Using Graphics and Files in Exponent Part #2
Recently I had written an article on using graphics and files which was common to most modules using either the WYSIWYG editor or as 'attached' files. In this article I want to explore how to take advantage of the unique features of each module based on their designed purpose. Again, you can use the text module to mimic the output from most of the other modules, but why not 'use the right tool for the job'
We'll start with the 'News' module. The strengths of the news module are: each news item has a publish and an optional unpublish date, meaning the first date to display and the last date to display. Also the items can be sorted several different ways by date in addition to manually (by rank). You may also set the priority of the item by 'featuring it'. A featured item will displayed in all views, where if not featured it may be hidden on some displays if the 'show featured' setting is on. You may also publish the news items as an rss news feed or pull another rss news feed into the news module to be displayed as news items. News modules may also have user subscriptions using the optional E-Alert feature. Additionally, the a news item may be tagged so it can be associated with other similar news and non-news items based on the keyword tag(s). Therefore the 'News' module is best suited for news or announcement type information.
In some ways, the 'Blog' module is like the news module on steroids. It allows user comments on blog items and optionally allows groupings by category. It has a 'draft' feature where the article will only be visible to the editor or administrator until published. Unlike a news item, a blog item/article does not have an unpublish date, is only sorted by publish date, and doesn't pull in external rss feeds. As it title suggests, the 'Blog' module is best suited for managing articles or web logs (blogs).
The 'File Downloads' module is very versatile, especially when contrasted with the blog module. It deals with 'attached' file directly instead of the system generic method. In addition to the attached file, you can attach a 'preview' image to be displayed on the site, or point the download to an external link. It can optionally publish it's items as a Podcast. It can optionally display attached media files using a media viewer to play the audio/video within the item. It does not proved the user subscription feature. If you need to provide file downloads or a Podcast, the 'File Downloads' module is your best bet.
The 'Portfolio' module deals with lists of data. It does not store publish dates but can be ordered either manually or alphabetically. It also provides a 'feature this' option. It does not allow comments nor provide an rss feed option. The 'Portfolio' module is best suited for directories or other lists of information.
The 'Photo Album' module deals with photos or images. Its views focus on the attached image rather than the title and description, such as the gallery or slideshow views. In addition to being sorted manually, photo items may be displayed randomly. It also deals directly with an image file, meaning one photo item per image. It should go without saying, but the 'Photo Album' module is bested suited for photos and images.
The 'Flowplayer', 'YouTube', and 'Media Player' (new to v2.2) deals with audio and video files. While the 'file download' module can provide some features, the focus on these modules is displaying the media by playing it on the web site. It provides greater control over the actual display of the media player being used. These modules are best suited for display media on your site. The 'Media Player' replaces both the 'Flowplayer' and 'YouTube' modules primarily because it can handle both types of media and is HTML5 compliant (Flash is not required)
Hopefully this article has provided some insight on choosing the best module for the task at hand. I'll plan to write a follow up article on some of the more unique modules.
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Exponent CMS Developer