Enterprise Software

SolutionBase: Customize your eGroupWare site with SiteManager

Looking for a way to customize your eGroupWare site? The program you need is one you probably already have: SiteManager. Jack Wallen shows you what it does.

Recently, I explored what I found to be one of the most outstanding groupware packages available: eGroupWare. This package was an open source, enterprise-ready groupware suite that is reliable, flexible, scalable, and free.

The eGroupWare suite contains tools for calendaring, contacts, time management, resource management, Samba management, e-mail, bug tracking, wiki, news, polls, and more. One of the tools, however, tends to go unnoticed not so much because of its complexity but more beca

Recently, I explored one of the most outstanding groupware packages available: eGroupWare. This package was an open source, enterprise-ready groupware suite that is reliable, flexible, scalable, and free.

The eGroupWare suite contains tools for calendaring, contacts, time management, resource management, Samba management, e-mail, bug tracking, wiki, news, polls, and more. One of the tools, however, tends to go unnoticed; not so much because of its complexity, but more because most companies don't even know it's there. When you do know it's there, you will use it and use it frequently. This tool is the eGroupWare SiteManager. SiteManager gives you a lot of control over your site. In this article, I'll show you what it does.

What's SiteManager?

The SiteManager (or SiteMgr, according to the eGroupWare site) is a tool that allows the administrator to:

  • Run a Web site and manage the content independent of the design.
  • Give users or groups the possibility to edit certain parts of your Web site (e.g., each department has its own part in the whole site).
  • Some parts of the site should only be visible by: registered users or certain groups.

Take note of that last bullet point. This will make deploying a company-wide, department-specific site simple. Say, for example, you want all departments in the company to be able to see and use features A, B, C, and D but you want only Departments 1, 2, and 3 to see and use features A, B, C, D, E, F, and G; also, you want Departments 4 and 5 to be able to use A, B, C, D, H, I, J, and K. By taking advantage of the eGroupWare SiteMgr tool, you can do this easily.

Before we get into those features, however, let's take a cursory look around the tool. This article assumes you have eGroupWare up and running. Also, make sure the sitemgr-link application is installed (which it should be from the basic installation).

Fire it up

First, log in to your eGroupWare site as administrator. Once there, you will most likely be in the Calendar page (as that is the default page). Notice the top navigation icons in Figure A.

Figure A

This row of icons should appear near the top of your eGroupWare site.

In that row of icons, there is a small downward-pointing arrow on the far right; select it to open up a small pop-up listing of other tools, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

This pop-up will hang around until you press a link, press X, or anywhere in the site.

Press the SiteMgr link to open up the actual tool. You might be surprised after you do, because it will look like your site has been taken over by dotted lines and edit icons, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Your site has now become a sandbox for you to play in.

Time to edit

One you have opened up the SiteMgr tool, everything surrounded by a dotted red line can be edited, deleted, or added to. Each red-dotted box represents a section of the site: The header, the left side, the right side, the center, and the footer.

Obviously, there are certain tools you'll want to have in each section. There may even be entire sections you want removed. Say, for instance, you want a two-column site instead of a three-column site (default); that can be done as well. But before we get into the actual editing of the site, let's take a look at the available tools.

Notice how the left navigation has changed. The following tools are available to us in the SiteMgr toolbox:

  • Configure Web site: This section allows you to name and describe your Web site. You can also choose the default home page ID number.
  • Manage site-wide module preferences: Select the various modules that will be used on your site.
  • Manage Notifications: This, oddly enough, just takes you to a blank screen.
  • Manage Translations: Translate various blocks from English to German.
  • Commit changes: Commit the changes you have made to be written to the database.
  • Manage archived content: If there is archived content, it can be reactivated here.
  • Manage Notification Messages: Like the Manage Notifications, this takes you to a blank screen.
  • View Generated site: View the site you have just edited.
  • Edit Site: Opens the SiteMgr editing tool.
  • You'll also notice that three other submenus that have appeared:
  • Other Web sites: Here you can create new sites within your eGroupWare site.
  • Preferences: Customize how many icons and toolbars the editor shows.
  • Documentation: Open up the SiteMgr manual. Unfortunately, this documentation is far from complete.

