press request

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press request

Postby Lmrttn » Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:48 pm

Hiya Coranto members,

I'm writing an article for a Dutch management IT magazine, called Baaz, on content management systems. I'd like to take Coranta along.

I'm writing for managers and decision makes, not technicians. I'd like to post a few questions here:

1. What kind of websites is Coranto especially suited for?
2. What are the pro's and con's of Coranto? Please be aware I have to explain this to managers.
3. What would be involved when a company decides to install and configure Coranto: can anyone do this? Is there special training required for maintaining a Coranto site or to post content?
4. Is Coranto safe? What safety measures have been taken?
6. How many templates are available (approx.)
7. Can Coranto be expanded with add-ons/extensions? How many are there?
7. Why not just use Joomla?

Thanks for your time!
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Postby SrNupsen » Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:07 pm

As forum admin, somewhat heavy user and oldtimer, I'll try to answer some of your questions. I am not a coder, however, but I'll redirect the more technical ones to the appropriate person.

First, I don't know how much you have read in the forums on this site about the history of Coranto. To make it short, the community (and the script) was dying, and this new site is a rescue operation just started but well underway. We plan to launch both a new site design and a new stable release (1.25) within the next few days. The previous version 1.24 has been in use on thousands of live sites for more than a year now, and is considered very stable - version 1.25 does not contain any major changes.

As the script is very stable and we are in real need of coders, we won't be doing any major development of the core at the moment. Instead we will be focusing on improving the promotion part (telling people about Coranto), support (helping them use it here) and pre-built distros (see answers beneath).

The main idea behind Coranto is that it doesn't provide you with a site design - instead it allows you to insert just about any content you can imagine in any place you want. This makes it extremely easy to create output in various formats (RSS / HTML / PHP) etc., but also requires the person setting it up to know the HTML and CSS necessary. We are working on making templates for blogs, small newspapers etc., though.

1. Coranto's flexibility makes it usable for any site from small blogs to large sites with millions of hits a day. Each newsitem can be put on a static page reducing server load, but Coranto's flat file database approach is known to become a problem once news database reaches sizes of 50-100 megabytes. Support for MySQL exists, but is unfortunately not compatible with the newest versions - a problem that is being looked into.

2. I am going to be rather offensive and present you with a tremendously long list of pros, assembled by user Abbeyvet earlier this week:

GENERAL:

- Free and Open-source
- Easy to Install
- Well documented, active community for help and support
- Stable and tested on thousands of live sites
- Modular structure - core script plus addons
- Complete separation of style and content
- 'Hooks' to allow easy development of custom addons
- Automated backups
- Highly portable - easy to move to a new server
- No database required, but support for use of MySql
- Manage multiple sites from a single installation
- Small footprint on server
- Easy and highly configurable archiving, by date, age or number of items.
- Can be integrated into an existing site

CONTENT MANAGEMENT:

- Multiple Categories
- Fine control of appearance using both styles and templates
- Can generate content in any format (HTML, PHP, RSS, etc)
- Totally customisable submission pages (per user, per category, whatever is required)
- Unlimited custom fields can be created to define content
- Profiles control which content, in which order and in what format will appear on published pages
- Content can be extracted and displayed based on any field
- Multiple options for publishing content (using profiles)
--- articles split over multiple pages
--- multiple articles per page
--- merge headlines/articles from multiple categories
--- content split by date, alphabet or any custom criteria
--- many more options
- Integrated File and image upload
- Supports integration of any WYSIWYG editor
- Can open editor from published pages to quickly to edit content ('Edit this page')
- Store content for future publication
- Schedule publication at a future date
- Expire content by date, by number of items
- Profiles can select content by age, by date, by number of related items etc
- Sort published content by age, alphabetically, numerically etc
- Stats on content
- Easy search facility for finding submitted content - search by any field
- Preview content prior to publishing

USER & WORKFLOW MANAGEMENT:

- Supports multiple users with different access levels
- Administrator: Complete access to all functions
- Editor: Can add posts and edit/approve content submitted by standard users
- User: Can add content, either for immediate publication or pending editorial approval (customisable)
- Access can be controlled and refined per category, per submit page or even per form field
- Customisable context-sensitive help
- Messaging system, Admin notices
- Staging of content can be configured into system
- Easy roll back to previous dates

DESIGNER / DEVELOPER FEATURES:

