for Odd Rows:

_#PUB_DATE - <a href=_#HDLN_URL>_#HEADLIN2</a>
_#PLACE###(<a href="_#SRC_URL#">_#SOURCE##</a>) - _#ABSTRACT

Notice that there are HTML elements (such as setting the color to 808080), and there are aliases, (such as displaying the publish date of the item _#PUB_DATE).

Even Rows functions just like Odd rows. To use Even Rows, be sure to select the Use another HTML for Even Rows checkbox.

Bottom HTML

Bottom HTML is just like Top HTML, except that this HTML code is placed after the very last item in the index. This row is often used to add a footer to the page.

The Admin - Design Index View page continued File:Image

Sort Items by Category

You can group the rows of items by category. To do this, select the Sort items by category checkbox.

If this is checked, then the items will be grouped by category. Each group of items will have Category Top HTML and Category Headline above it. Whatever you want to appear after the last item in a category should appear Category Bottom HTML, for example a footer for the category.

Remove Strings

In Remove Strings, you specify strings of characters that you want to hide from your users.

When mixing HTML and aliases, sometimes you see HTML code that you don't want shown to users. For example, say you have code like this (_#AUTHOR##). Normally, this will display as:

 (Michael Jackson)

But when an item has a blank value for 'author', it will display as


To avoid confusing users with empty parentheses in your list of items, type () in the Remove Strings field, and ActionApps will take away all empty parentheses.

Fulltext View

When people click on a link to an item, they will see the fulltext page for that item. This page generally shows all the information about that item. In the Design - Fulltext control panel, you design the Fulltext page.

The Admin - Design Fulltext View page File:Image


Top HTML is the HTML that appears at the top of the slice. If you embed your slice in a .shtml page, you will only have a little bit of HTML set in part of the control panel.

If you display your slice by referencing the raw URL for the slice, you will want to add more HTML. Typically people put their logo or site navigation bar in the Top HTML.

Fulltext HTML Code

The Fulltext HTML code area is where you describe how the Fulltext view of your item should appear. You can mix Aliases and HTML in this field. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the list of available Aliases. When a user views this page, the aliases will be substituted for the real values from the database.

Bottom HTML

Bottom HTML functions just like Top HTML, except that this HTML code appears after the last items, e.g. a footer for the page.

Remove Strings

Use this section for any text patterns that you do not want to appear in the Fulltext HTML code.

Item Manager View

The Item Manager is the page that your authors use to edit the items in your slice. This is the center of your administrative interface. Your slice editors will scan the list of items, moving items from one folder or bin to another as needed. Each item is a row in the Item Manager interface.

In this control panel, you customize how the Item Manager will look. You specify what is above the row of items, what is below the row of items, and what fields appear.

The Admin - Design Item Manager View page File:Image


Top HTML is the HTML at the top of the item manager, above the list of items. This could be, for example, your organization's logo. This function is not normally necessary when embedding an ActionApps slice into an .shtml file using SSI.

Item Format

Item Format is the main part of the control panel. Here you mix HTML and Aliases to set how each row of the item manager is displayed. The list of available Aliases appears at the bottom of the page.

Bottom HTML

Bottom HTML functions like Top HTML, except that this HTML code is placed after the last items.

Remove Strings

Use this section for text patterns that you want removed from the Fulltext HTML code.

After you have editing these attributes, click Update to save your changes.


"Views" enable greater control over the display of ActionApps-generated content than can be achieved using the standard Index view. For example, you can control the order in which items display on your web page, or display only items meeting criteria which you specify.

Views also allow you to base many different web pages on a single ActionApps slice. For example, you could set up a single slice to capture news items on Human Rights, Environmental Justice, and Sustainable Development, and set up three different views so that Human Rights items display on one web page, Sustainable Development items on another, and so on.