The main tools that you will use to edit the site will be within the dotted red lines (around each section of the site editor.) These tools will vary per box-type being edited. Let's start off with the simplest type: the Header.

Editing within the Header

Take a look at Figure D, which shows how the header appears within the site editing tool.

Figure D

This block will be near the very top of the site.

There are a number of edits to be made within this block, all of them very simple. You can add a new block within the header. The blocks are added by selecting the block type from the drop-down list. The available blocks to add within the header are a search block, HTML block, or a file contents block. You can also, by using the up or down arrows, change the sort order of the block, thereby moving the block within the site. By pressing the Edit button, you can edit the content currently within the block (in this case, the text "Demo Site"). You can also, by clicking the X, delete the block.

When you open the block editor for the header block, you will see a fairly straight-forward WYSIWYG editor (shown in Figure E) that will allow you to edit the text of the block.

Figure E

Although it says that this module is only an HTML editor, you can also do a bit of version revisioning with this tool.

One of the nicest aspects of this editor is that you can control various versions of the block. By default, you are opening the published version of the block, but you can edit drafts, prepublished, preunpublished, and archived versions of the block. You can also change the sort order, as well as dictate who can see the block.

From within this same block editor, you can create new versions of the block. If you press the Create New Version button near the bottom of the editor window, you'll notice a new editing area below the current area. In this new area, there will be a Version Number, and that version number will appear in draft status.

Once you create the new version, press the Apply button to apply the changes. Now you will have two version of the same block visible within the editing window. Once you're finished, you can change the new version from Draft to Published and the old version from Published to Archived and save the changes. The new version of the block will now appear on the site.

Editing within the center

The center section becomes a bit more complex, simply because there are so many more types of blocks that can be added. From the drop-down list, you can add the following types of blocks to the center section:

  • Tracker
  • Wiki
  • Bookmarks
  • Polls
  • News Admin
  • phpBrain
  • Search
  • Template
  • Navigation
  • Redirect
  • HTML
  • Frame
  • Filecontents
  • Download
  • Resource

Each of these sections have specific features within the editor. Let's say, for example, you want to add news to the center section of your page. Select news_admin from the drop-down box and a new window will open, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Remember, this module publishes news from the news_admin application of your eGroupWare Web site, so you will have to have that set up as well.

First, edit the Title, select who you want to see the module, give it a sort order (0 being top), and give it a version status. Then choose a news category from the drop-down list and select which parts of the news you want shown. Decide how many news items you want to show and if you want to show an RSS feed for the category. Finally, press Save, and your news block will be visible on the site.

Look around each of the various sections you are allowed to add to the Center of the page. As you get familiar with the editing of each section, you can decide if you want to add that section or not; that will depend on your department's needs. Remember, each section allows you to specify which user group can view the module added. You have the choice between Everybody, Registered (eGW) users, Administrators, or Anonymous. With that in mind, let's head over to the eGroupWare user/group administration and add new groups.

Press on the Admin icon at the top of your eGroupWare page. From there, select the Usergroups link and then press the Add button. Let's say you want to add the group Editorial. Enter the name Editorial in the Group Name text area. From the list, select the users to be included in this group (this can be adjusted as new users are registered). Now select which applications you want to make available to this group from the list of applications. Select Submit Changes and the group will be added.

Once that group has been added and users have been assigned to that group, they will only be able to view or use the applications they have permission to view/use. This is a great way to enable eGroupWare to satisfy the needs of a large company with many groups with varied needs.

Viewing your site

Once you have the site exactly how you want it, select the View Generated Site from within the left navigation. If the site is successful, you can press on the back arrow and then select Commit Changes. Once you have committed the changes, you can select View Generated Site to see the site you have just created. To actually view the site, you simply have to go to the top icon list, press the down arrow to view the extra applications pop-up, and select the Web site link.

Users seeing the new site

This aspect of the SiteMgr is not very obvious; the trick is to create an anonymous user and assign them only the SiteMgr and the Web site applications (since Web site acts as a redirect to the generated site). This way, when that user is on the site, they will immediately be directed to the SiteMgr generated Web site. To do this, create the anonymous user and make sure to select the Web site entry as their default application under the user preferences (the default is Calendar).

