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Moving forward with Composr

ocPortal has been relaunched as Composr CMS, which is now in beta. ocPortal 9 will be superseded by Composr 10.

Head over to compo.sr for our new site, and to our migration roadmap. Existing ocPortal member accounts have been mirrored.


Beta-countdown: May 29th - Comments

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Beta-countdown: May 29th

Posted 29 May 2006, 1:36 PM
One of ocPortal's core philosophies is that by concentrating on creating abstract features that are useful to many different audiences, we can really open up possibilities to people that they didn't have before. Not everyone can afford to employ programmers to create them their own websites from scratch, but people and companies also rightly don't want to be stuck with systems that only do very basic things for them. Comcode is a perfect example of a great solution to this problem - no other general-purpose content management system, to our knowledge, allows non-experts to create such powerful dynamic pages as they can in ocPortal using Comcode. Content management systems usually expect users to either simply not have anything other than static content, or expect users to be experts in HTML and Javascript if they want them.

We've expanded on the power of Comcode in version 3 by creating some new ways to get very powerful stuff done without any trouble at all.

The first is our new 'tooltip' tag. Now using Comcode you can place tooltips very easily:

The next is really cool! You can now make Comcode that spans itself across multiple pages, just like large articles often do on some websites.

Code

[section="1"]
Section 1
[/section]
[section="2"]
Section 2
[/section]
[section="3"]
Section 3
[/section]
[section_controller]1,2,3[/section_controller]

In that example I split things over three pages, that the reader can move between at their leisure. The power here is that nothing is assumed - we could have easily decided to allow Comcode pages to be split up into subpages like this, but it would have just got in the way for the majority of users at the same time as being very restrictive and hence only serving the needs of a minority. Using the 'section' and 'section_controller' Comcode tags you can do all kinds of things: for example, you could apply it in a forum post in order to avoid giving the topic an enormous vertical scrollbar.

Here is another powerful new Comcode tag…

Code

[if_in_group="Guest"]Hi Guest[/if_in_group]

This allows ocPortal site administrators to customise pages of their site to display differently for members of different usergroups. This is incredibly useful, because it mean that website layout can now be tailored for the needs of the different usergroups.

For example, if a website explaining a country's tax system was made, the information on that website could be tailored according to whether the reader is unemployed, self-employed, or employed by a company. This would be far preferable to splitting up the website into totally separate sections because information could be selectively displayed to all groups without duplicating anything. Alternativley, you could have sensitive information appear if the current user is in a group with trusted privileges.

In a previous blog post I mentioned how ocPortal's CEDI system (formerly named 'SEEDY') could now function more like a wiki. Well, Comcode has been improved so as to make integration between CEDI and the rest of ocPortal completely seamless:

Code

[[pagename]]

This example shows how easy it is to link to a CEDI page from anywhere in ocPortal that supports Comcode.

The same can be done to link to a member profile:

Code

{{admin}}

Extending Comcode is not the only way we've improved Comcode though. Now for the first time, regular users on an ocPortal can use the ocPortal WYSIWYG editor to visually layout their submissions. Whatsmore, toggling between WYSIWYG and normal editing is very easy, thanks to 'AJAX' technology.

The last improvement to Comcode we've made is a very significant one: Comcode may now be written in XML. For many users, this won't be particularly useful at all, but for some it is a huge benefit because it allows ocPortal data to be used and made by other software far more easily. We've put a lot of work into this, and taken the opportunity to very formally write down a so-called 'schema' for Comcode, that actually allows the XML version of Comcode ('Comcode-XML') to be validated in much the same way that XHTML and other XML languages can be. We've also layed out some guidelines for implementing Comcode support into other software, in effect standardising it.

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