Getting started - using Sense/Net

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Welcome to Sense/Net ECMS! This page is a brief guide on how to use the basic features of the portal that are available just by clicking around - no developer or designer skills are required! After reading through the articles linked from here you will be able to log in to the system, explore, create and manage content, create new pages and present content, manage pages, create pages with built-in web applications and manage users!


The following diagram gives you an overview of the main concepts of Sense/Net ECMS. These components are only a taste of the many possibilities you get when you start building a site on this platform.

Sense/Net ECMS - one system

Demo site

Demo site
After installing Sense/Net and browsing the installed site in a browser you are presented with a demo page (http://localhost This link works only if you have a live demo install on your localhost! (Don't forget! Some feature needs authentication and/or admin rights!)) containing links to features that are ready to try! Some features require you to log in - you can use the default admin / admin username / password combination. The demo site links two bigger content management demo pages:
  • the Dynamic content demo presenting you an all-in-one imaginary news demo site
  • and the Workspaces demo introducing the workspace concept of Sense/Net organizing different content related to each other under workspaces.

Beside the two bigger demo pages a couple of built-in features are also ready to try. Just mentioning a couple of the presented features Content demo, Event calendar, Gallery, Menu, Search, User management are available. Take your time and explore the demo site to get a picture of what Sense/Net is capable of! You will find basic information about the features and usage in the yellow info boxes on the pages. If you get stuck somewhere come back to this page and continue reading articles you find below.

Content

Content
The basic block for storing information in Sense/Net is called Content. A Content can be any kind of data, for example users, documents, memos, tasks, text files, etc. are all referred to as content in the portal. Any content can be created, edited, copied, moved or deleted easily. A content is built up of fields (a user content for example has name field and password field) - different types of content can be defined by defining a different set of fields (see Content Types later). You can read more about Content in Sense/Net at:

Content can be created and edited through administrative surfaces of the portal. Read on to see how to manage and present content and how to define custom Content Types!

Site

Site
Sites are the primary placeholder for web pages and Content. The Site Content Type is the corresponding type to IIS sites. To define a site you have to set its urls and a start page, from then onwards it can be used as the top-level container of pages and Content.

Sites can be created and edited through administrative surfaces of the portal too. Read the following article to see how to create build a new Sense/Net Site from scratch!

Lists and libraries

Lists
Lists are spreadsheet like tables where every row of information has the same columns in the given list. E.g. in a task list every task has a name, a due date, a priority and a status. In other lists the columns can be different. In Sense/Net you can define extra columns (fields) with some click in every list. For example in a task list you can add an additional field to store the reviewer of the task if you want. Lists can be defined to hold specific types of content and thus provide specialized functionality depending on the content type. When the data row in a list is a file, the list is called a library. A library of images for example may build up an image gallery with metadata like album year and source. On the other hand a document library provides actions for uploading and downloading documents or editing via webdav.

You can find several pre-defined lists in the default Sense/Net Content Repository structure under workspaces (you can read about workspaces later), for example /Root/Sites/Default_Site/workspaces/Document/londondocumentworkspace/Document_Library. A List can be displayed using a List portlet and providing a List View. The latter is a content that defines the visible fields of the list. The following how-to helps you get into picture with using Lists:

Workspaces

Workspaces
Sense/Net allows individuals in an organization to easily create and manage their own collaborative sites, called workspaces. A Sense/Net Workspace is a special area on your intranet, extranet or public site with libraries, lists and pages configured for a predefined goal. Workspaces may contain sub-workspaces, and further sub-workspaces.

You can create a new workspace from built-in workspace types (Sales workspace, Document workspace, Project workspace, etc.), create one from scratch, or create a new template others can use. Every workspace has its own navigation, members (custom permissions) and many other settings that are related only to the given workspace (e.g. a workspace wall). A root site (e.g. http://intranet/) is also a workspace, which means that Sense/Net sites are built from workspaces.