Best use of SiteMgr

I have found that the best way to use the SiteManager tool is for working on pre-production sites. Then you can make changes to the sites layout without affecting the production site.

Final thoughts

The eGroupWare SiteMgr is a powerful tool with a number of outstanding uses. Whether you are helping to define particular pages for user groups, or working on pre-production sites, this tool will help empower eGroupWare to perfectly fit the needs of your company.

use most companies don't even know it's there. But when you do know it's there, you will use it and use it frequently. This tool is the eGroupWare SiteManager. SiteManager gives you a lot of control over your site. In this article, I'll show you what it does.

What's SiteManager?

The SiteManager (or SiteMgr, according to the eGroupWare site) is a tool that allows the administrator to:

  • Run a Web site and manage the content independent of the design.
  • Give users or groups the possibility to edit certain parts of your Web site (e.g., each department has its own part in the whole site).
  • Some parts of the site should only be visible by: registered users or certain groups.

Take note of that last bullet point. This will make deploying a company-wide, department-specific site simple. Say, for example, you want all departments in the company to be able to see and use features A, B, C, and D but you want only Departments 1, 2, and 3 to see and use features A, B, C, D, E, F, and G; also, you want Departments 4 and 5 to be able to use A, B, C, D, H, I, J, and K. By taking advantage of the eGroupWare SiteMgr tool, you can do this easily.

Before we get into those features, however, let's take a cursory look around the tool. This article assumes you have eGroupWare up and running. Also, make sure the sitemgr-link application is installed (which it should be from the basic installation).

Fire it up

First, log in to your eGroupWare site as administrator. Once there, you will most likely be in the Calendar page (as that is the default page). Notice the top navigation icons in Figure A.

Figure A

This row of icons should appear near the top of your eGroupWare site.

In that row of icons, there is a small downward-pointing arrow on the far right; select it to open up a small pop-up listing of other tools, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

This pop-up will hang around until you press a link, press X, or anywhere in the site.

Press the SiteMgr link to open up the actual tool. You might be surprised after you do, because it will look like your site has been taken over by dotted lines and edit icons, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Your site has now become a sandbox for you to play in.

Time to edit

One you have opened up the SiteMgr tool, everything surrounded by a dotted red line can be edited, deleted, or added to. Each red-dotted box represents a section of the site: The header, the left side, the right side, the center, and the footer.

Obviously, there are certain tools you'll want to have in each section. There may even be entire sections you want removed. Say, for instance, you want a two-column site instead of a three-column site (default); that can be done as well. But before we get into the actual editing of the site, let's take a look at the available tools.

Notice how the left navigation has changed. The following tools are available to us in the SiteMgr toolbox:

  • Configure Web site: This section allows you to name and describe your Web site. You can also choose the default home page ID number.
  • Manage site-wide module preferences: Select the various modules that will be used on your site.
  • Manage Notifications: This, oddly enough, just takes you to a blank screen.
  • Manage Translations: Translate various blocks from English to German.
  • Commit changes: Commit the changes you have made to be written to the database.
  • Manage archived content: If there is archived content, it can be reactivated here.
  • Manage Notification Messages: Like the Manage Notifications, this takes you to a blank screen.
  • View Generated site: View the site you have just edited.
  • Edit Site: Opens the SiteMgr editing tool.
  • You'll also notice that three other submenus that have appeared:
  • Other Web sites: Here you can create new sites within your eGroupWare site.
  • Preferences: Customize how many icons and toolbars the editor shows.
  • Documentation: Open up the SiteMgr manual. Unfortunately, this documentation is far from complete.

The main tools that you will use to edit the site will be within the dotted red lines (around each section of the site editor.) These tools will vary per box-type being edited. Let's start off with the simplest type: the Header.

Editing within the Header

Take a look at Figure D, which shows how the header appears within the site editing tool.

Figure D

This block will be near the very top of the site.

