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Add Plone Center Column

I had one of those “duh” moments this morning when I was thinking how nice it would be if I could have a center column on my home page that included the latest additions to the site. Many of the news-oriented content management sites use this formula, so that the portlets (in Plone-speak) on the side surround a constantly changing list of news and other postings to the site. And then it occurred to me that I could do the same thing with a smart folder!

Like I said, “duh”!  That’s exactly what a PHP Nuke or Joomla system is doing – it’s grabbing content types (news or what have you) and displaying it on the front page, removing it as new content is added.  So I renamed my FrontPage file and created a new Smart Folder called FrontPage.

It worked as expected!  I added criteria to pull in a bunch of different content types, and limited how many would appear, and so on.  But the page was limited by the description box.  This is the only text input into a Smart Folder and it doesn’t take HTML.  So I couldn’t really customize the look of my home page using the Smart Folder.  Some Google searching led me to Jon Stahl‘s great Plone product, RichTopic.  This does exactly what I needed:  it builds on the Smart Folder concept by leaving the description (non-HTML) section alone but adding an HTML section (like any other Plone content page) immediately following, but before the Smart Folder content.

It says that it’s been tested on Plone 2.1 so I wasn’t sure if it would work on 2.5 but it does.  I’m not going to use it beyond the FrontPage just in case it gets left behind in future upgrades, but I noticed a lot of discussion about whether HTML injection into Smart Folders shouldn’t be something in future Plone iterations, so let’s hope so.

I did make one small modification to the rich_topic_view file.  It relies solely on the folder_listing view.  I’ve fiddled with that quite a bit and I didn’t want to use it for the front page.  But I found that if I changed the display type on the Web side, to anything but richtopic view then no results would appear.  So I went into the ZMI and changed the reliance on the folder_listing view to the folder_summary_view.  Like I said, since I won’t be using it throughout the site, this modification won’t make much difference to my use of the product.

So three cheers for Jon Stahl!

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.