Setting up views

Select the type of view you would like to create from the drop-down list on the Admin - design View page, and click on the New button. [Note: this section describes only Item Listing Views - for information on other types of View see the ActionApps FAQ <>

The Admin - design view page File:Image

The Item Listing View design page File:Image

The Item Listing Admin - design View page uses the same basic parameters as the Index view design, such as Top HTML, Odd Rows, Bottom HTML etc. In addition, it includes parameters which allow you to order the display of items, group items according to specific criteria, display only those items which meet specified criteria, and set the number of item which will display on a page.

Using Views to Control the Order in which Items Display (sorting)

If you want to control the order in which ActionApps-generated items display on the web page, you can specify primary and secondary criteria for sorting items (ascending or descending) using the Sort Primary and Sort Secondary drop-down lists. Sort Primary determines the main order in which items display; Sort Secondary sorts within this. For example, you might choose to sort first by category, then by publication date within each category.

Using Views to Group Items

Group by allows you to group items on the web page according to whatever field you choose from the drop-down list.

Use Group title format to specify the heading which will appear above the grouped items on the web page. For example,


specifies that each group of items should appear under the relevant category heading.


You can specify up to three conditions which will restrict the items displayed to those meeting particular criteria. In the example in the screenshot above, Condition 1 defines the parameter as follows:

  • The condition relates to the category group trainer/general
  • Only items which do not contain the specified string should be displayed
  • The specified string in this example is "General"

For more detailed guidelines on using conditions and URL parameters see the ActionApps FAQ section on selecting a sub-set of items: <>

How to Set Up Search and Search Output

Most search engines will treat ActionApps-generated web pages as normal web pages, and index them accordingly. This means that if you are already using a search engine on your site, you will be able to use it to search the content of your ActionApps slices.

It is also possible to add Search functionality directly to your ActionApps slices.

Search Form

A search form lets users enter their search criteria. The search form could be a simple keyword search form that lets users search through all the full texts of items for a certain word or phrase (e.g. see “Fast News Search" in the left side bar of, or it could be more complicated and let the user search for all items published after a certain date (e.g. see:

Search Results

The search results page displays the results of the user's search, or all content items that meet his search criteria. The search results page is very similar to the Index template page. It defines the format of the index of items that match the search results.

To create a simple search form, include HTML like this on the page:

<form action="index.shtml" method="get" name="sf" id="sf"> Search for items whose summaries contain this word: <input type="text" name="conds[0][summary.........]">
<input type="submit" value="Search" > </form>

Note: This is that the 'action' of the form and you also need a template file for the search results page. For more information on how to create a template file, see manual section 3.4.1: Creating a Template File.

You can also reuse your standard index template file as the search results template. To do this, just point the search form 'action' to your standard index template file, for example, index.shtml.

The main part of the search form is this HTML fragment: <input type="text" name="conds[0][summary.........]"> This creates a input form textbox where users can type in the word for which they want to search.

Note: The 'name' of the input needs to be 'conds[0][fieldname]', where 'fieldname' is replaced by the ActionApps id for the field you are searching. The [0] after 'conds' is a numeric zero, and not the capital letter 'O'. To find the list of fields and their ids, login to the administrative interface, and go to Admin - Main Settings - Fields. The field ids are the second column in each row. Typical field ids are 'headline........', 'created_by......', and'full_text.......'.

'For more information, including special options and multi-field searching, please look at: <'>'.'.'.'.

Creating Input Forms: Working with Fields

The APC ActionApps enable your organization to publish information easily and quickly online. The type of information is up to you. You might be publishing short news releases on your Web site. You might be publishing a bibliography of books related to human rights abuses, or a directory of environmental lawyers.

To give you the flexibility you need to deal with many different types of information, the ActionApps let you define the fields that an item will have within your slice. For example, to gather and publish news releases, the fields you need are the title of the news release, the author, and the full text of the story. For a bibliography, the set of required fields is different and would certainly include the date of publication and thepublisher. You can easily select which fields you need using the Main Settings - Fields function in ActionApps. You can also configure the forms that are used for inputting information into the ActionApps database (i.e., the Control Panel windows).