- Style/Template syetem gives very fine control of page appearance
- Templates can be created in designer-friendly programmes such as Macromedia Dreamweaver, then added to Coranto
- CSS friendly - templates can be fully CSS contolled
- Multiple templates - as many or few as you like
- Templating is very flexible with total control over on-page code - building valid pages is easy
- Easily build customised menus which change as pages are added or removed
- Menus can be completely styled with CSS
- Pages, including Menus, can use conditionals to include or exclude content based on defined parameters
- Link validation for both internal and external links
- Build in conditionals system can control how or if content displayed
- Perl code can be used directly in styles to customise or pre-process pages before publishing
- Easy to set up a sandbox to test new features before making them live
- Content can be generated in XML format
- Can generate the same content in multiple formats - eg HTMP/PHP, Printer Friendly, RSS, Plain text etc

SEO BENEFITS:

- Page titles, descriptions and keywords and other meta tags totally customisable on a per page, per category or any other basis
- Search Engine Friendly URLs - can build flat files with no variables or parameters in URL
- URL stucture can be entirely controlled - eg it is easy to have URLs like www.example.com/widgets/red-widgets/this-widget.php
- Simple on-the-fly content changes - including changing meta tags



Now for the cons - the biggest one is the fact that Coranto is difficult to master compared to other CMS's who gets you "up and going in 5 minutes". You have to design the site yourself, and you have to grasp the concept of profiles and styles, which is how Coranto works. Oh uh... I really can't think of any more. Perhaps somebody will fill me in.

3. Installing Coranto is easy - just like installing any other scripts it's all about uploading in ASCII mode, chmodding the files right etc. The footprint on the server is also relatively small (Around 300kb) Once Coranto is installed, posting content is as easy as filling in fields and selecting the right category; anybody can do it. Uploading images or other attachments to your content is easy - and there's also an addon allowing the site manager to fill in custom explanations for each text field.

4. One of our coders will have to answer this one.

5. (Silly voice:) There is NO question 5!

6. No templates. But this is work in progress - we plan to package Coranto full-featured with finished templates for a blog, a photo gallery, a newspaper etc.

7. Yes. There are huge amounts. The basic Coranto install is really simple, practically all the benefits in the large list above comes from the use of an addon. To mention a few: Search facility with Google-style templated output, allowing users to comment on content, uploading of attachments to content items, guest posting with admin approval, 2.0 RSS feed builder, creation of static pages for all newsitems, scheduled backup of data and settings... To see all of them go this page (scroll down past all the "Addons by ..." items, this page is work in progress!)

7. I wouldn't know, I never used Joomla for anything at all.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coranto is free software. I am available for custom work or troubleshooting.

http://www.sundaune.no - transkripsjon, webdesign, nettsider, tekstbyrå
http://www.vagbladet.no - satire, politikk, kultur, sport, nettavis
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Postby Abbeyvet » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:33 am

I'll just take two of those questions, since you already have a lot there!!

6. How many templates are available (approx.)


The great beauty of Coranto is that is can be slotted so easily into any template. There is really no need for pre-made templates and all you need is any HTML page and you're 90% there.

This means it can easily be installed and used on an existing site, without any need to redesign the look of the site, since existing templates can be used or static pages easily adapted to become templates.

Basically this is how it works. The content is submitted via forms. Each form field corresponds to a placeholder. Placeholders are inserted into templates to arrange the submitted content on the page.

Since it is possible to have any number of custom form fields (and thus placeholders) there are no limits to how content can be arranged on the page and no restriction from the point of view of templating.



7. Why not just use Joomla?


- There is a less steep learning curve.

- Templating is easier

- Coranto is less demanding of server resources

- Coranto makes it much easier to create SEO friendly pages without having to resort to mod rewrite.

- One installation can manage several different sites

- More flexible in creating different levels of user and user permissions
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Postby SrNupsen » Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:21 am

Abbeyvet wrote:I'll just take two of those questions, since you already have a lot there!!


Heh... Guess it was you who wrote most of it ;)

Another thing, Abbeyvet: Perhaps you could select a couple of representative sites from your list of sites using Coranto, for our friend here to see how it is used on live sites?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coranto is free software. I am available for custom work or troubleshooting.

http://www.sundaune.no - transkripsjon, webdesign, nettsider, tekstbyrå
http://www.vagbladet.no - satire, politikk, kultur, sport, nettavis
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Postby Lmrttn » Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:01 pm

I noticed I used a Monty Python style of numbering my questions, guess I was a bit tired when I posted it.

