For the past few weeks I’ve been working (whenever I could find the time) on a GUI extension for the new 2011 Tridion platform.
Unlike previous extensions I’ve built, this one is much more complex and spans over more functionality than the more specific ones I worked on before.
I call it the “List Quick Helper“. Where the main idea was to create a useful tool to supplement the information exposed by the GUI’s list view. The theme of this extension is to boost productivity by exposing data quickly and providing small tools to get common tasks done faster.
If you’ve worked with the Content Manager Explorer you’re familiar with having to open an item to view its properties, say to tell the schema of a component you have to open the component’s editing form or to know the file name of page, again need to open the edit form. Even on a fast system it takes at least a few seconds to load up the form. For a shared item you need to select one of the options in the modal dialog (open parent, localize or read-only). After several clicks and at least a few seconds (if not more) you finally can find that little piece of information you were seeking.
What if that information was exposed in the list view immediately? Well, now it can be:
The helper loads up in the bottom-right corner of the list view and displays that useful information about most of the commonly used Tridion items. Items such as pages, components, folders, structure-groups, and more.
The helper has two main parts, The Info part:
In this part, as you can see from the image above, the helper shows different properties that are not exposed by the normal GUI list view. Without this extension, to get to that information, you need to actively open the item’s editing form.
For convenience, the helper not only displays the information about used items (such as schemas or templates) but also displays them with links to open or browse to that item directly.
Whenever an item in the list view is clicked which is of a supported type, the helper, using AJAX through the GUI framework will load the useful properties.
On the top-right side of the helper there is a minimize button to hide the helper if its getting in the way. This is how it looks like when its minimized:
A click on the plus sign will bring back the helper into view.
On top of that, it is possible to turn off the helper completely. In the Administration ribbon toolbar page you will find the button to turn it off:
Once you click this the helper will not show again until you click the button to turn it back on:
For the next version of the tool I intend to add functionality to let the user decide whether they want to have the helper be turned on by default or not.
Currently it is only possible to control the default at a global way which will affect all users.
The second part, the lower part, is a set of tools built into the helper:
Some of the tools are general and will always display, some of them are specific to the selected type.
Quickly renaming an item has been a coveted feature of the CME for a long time, no wonder many people chose to hone their GUI Extending skills with this piece of functionality. Naturally, I found this a good fit for my helper.
Most Tridion users are familiar with that small search box at the top of the interface that allows a user to enter the TCM URI of an item and open it directly without locating it in the folder/SG hierarchy. Sometimes though, you don’t want to open the item for editing, you want to know where it is in that hierarchy. This tool will let you do just that. Instead of opening the item, it will open the tree and list views in the location of that item.
Simply hit the Enter key after typing the URI and it will take you there…
Quick Folder / Quick Structure-Group Tool
These nifty little tools will let you quickly create a folder or a structure-group by simply entering a title (and directory name for the SG) instead of loading a cumbersome edit form in a new window.
Batch Publish Tool
This is the biggest of the tools included in this initial version of the helper. The batch publish tool allows a user to collect items to publish from different locations and send them off to be published with one click.
When clicking on the tool button another set of buttons is shown:
The image above shows the tool when there are no items currently selected to be published. By clicking on the blue plus sign, things get more interesting:
At this point, with one item added to the batch, it is possible to click on the publish button (second from left), view the list of selected items (second from the right), or click the broom to clear the batch.
The list button shows the number of selected items and clicking it will display the items:
It is then possible to remove items from the list or use the browse button to go to that item.
Once you are happy with the selection, hit the publish button, the normal Tridion publish dialog opens.
Whats currently missing is the possibility of selecting multiple items from the same location, since the helper shows for a single item at a time, the batch publish tool also only adds one item at a time. For the next version I would like to add multiple adds to the batch.
Creating this extension really took me down the GUI-framework-rabbit-hole and I have to say, I really liked what I found there. I’ll even venture and say that I think that the GUI API is one of the most well thought of and executed by the guys and girls in our development department, if not the best.
Although I’ve tested it as thoroughly as I could, on Firefox, IE and Chrome, Im sure it will have its bugs and kinks still. I’m referring to this release as Beta and I really hope people like it. I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts about it. I have more ideas for tools to add but if there’s one you think will be a good fit please share it with me.
Very similar to my previous extension (OK, its exactly like the previous one):
- Download the extension (link at the bottom).
- Unzip the package you downloaded somewhere on the CM server.
- In IIS, configure the 2011Extensions folder as a virtual folder under the SDL Tridion 2011 CME website in the following location: Website > CME > Editors:
- In file explorer, navigate to Tridion home > CME2010 > WebRoot > Configuration. Make a backup of the System.config and open the file for editing. Insert the following element:
Place this editor element inside the existing <editors>
Make sure to update the installpath value to the actual location of where you’ve placed the extension files.
- Done. Restart IIS and clear your browser cache and reload the GUI, you should now be able to use the extension.
Update #2: Download the last version: 1.0 of the helper here.
Update: Download the 2011 GA version of the extension here. You can download the extension here.