How to Set Up Fields

In Main Settings - Fields control panel, you control the fields that appear in the Add Item form for your news slice. For example, your slice might have only a minimal set of fields, like:

  • Title: The name of the content item
  • Fulltext: The complete text of the content item
  • Status: The status of the item in your organization's publishing process, e.g. Active, Approved, Published
  • Author: The name of the person who wrote the content item

Alternatively, your slice might have many fields:

  • Title
  • Fulltext
  • Status
  • Author
  • Author's Email
  • Location
  • Start Date
  • Language
  • Contact Name
  • Contact Home Phone
  • Contact Work Phone

You use the Main Settings - Fields control panel to set what fields your slice contains. The control panel will initially show a default list of fields.

The Admin - Configure Fields page File:Image

The fields control panel is set up as a table. Each field appears in a separate row, and you can set attributes for five properties of each field. The column headings that control these properties are:

  • Field
  • Type
  • Priority
  • Required
  • Show

To the far right, you will also see Edit and Delete in each row.

Field Attribute

Field specifies the field name. The Authors and Editors adding content to your slice will see this field name in the input form. You can use any text here, including spaces, numbers, letters, and punctuation. This field has a maximum character length of 255, but the best practice is to use 30 or fewer characters.

Type Attribute

Type specifies what type of information that field will contain. If you add a new field, a drop-down list displays the available, predefined types. Choosing a field Type sets the basic properties of your field, and then you can edit those field properties.

When you add a new field, you set its properties, which specifies almost everything about the field. For example, you determine how an author will enter data for the field: by typing into a text-input field, or by clicking the yes or no checkbox. Some fields will check to make sure input is a correctly formed email address or from a pre-defined list. There are properties to set how a field can be displayed in the Index or Fulltext view.

There are many available field types, each based on a commonly used function. When you are adding a field, simply pick a field Type that seems similar to the field you want to create. Most field types are the same: the field input is into a one-line regular text input box, it accepts any text, and it will output by printing the value of the field. If you create a new field and it should be like this standard field types, simply choose the 'headline' Type.

These are some of the non-standard Types available include:

  • Abstract. The form displays an 8-row text area; accepts any text (including numbers, symbols, etc).
  • Fulltext. Acts like “Abstract"
  • External Item. Displays a yes/no checkbox.
  • Headline URL. Displays a regular text input box; output is formatted as a link. Displayed only if External Item field is set to Yes.
  • Source URL. Displays a regular text input box. Output is formatted as a link. If left blank, ActionApps will default to generate a JavaScript popup box in the Web browser that says “No source URL specified".
  • Language Code. Displays a drop-down select box, choosing from a pre-defined list of languages.
  • Code Page. Displays a drop-down select box, choosing from a pre-defined list of language code-pages. Code pages define which language character set the articles are using.
  • Category. Displays a drop-down select box, choosing from a pre-defined list of categories.
  • Image URL. Displays a regular text input box; output is part of an <img> tag. If left blank, it removes the <img> tag, to avoid broken HTML.

Priority Attribute

Priority sets the order in which the fields are displayed in the Add Item page. The lower the priority number, the closer the item will be to the top of the page. If you want your new field to be at the top of the page, make its priority smaller than all other fields' priorities. If you want your new field to be at the bottom of the page, make its priority greater than all the other fields' priorities. If you want you new field to go between two fields, choose a number greater than one and smaller than the other. Fields can have the same priority; these will be displayed in the order they were added.

Tip! Set priority number in increments of 100. E.g. your first field has a priority of 100, your second field, 200, and so on. In this way, if you need to insert additional rows later, you will have a lot of flexibility in your structure.

Required Attribute

Required is a checkbox. If this is checked, then the user must complete this field on the Add Item page. If they leave the field blank, they will be told to complete it when they click the form's “OK" button.

