[32]Layout control for Front Page articles

DanBollinger
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[32]Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by DanBollinger » Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:35 am

1. Introduction
1.1 Scope

The scope of this document is a first draft of a change to Front Page layout to improve graphic, typography, and detail control for Front Page Articles only.
1.2 Objective of the document
The objective is to give a basis for a discussion about the described changes to the Front Page in Joomla! 1.6.
1.3 General remarks
1.4 Definitions
1.5 License

GNU GPL
2. What is the current issue?
Front Page layout control is not flexible enough in a Joomla! website. Users cannot alter how Articles appear on the Front Page. While these features might be possible as a template or extension, such control is universal enough that many users will want it incorporated into 1.6.
3. What are the proposed improvements?
Provide a method to control Article details and parameters for Front Page Articles only. For instance, hiding author name, creation date, edit date, PDF download, email article, print article, etc. Also, background color, borders, etc. Such control would not effect how Articles appear on their own page (this control is already dealt with in the Article advanced parameters). Rather, this is an override for Articles when they are chosen appear on the Front Page.
4. Technical realization
Such control could be realized globally on the Front Page Manager, or as an additional menu on the Article Edit page as “Parameters – Front Page”, which would give control for individual articles.
5. Intention
The control would improve the Front Page design for users that don’t want their websites, at first glance, to appear CMSish, or look like blogs.
6. Effects on...
6.1 Users

The negative effect on the users will be small if any, since users can simply ignore these controls if they desire.
6.2 Effects on third party extensions
Third party extensions that might control Front Page layout should not be effected if the suggested controls are disabled.
6.3 Effects on Performance
There should be no negative effects on performance.

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by masterchief » Sat Feb 16, 2008 4:59 am

Hi Dan. Thanks for the proposal. I'm just wondering what shortcoming you are finding with the layout override system we have that you need more flexibility? In the layout override you can give everything your own class, change the structure - whatever you want.

Also with regard to parameters, all those parameters are controllable from the menu items "Parameters - Component" panel.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by DanBollinger » Sat Feb 16, 2008 7:59 pm

Yes! That's exactly what I wanted. It is counter-intuitive, to me, for this to be in the menu section instead of the front page manager, but so be it. Joomla! is great. Usually, the more I know about a new software the less I like, but this one is a gem. Please delete this request, you have it handled!

Thanks, Dan

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by mcsmom » Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:12 pm

To me the biggest problem with frontpage is that you can have only one of them because there is just a yes/no option for marking items for the front page. There have been many times when I wanted to use a frontpage type of presentation for part of my site but am stuck with a section or category blog instead.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by Stian » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:39 pm

Agree with mcsmom!!

S

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by masterchief » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:26 am

I'm not quite getting how you want to use more than one frontpage? Where are you hitting barriers with the blog layouts?
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by Stian » Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:36 am

One example:

In blog layout you have the option to show all articles, but on the frontpage you can pick just the ones you want. On several of my own sites I have "sub" frontpages for different sections of the site, and this feature is dearly missed. Or am I missing something? Something else, that is ;)

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by masterchief » Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:00 am

Thanks Stian. Can you give me some examples on when this comes up (just to help me get a mental picture).

I think ultimately the solution comes when you are able to map articles to different categories. At least that's what I've found with my own custom work.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by Stian » Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:15 pm

OK, let's say I have a site dedicated to cars and boats. On the main frontpage I would like a listing of relevant articles on both cars and boats, and in no particular order. I would like to choose which articles and ordering myself, regardsless of publishdate for example. This is accomplished beautifully with the Fronpage Manager.

Now, one step down in the site structure I would like two "sub" frontpages, one dedicated to boats and one
to cars. Here also I would like to pick the most relevant articles to display, this time either on boats or cars.

In case I'm not missing someting the only way to do this is to make these pages a section/category blog view, and specify which categories/sections to fetch articles from. Fine, but I would like to pick the articles I want to display on these "frontpages". If it's summer I would like articles on cabriolets, for example. Today all articles in the specified order is displayed. You with?

I could solve this by adding a new category and moving relevant articles to and from this category, but that would break up site stucture / breadcrumbs.

Or is there some other magic way to do this?

Stian

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by olesman » Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:33 pm

I'm not sure if this is the same thing that Stian is talking about but....

We are looking for a way to order our section & category blog pages with Frontpage Ordering.

For example we have a newspaper website and have to order our sports stories by category.

IE. All the stories from
Basketball then
Hockey then
Swimming

What we would like to do is order the stories according to importance like we do on the frontpage.

IE.
Home team wins national basketball title
Visitors upset Hockey squad
Basketball coach gets coach of the year
Divers escape visitors to remain undefeated

It looks like I can do this on my test site for 1.5 but I don't see a way to do it in 1.0.15.

