Sunday, January 20, 2013

Creating the Intranet “Classifieds” Feature using IBM WCM 8 – Part 1

A feature that most organizations can provide as a benefit to their associates using their intranet is by implementing a company classified ads feature. This concept is by no means new, and some of us can reminisce of the physical cork bulletin board prominently displayed in a break room or around the office walls. A human resources department may choose to champion the intranet version of this concept as a "soft benefit" to employees or associates. For the associates there is a convenience of posting ads within the organization as opposed to posting out in public forums such as Craig's List. The associate is transacting with a more 'trusted' party. Many times an item can be exchanged at their work location.

Organizations that leverage IBM Web Content Manager and WebSphere Portal for their intranet site can quickly and easily build and deploy such a feature. We recently developed and deployed a large intranet redesign using WebSphere Portal with WCM version 8. This 3-part blog series provides an overview of the design and implementation of this classified ads feature. With the tools provided by IBM WCM and WebSphere Portal, a robust classifieds system can be created. We use a workflow to provide governance, WCM authoring templates for structured content capture and inline authoring tools to place content creation in context and in the hands of end users.

We called the classifieds feature “Marketplace”; it consists of three kinds of items (using three different authoring templates) that can be posted by users. The items are submitted by the users from the live site using the inline Authoring Tools component. The submitted items are sent to a workflow that has a scheduled move action to push it to the next stage where it gets published. Once published, the items appear live on Marketplace.

Users also have the option to edit their own items again using the Authoring Tools component on the live site. The changed items are sent to the same workflow and appear on Marketplace after they have moved to the published stage.

The actual library artifacts cannot be included in this article as those are client assets, but we have included snippets and concepts wherever applicable. The idea is to share the concepts and the solution approach so anyone needing a similar setup can use this as a starting point.

This blog is broken down into a 3-part series covering various assets that will need to be created as part of the overall solution followed by a conclusion section.

In this first part we will look at the Site Areas, Authoring & Presentation templates required for this solution.

The Site Areas:
We use a single Site Area to store all Marketplace content items. Create a Site Area; in our example, we use DEMO_Lib\Marketplace.

We use categories in Authoring templates to distinguish between different types of content items posted by users.

The Authoring Templates:
We use three authoring templates to post three different kinds of content items. These are exposed to end users through the Authoring Tools component. In our example, we use the following authoring templates:
i. Post New Vehicle
ii. Post New Electronic
iii. Post Other The “Post New Vehicle” template has the elements listed below. This is requirement specific and could contain any number and type of elements.

The “Post New Vehicle” template has the elements listed below. This is requirement specific and could contain any number and type of elements.

Attach a category to content by specifying a category in the “Default Content Properties->Profile” section of the authoring template. Each authoring template will have a different category that will be used to differentiate between various content items.

Finally, the workflow is attached to the content items created by authoring templates; simply select a pre-defined workflow in “Default Content Properties->Workflow” section.

The Presentation Templates:
We do not directly use the presentation templates to render individual items; using HTML and menu components, the listing page meets the rendering requirements. However, a presentation template for each type of content item maybe useful if search is to be supported.

When using Portal search to search WCM content, the respective presentation template is used to render the content item. So, since search did not need to be supported, no presentation templates were needed in our example.

As a part of this WCM Based “Classifieds” intranet solution, we covered the Site Area, Authoring and Presentation Templates so far. In the remaining two parts of this blog series, we will look at the HTML & Menu Components, Categories, Authoring Tools Component, Workflow and Permissions and finally creating the Page and Portlet. In the meantime, feel free to email me with any questions or comments you may have and visit for more information about Prolifics' WCM solutions.

Manmeet Gill is a Senior Consultant at Prolifics, an IBM Bravo Award Winner and a key member of specialized teams working on IBM WebSphere Portal, Content Management, IBM Forms and Collaboration technologies. He is certified in IBM WebSphere Portal and IBM Web Content Manager and has over 8 years of IT experience. Besides specializing in IBM technologies he is a double black snowboarder, an advanced windsurfer and a superbike enthusiast. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Engineering from MSR Institute of technology, Bangalore.