Composr Tutorial: Providing featured content

Written by Chris Graham (ocProducts)
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The Admin Zone provides a list of tasks, including rotation of featured content

The Admin Zone provides a list of tasks, including rotation of featured content

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There are a number of Composr systems that provide featured content, rather than archives of content, or just content with recent activity. This is a short tutorial briefly covering these systems, and featured content in general.

Benefits of providing featured content include:
  • Giving your site a 'fresh' feeling, and a feeling that it is an active site
  • Giving variety to your site, without much effort
  • Drawing users in, such that they regularly re-visit to see what new content is featured
  • Putting content in a prime position to draw attention to it, perhaps as a reward for the content creator, perhaps for its relevancy, or perhaps to recommend it

Many of these systems work via blocks. The block construction assistant will help you add a block, accessible from the 'Add block' button on the Comcode page editing screen. This is covered in much more detail in the Using blocks tutorial.


Awards

The award/content systems allows you to select out content for featuring. It may be used in three ways:
  1. display of content assigned as the current holder of an award (via the main_awards block, or by browsing the awards page).
  2. random display of content in any arbitrary categories (via the main_content block) with full Selectcode support. No award needs to exist for this, as assignment is done via block parameters.
  3. display of any arbitrary item of content (via the main_content block). No award needs to exist for this, as assignment is done via block parameters.

The obvious disadvantage of non-randomised featured content is the effort that is taken to maintain it. The Admin Zone provides a tool on your front page to assist with this, but it will only be able to do so if you regularly check it.

You may use the award system with any of the following types of content:
  • Authors
  • Calendar events
  • Catalogues
  • Catalogue categories
  • Catalogue entries
  • Comcode pages
  • Downloads
  • Download categories
  • Forum posts
  • Forum topics
  • Forums
  • Galleries
  • Images
  • Members
  • News
  • Quizzes
  • Usergroups
  • Videos
  • Wiki+ pages
  • Wiki+ posts

So, why are are these awards so useful? Well, we find users often come to us wanting to be able to feature different entries of the same thing on their front page. For example, a boating club might have a catalogue filled with different types of yacht, and want to be able to have them shown on the front page.

Keeping this yacht example, I will now explain each of the three ways that the award system may be used.

Display of content assigned as the current holder of an award

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Making a download as holder of the default 'Download of the week' award

Making a download as holder of the default 'Download of the week' award

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A main_awards block being viewed

A <kbd>main_awards</kbd> block being viewed

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Adding a main_awards block using the block construction assistant

Adding a <kbd>main_awards</kbd> block using the block construction assistant

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Making an award type

Making an award type

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You can manage award types from:
Admin Zone > Setup > Top content (Awards)
You can delete an award type from the bottom of its edit form.

When we add a new award type linked with a particular content type, adding or editing an item of that content type will have an option to assign award to it as current holder.

If you wanted to choose a different yacht to display every week, for example, then you can just:
  1. Create a catalogue award via:
    Admin Zone > Setup > Top content (Awards) > Add award type
  2. Place the award block on the front page, setting it to refer to the award you just made (the block construction assistant makes it very easy, providing a drop-down of award types for you to select from)
  3. Change the 'Yacht of the week' just by editing a yacht's catalogue entry (or when you add an entry, make it 'Yacht of the week' immediately)

Composr has one award that is pre-created for you as an example: Download Of The Week.

Each award has its own archive, in the awards module (site:awards page-link, About > Top content (Awards) of the default menus). The archive is linked from the main_awards block also.

Assigning points

Optionally awards are tied in with the point system. You can configure the awards (when you add or edit the award itself) to carry a number of points. If you do this, the submitter of content given that award will be given some points, and that'll show up on their points profile.


Arbitrary randomisation display

If you do not want to go to the effort of creating an award and manually awarding content for it, then you can just use the main_content block in randomisation mode . This is easy to setup, it's just a block parameter when you add that block. You get the choice of which categories you want to randomly display from by way of a select block parameter (written in Selectcode support syntax).

By doing this you use the award system without actually using an award.

Arbitrary content display

If you want to display a specific item of content as you require, but without actually wrapping it up in an actual award, then you may use the main_content block with parameters to specify exactly what item you wish to display.

You will need to know how to work out your content IDs. Usually these can easily be found within the edit URLs for the content.