We have so many 3rd party extensions installed that we are unable to change over to 1.5 right now. Once we can find suitable replacements or upgrades we can switch but until then we are stuck with 1.0.x.

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by wreckchick » Fri Feb 29, 2008 9:48 pm

I would actually like a way to display an html block instead of having to use articles for everything. I know the wrappers are there, but they seem a bit clunky.

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by Hackwar » Fri Feb 29, 2008 9:53 pm

Whats keeping you from using an article for this and linking directly to it?
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by wreckchick » Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:15 pm

I don't want all the header information, commenting, etc. associated with a block of "Welcome to my site!" html that a visitor would see when they first visit the site or other information I'm trying to pass on.

R

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by Hackwar » Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:07 pm

You can switch all that off individually for each article.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by wreckchick » Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:29 pm

I was looking all over for a "suppress headers" button and never found one! I did however figure out how to turn everything off. Sorry for being a dolt.

I still think that having the option to create some static content would be nice but this way certainly works!

Thank you all for all your hard work, I may get grumpy sometimes but Joomla is an excellent product that I'm happy to use and support.

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by mcsmom » Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 pm

Rachel,

One easy way to get a fixed block of welcome text is to put it in custom module and place that module above the mainbody.

You can always create some fixed content in a section or category description or in an article and use that as your home page. That's what I typically do.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by wreckchick » Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:13 am

I actually did that with Jumi but because of the template I'm using, the "top" placement actually puts stuff in a gray box above the main body area and it looks weird so the only way I can put stuff where it should go is by using the article structure. That's why I would have liked a way to create 'regular' content within the joomla core. It probably wouldn't even be that tough to fix the 'static content' mod to one that acted less like an article. Well, not that tough in the sense that someone who knew what they were doing could do, me not being that person.

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by mcsmom » Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:03 am

Don't use JUMI, just go to the module manager and click new, custom html.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by mcsmom » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:43 pm

Andrew and Hannes,

I never really responded here, but say for example on my community website, which happens to be for a school,
on the homepage I have Students, Parents and Staff doorways and then each group has its own home page. Right now as has been pointed out already I can either to a category or section blog, but all that does is really encourage me not to use the category structures since you have to put everything into the same category for the category blog and it is all categories or none on the section blog as far as I know. Actually, making it possible to select categories within a section blog would be extremely helpful :).

As has already been pointed out, placement on the front page of a newspaper is usually determined by the importance of the story not by the date, title or any other simple sort.


Also, for many people it would be extremely useful to have an over ride for frontpage (and also the blog layouts) that would enforce consistency on the parameters based on the menu link instead of using the article parameters which can create a messy looking layout (some with dates, some without for example) even though sometimes you might like different settings on the article views.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by masterchief » Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:09 pm

mcsmom wrote:Also, for many people it would be extremely useful to have an over ride for frontpage (and also the blog layouts) that would enforce consistency on the parameters based on the menu link instead of using the article parameters which can create a messy looking layout (some with dates, some without for example) even though sometimes you might like different settings on the article views.
Just create a layout override in you template and only display the bits the you want. Having said that, we probably do need to look at a layout override manager sometime soon which assists site masters to do this sort of thing.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by mcsmom » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:24 am

Yes actually I was going to write something about making doing overrides easier, but sometimes you need things that are template independent. And the problem with overrides is that then you totally lose the original layout which you might also want.

I do think that there is a disconnect with how the blog views are being conceptualized that is leading to a great deal of confusion, but that is really a different topic.

None of it is really a problem for the users who hire designers to make their websites. However, for the rest of us, I don't think it should have to involve writing a layout just to get a simple consistent view. I understand that there is a passionate commitment to the idea that the blog layout is really an article layout and therefore article parameters should apply and it's just not worth arguing over. I do think it would reduce confusion a lot to move the blog layouts into the article view so people will stop thinking that they are alternatives to section or category layouts, which they clearly are not since the standard section and category layouts DO enforce consistency rather than use the article parameters.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by AmyStephen » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:51 am

Yes - it would be nice to have the frontpage component available in multiple ways on your site. Anytime you have multiple categories that you want to pull together into one page, the frontpage component would be nice.

I would be really happy if we could have menu item parameters back (where article parameters do not override the menu item.) Since article parameters override menu items, what ends up happening is that we have to create new layouts to get "choice back" at the menu item level.

Now, I love template overrides and I love layouts. The challenge is if we make a modify the layout using template overrides, then, that modified layout must be used every time the menu type is selected. So, if you need one category blog laid out a certain way - and another a different way, there is no easy way to do that.