Show Attribute

Show is a checkbox. If this is checked, the field will be visible in the form on the Add Item page. Some fields have defaults, so that you can make them required, but not display them. For example, post_date can be a required field for ActionApps, but it is not displayed. ActionApps logs when an item is posted, so it fills in this field automatically, and you do not need to show it on the Add Item page.

Edit and Delete Attributes

Edit and Delete. On the right side of each row of field attributes, there are two links: Edit and Delete.

The Edit link will bring up another page. This page lets you set almost everything about the field. See [#_How_to_Edit_1 Section 3.5.3 “How to Edit a Field”] for more information.

The Delete link will delete the field, if possible. There are some fields that you cannot delete. If it is not possible to delete an item, then the “Delete" will not appear as a link. When it is possible to delete a field, you can click on the link and it will disappear.

Tip! Generally you should not delete unused fields. If you do not want to use a field, you can simply unselect Show and Required, which will effectively hide the field from your users. This will allow you the flexibility to change your mind later and use the field.

How to Add a Field

ActionApps let you customize fields and add new fields if you choose.

To add a field:

  1. Click Main Settings - Fields from the Administration page.
  2. Scroll to the bottom row of fields, where you will find a blank row.
  3. Type in the your custom Field Name.
  4. Select a Field Type.
  5. Set the Field Priority.
  6. Specify whether to make Required and whether to Show the field.
  7. Click Update. Your new field is now in the list of fields.

Note: Fields in this control panel are listed in their priority order. If you create a field and set a priority, it will no longer be at the bottom of the list; instead it will appear in its proper order according to its priority.

How to Edit a Field

Generally, when you add a new field, you need only to choose the correct field type for it to appear properly in the input form and be available in the templates of your full text view and the index view. If you need to customize a field, ActionApps has many advanced features that will display a field in special ways. You customize a field with the Edit Field function.

The Edit link will bring up a page that lets you set almost every aspect of the field.

Note: Only advanced administrators should edit field attributes. It is easy for non-programmers to be confused by all the options allowed in Edit Field Attributes.

The main sections to the Edit Field Attributes page are:

  • Input type
  • Default Value
  • Other Attributes
  • Aliases

Use the Admin - Configure Fields page to edit field attributes File:Image

Input Type

In this section, you set how this input field will look in the Add Item page.

The top select box lets you choose the input type, from a list of options. These include:

  • Text Fields. The most common type of field. This is a long box, one row high, into which users can type a value.
  • Text Area. Similar to Text Field, but it is longer than one column high. Used for inputting the paragraphs of information. Use the Parameters input to specify the number of rows.
  • Date. Appears as a series of text boxes.
  • Check boxes. On and Off clickable fields.
  • File Upload. Allows the user to choose a file on their computer to upload (inserts a “browse…" button)
  • Select Box. Displays a pre-defined list of values from which users can choose.
  • Radio Buttons. Displays a pre-defined list of values from which users can choose.

If you use Select Box or Radio Button, you must input the list of possible values in the Constants section, which appears just below the Input Type select box. After you add these values, click Update. To return to the field you were editing, you must go back to Admin - Main Settings - Fields, click the Edit link for the field you were editing, and choose the new constant group.


You can set the your slice to supply a default value for a field. This default value will display in the input form in the Add Item page. In this section, you set both the type of default value and the value itself.

Most default values are of type Text. For example, if the default value is of type the Text and the Parameter is “Middle East," then this field will have the default value of Middle East.

You can set other types of default values, including Now or Date. For example, you could have an Event Start Date field, and set the default value to Now, which will insert the current date. The Date field is similar to Now, but the Parameters allow you to set the value to a number of days from now.

Another default type is User Id. This looks up the User Id of the user logged into the administrative interface and sets the value accordingly.


You can specify that only certain data is valid for a particular field. If Validation is on, then the Add Item page will check the content, looking for data that fails the validate function. The criteria used to validate the data depends on the validate function.

