Software Review: Listgarden 1.3

Listgarden is a very powerful RSS creation and management tool that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, and can be configured as a Web-based application.

For those of you who subscribe to all of my feeds, let me apologize…I know that I’ve mentioned Listgarden several times: in this blog, the Lockworld Herald News, and my Resources feed.

I think the program deserves all of these mentions, however, because it is so versatile and so simple. Without any knowledge of RSS or XML structure or rules, you can create and edit as many feeds as you want to. You have the options of creating the feeds as local files on your computer, or uploaded to your FTP server (or both). My favorite feature of Listgarden is that you can optionally export an HTML version of your feed containing some or all of your feed items as a Web-based file. This can allow you to offer a preview of your latest feed items to your site visitors or an alternate way to view “what’s new” on your site.
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Content Management: Building a sitemap for your dynamic Texty content

If you followed along with my last series of posts, I’ve showed you how to build a customized content management system into your Web site using AjaxIncludes, Zoho Creator’s JSON feeds, and the powerful Texty SCMS (Simple Content Management System). In this last post of this series, I want to show you how you can expand the same principal to not only deliver the content to your site, but to build a simple sitemap to help your users find content within your site.

As with the other content management systems I’ve discussed, the actual text delivered to your Web site will not be indexed by search engines such as Google. Most major search engines ignore any text delivered to your page via javascript or other scripting methods that take place in the browser, rather than on the server. If you happen to have a Web site that allows you to run javascript codes on the server side, you can avoid problems with indexing your site content by adding a code within your <script> tag to tell the server to run the code before delivering the page to your user. Simply change <script> to <script runat=server>. However, if you are using Microsoft Office Live Basics, you can not run any scripts at the server level, so you have to find some other way to deliver your content. I will spend a little time discussing the problems this presents to individuals and small businesses trying to establish a Web presence in the next series of posts.

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Update to code from previous post

My apologies, but I left out a critical element from the code in my last post. If you use the code I originally posted, it will write ALL of your Texty’s into a single page.

I should have included a line that will compare the actual URL with the values from your JSON feed to determine whether or not to write a particular Texty:

if (val==winval){

Here’s the corrected code (I’ve also corrected the code in the original post):
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Advanced Content Management: Using AjaxIncludes, JSON feeds, and Texty together

Digging a little deeper, we find that Texty can even be used with more advanced features. Let me show you how to combine AjaxIncludes , JSON feeds from Zoho Creator , and Texty content management into a single powerful site-building tool.

First, you will want to use the AjaxIncludes scripts to build your site framework. Remember that these elements will not be indexed as part of your site, but that’s OK because they are just the design elements of your page. This can include items like your page banner, navigation structure, and a blank “block” for your page’s content. I’ll use the following assumptions in this example:

  • You are using Microsoft Office Live Basics (MOLB), so all of your files are stored in the same directory:
  • You have already saved a copy of the AjaxIncludes script from Dynamic Drive as a separate file in your site at (You don’t want to save files with the “.js” extension if you are using MOLB).
  • You have created the following files to provide the framework for your site:
    • banner.htm (The main banner for your page)
    • navigation.htm (The top navigation structure for your page)
    • footer.htm (The footer for your page)

With this structure in place, you are ready to build a blank page like this:

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Content Management Simplified: Texty

Texty: Simple Content Management and SyndicationI’ve recently discovered a new Simple Content Management System (SCMS) from Texty. The idea is very simplistic, and very powerful. You can create your content from within your Texty account using a WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editor (rich-text editor). If you prefer, you can even edit the raw HTML for your Texty, although any javascript codes you include in the HTML will be stripped out when you save it. When you are finished editing, you will be given a small HTML script code to embed in your Web site where you want the content to appear. That’s it. Just drop the code on your site and every time that you update the content from your Texty account, the changes will automatically be reflected on your Web page.

This is very much the same idea that I’ve been using for both the AjaxIncludes and JSON forms of content management. Essentially, the only difference between Texty and these other systems is that texty provides you with a WYSIWYG editor for your content (a benefit), but you can’t include additional javascript codes directly in your Texty (a drawback).

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Content Management using JSON: Pros and Cons

As I explained in my last post, JSON offers almost endless possibilities for dynamically manipulating and displaying content from you Zoho Creator databases into your own Web site. By turning your entire database into a single javascript variable using a series of nested arrays, JSON allows you to select and display records based on date/time values, user credentials, user cookies, URL parameters, form controls, and your custom CSS styles to match the data precisely to your Web’s format and style.

However, there are a few drawbacks to using JSON feeds to provide your site content, so I wanted to use this post to weight some of the pros and cons of using JSON feeds to deliver custom content to your site.

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Content Management using JSON feeds: dynamically add and manipulate content on your site

When I first discovered Zoho Creator, the idea of building a Web database that could be included in my own Web site sounded too good to be true. After a while, however, I found that I simply couldn’t get the content from my applications to display correctly for my site. I wanted more power to match the format of the content being displayed to my own site’s style. Using the standard iframe or javascript codes provided by Zoho Creator, the imported information simply wasn’t in the format I particularly wanted. Furthermore, I was disappointed that I couldn’t programmatically display certain information and hide other information.

Then, I discovered the power of JSON. According to Wikipedia, “JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) (Pronounced like Jason, IPA /d?e?s?n/) is a lightweight computer data interchange format. It is a text-based, human-readable format for representing simple data structures and associative arrays (called objects).” In simpler terms, the JSON feed from your Zoho Creator application is packaged into a single javascript variable. You can decipher the data from your application by parsing out the nested arrays. For a sample of the codes for parsing this information, please see below:

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Content Management using AjaxInclude: Pros and Cons

Custom-assemble your Web page from multiple files

In my last post, I introduced the idea of assembling your Web site from multiple files using a JavaScript version of AjaxInclude. Please note that this idea is primarily intended for people using Microsoft Office Live Basics, or some other Web-hosting service that does not allow them to use true server-side includes on their Web sites. AjaxInclude scripts (available from Dynamic Drive) are intended to provide the minimal functionality (from a user’s perspective) to mimic a true server-side include script. The techniques discussed in this post, however, can be applied to any Web page. If you aren’t familiar with ASP, PHP, or PERL programming, you can use AjaxInclude to build similar functionality into any Web site.

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New project: Content Management

I am currently working on a new content management system for Lockworld Herald. Although I am very pleased with Microsoft’s new “Office Live Basics” service, there is no doubt that the standard Web-building service is simply inadequate. There are far too many problems with the way the site is designed to build a professional-looking site using this service.

Scripting problems:

One of the biggest problems with Microsoft Office Live Basics (MOLB) is the inability to use “external” JavaScripts on your site. For my purposes, I am using the term “external JavaScript” to refer to any JavaScript codes that reside outside of the page being viewed…whether on your MOLB site or elsewhere on the Web. In my experience, almost all external JavaScript codes completely disable not only my MOLB site, but crash the entire browser. Since JavaScript is such a standard feature for Web sites, this is simply unacceptable.

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