Creating A Photo Library Using Web Publisher Categories

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Blue Fish’s Web Content Management consultants are frequently asked to build something that brings an extra little spice and twist to a client’s website or Intranet. In doing so, the goal is always to build an elegant technical solution that can be easily administered by our client using Documentum’s Web Publisher. The more straight forward and simple the solution, the more likely our clients will be to adopt it and be able to support it. Often, it is the simple solution that results in an elated client.
One recent variation on a typical WCM solution was when we were asked to design and build a solution for a client’s corporate intranet photo library. While the intranet would allow employees to browse for forms, policies, news, and events just like any other website, the photo library would allow employees to click through image categories to find relevant pictures. This client, like so many others, had loads of images – of sites, community projects, machinery, logos, workers in the field, etc – spread across file shares, one off image hosting solutions by department, and even on CDs in shoe boxes and filing cabinets.
Instead of using Flickr or some other off the shelf solution that would have drawn all these digital assets together into one nice location for the employees, the client asked for two things:

  1. The photo library had to be neatly integrated into the intranet; Why should the employees leave the intranet to visit Flickr or a file share to find an image?
  2. The administration of the photos had to take place in Web Publisher; Why make content administrators learn another system other than Web Publisher specifically for the photo library?

Additionally, it was obvious that sometimes an image could be categorized multiple ways, so the photo library had to support a hierarchy of categories across which an image could be tagged multiple times.
In the discussion that follows, I’ll show you how we designed a solution that uses Documentum Web Publisher to meet those requirements. Armed with Web Publisher and knowledge of web applications, perhaps your next WCM solution can incorporate a little something special — like a photo library.

Solution Overview

Our client really wanted employees to browse and download digital images on the intranet, not on another website or file share. The experience of “leaving” the intranet to download a corporate logo was going to cause user adoption problems for both the intranet and the photo library. Additionally, the new design for the intranet looked great – so why not wrap the photo library with the same look and feel as the rest of the site?
All the pages on the intranet, like all well designed WCM solutions, featured a variety of common elements such as a header, footer, breadcrumbs and side bar navigation.

Figure 1:
Common elements on an intranet page

We were able to create a photo library that reused these common components while employees browsed the image categories.

Figure 2:
Common elements on the photo library category page

Maintaining the common look and feel, these elements were all still present when a user chose a category and was selecting images from the thumbnail gallery view.

Figure 3:
Common elements on the photo library thumbnail gallery page

Additionally, the client wanted the administration of the photo library to be handled within Web Publisher. Web Publisher’s out of the box category functionality was the perfect solution for implementing the administrative tools for the photo library due to the following category capabilities:

  1. Web Publisher’s categories are easily created to reflect the hierarchal taxonomy required for the photo library. Each category has as many children, grand children, and deeper descendents as needed by the client’s changing business needs. Alternatively, a category can be a single node with no children at all.
  2. Web Publisher allows any web content maintained in Web Publisher to be linked to multiple categories with just a few simple clicks.
  3. Web Publisher’s interface requires no customization to allow content administrators to create, edit, and delete categories. Additionally, no modifications are needed to allow content administrators to associate images with any number of photo gallery categories.

It was just a matter bringing the following components of the solution together to create an easily administered gallery that looked and felt as great as the rest of the intranet!

Category Creation and Administration in Web Publisher

Take a look at any out of the box deployment of Documentum Web Publisher and you’ll notice the Categories node in the left hand side of the application. The Functional Taxonomy node is a child of the Categories node and is how the templates are organized. By selecting a template category, an administrator is shown the documents created using the template or templates in that category.
To create the hierarchal taxonomy of the photo library, a sibling to the Functional Taxonomy, named Photo Library (Figure 4), needs to be created under the Categories node. The Functional Taxonomy node allows users browse web content associated with specific templates and, thus, functional categories. Similarly, through the new taxonomy node, users will be able to browse photo library images associated with specific photo library categories. Once the taxonomy node is created, the library category hierarchy can quickly be created using standard Web Publisher functionality.