If the validate function is Text, then anything typed in will be accepted. If the validate function is URL, then only correctly formatted URLs like “" will be accepted, and text like “" will be flagged as an error. E-mail accepts common e-mail format, such as “", and rejects inappropriate text. The Number validate function requires a number like 15 or 3333. Id is a system-validation function used to make sure the entered value is a user id within the ActionApps, and you can safely ignore it. Date will ensure the value is a valid date. Boolean will make sure the value is either “yes" or “no" (1 or 0), if a field requires one of these options, e.g. if a field requires a true or false response.


Insert defines how the value is stored in the database. Generally, you will use Text. Other options include: File will store an uploaded file; Now will insert the current time, no matter what the user sets, which can be used to track changes; Uid will insert the identity of the Current user, no matter what the user sets; and Boolean will store either 1 or 0, which can be for yes/no or true/false values.

Show 'HTML' / 'plain text' option

You can allow users to add data to your field in either plain text or as HTML. If you click the Show 'HTML' / 'plain text' option, then your users will see a checkbox that will let them choose whether their input should be considered HTML or plain text.

HTML coded as default

This sets the Show HTML/plain text checkbox default to HTML or defaults to plain text.

Help for this field

In Add Item, below each field is a little blurb of text that explains the field. You set the text that appears here. e.g., under the input box for a date, the help could say: “Please write your date in this way, dd-mm-yy eg 23-01-01".

More Help

In Add Item, there is an optional clickable '?' next to each field. If the user clicks on that '?', they will be taken to a page with more help on that item. In this setting, you define the URL of that page where the user can get more help on this field.

Note: Only activate this feature if you have help pages to link to.

Before HTML code

You can preface an Add Item field with some HTML. This section appears in its own table cell. Use this to add e.g. a title to a section in your form.

Setting Aliases

In this section of the Edit Field page, you define aliases that you can use when customizing the Design pages. You use aliases when customizing the Design - Index and Design - Fulltext pages. Where you place an alias, ActionApps will display the value of the field for that item.

Use the Admin - Configure Fields page to edit fields, continued File:Image

Each alias, for technical reasons, must start with a _#. Each alias must be 10 characters long, uppercase letters. Examples of valid aliases are _#HEADLINE _#AUTHOR##.

Note: Keep your aliases intuitive. Make up the number of characters to 10 by adding # to the end of a shorter word eg . _#AUTHOR##

Function and Parameters

Functions are simply different ways of displaying the value of a field. For example, if the value of the field is “", this can be displayed either directly as text on the screen, or as a clickable link. Some functions are flexible and require additional information in the Parameter section. For example, the Abstract function prints only a certain number of characters. The parameter sets the number of characters this function will print.

There are several Alias Functions you should understand.

  • Print. The default function. This prints the value to the screen. There are no parameters to this function.
  • Abstract: Prints the field. If there is a parameter, it sets how many characters to print.
  • Edit Item:Shows a URL that will let youedit the item. Parameters not used here.
  • Fulltext Link: Shows a URL that displays the full text of the item.There are no parameters to this function.
  • Fulltext: Prints the field. If the field is marked as HTML, it will print it directly. If the field is text, it will convert it into simple HTML. There are no parameters to this function.
  • Linked field: A function used with links. A typical link will have two parts: the URL and the label that the user sees. In ActionApps, you may want to have two fields used together to generate such HTML, one field contains the URL, and one field that contains the label eg where the label is descriptive, “News from APC" and the URL is the actual URL of the news section <>.
  • URL: Prints the field. If the field is empty, it will print the text of the parameter. A common parameter is javascript: window.alert('Please include a source URL')
  • Date:Displays a date value. Dates can be displayed many different ways, however, such as DD/MM/YY or MM/DD/YYYY. The parameter defines how a date value is displayed. The date is formatted with the php date function, so programmers should refer to <>. The characters in Table 1 have special meaning in the Date parameter:

