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Content types and content modeling

The cookbook The Candy Makers' Guide, written in 1896 by the Fletcher Manufacturing Company, is remarkable because it gives us a glimpse into contemporaneous industrial confectioners' practices; it is equally remarkable that it survived to appear on gutenberg.org. We can use this cookbook to understand the concepts of content types and content modeling.

Content types

Paging through The Candy Makers' Guide, you notice several categories of similar items.

This categorization gives you a hint about content types within this publication: recipes, techniques, and advertisements. (The actual publication has other content types, such as title page and introduction.)

Electronic publishing leverages content types in a similar way. The following table lists typical content types in some modern electronic publications:

Table 8. Publications and associated content types

Type of publication

Typical content types

Cookbook

  • Recipe

    • Title

    • Ingredients

    • Process

    • Tip

    • Image

    • Chef

  • Chef

    • Name

    • Title

    • Image

Blog

  • Blog post

    • Headline

    • Body

    • Blogger

  • Blogger

    • Name

    • Title

    • Image

News

  • Article

    • Headline

    • Body

    • Reporter

  • Reporter

    • Name

    • Title

    • Image



Referring to the previous table, a cookbook has two content types: Recipe and Chef. The Recipe content type has the following components:

  • Title

  • Ingredients

  • Process

  • Tip

  • Image

  • Chef

Chef is a content type nested within Recipe, and has the following components:

  • Name

  • Title

  • Image

Look at the web sites that you visit. Those that use a content management system (and almost all enterprise-grade sites do) have many instances of the same content type. You should be able to identify the various content types, nested content types, and the components within them.

Content modeling

Looking at the illustration Recipe content type, we see that it includes a title, ingredients list, process, and tip. In fact, all recipes in The Candy Makers' Guide have a title, ingredients list, and process, and a few of them have a tip. This helps us model the content for every recipe.

Field

Type

Required

Title

Text

Yes

Ingredients list

List of Text

Yes

Process

Text

Yes

Tip

Text

No

More generally, content modeling is the process of determining which fields comprise a content type and the characteristics of those fields. The typical questions that content modeling answers include the following:

  • What type of a field is it (text, numeric, image, date, etc.)?

  • Is the field required?

  • How does the field appear in the content edit form (at the top, at the bottom, under a specific tab)?

(Brightspot includes dozens of characteristics you can associate with each field in a content model. For details, contact your Brightspot representative.)

Content modeling and the content edit form

The table Publications and associated content types indicates a recipe has several fields, such as title and ingredients. In an electronic cookbook, some of those fields are required (such as title and ingredients list) and some are optional. The following table further defines our content model for a recipe.

Table 9. Content model for recipe

Field

Type

Required

Title

Text

Yes

Ingredients list

List of Text

Yes

Process

Text

Yes

Tip

Text

No

Image

Graphic

No

Chef

Chef

No



Fields in a content model such as in the previous table appear in Brightspot's content edit form.

content-modeling-recipe.png

Referring to the previous image, the fields Title, Ingredients, and Process are required, corresponding to the content model in the table Content model for recipe. Editors must enter text in these fields. In addition, the fields appear in the same order as they do in the content model.

Nested content types

Recipes in an electronic cookbook are often submitted by a chef. Referring to the table Content model for recipe, each recipe has a field called Chef with the following fields.

Field

Type

Required

Name

Text

Yes

Title

Text

Yes

Image

Graphic

No

Additionally, both Recipe and Chef contain an image. Each image has two components: graphic and optional caption.

Field

Type

Required

Graphic

File

Yes

Caption

Text

No

The following illustrations are examples of Recipe and Chef. Both content types have an image with a caption, and the chef has a stand-alone page as well as a mention nested in the recipe.

Recipe
Figure 22. Recipe


Chef biography
Figure 23. Chef biography


The following illustration shows the nesting between recipes, chefs, and images.

nested-content-types.svg

Referring to the previous illustration, the Image content type is part of the Recipe and Chef content type, and the Chef content type is part of the Recipe content type (as well as a stand-alone content type). The advantage to nesting is automatic inheritance: any change you make to the Image content type automatically flows up to the parent content types. For example, if you add a field Date Taken to Image, Chef and Recipe automatically include that field in their content models.