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#1 2005-11-28 15:32:04

andjules
Member
From: toronto
Registered: 2004-10-20
Posts: 44

custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

One thing that seems to be missing from a lot of otherwise great CMS (and blog) solutions is the ability to easily customize the order of navigation elements. Default navigation in TXP is alphabetical – so, an ‘About Us’ & ‘Contact Us’ would come before ‘Products & Services’ in a menu, to pick a typical example.
Navigation ordering is a pretty central step in user experience design/information architecture; the fact that this feature seems to fly beneath the radar always amazes me. If I am not mistaken, Word Press & Expression Engine (two otherwise pretty elegant solutions that are often mentioned in the same breath as TXP) also seem to suffer this oversight.
For a blog, this doesn’t matter too much – there is usually some hack or plugin that can solve the problem, and the content manager is usually also the technical maintainer and the designer. In my case, I use ako_nav and a comma separated list to control my nav order.
BUT THIS DEFEATS THE POINT OF A CMS.
My client – who may or may not be a moron, or a technical simpleton – OUGHT to be able to add a section and have the navigation work. But at the moment, the only client-maintainable solution is to settle for alphabetical sorting (I suppose by ordering based on custom fields, you could train you client to follow some unintuitive methodology for controlling the order, but…).
SO, I suggest that the sections page (and probably each column of the organize page) have a ‘customize order’ link, which pops a window with a (drag’n drop) sortable AJAX list. Here is a nice PHP implementation.

thoughts? does this missing feature bother anyone else?

Last edited by andjules (2005-11-28 15:34:52)

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#2 2005-11-28 17:04:18

HedgeHog
Member
From: Springfield, MO
Registered: 2004-03-24
Posts: 14

Re: custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

I just use the ako_nav plugin

Last edited by HedgeHog (2005-11-28 17:04:55)

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#3 2005-11-28 19:24:13

maniqui
Moderator
From: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Registered: 2004-10-10
Posts: 3,070
Website

Re: custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

Maybe a “weight” attribute for each section can solve the problem.
(yucks, that “weight” idea makes me remember dr… dr… drup… drup-p-p… i cant even say the cms name, i’m afraid to invocate satanás).

I dont think this needs AJAX to be implemented, but with AJAX it will be very cool.

> I just use the ako_nav plugin

The problem is that ako_nav plug-in doesnt work dinamically. ako_nav is a “dynamic” way to output a static menu.
And ako_nav doesnt pull the sections from the database. You can even create menu items (sections) that doesnt exists in your section list (that makes ako_nav a very cool plug-in).

I think rdt_dynamenus is more appropiate for the job (really powerful plug-in).

Finally, it would be cool to merge some funciontalities of ako_nav into rdt_dynamenus to create the ultimate section menu plug-in… but that is a topic for another thread.

But i’m with you, andjules.
There should be a way to custom sort the sections, so txp:section_list could replace ako_nav and rdt_dynamenus.


La música ideas portará y siempre continuará

TXP Builders – finely-crafted code, design and txp

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#4 2005-11-28 19:26:30

Mary
Sock Enthusiast
Registered: 2004-06-27
Posts: 6,236

Re: custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

A <acronym title=“For Your Information”>FYI</acronym> <acronym title=“For What It’s Worth”>FWIW</acronym>:

Just hasn’t been done, because the core devs are working with more important features/problems at the moment. In most situations, the hypothetical person can manage creating a section, and they can also handle adding one line of markup to a form/page. To you it’s nearly mission-critical, but to a large number of people, it isn’t. So the priority gets bumped down.

The sections page needs other re-doing first, like making it work like the forms/pages tabs, rather than one long page (which also makes you think you can edit them all at once, which you can’t). This will probably get handled before sortability (because that also involves changes to both admin and public sides).

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#5 2005-11-28 20:34:38

andjules
Member
From: toronto
Registered: 2004-10-20
Posts: 44

Re: custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

thanks everyone.
agreed the current sections page could use a usability-rework, and understand that the core TXP users are still one-person operations… anyone who can put the site together can handle ako_nav or other. Assuming that kind of user base (and as well, a user base that is more blog-oriented than CMS oriented) affects development, of course. that said, TXP kind of stands out (like EE) for being more than a blog, rather something approaching a lightweight, lean CMS that could be used by larger organizations. But out of the box, neither of them can custom-order their navigation or tell what section they are on, which to me is an extremely basic requirement of any site (ordering the nav is important from the website owner’s POV, knowing what section you are in is a basic requirement from the user’s POV). When I see (and applaud) the effort going in to some more esoteric features, I just wonder how this continues to get overlooked, both by the developers (understandably) but more curiously, by the user base. With a great CMS where the bar is so high… an alphabetical-only, non-context aware navigation system is really just one step up from no navigation at all ;-)

Last edited by andjules (2005-11-28 20:36:14)

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#6 2005-11-28 21:27:21

zem
Developer emeritus
From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: 2004-04-08
Posts: 2,579
Website

Re: custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

When I see (and applaud) the effort going in to some more esoteric features, I just wonder how this continues to get overlooked, both by the developers (understandably) but more curiously, by the user base.

In the FAQ: Textpattern is driven by supply, not demand. The dev team members each write code for their own needs; obviously none of us has an overwhelming need for this.

As usual, we welcome patches, documenation, UI design, etc.


Alex
tstate

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#7 2005-11-28 21:46:19

michaelkpate
Moderator
From: Avon Park, FL
Registered: 2004-02-24
Posts: 1,242
Website

Re: custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

I just use the mdp_sectionmenu plugin

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#8 2005-11-28 22:15:59

andjules
Member
From: toronto
Registered: 2004-10-20
Posts: 44

Re: custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

zem: of course. I will see if I can find a little time to take it to a further proof of concept. and like I said, I am more surprised that I seem to be only the one that cares about this; I am certainly not upset or disappointed or unappreciative of the amazing work that has been done so far, either to TXP itself, or via plugin developers.

michael: i think you missed the point. I am not confused about how to accomplish it using plugins. it’s a question of whether this is superfluous (ie. do it in a plugin) or basic (ie. make it native) functionality for a CMS. If I make a website for Bob-the-business-guy-client using a CMS, Bob probably shouldn’t have to call me if he wants to add a section (and maybe he doesn’t… unless i used a complex plugin to manage navigation). He probably shouldn’t have to manually manage comma-separated attribute lists in a plugin <tag> or jump through hoops to get the ‘products’ menu item to look different from the other menu items when he’s in the ‘products’ section (but he does). And he should probably have a straight forward, intuitive way of making ‘products’ show up ahead of ‘contact us’ in the menu (but he doesn’t; it’s natively alphabetical order only). None of these basic abilities is built into what is otherwise a very capable, very elegant, lightweight CMS – our beloved Textpattern.

Last edited by andjules (2005-11-28 22:19:27)

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#9 2006-01-07 20:23:02

Jeremie
Member
From: Provence, France
Registered: 2004-08-11
Posts: 1,578
Website

Re: custom order: SECTIONS, etc. - How can you live without it!??!

I did agree with you several month ago. Then I realised that the code needed to use sections as a real menu (order, offset, sections to exclude, sections alias, and so on, and so on) would be as complicated (or even more complicated) than coding it by hand in XHTML.

So it may seems trange at first, but I don’t tink TXP need it. The main asset of a quasi-dynamic menu is to add some datas if you are inside a section (to style the menu accordingly), but ako_nav does this (and since it’s not critical, it can stay as a plugin).

Just a thought.

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