Table 1: Symbols and meanings for the Data parameter

Symbol Meaning
A "am" or "pm"
A "AM" or "PM"
D day of the month, 2 digits with leading zeros; i.e. "01" to "31"
D day of the week, textual, 3 letters; i.e. "Fri"
F month, textual, long; i.e. "January"
J day of the month without leading zeros; i.e. "1" to "31"
l (lowercase 'L') day of the week, textual, long; i.e. "Friday"
M month; i.e. "01" to "12"
M month, textual, 3 letters; i.e. "Jan"
N month without leading zeros; i.e. "1" to "12"
R RFC 822 formatted date; i.e. "Thu, 21 Dec 2000 16:01:07 +0200"
S English ordinal suffix, textual, 2 characters; i.e. "th", "nd"
T Timezone setting of this machine; i.e. "MDT"
W day of the week, numeric, i.e. "0" (Sunday) to "6" (Saturday)
Y year, 4 digits; i.e. "1999"
Y year, 2 digits; i.e. "99"
Z day of the year; i.e. "0" to "365"
  • Image Height: Used to set the height of an image. When an Alias has the function, ActionApps makes sure that an empty value in this field does not lead to broken HTML. No parameters are used with this field.
  • Image Src: An alias similar to image height. If the field is empty, the whole <img> tag will not be shown. No parameters are used with this field.
  • ImageWidth: An alias similar to image_height. No parameters are used with this field.
  • Id: An alias the system uses to print a database-id. No parameters are used with this field.
  • None: This function will not print anything for this alias. No parameters are used with this field.
  • Help Text: The help that appears to your slice's users in the list of aliases.

Using Categories

ActionApps uses categories in several places. When using Views, you can specify that items are grouped by category, or you can limit the list of items displayed to those corresponding to a particular category. Categories can be used when importing articles from another slice. You can choose to accept only articles that belong to a certain category. You can also automatically rename another organization's categories to suit your own categories when you feed items to your slice.

Setting Categories

You control the categories for your slice from the Main Settings - Fields page (avoid using Main Settings - Categories).

  • Include a "category" field in the list of fields for your slice.
  • Click to Edit the category field
  • Input type - Constants on the Admin - configure Fields page offers a drop-down list of pre-existing categories.

    You can:
  • Select a pre-existing set of categories and update the configuration without any further changes, or
  • Edit a pre-existing set of categories to meet your needs (Note: be very cautious about editing category sets which may be shared by other slices), or
  • Add a new category set

Use the Admin - Constants Setting to Edit and Add Categories


If you are creating a new category ('constant') group, give it a name.

Each category has four attributes: Name, Value, Priority and Parent.

  • Name: name of the category which will appear in the drop-down list of categories on the input page,
  • Value: what is stored in the database for this category listing. This may be either the same as the name, or a short value. Value (rather than Name) is displayed on your web pages if you use the #CATEGORY alias for item group headings). Each category must have a unique value; two categories should not have the same value. Categories must not be left blank.
  • Priority: sets the order of the category list on the Index page of the slice, determining which category is shown first, which is second etc. The category with the highest priority is shown first.
  • Parent: these are broad categories set at the network level. The Parent feature allows you to map your own custom categories according to the standard categories that come with ActionApps. This feature helps your slice share content if you choose to enable Content Pooling.

Ordering Category Display

Ordering of Categories

If you need tight control over the order in which categories display on your web page, it is necessary to set up a View parameter for each category and order them "manually" on the shtml page.

Ordering of Items within Categories

You can control the ordering in which items within categories are displayed (for example, by title, author, date etc.) using Views.

How to Manage and Modify User and Group Permissions

You can change the permissions of existing users in your slice or assign permissions to new users and groups.

User Permissions

Each user is set to a different level of permissions. You can make changes to users to give them additional permission levels or to revoke permissions.

To change permissions of existing users:

  • Click Users in the top navigation.
  • Select the User name that you want to change from the list, then click Edit.
  • Make the appropriate changes to the user's profile.
  • Click Update.