The huge list of pro's and con's is not very helpfull I'm afraid. Apart from the sheer size of it, it's hard for me to decide which points are important and which less so. Luckily the other answers hold a lot of info.

Two things are very interesting to me:

1. Being able to install Coranto on a existing site. This means any template can be used as a start, including all the flashy stuff. I'm gonna experiment a bit with that. What are the limits to this? What does it for instance take to change a rather static html/flash template for a frontpage into something where I can post newsitems?

2. Controlling several sites from one installation. Who does this work?
Last edited by Lmrttn on Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lmrttn » Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:47 pm

Ok, I've managed to slide the news module of Coranto into an existing shtml frontpage, which involved a bit of programming (there is no easier way to do that right now? i'll have to wait for Coranto templates if I'm lazy?).

Is this the general idea behind Coranto? Use whatever you want as a basis, and then slide in Coranto bits on spot where you want to make content management easier?
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Postby Dale Ray » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:45 pm

Lmrttn wrote:Ok, I've managed to slide the news module of Coranto into an existing shtml frontpage, which involved a bit of programming (there is no easier way to do that right now? i'll have to wait for Coranto templates if I'm lazy?).

Is this the general idea behind Coranto? Use whatever you want as a basis, and then slide in Coranto bits on spot where you want to make content management easier?


Lmrtn,

The difference in time between your last two posts was 46 minutes. Try to use Joomla, Wordpress, or TextPattern to integrate content into the same existing site design in the same amount of time or without 'a bit of programming'.

One of the most important features that Coranto gives the user is the ability to easily add and use additional fields for data input. Try creating a schedule for a sports team in another CMS. What is a pretty simple thing to present (a tabled layout with tabular data) becomes almost impossible in most CMS systems because you can't add data fields.

Take a review site for movies. With Coranto you can have separate data fields for title, director, cast, date of release to theaters, date of release to video, producer, short description, long description and the actual review. Because they are separate fields you can sort and filter your content on any of them. You can create a short presentation of the data or a complete presentation using styles and profiles, and you can do this in static pages or dynamic pages (or a combination of both).

For me the key to Coranto is this flexibility.
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Postby Jackanape » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:55 pm

I see you were able to get a basic installation and your first item in place within half an hour, without any prior experience, which speaks to its basic simplicity.

That IS the most basic use, with either SSIs, or PHP includes, to be able to easily update various areas of your site.

But, the ways of using Coranto to generate web content is almost limitless. You don't need to wait for templates, because you can generate the templates themselves with Coranto. You could even generate dynamic scripts with Coranto, manage Flash content, even set your configuration up to generate your pages in pieces, and assemble them afterwards.

I've used Coranto to manage my phpBB templates in the past, create image galleries, manage banner rotation, etc. And every time I think I know exactly what it can do, some creative thinker comes along with a whole new way to utilize Coranto's output.

Ok, I've managed to slide the news module of Coranto into an existing shtml frontpage, which involved a bit of programming (there is no easier way to do that right now? i'll have to wait for Coranto templates if I'm lazy?).

I'm curious what difficulties you ran into. You should have just been able to insert a
Code: Select all
<!--#include virtual="../yournews.txt" -->
where you wanted the news item to appear, and rename the page with an shtml extension, and you'd be off. (This is referring to a basic SSI insert, of course)

If, for example, someone didn't want to build a site for their Coranto content, they could easily utilize one of the thousands of free templates around the web. Templeates wouldn't have to be "Coranto-specific".

OK, I've rambled enough...need coffee...
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
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Postby Lmrttn » Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:45 pm

Jackanape wrote:
Ok, I've managed to slide the news module of Coranto into an existing shtml frontpage, which involved a bit of programming (there is no easier way to do that right now? i'll have to wait for Coranto templates if I'm lazy?).

I'm curious what difficulties you ran into. You should have just been able to insert a
Code: Select all
<!--#include virtual="../yournews.txt" -->
where you wanted the news item to appear, and rename the page with an shtml extension, and you'd be off. (This is referring to a basic SSI insert, of course)


This is exactly what I did. I found the code in a manual here, so there were no real difficulties. However I did have to change a htm-file and upload it, whereas in some other CMSs I can move preexisting building blocks around or just turn them on or off. Perhaps these systems are no longer pure CMSs, but nevertheless it's what people are starting to get used to. But as I said earlier I can see the merits of adapting any template found on the web to your needs.
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Postby Dale Ray » Sun Feb 11, 2007 5:28 am

Lmrttn wrote:However I did have to change a htm-file and upload it, whereas in some other CMSs I can move preexisting building blocks around or just turn them on or off.