There are a number of edits to be made within this block, all of them very simple. You can add a new block within the header. The blocks are added by selecting the block type from the drop-down list. The available blocks to add within the header are a search block, HTML block, or a file contents block. You can also, by using the up or down arrows, change the sort order of the block, thereby moving the block within the site. By pressing the Edit button, you can edit the content currently within the block (in this case, the text "Demo Site"). You can also, by clicking the X, delete the block.

When you open the block editor for the header block, you will see a fairly straight-forward WYSIWYG editor (shown in Figure E) that will allow you to edit the text of the block.

Figure E

Although it says that this module is only an HTML editor, you can also do a bit of version revisioning with this tool.

One of the nicest aspects of this editor is that you can control various versions of the block. By default, you are opening the published version of the block, but you can edit drafts, prepublished, preunpublished, and archived versions of the block. You can also change the sort order, as well as dictate who can see the block.

From within this same block editor, you can create new versions of the block. If you press the Create New Version button near the bottom of the editor window, you'll notice a new editing area below the current area. In this new area, there will be a Version Number, and that version number will appear in draft status.

Once you create the new version, press the Apply button to apply the changes. Now you will have two version of the same block visible within the editing window. Once you're finished, you can change the new version from Draft to Published and the old version from Published to Archived and save the changes. The new version of the block will now appear on the site.

Editing within the center

The center section becomes a bit more complex, simply because there are so many more types of blocks that can be added. From the drop-down list, you can add the following types of blocks to the center section:

  • Tracker
  • Wiki
  • Bookmarks
  • Polls
  • News Admin
  • phpBrain
  • Search
  • Template
  • Navigation
  • Redirect
  • HTML
  • Frame
  • Filecontents
  • Download
  • Resource

Each of these sections have specific features within the editor. Let's say, for example, you want to add news to the center section of your page. Select news_admin from the drop-down box and a new window will open, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Remember, this module publishes news from the news_admin application of your eGroupWare Web site, so you will have to have that set up as well.

First, edit the Title, select who you want to see the module, give it a sort order (0 being top), and give it a version status. Then choose a news category from the drop-down list and select which parts of the news you want shown. Decide how many news items you want to show and if you want to show an RSS feed for the category. Finally, press Save, and your news block will be visible on the site.

Look around each of the various sections you are allowed to add to the Center of the page. As you get familiar with the editing of each section, you can decide if you want to add that section or not; that will depend on your department's needs. Remember, each section allows you to specify which user group can view the module added. You have the choice between Everybody, Registered (eGW) users, Administrators, or Anonymous. With that in mind, let's head over to the eGroupWare user/group administration and add new groups.

Press on the Admin icon at the top of your eGroupWare page. From there, select the Usergroups link and then press the Add button. Let's say you want to add the group Editorial. Enter the name Editorial in the Group Name text area. From the list, select the users to be included in this group (this can be adjusted as new users are registered). Now select which applications you want to make available to this group from the list of applications. Select Submit Changes and the group will be added.

Once that group has been added and users have been assigned to that group, they will only be able to view or use the applications they have permission to view/use. This is a great way to enable eGroupWare to satisfy the needs of a large company with many groups with varied needs.

Viewing your site

Once you have the site exactly how you want it, select the View Generated Site from within the left navigation. If the site is successful, you can press on the back arrow and then select Commit Changes. Once you have committed the changes, you can select View Generated Site to see the site you have just created. To actually view the site, you simply have to go to the top icon list, press the down arrow to view the extra applications pop-up, and select the Web site link.

Users seeing the new site

This aspect of the SiteMgr is not very obvious; the trick is to create an anonymous user and assign them only the SiteMgr and the Web site applications (since Web site acts as a redirect to the generated site). This way, when that user is on the site, they will immediately be directed to the SiteMgr generated Web site. To do this, create the anonymous user and make sure to select the Web site entry as their default application under the user preferences (the default is Calendar).

Best use of SiteMgr

I have found that the best way to use the SiteManager tool is for working on pre-production sites. Then you can make changes to the sites layout without affecting the production site.

Final thoughts

The eGroupWare SiteMgr is a powerful tool with a number of outstanding uses. Whether you are helping to define particular pages for user groups, or working on pre-production sites, this tool will help empower eGroupWare to perfectly fit the needs of your company.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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