Introducing eSpaces and Plone

eSpaces utilises open-source CMS called Plone to allow users to easily share content, files, and other digital objects within a web environment without needing to learn web authoring technologies. Being a CMS, Plone can be used to constructure a flexible, content-driven website, interactive web portal, or a secure collaborative workspace.

Access eSpaces at https://espaces.edu.au to get started.

Site Layout: An Overview

The eSpaces site will be laid out in a similar fashion to that shown below, depending on what features and customisations have been made. Remember that the image of the site will almost certainly look slightly different to what is shown below as both content and overall theme, including fonts, colours, layout, may have potentially been customised.

This example shows a user with full access. How eSpaces appears to you depends on whether you are logged in, and what permissions your user account has in any particular area of the site. Permissions are dynamic and can change across different folder or content, depending on the site.

_images/site_layout.png
  1. Top navigation tabs are links across the top of a page are the top-level of navigation. Primary folders or other types of content can be added or changed here with appropriate permissions. Typically, a site administrator will configure these top-level links. For the general public or normal users, however, these serve as a quick way to access the main areas of information on the portal.

  2. Content management views are the tools for editing and managing content that you have access to. If this set of tabs is not present, then it is likely that you only have view access to the current folder or content item.

  3. Content action menus is a set of menus that perform various actions relating to the management of content:

    State

    This controls the workflow state (and thus permissions) for content.

    Add new

    Create and upload of new content, images, folders and more. Content is created by type, and this menu lists all types of content a user can create.

    Display

    Controls the appearance of a folder or a content item. For example, folders can be configured to show dynamic listings or tables, or otherwise have a content item show as its home page.

    Actions

    Provides the ability to cut, copy, and paste content items within a site, as well as the ability to delete and rename items. Other custom actions may be present underneath this menu.

  4. Search is a search engine for content on the site. Users can enter keywords from any part of content, including titles, descriptions, and full text to find results. Content inside of various files, including PDFs, Microsoft Office files and more, are searchable.

  5. Main page content displays the primary body of information on a given page is displayed here, which will change dependent on the type of content being viewed. If the current content item is a Page, then the body of the document will be displayed. If the current item is an Image, then a thumbnail and picture metadata will be shown. If the current page is a Folder, then this may display a listing of content present or be configured to show just a single page.

  6. Portlets are small windows of information may be configured on the left or right-hand side of any page. Portlets typically display snippets of content and links to other information on a site. One such example is a News portlet, which will aggregrate information about news items that exist on the site. There are a number of different portlets available by default, including some that can pull in information from external sources like RSS feeds.

  7. Personal menu is a drop-down menu revealing access to personal preferences, the user dashboard, and the ability to log out. Site administrators can use this menu to access the site control panel. Certain other options may be available depending on your level of access.

Much ado about content

There are many types of content that can be created, viewed, downloaded or commented upon with a site, including:

Event
An upcoming event, meeting, conference, or some other incident. Objects of this type typically appear under events listings on the site.
File
Individual content uploaded from a local computer. Users may download or access the given file via links inside Pages or directly from Folder listings.
Folder
Similar to those on a hard drive, folders contain content and are used to give a site structure. Folders can be nested to any depth required and will typically be displayed in navigation listings for ease of access by users.
Image
Storage type for pictures uploaded from a local computer. Images can be inserted into Page content, displayed in albums and lists, and otherwise stored for viewing. Supported image types include JPEG, GIF, PNG and TIFF.
Link
Automatic link to another web address, which may be another item in the portal or to an external resource.
Page
The main content for a site is contained within Pages, which can feature text, images, hyperlinks, and other rich HTML.
News Item
A piece of related to a notable occurrence, such as a press release or update. Objects of this type typically appear under news listings on the site.

There may be others based on the site configuration and your user’s level of access.

By default, content that is created will be displayed in navigation listings for ease of access. This behaviour is customisable either on a site-wide basis or for individual content items or folders.

For in-depth information about content management, see Adding and editing content.

Compared to other CMS platforms

If you’re familiar with other open-source CMS platforms, such as Joomla, Wordpress or Drupal, eSpaces is similar and performs in a simliar fashion. Plone, the platform that eSpaces is built on, is notably more secure, and provides a number of interactive, collaborative workspace tools for users to interact.