What we have been doing, in practice, is cloning the com_content component and building different layouts. It would be preferred if we could create a new layout and snap it in to com_content, but the router must be changed and hacking core is generally not a good idea.

In sum, (this is expanding this initial request beyond the author's intention (sorry)), I would ask that we:

1. Return to article parameters and menu item parameters (but, never the two shall meet) - with globals providing default values.

2. A way to snap in a layout and Joomla! would offer a new menu type and take care of the Router without hacking core.

3. A frontpage component that becomes a "composite page" that could be used multiple times.

Thanks for considering this,
Amy :)

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by masterchief » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:21 am

Thanks Amy

On #1 ... I wonder. Following up on the dev list.

#2 needs to be fixed. What I typically do is actually add a parameter to the Category or the Article for the layout to use (and this parameter looks in the template overrides as well). So in this case I can say to Joomla! "you will use *this* layout to display *this* object". A secondary level may be required in say a category menu item, whereby you specify the layout override for the category, and also any articles underneath. However I really would question whether it's a valid case where you'd want to display an article differently in two different places (I know you might want to, but whether it's wise is another matter - I'm happy to be proved wrong though).

And for #3, I could see scope for rather than having a "checkbox" we could have a list box with numbers in it or maybe a combobox with text names, much like the module positions (so you tag which frontpage you want). That would be doable within the current schema. You would still have a limitation that an article could only be assigned to one "type" of frontpage ... but it would be an improvement, no?
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by masterchief » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:39 am

Ok, re #1 case, does this work:

In a Category View

Articles display per Menu params, then Global but Article params are ignored completely.

In an Article View

Articles display per Article params first, then Menu, then Global.

In this way the cascading rule is consistent at both levels (in other words, don't merge parameters deeper than your current context).
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by newart » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:42 am

It is a good white-paper and I hope to see that accepted. I can't add anything to what already written, all is clear and simple... but I like to post here my "support" for that suggestion. ;)
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by mcsmom » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:49 pm

:) for Andrew's parameter proposal.

In the current SVN one category parameter was added to the section view; it allows control of the order in which articles within a category are displays.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by mcsmom » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:08 pm

I don't think you'd necessarily want to display a particular article two ways (although it is possible), but I certainly think that you might want to display GROUPS of articles in different ways. For example, thinking about the sample data, you might have a layout concept that you want to use for the FAQs section layout that is different than what you want to use everywhere else. I don't want to lose my default layout or my blog layout just so I can have the faqs the way i want them.

So as Amy said, now i have to copy com_content, give it a new name, play around with it to get what i want, then install it (which is a pain because the installer can't handle all the xml files that are in com_content :() and you're set so long as com_content doesn't change any.
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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by AmyStephen » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:43 pm

Yes, Andrew, on your parameter proposal. I appreciate it that you understand the perspective on this; it's difficult to explain and it's apparent you see the challenge.

On the layout issue, good to hear your comments. What a huge step forward these layouts and template overrides are. I think we will continue to see how smart this was architecturally as we start to move towards outputting RDF, too. For now, I'll try your parameter trick.

Given your answer on the frontpage environment, I wonder if we should propose developing a "composite page component" as a SoC project and see if we can work with a student on prototyping a solution? That way, we could get an extension that gets some exercise on JED and might have better ideas about whether or not it belongs in core or how it should be offered.

The Frontpage component is so easy to use that I would hate to introduce usability issues if there might be better approaches. SoC could provide an opportunity to take a more analytical look at this or any of these white paper ideas that you and Wilco find to be valuable, but, for whatever reasons, not good for 1.6.

Thanks much,
Amy :)

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Re: Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by Stian » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:15 pm

A short sidenote, or perhaps not: All this could be solved with a tagging system discussed other places in the forum. If you could tag each article, you could generate menulinks to "tag blogs" that list articles containing one or more tags. ie one could tag the desired articles frontpage1, frontpage2 and so forth.

With an easy taggingsystem, such as the one for tagging images in Facebook, selecting tags for article would be just as easy as selecting section/category and/or Show on frontpage.

Just a thought...

Stian

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Re: [32]Layout control for Front Page articles

Post by digger149 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:30 pm

I have been using Joomla for just a couple of months and I have stumbled across a similar problem on nested menus and I think a (simple?) mod would go most of the way to solving the problems. In essence, Front Page is a section/category like anything else. When you define the menu item you can select list or blog formats, number of leading entries etc, but when you get the list of articles from a top level menu, you can't. I posted a message here http://forum.joomla.org/viewtopic.php?f=431&t=254420. If the Front Page display defaults could be set like this, I think it would go a long way to producing a more flexible front page.


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