It has been my experience that you can 'move preexisting blocks around' only if you use the templates provide with the CMS. What would you need to do to get any of the CMS products that use 'preexisting blocks' to manage the content on the same site, using the same design and not one of the canned templates provided?
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Postby Abbeyvet » Sun Feb 11, 2007 12:30 pm

in some other CMSs I can move preexisting building blocks around or just turn them on or off.


You can configure Coranto to do this sort of thing too, I do it all the time.

As a VERY simple example, say you have a block of text, lets say a text ad and you want the option to place it either above or below the main content of an article. This is just one way it could be done - as is always the case with Coranto there are several ways you could do it, you are limited only by your imagination!!

This example uses ads as the Blocks, but of course the Blocks can be anything you choose them to be.

What you want to acheive
The user should be able to decide at the time they submit an article where they want to put the ad:

a. Before the article
b. After the article
c. Omitted altogether

The content of the ad is in an include file which resides at /inc/textad.txt - for the purposes of this example, lets suppose this file already exists.

How to do it

1. Create a custom field, a drop down list - let's call it AdOptions - with the following options:

Before|After|Nowhere

This field will have the caption: Where do you wish the ad to appear in relation to the text? Or something like that.

2. Add this field to any submit page you want to. This allows the user submitting content they to choose where the ad should go using a simple drop down box.

3. Add some conditionals to your page style:

<If: Field: CustomField_AdOptions eq "Before">
<?php include($DOCUMENT_ROOT . "/inc/textad.txt"); ?>
</If>
<Field: Text>
<If: Field: CustomField_AdOptions eq "After">
<?php include($DOCUMENT_ROOT . "/inc/textad.txt"); ?>
</If>

Now the ad will appear wherever the user select to place it.


NOTE: This is a very crude and simple example and not much use in reality, but is just to get the basic principle. In reality the principle can be built on and can be very finely controlled and very powerful.

Briefly, here is something (really useful!) that I commonly do.

1. Create a category, style, submit page and profile (Maginot Static) that allows me to write text ads to a directory, say /inc/ads
What this does: Users with the required permissions can create new text ads and write them to the server.

2. Create a second profile (Standard) that writes a page as new ads are submitted, using a style like this:
<option value="<Field: CustomField_FileName>"><Field: Subject></option>
Where Subject is the name of the Subject of the ad, and FileName is the name of the text file containing the ad.
What this does: Creates a file containing a list of options with the name and file name of each ad submitted in 1 above.

3. Create a Custom Field of the type Drop Down List from file. Call it AdSelect. Have it use the file created in 2 above.
What this does: Creates a drop down list which can be added to any submit page giving the user a choice of all the text ads available on the system.

Now in my page style, I just need to add a single line to have the appropriate add included in any page:

<?php include($DOCUMENT_ROOT . "/inc/ads/<Field: CustomField_AdSelect>.txt"); ?>

Of course I can use conditionals to decide where the ad will be placed and give the user an option to choose that too, or base its postion on some other criteria I choose. Or I could even use an entirely different style and template for the page depending on the ad is chosen by using Filter By Field.

To Summarise

It is not true to say you cannot use blocks with Coranto.

The difference between Coranto and other systems is that you, the person configuring the CMS, have TOTAL control and flexibility over what the blocks will be, how they are managed, how they are used, how they look and all of that is completely independent of any templating restrictions.

The underlying principle which makes this possible is that EVERYTHING is separate and everything is configurable - Style, Template, Content, organisation of content - they can all be managed completely independently.

Frankly I don't know of any other CMS that allows the person configuring it so much freedom, and makes it so easy.
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A real life example: One Page

Postby Abbeyvet » Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:34 pm

Here is another quick example of some things I use a lot and find very useful, and it also shows how Coranto, CSS and PHP can work beautifully together.

I routinely set up my templates so that something like this is written to the top of each page:

<?php
$thisCat="<Field: Category>";
$thisPage="<Field: CustomField_FileName>";
etc.....
?>

Now I have PHP parameters I can use on any page of the site to do things with PHP. And of course any such parameters can be used, based on any field you care to create. This allows you to integrate Coranto with just about any PHP application you want.

