Improving Front End Content Management Work Flow

If you have ever worked with the front end content management workflow in the default Joomla! system, you will appreciate that, straight out of the box, it is not as user-friendly as you might like it to be (indeed, some might say that is a generous description!). Nonetheless, it remains a powerful tool when properly configured — and when the team using it is adequately trained.

This article is excerpted from the upcoming Joomla! Bible, from Wiley & Sons. That book is due for publication in early November and can be pre-ordered directly from the publisher at www.wiley.com. Watch this site across the coming months as we preview more from this new title.

From a workflow perspective, one of the most frustrating limitations of the front end content management system is the lack of an effective, configurable notifications and tracking system. The more complex your content structures are, the more significant this limitation becomes.

The problem is purely a practical one: As Authors contribute Articles, the Editors have to be notified, then the Editors have to find the contributed Articles and edit them. Once the Articles are edited, the Editors need to notify the Publisher who again has to find the Articles and publish them.

While relying on notifications is fine up to a point, if you want another way to add some more certainty to the process and make it easier to deal with once the Editors and Publishers are actually working inside the system, you may want to consider the following – it’s one way I’ve found that seems to improve on the default approach.

Basically, the essence of this approach involves the creation of a Content Section and two Content Categories that are specifically for the use of the front-end content management team. Here’s how to set it up:

1. Create a new Section, name it “Submissions.”

2. Set the Access Level for the Section named “Submissions” to Special.

3. Create two new Categories inside the new Section. Name these two new Categories “To be Edited” and “To be Published.”

4. Next, create a new Menu Item on the User Menu. Select the Menu Item Type to Category List Layout. Name the new Item “To be Edited,” and select in the Basic Parameters the Category “To be Edited.”

5. Finally, create another new Menu Item on the User Menu. Select the Menu Item Type Category List Layout. Name the new Item “To be Published,” and select in the Basic Parameters the Category “To be Published.”

All the tools are in place, now you need to instruct your team on how to use them.

Instruct the Authors to assign all new Articles to the Category named “To be Edited.”
Instruct the Editors to check the “To be Edited” Menu Item each time they log in. Once they complete their edits on the pending Articles, the Editors must re-assign the Articles to the Category named “To be Published.”
Instruct the Publishers to check the “To be Published” Menu Item every time they log in. The Publishers can then assign the pending Articles to the proper Sections and Categories and publish the Articles.

This approach has two main advantages. First, it makes the editing process easier to manage, as all the Articles appear in the same place and move logically from station to station in the workflow. Second, you gain the ability to set a specific template to the entire front-end content management work flow by associating that template with front end content management Menu Items. (For example, a nice wide template makes it easier to use the editing window, and a lightweight, clean template without unnecessary graphics or module assignments can speed your work.)

While this is not the only way to crack this problem, it’s easy to set up and simple to remember and train against. Have you found another solution? If so, please share it using the comment controls on this article.

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