What Do You Need To Learn

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You are going to build a website with ActionApps. ActionApps model assumes you want to create a site which will:

  • Accommodate the content you want to publish
  • Make it easy for people to add a new content with a limited computer skills
  • Allow your audience to easily find what they are looking for, through navigation or searching

It has to be said at the very beginning that as of now ActionApps is not oriented towards the models of websites where the website organically emerges as various people collaborate and add content ad-hoc, like various types of wikis and so on. ActionApps model assumes you go through a proper website structure planning session, create a website according to the result once and then keep adding content into more or less rigid structure. The more "database like" (e.g. many records of the same format) your content is, the better results you get with ActionApps and vice versa.

To give you an idea what is this documentation trying to teach you, the following picture shows which main needs of the two primary user groups you, as someone who's responsible for building a dynamic website, will have to address:


Learn how to satisfy content editors

This is in brief what the first group, content editors, which occupies mainly the content input front, wants you to deliver:

  • Username and password for logging in. You'll have to decide who can publish which content, and what permissions the particular person should have. You will learn about this in Permission system - Users, Groups, Roles chapter.
  • Easy to use forms for adding and editing content. The online form you create sets the way the content will be structured, possibly also displayed, and reflects the editorial rules (e.g. " ...and each news headline must fall under at least one category!"). Remember that you want to allow people with a limited technical skills to publish easily, which means keeping the form simple, efficient and self explanatory. To achieve that, you need to be aware of the possibilities ActionApps give you, in particular to have a good knowledge of what user input controls you can use, when and how. The Creating Data Input Forms for End Users chapter gives you the guidelines.
  • System for content classification. You probably don't want to put all your content on one huge heap. A key to effective navigation and content searching is to label your content and put it in the right pigeon-holes, so that others can find what they are looking for quickly, just by looking at the right pigeon-hole and not the others. You must give your content editors a right tool for doing so. You can learn about this in Planning Your Data Model and Taxonomies and also Using Related Items chapters.
  • System for content sharing, bulk imports of foreign content. Sooner or later, your content editors will become lazy and bored with putting in all the content in manually. Nowadays content syndication is in fashion, a single news headline appears in millions designs across the world carrying the same message. You may want to import content from external RSS feeds, other ActionApps installations, comma separated text files and so on. All in chapter Content Import, Export, Exchange and Syndication.

On top of this, you may find yourself facing challenges of Creating Complex Sites With ActionApps, which should be preceded by a proper Planning Your Data Model and Taxonomies session. If your audience speaks more languages, you need to study Multilingual Capabilities of ActionApps carefully.

Learn how to satisfy the website audience

The Audience, the one you fight on the content presentation front on contrary expects:

  • Easily accessible content on a cleanly designed and polished out website, which you can deliver with ActionApps as long as you get yourself familiar with Designing Output Templates, i.e templates where any content published by content editors just fits nicely, looks good and ideally follows Web Accessibility Guidelines
  • Searching with ActionApps. ActionApps system is oriented towards publishing on-line databases (rather than few web pages), and as such allows for creation of a very sophisticated search forms. You can learn everything about those in the Searching With ActionApps chapter. Please note that ActionApps does NOT (yet, see Fulltext Search Feature Request) have in-build fulltext search facility.
  • Ability to get involved, leave a trace, have a stake, in other words interactive features like subscribing to get new content additions by email, vote for articles, express opinions, sign petitions, comment on articles, suggest or directly publish some content, create a custom RSS channel ... This is more or less covered in the Interacting With Your Audience chapter.

What you should know already

This documentation assumes a certain level of skills, as does the job of designing websites using ActionApps. The main assumptions are:

  • You have succesfully installed ActionApps by following the Installation Guide, or you have at least an Administator level access to a properly working, fairly up-to-date installation of ActionApps
  • You know HTML/XHTML quite well
  • You are familiar with the concept of online publishing, and you understand how ActionApps works on the Author/Editor level
  • Certain experience with basic scriping is necessary for some advanced topics - namely PHP and Java Script
  • You know that  ?name=George in the URL means that there is a parameter "name", a value of which will be "George" in this case, but can as well be "Johanna" next time. The page behaviour (apperance, layout, content) can change depending on the value. If you don't understand this, spend some time playing around with URL parameter example.

Learn 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