As an example, take a look at this page:
http://www.dochara.com/tips/inistioge.php

On the page there are a number of include files, all controlled by Coranto, some further refined by using PHP, which could be called 'Blocks'

1. The Navigation
This is simply a list, a simple headline file built using Coranto. There is an option when submitting an article to add a link to it to the left navigation or not - the headline Profile uses this as a filter, splitting pages according to category. The relevant navigation is included with PHP:
<?php include($DOCUMENT_ROOT . "/inc/navs/<Field: Category>.txt"); ?>
See aside at bottom of this post

2. Banner ads
These rotate in the header. They are created via Coranto, with a text file written for each one, then PHP is used to rotate them.

3. Teasers
On the left navigation bar, teasers rotate below the navigation. Same set up as 2 above.

4. Commenting integrated with a separate PHP application
The page has a commenting script included on it (scroll towards bottom of page), which is entirely separate from Coranto, is written in PHP and uses a MySql database. But the variables needed for the script to work are written to the page by Coranto at the time each page is created. It's seamless, and it works.

5. Related Items
The 'More to see and Do' block at the end of the page can optionally be included or omitted at the time the page is created. It contains headlines from all relevant articles about things to see and do which relate to the county relevant to the current article.

I think that the part of the style used to add this block is self explanatory:

<If: Field: CustomField_AddCountyInfo eq "Yes">
<?php include($DOCUMENT_ROOT . "/inc/county/see-do/<Field: CustomField_CountyName>.txt"); ?>
</If>

I could also, optionally, at time of creating the page, decide to include a list of places to stay here, by ticking a box to inlcude them:

<If: Field: CustomField_AddHotelInfo eq "Yes">
<?php include($DOCUMENT_ROOT . "/inc/county/hotels/<Field: CustomField_CountyName>.txt"); ?>
</If>

I can add one of these, both of them, or neither of them - it's just a matter of ticking boxes on the submit page.

6. 'Tell a Friend'
This is a PHP script, which uses the variable $thisPage to ensure that the correct page is referred to the friend.


So, you want Blocks???? There you have 'em, 6 on that page (in fact there are a few others, but they add nothing relevant to this discussion), all individually controlled in different ways, several of them intereacting with different and completely separate PHP scripts. Now THAT'S what I call flexible!


Aside: The style for the navigation adds a CSS id to each link - so the style includes something like this:
<a id="<Field: CustomField_FileName>" href="/<Field: Category>/<Field: CustomField_FileName>.php">

The Template for each page adds a line to the embedded CSS:
a#<Field: CustomField_FileName> {color:#993939;padding-left:5px;}

Bingo - Coranto creates a navigation that is updated automatically as pages are added and highlights the active link without using any JavaScript or indeed any scripting at all.

You could equally use newsid instead of creating a field called FileName to do all this, but I tend to do the latter for SEO puposes. I like having full control of the URLs by use of category and file names.
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Postby Gilbert » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:25 pm

If I may you are "losing him" with "codes and permutations"

The issue that Lmrttn is raising from that angle is more than valid and has been discussed previously. It is a question will require maybe to be addressed in the future.

More and more users are indeed using CMS with templates and have absolutely no clue or inclination to do anything else (indeed they have no clue what is FTP, HTML or what is the difference between their hosting and connectivity provider though they have a site – you cannot imagine the phone calls I get with the dreaded I cannot access the Internet today)

As mentioned also, Server Admin programmes like Plesk are now bundling few CMS a la Mambo etc. that can be installed by the hosting provider on a site with one click

I wonder if in time and if possible Coranto should not have two branches

1. Beginners / Blog package @ pre-configured "rigid" with templates and pre-built blocks

2. Developer / Site Pro package @ as is "flexible"

Plus another segment in time that would need to be addressed are the Host providers and/or the Admin Programmes developers.
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Postby Jackanape » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:49 pm

Plans are already in the works for "end user" distro packages, like you mention, Gilbert, because it IS a great idea, and practical.

As an afterthought to his topic, a note:

Coranto--as limitless as your imagination.

Or,

Go wherever your imagination can take you.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
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Postby Elegantchaos » Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:51 pm

Hi Lmrttn it may be interesting to know for your article that www.cnv.nl the site from CNV Vakcentrale, the second biggest Trade Union Federation in the Netherlands (where i work) used coranto for several years.

Until last september, when we switched to TYPO3, we were satisfied users of Coranto.
to the batcave Robin
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