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Content Module

Basic concepts

Basic concepts

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:05 pm
Author: mark Location: England
Base Content Types

The Content module handles various types of content, but they can (and are internally) split into 5 basic content types, as follows :-

1 - Text
2 - Image
3 - Embedded
4 - Local Video
5 - Local Audio

I'll describe these in more detail.

1 - Text

Any kind of text based content such as news, articles, blogs, help guides etc., where the main body of the page produced is text, although the text could contain images and other media of course.

2 - Image

Any kind of content where the main body of page is an image, such as a gallery. Text descriptions of the image can be added as well, but the focus is on the image.

3 - Embedded

Primarily designed for movie clips like YouTube where the movie itself is hosted somewhere else and an < object > tag is used to include it in the page. Again text descriptions can be added, but the main content of the page is an embedded object.

4 - Local Video

Content which is hosted locally (on your own website) and streamed / viewed using a hosted flash player. Ideal for hosting your own MP4 movies in high quality rather than uploading them to YouTube first.

5 - Local Audio

Same as the above except designed for media which has an audio component only, such as MP3 music files etc.

The Content module actually supports 16 different types of content out of the box, but they're all based on one of the above base content types. Additional content types can be added but they must all be one of these basic types.

Specific Content Types

When an item (article, image, movie clip etc.) is added to the Content system it's not defined as one of the base types described above, instead it's defined as one of a number of specific content types all of which are one of the base content types described above.

For example there's a (specific) content type of "Blog", which is base content type "Text", and a (specific) content type "YouTube" which is base content type "Embedded". There are 16 specific content types shipped with the Content module but only 5 base content types, so you can see there can be many specific types that share a common base.

Additional specific content types can be created as required in the Content module admin section, and / or existing content types deleted / amended.

Whereas the methods by which base content types are handled internally is hard-coded in the module, specific content types can have lots of configuration options associated with them to fine tune how they're handled in the system. I won't go into those here as we're talking concepts rather than specifics at the moment.


All Content is recorded against a Category. You can create as many Categories as you like, and any Category can be a sub-Category of some existing Category (or some other sub-Category down to as many levels deep as you like).

Categories are generally collections of items of the same type, so an image gallery category, for example, would be a colletion of images, but they don't have to be. There are several configuration options at Category level to further refine how content is managed and arranged in the system.

Categories also link to the permission system, which is Group based, so members of a specific Group can only view content in a certain Category, as required.


Where Categories are "collections of items", Channels are (or can be but are actually much more) "collections of Categories".

For example, suppose you wanted to produce a page about your favourite pop group. You might want an image gallery, a collection of movie clips, some articles you've written about them, and a blog you regularly update about them. How would you put all this on a single page in DragonFly using standard modules? You might get close with a single module plus some blocks, but then again you probably wouldn't in practise because that's not how DragonFly is designed to work.

With the Content module you could not only store all these different types of content in the same module, not only group content into categories (or albums or whatever you want to call them), but via the Channel feature you could put all this stuff on the same page by putting content from several categories on one page, something that no other DragonFly module lets you do, as far as I know.

Page Design

Using Channels to arrange collections of categories, especially categories containing different types of content, not only takes DragonFly to another level as a content system, but the Content module also provides a page designer to allow you to layout your page in ways the standard side blocks + centre module approach of DragonFly doesn't allow.

Forget "blocks", think "boxes". With the page designer you create boxes called "Areas" which act as containers for other boxes called, er, "Boxes", which in turn contain the content. The page you design is a collection of boxes, which can be arranged however you like, so you can have 1, 2, 3 columns across (or 4 or 5 or 10 if you want), as well as mixing columns down the page, so have 3 columns across followed underneath by 2 columns, followed underneath by 4 columns etc. Gone are the days of side blocks and fixed layouts. Design lots of different pages, using lots of different layouts, containing lots of different types of content, all with one module.

As you may have guessed the home page on this site is produced by the Content module using the page designer. You could probably achieve the same thing with a custom theme (the top message box is usually displayed between the side blocks rather than above), however what about this page :-

or this :-

You'd struggle to produce layouts like that, and certainly producing such different pages on the same site would require a fair bit of custom coding. However both these pages are the Content module + page designer at work.

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