The Edit User page File:Image

To assign permissions to new users:

  • Request that the system operator of your provider register your new user in the server's database.
  • Click Users in the top navigation.
  • Select the User name that you want to change from the list, then click Edit.
  • Make the appropriate changes to the user's profile.
  • Click Update.

How to Configure Content Pooling

There are two methods for sharing or "feeding" content - manual and automatic.

Manual feeding

To export an item to another slice you must have at least Author level permissions in the destination slice

  • In Item Manager select the items you want to send to another slice. Select "Export" on the toolbar just below the item list.

Selecting an item to export File:Image

  • After you have clicked on "Go" a new window is shown where you can select destination slices.

Export items screen File:Image

  • Select the destination slice. If you have editor's permissions in the destination slice you can select Active to export the item to the Active bin of the destination slice.
  • Click on the Export button

The feeding is error-safe, it is impossible to feed one item to the same destination slice more than once.

Automatic feeding

Configuring automatic exporting and importing between slices

To feed content between slices automatically you need to configure the feed in both the slice where the items are entered, and the destination slice.

  • Select the slice where the items will be entered.
  • Select Admin - Content Pooling - Inner Node Feeding on the navigation panel.

The Admin - configure Content Pooling page File:Image

In the top (export) field you can set which slices you want to make available for export. The editor(s) of the slices to which you enable exporting will receive every new content item that is published in your slice if the slice administrator has enable importing from your slice.

In the bottom field you can set which slices will feed into your slice. In the left-hand column you will see those slices listed that you can export from.

Select the slices in the left-hand column, then move them using the arrow buttons in the middle. Click Update when done to save your changes.

Tip! As a courtesy, you should send an e-mail to other slice administrators to let them know you are offering a sharing relationship, or if you have taken up their offer of sharing.


Use this control panel to define how fed items get channeled into your slice. You can set specific filters for each category of each slice.

The Admin - Content pooling - filters page File:Image

  • Go to Admin - Content Pooling - Filters
  • In the Categories section, select the categories you want to import From and To. "To" should be the corresponding categories in your slice.
  • Select the Active box if you want items in this category to be fed directly into your Approved bin. The default setting send items to your holding bin.
  • Click Update to save your changes or Cancel to exit without saving changes.


This control panel controls which fields of the source slice end up in which fields of the destination slice. This is useful if source and destination slices use different field names but still want to share content. You might, for example, want items from a field called "Abstract" field in the source slice to be fed to a field called "Description" in the destination slice.

The Admin - Content Pooling - Mapping page

  • Go to Admin - Content Pooling - Fields' Mapping
  • Select the source slice for which you want to configure mapping from the Mapping from slice drop-down menu
  • To lists the fields in the destination slice. Use the drop-down lists under From to change the fields which will feed from the source slice to the destination slice.

E-mail notification

The e-mail notification function allows the slice administrator (or anyone else whose e-mail address is specified) to be notified by e-mail when any of the following actions occur:

  • There is a new item in the Holding bin
  • An item in the Holding bin has changed
  • There is a new item in the Approved bin
  • An item in the Approved bin has changed

To set e-mail notification

  • Go to the Admin - Email Notification control panel.
  • Complete the three fields for each action about which you wish to be notified:
  • Email addresses: the address/es to which the notification should be sent, one per line
  • Subject of the Email message: for example, "New Item in Holding Bin"
  • Body of the Email message: the text of the message to be sent out with each notification. Aliases may be included in this field.

Displaying ActionApps content if ActionApps is not installed on your site

There are three ways to display content generated by ActionApps on sites which do not have ActionApps installed:

  • Use /misc/remote/remote
  • Create javascript views in ActionApps
  • Use jsview.php3 to display existing view

Jsview.php3 is the simplest option, and the only one described here. For information about the other possibilities see the ActionApps FAQ

Using jsview.php3 you can display any existing ActionApps views on sites not running ActionApps by replacing the original SSI include with a javascript one as in the following example:

If the original SSI code in yourpage.shtml was:

the javascript code to display the view on a site not running ActionApps would be:

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>