Getting started: using the user interface

phillipadsmith edited this page Aug 16, 2010 · 2 revisions
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Login. You’re now on “My Workspace”. If you ever want to get back to this spot, click “MY WORKSPACE” with the house icon beside it.

Click on the Help button (green, upper right corner). This will pop up context-sensitive help, that is documentation for the page you’re currently on. This should work for any page you click on (if not, or if the documentation is confusing or lacking, please file a bug report (with component=“User documentation”, severity=“enhancement”) requesting that the Help page be created for that page).

When we say “My Workspace”, that’s referring to the list of things in the main body of the page. We refer to these things as “assets”. Assets are stories, media, and templates; in general, things that can be put in a “workflow”. In a new installation, there won’t be any assets, so your workspace will be blank.

After you create an asset (usually a story or media), it will be on your workspace. That’s because you have the asset “checked out”. It is part of a workflow. Workflows are shown in the “left navigation” menu. By default, there are three workflows: Media, Story, and Template.

Click on the Story workflow. Its menu will expand, showing two sections: Actions and Desks. In Actions, you can:

  • create a New Story
  • Find Stories (in any story workflow)
  • list Active Stories (in the current workflow)
  • create a New Alias (advanced, ignore for now)

The other section is Desks. Desks are what make up workflows. The basic idea is that by giving different users certain permissions for desks, you can constrain what they are able to do in the workflow. For example, and editor checks out a story on the Edit desk, then when she’s done editing she checks it into the Copy desk. And so on through the series of desks through which work flows.

Let’s create a story. Click the New Story link. As always, you can click the Help button to get more information. In the New Story “profile”, where we’re creating the story, the items labelled in red are required. Fill in any title. In the Story Type dropdown list, there are four options by default: Book Review, Column, Cover, Story. These correspond to different “element types”, which are different kinds of stories. Select “Story” and click “Create”.

Now you’re on the Story “profile”. Profiles are generally where you can edit something: a story, media, and much more. Again, click on the Help button for more details on the Story profile. Since this is a very brief overview, I won’t describe all the complexities of editing a story. However, you can for example try clicking on the “URI” link in the first section; this will preview the story, popping it up in a separate window.

In previewing, the story is run through the default “template” for stories of type “Story” (like the one you’re editing). Explaining how templates work will require a separate article, where I present my Ph.D. thesis paper in Bricolage. But for now, if you put some text into the “Deck” box (halfway down), click the “Save and Stay” button at the bottom, then click the preview link (URI) at the top again, you’ll notice that your text now appears in the previewed story. That’s because the Story template knows how to display the story’s “fields”. (“Deck” is a so-called “custom field”.)

In general, a story would also have “subelements”. (If you look halfway down the page, next to the “Add Element” button, Page is an example of a subelement.) Subelements are different from fields. Subelements only contain fields and other subelements. Normally the “Story” template will also run templates to display its subelements; these subelements may in turn run templates for further subelements, and so on. It’s the fields and subelements that contain the content and structure of your story, and the templates are responsible for displaying it. This follows a “best practice” of content management: you want to separate the “content” from its “presentation”.

Back to editing the story. Click the “Save” button at the bottom. You’ll be taken back to your workspace. Now instead of being blank, your new story will be there. From there you can preview, edit, delete, or even clone the story (cloning makes a copy of the story, as a shortcut for creating a new story).

You can also move the story along the workflow. Currently the story is in the “Story” workflow, on the “Edit” desk. You can confirm this by going to the “Desks” section in the Story workflow and clicking the “Edit” desk. It looks similar to “My Workspace”. Go to your story on the desk and click “Check In”. The idea is that while you’re working on a story, you’ll have it checked out so that nobody else can touch it; then when you’re done, you check it in. After clicking “Check In”, if you go back to your workspace (click “My Workspace”), you’ll notice that your story is gone. That’s because you’re no longer working on it.

What if somebody else checked out your story and moved it to some other desk while you weren’t paying attention? Now you’ve lost the story and want to find it again. Click the “Find Stories” link in the “Actions” section of the Story workflow (left nav menu). This will take you to what is known as a “manager”. Generally you’ll use managers for searching for things, but you can also create and delete things there. What “thing” it is depends on the manager. We’ll see more managers later.

For now you’re in the Find Stories manager. If you click the “Search” button with the search field empty, you’ll be surprised that it lists nothing. This is by design, however, as generally you could have many, many stories, and you don’t want people listing all of them all the time. By clicking the Help button, you’ll see what you need to do. You need to enter a “/” into the field, to search for all stories (not a problem since there’s only one so far). You could also click the “Advanced Search” link, which will let you search by practically any parameter you can think of.

I’ve only scratched the surface of using Bricolage, so I’m not sure how useful this is, but hopefully this will get you started.

— Originally written by Scott Lanning