100% Unguessable™. Public bug tracker, pages, designs and helpers that make life in Squiz Matrix easier. The metaphorical red pill.
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README.md

README.md

What is The Matrix?

Here's a collection of resources to make your experience with Squiz Matrix easier, especially for non-technical editors and make some form of development possible. Overall, this project generally aims to shoehorn Matrix into an actual CMS.

Getting started

First up, let's clone this stuff:

git clone https://github.com/jcu-eresearch/matrix-helpers.git

If you want to run the scripts, run the following:

scripts/construct install-deps

We currently support macOS and Debian-based environments. Contributions for dependency installation elsewhere are welcomed.

To get started, ensure you don't think about Matrix as a traditional CMS where you're able to edit content and create sites out of the box. It's much more akin to a framework, like Django or Rails, except it is very limiting and you don't have raw programming (eg PHP, Python or Ruby) at your disposal. Matrix is at the same time both heavily opinonated (giving you only a specific set of tools to use without the ability to extend them) and highly unopinionated (about how to perform content management or wiring up all the spaghetti). With Matrix, expect that you'll need to do effectively everything yourself in terms of wiring: such as creating page templates, writing your own listing display and logic (such as Folder listings), setting up fields of metadata for users to input and connecting it all together and hoping it works. Likewise, if you want editors to actually edit content, then the only option is the Edit+ interface, which is fully opinionated and inflexible; more or less, if it doesn't do what you want, you're pretty much stuck short of hacking your way there. Overall, good luck.

If you're coming from a technical background, it's better you think of Matrix as a framework, with its own custom languages producing HTML output. Under the hood, all pages are actually eval'd PHP so when you're writing keywords or Designs, you're actually outputting PHP behind the scenes that'll be executed for display. For security reasons, you can't manipulate that backend PHP directly, so implementing something has to be done in an approved manner, with only the provided constructs, the behaviour of which may or may not be clear or documented at all. Many things that don't appear possible at first (such as "or" conditional blocks) can be achieved in nests, keywords, workarounds or by rethinking and tweaking logic. Heavy commenting and thorough testing of your own code is highly recommended.

About this repo

This repository contains a variety of helpers and documentation to make life a little easier. Go exploring for now and eventually, there'll be a listing here of the key bits of info.

You're welcome to use any or all of it. The licence is the Affero GPL (see LICENCE.txt), which means that the system you're using it within needs to be compatibly licensed.

The current useful scripts are:

  • scripts/construct: replaces the content of a Matrix asset with the given contents of a file, image, JS, CSS or more. It can even watch the filesystem for changes and auto-upload your content; welcome to a true development workflow!

  • scripts/icon_json.py: build the JSON file needed for the icon picker in Edit+, loading all the CSS identifiers from webhostinghub-glyphs.

More resources

Need even more help? Try these locations. Keep in mind that the Matrix software isn't in common use so help on general platforms like StackOverflow is unlikely.

  • Official manuals - the official documentation for Matrix, includes manuals, some tutorials and various examples.

  • Squiz forums - the official forums for support questions and similar.

  • Matrix Users blog - a blog created by Ladoo, an Australian provider, last updated circa 2012. The screenshots are a touch out of date but the content still applies. Of particular note:

    • Matrix Secrets Revealed - a freely available document describing the ins and outs of Matrix. It was written in 2009 so is somewhat out of date in terms of screenshots and technologies used, but the ideas are still relevant. Also features a number of screencasts.

    • Matrix Keywords Big List - large list of common keywords and Design/Parse code used in Matrix. Still lacks the exact output of the keywords (as the official documentation does) so use in combination with official documentation and our official test Design in this repository.

Helpful dumps

Check out dumps/ for a variety of system dumps that will help you when working with keywords in various different contexts. For instance, the asset-* exports will assist with determine which attributes and keywords are available on Page assets, Sites and so forth.