As with randomisation, this allows you to use the award system without actually using an award.

Using module screens as blocks (advanced)

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Viewing our embedded module inside the news post

Viewing our embedded module inside the news post

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Embedding a recommend module (you cannot see, but in this case I am adding it inside the body of a news post)

Embedding a recommend module (you cannot see, but in this case I am adding it inside the body of a news post)

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While the main_content block (see above) can show content within blocks, it is conceivable that you might want to display full module screens as if they were blocks. This is possible with the main_include_module block.

For example:

Code

[block="_SEARCH:topicview:browse:1" strip_title="1" only_if_permissions="0"]main_include_module[/block]
would show Conversr topic #1 in a block, without running permission checks, and with the title removed.

The first parameter is the page-link to what we are embedding, which in the above example was the topicview module, in whatever zone it is in, the browse screen of it, and ID 1. You can usually work out page-links from the URL once you understand them. Page-links are described in the Customising what's on the menus tutorial.

In the screenshots on the right I have shown a quirky example where I am embedding the recommend page directly into a news post.

Image of the day

As of Composr version 10, the IOTDs addon is not bundled

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Choosing an IOTD

Choosing an IOTD

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Adding an IOTD

Adding an IOTD

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The IOTD block displays like this

The IOTD block displays like this

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{!iotds:DOC_IOTDS}

IOTDs are added from:
Content > Images of the day > Add image of the day

Often website users are the best source of IOTDs, and if you have granted submit access (configurable in the Permissions Tree Editor), they will be able to submit them into your queue.

The IOTD system does not manage IOTDs for you: you need to change IOTD yourself. To make this easy, we recommend that you keep on top of the IOTDs that users submit, deleting the poor ones, so as to make picking new ones straight-forward.

To pick an IOTD, you select one from those shown on the IOTD queue page (Content > Images of the day > Edit image of the day), editing it so as to 'use it immediately'. Old IOTDs may be browsed from the IOTD archive page, which is linked to from the IOTD block.

You can delete an IOTD from the bottom of its edit form.

You may change 'of the day' to anything of your choosing by editing language strings in the Composr language editor (the iotds language file).

If you do not wish to use both the IOTD and gallery systems on the same website then you may wish to avoid the use of IOTDs in favour of an image award.

Random quotes

You may display random quotes on your website, via the 'main_quotes' block, which is provided on your front page by default (unless it was removed during the Setup Wizard). The Admin interface allows you to edit the default quotes file; the format of the file is very simple: one quote per line of file. You may actually have many random quote files, and use block parameters to use them in different places. To access quote administration, go to: Admin Zone > Style > Edit quotes.

You will find that by default a selection of deep quotes are provided.

If block caching is on, quotes will be rotated on a daily basis.

Pulling out forum content

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The main_forum_topics block

The <kbd>main_forum_topics</kbd> block

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There are 4 blocks for pulling out forum content:
  1. side_forum_news – show forum topics, in news-style, as a side block
  2. main_forum_news – show forum topics, in news-style, as a main block
  3. bottom_forum_news – show forum topics, in news-style, as a ticker
  4. main_forum_topics – show forum topics, as either a side block or a main block

The first three of these show in a news-style, and are most useful for those who prefer to use their forum to post news, rather than the dedicated Composr news system. Most users will want to use the main_forum_topics block.

The blocks are configurable, but generally you will typically use them to show the most recent topics from a particular set of forums.

Count-downs

Count-downs are provided via the main_countdown block which you can add easily like with any other block in Composr. There are block parameters to specify the date/time the count-down is running to, and Composr will automatically maintain the count-down for you. Once it passes the date/time, it displays negative time.

You may place as many independent count-downs as you like.

Hit counters

Hit counters may be placed via the main_count block which you can add easily like with any other block in Composr.

Hit counters are considered very antiquated generally, but may be useful to you in some cases. Note that hits from bots, or repeat hits, are not filtered out.

You may place as many independent hit counters as you like.

Community billboard

Community billboard messages are covered in the Creating an economy/reward-system for members via points tutorial.

Concepts

IOTD
[Image of the day]. An image and associated caption, generally shown on your front page, intended for regular changing
DOTW
[Download of the week]
Award system
A system for picking out content for prominent display
Award
Awards are created for a specific content type with specific details and then content of that content type may be given the award; past holders of the award are displayed in an archive

See also


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