Figure 4:
Photo Library Taxonomy Node with Children Categories

When creating new gallery categories, an administrator can not only name the category but set the display title, locale specific translations, and permissions.

Figure 5:
Creating a new category

Web Publisher requires that the Category Name be unique. You can use the Title attribute for displaying duplicated names while keeping the Category Name as the unique identifier.
Once the photo library taxonomy structure is defined under the Categories node, there are a few remaining steps.
First, the administrator must associate this new taxonomy with a Web Cabinet. This step only needs to be done once when the initial taxonomy is created and setup. Apply the taxonomy to a Web Cabinet from the Web Cabinets tab of the taxonomy’s properties view.

Figure 6:
Associating the Photo Library taxonomy with a Web Cabinet

Subsequent changes to the taxonomy structure (for example, when a user creates a new gallery category) won’t change this association.
Once the taxonomy is associated with a Web Cabinet, Web Publisher will publish the structure as an XML file to a Taxonomy folder under the Web Cabinet. This XML file can be promoted and published to the Web Server to be consumed and displayed on the final website.

Figure 7:
Web Cabinet with the published XML file

The published XML defines each category similar to the sample below. The categories are ordered in the XML based on when the categories were created, not alphabetically.
By associating and applying an XSL presentation file, the category sort order can be altered prior to publishing to the Web Server.

<category name="Argentina_sites" className="Generic"
    type="dm_category" internalId="0b000405800073a8">
   <details title="Argentina">
         <owner name="dmadmin"/>
   <category name="Argentina Operations" className="Generic"
       type="dm_category" internalId="0b000405800073b7">
      <details title="">
            <owner name="dmadmin"/>

For our client’s photo library solution, we created a .NET web control that consumed an alphabetically sorted XML file on a Web Server and displayed the category structure as a photo library “site map” on the intranet.

Figure 8:
The photo library XML consumed and rendered on the intranet

Associating images with categories

Now that the structure of the photo library categories has been created and published and is consumable XML on the website, the solution needs to allow a content administrator to tag an image as belonging to one or more categories.
Web Publisher allows a user to associate web content with an existing category a few different ways:

  1. Select the category and create the new content from the category view. This ensures that the content will be related to both the Functional Taxonomy (via the template used for the content creation) as well as the Photo Library category.
  2. Create or import the web content using any other manner. Then, from the Properties view, select the “Categories” tab and associate the image with the category or categories.

Figure 9:
The Categories Tab on an existing piece of Web Content

That’s it! Provided the SCS publishing configuration is set to export the relationships, the dm_relation of type dm_category_assign will be published when the content is published.

Displaying the gallery

Now the solution has an easily modified, published, and consumed XML representation of the photo library category structure. Additionally, the solution provides a simple mechanism to associate images with one or more categories. All that is missing is some website code – in the form of a JSP, taglib, .NET control, or other mechanism – to display the images that have been associated with a selected category.
For our client’s solution, Blue Fish created a simple ASPX page that read the category ID from the Request URL, queried the published web content metadata, and rendered the associated images in a thumbnail gallery view. Because the published XML representation of the photo library categories contains the names and titles as well as the unique ID, it was straightforward to embed the ID in the clickable links of “site map” view discussed earlier.

Figure 10:
Thumbnail Gallery View

Closing Thoughts and Considerations

In addition to creating a photo library, a similar solution could be created to catalog any type of file – or mixed media types including photos, video, and audio. Another enhanced solution would allow further detail to be collected about each image. Instead of associating the image directly to a category, an image “detail” template could be used to capture additional metadata including a description, long title, separate scaled thumbnail image, and more. This web content would be associated with the category. Using this metadata, the thumbnail gallery view could display even more details.
The possibilities for enhancing a WCM solution using Web Publisher’s out of the box category functionality are numerous. Given a little planning and preparation, the discussion in this article can help turn an ordinary web experience into something a bit unique.

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