This element is used to create a blog channel, add or edit blog items, display the blog content in a Commonspot page, manage navigation for your blog, and generate an RSS feed.
Using the blog element
If your site includes content that is added regularly, such as announcements, status updates, or schedule changes, you may want to consider using a blog to manage the content. A blog is well-suited to managing content that would include a title, description, category, image and a link to more information. The content is displayed in reverse-chronological order, so viewers will always see the most recently added content first. The blog includes monthly archives and category navigation menus, along with a keyword search form. And the content is also produced as an RSS feed, so that the blog can be syndicated to other RSS-aware systems and readers. A blog consists of a "channel", which generally describes the blog content and publisher, and "items" within the channel. You can configure and manage both the channel and items using the blog element.
First, determine where you want the blog to appear in your site. For some sites (the ecampus site is an example), the primary purpose is to deliver timely communication of status messages. Since the blog handles this task so well, it would be recommended to use it as the home page content. Other sites (see: Undergraduate Admission) will want to include the full blog at a lower level in the site structure, and provide a link to it from the site's home page. That can be done using the companion Blog Feature custom element
Step 1: Create a blog channel
Once you've determined where the blog will be placed in your site, open the page in Author mode and insert the blog element in the center content well. You'll find the blog element in the "Content Well" element gallery category. You'll be presented with a form that will allow you to configure the blog. The information entered here will be used to describe the blog channel, and manage the appearance of the blog display:
- Title - a short (2 or 3 word) name for the blog.
- Description - a one- or two-sentence description of the blog's contents.
- Audience - select the primary audience that the blog is for, by, or about.
- Subject - select the primary subject that the blog is for, by, or about.
- Tags - enter a comma-separated list of keywords describing the blog content (example: "technology, web, design")
- Publisher - the name of the individual or organization responsible for the blog.
- Contact E-mail - e-mail address for the blog publisher.
- Blog Display - select what blog channel and item data should be displayed in the full view of the blog; these settings won't apply to the blog feature elements. The blog navigation menu isn't displayed by default, but can be added by including the Blog Navigation element in the right column of the blog page.
- Include in SCU Blog Index - your can set your blog to be included in the Blog Index.
- Allow User Comments - users can be permitted to comment on blog items, with our without logging in (see: next). User comments can be approved, edited, or deleted by the blog publisher.
- Require User Login - users can be required to create an id/password prior to submitting a comment; the id is based on the user's e-mail address.
You can edit your blog channel settings at any time, once you've created the blog. Just login to the blog page, switch to Author mode, and select "Blog Settings" from the menu options.
Step 2: Add a new blog item
After your blog has been created, you can click the "Add New Item" option to enter your first blog posting. The form fields available for blog items include:
- Author's name - this will default to the current Commonspot author's name, but can be changed.
- Author's e-mail - this will default to the current Commonspot author's e-mail, but can be changed.
- Publication date and time - if you set this to a future date/time, the blog item will not be displayed or included in the RSS feed until that date/time.
- Full content - a rich-text editor will allow you to enter content and apply standard formatting, such as bold, headings, italic, lists, and links.
- Featured - to highlight an item in the full blog once it's no longer positioned at the top of the list, set it to be featured; this setting will also control the item(s) displayed in the Blog Feature custom element.
- Link - if there's a link to more information associated with this blog item, enter the link here.
- Summary - a short version of the Full Content text; if provided, the summary text will be used in the RSS feed, and the Blog Feature element - if no summary text is provided, the full content will be used.
- Category - your blog content can be organized by topic categories; enter an existing or new category label here.
- Images - the blog item can include one or more images; after your blog item has been submitted, you'll have the option of adding images to the Commonspot image gallery and associating them with the blog item ID.
- Image display options - you can set the image size, show or hide image captions, and choose between a vertical column or horizontal rows of images, or display multiple images as a slideshow.
A few custom script parameter settings are available for the blog element, allowing you to change the sorting order of the blog, and change the presentation style.
Changing the sort order
The default sort order for the blog is in descending order by publication date, listing the most current blog post first. You can modify this to list by date in ascending order, or to list blog items by title, in either ascending or descending alphabetical order. Set a "blogsort" script parameter to change the sort order from the default setting.
- blogsort=date - the default setting, descending order by publication date
- blogsort=date-ascending - ascending order by publication date
- blogsort=title - ascending alphabetical order by title
- blogsort=title-descending - descending alphabetical order by title
Changing the presentation style
The default presentation style for the blog is the "directory list" style - a bulleted list with an arrow icon preceding the title, which uses the "h4" heading style. Use the "blogstyle" script parameter to set an alternate style.
- blogstyle=standard - the default setting
- blogstyle=simpleList - smaller list item icons, and smaller font size formatting for the item's title
- blogstyle=compactList - single lines for each item's title; the description text can be viewed by toggling a +/- icon.
- blogstyle=featureList - the first three items (including featured items) are displayed using any included image as a thumbnail, along with the item's description text. Remaining items in the blog will be displayed as single line items, which link to a full item display.
Managing your blog
You can add new items, edit or delete existing items, or change blog channel settings at any time. Just login to your blog page in Commonspot, switch to Author mode, and you'll see a row of options including "Add New Item", "Edit/Delete Items", and "Blog Settings".
More uses for your blog
The Commonspot CMS includes a number of custom elements can be used to display your blog content in other ways:
- Blog Feature - This element was constructed as a companion to the full blog. If your blog page is located somewhere other than your site's home page, the Blog Feature can be placed on the home page and site visitors will see the most recent blog posts or featured blog items displayed, and have a direct link to the full blog.
- Blog Navigation - The navigation menu for Recent Posts, Categories, and Archives aren't displayed by default, but can be added by including the Blog Navigation element in the right column of your main blog page.
- RSS Feed Display - Your blog automatically generates an RSS feed, a specially-formatted XML file used for content syndication, whenever you add or edit a blog item. The RSS feed contents can be displayed on any Commonspot page using the RSS Feed custom element. There are RSS Feed elements in the Content Well and Right Column element gallery categories.
- RSS Reader Subscriptions - Anyone who uses an RSS reader, or an RSS-aware Web site can include the contents of your blog by pointing to the URL of your RSS feed.