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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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Mathijs Panhuijsen <[log in to unmask]>
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Mathijs Panhuijsen <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 30 Jul 2008 09:48:37 +0200
text/plain (91 lines)

I work for an enterprise-level CMS vendor called SDL Tridion, and
templates are among the most important parts of our system: without
them, our big customer could never achieve the consistency in
look-and-feel they want, nor the content reuse they crave.

What we found out about templates is that they often serve several

1-One is obviously to choose how to display content (color, font etc). 

2-Another (in our case) is how much of the content to show. Using the
same XML content as a basis, you can define several templates to show,
say, (a) only the title of an article, (b) only the title, lead-in text
and a thumbnail image, or (c) the entire article including 'metadata'
such as author and creation date. And of course, each of these
'versions' of the article has its own visualization.

3-Yet another is to add interactivity or other dynamic, at-visit-time
functionality to the content. This includes things like personalizing
the Web page for a specific visitor, or dynamically assembling content
on the page ("show me the last N news items").

Our templates are now actually modular, that is, they can consist of
several steps executed in sequence to turn the managed content in the
CMS into the published content on the Web site. You can add steps to, or
remove steps from, this sequence to change the output. Our customers
find this helpful because it separates the various purposes listed above
and makes them more manageable.

I think that for the most part, our customers are very happy with the
flexibility and richness of our templates, but the more a template does,
the less predictable the result will be. Especially when dealing with
templates that add dynamic elements to the content (point 3 above), the
real proof of the pudding is on the published page. Our customers use a
staging site to mitigate this problem, but when authors write content,
they still don't _instantly_ see the result of applying a template.

So I think the bottom line is that the more a template 'does', the more
the content will deviate from the original after it passes through the
template. I would say most Web developers try to find the right balance
between a predictable/static and a powerful/dynamic template.

Kind regards,
Mathijs Panhuijsen
Technical Writer
SDL Tridion

-----Original Message-----
From: ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Devin M Sanera (RIT
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 22:29
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Template Usage in the Creation of Web Pages

I'm researching the use of templates as a part of the web publishing
process. The process involved with the research is simple: several
templates are created and then one is chosen based on the type of
content the user of the template is intending to publish.

Clearly, templates are useful. They save time when structure is fixed
and the focus is on content delivery.

My research is focused on when this process breaks down, namely, when
the final page deviates radically from the template in some way. I'm
writing to see if anyone has any experience managing templates or
opinions on the subject, either when templates work well and they are a
boon, or when templates break down and they are a handicap.

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