You can read more about Workspaces here:

Portal Remote Control

Portal Remote Control
To access any administrative features of the portal you can use the floating black widget called Portal Remote Control (PRC). It is visible on any page for logged in administrators (logging in with admin/admin credentials on a default install will allow you to immediately use the PRC) - click on it and a small administrative surface with color-coded icons will appear. The Portal Remote Control provides some basic information on the content and page you are browsing and also provides some links for managing the content or to navigate to other pages that helps you manage the content. You can read more about the PRC here:

By clicking on the Explore icon in the PRC you will enter Explore mode, the main administrative surface of Sense/Net where you can browse and manage your portal's content. Read on to see how it works!

Exploring and managing content

Content Explorer
The Content Explorer is the main administrative surface of Sense/Net. Here you can manage all content: create, copy, move, edit, delete, etc. The user interface provides a simple tree on the left side that shows all content in a hierarchical tree. This tree is the representation of the content repository, that is the storage layer containing all content in a tree. You can read more about the capabilities of this storage layer here:

The actually viewed content is presented on the right side. This presentation surface may vary for different content types - for a folder for example the child content list is shown here, whereas for a text file for example the text content of the file is presented. Read more about the Content Explorer here:

There are also a couple of actions available via links on the explorer surface with the help of which you can manage (copy, move, etc.) content. See more detailed info on managing content here:

Now you can manage content in the repository. All types of content, even users. Read on!

Managing users

User content
Users, groups and domains also appear as individual content in the Content Repository. They are placed in the folder /Root/IMS (http://localhost/Explore.html#/Root/IMS This link works only if you have a live demo install on your localhost! (Don't forget! Some feature needs authentication and/or admin rights!)) and you can manage them just like any other content you have already read about. Creating, deleting, editing users should be pretty straightforward, but the next article shows you everything you need to know about managing user accounts:

So much about managing content in the portal. Now it's time to leverage the broad arsenal of Content presentation features of Sense/Net! Read on to see how you can present the various content on portal interfaces to the users of your site!

Portlets

Portlets
You can present a single or multiple content on a page using portlets. Portlets are small applications that appear as small boxes on the page. By reading the next how-to you will be able to add a portlet to a page in your portal:

You can always create a new page anywhere under a site in Content Explorer to put portlets on, but here is a short tutorial on this if you are having trouble:

You can read more about portlets here:

As you could see in the above articles there is a wide variety of available portlets defined in the system. We only going to need a couple of those to display some content on pages. Read on to find out which portlets do we need!

Presenting content

Presenting content
Now that you know everything about adding portlets to pages the following how-to will be helpful when trying to present content using a portlet on a custom page:

You can find detailed information on the portlets that can be used to present content here:

To present multiple content on a page you could use portlets that can list a collection of content as a coherent list. The children content of a folder for example can be listed using a Content collection Portlet. Refer to the following how-to for detailed steps on how to do this:

Not only child content of a single folder can be presented as a coherent list but you can present a list of various content that are collected using a query. You can use a query that defines a set of content in a Content query presenter Portlet. The following tutorial shows you how this can be done in Sense/Net:

You can read more about Sense/Net content queries here:

When presenting content on a page their view can be fully customized. This is done with Content Views and Collection Views. A collection of images for example can be presented as an image gallery with the help of Collection Views, as it is shown on the demo site. You don't necessarily have to define any ContentViews to present a content, since every content can be displayed using the built-in Generic Content View that is type-independent. You can explore ContentViews and renderes under the folder /Root/Global/contentviews or /Root/Global/renderes. You can read about these in the Getting started - building portals guide, but before proceeding you need to have an overall picture of how different content are built up. Continue our guide with Content Types!

Content Types

Content Types
Different types of content are available in the portal. The type of a content is referred to as its Content Type, that defines the fields of the content and also its behavior. You can browse built-in content types by clicking Root Console on the Portal Remote Control and then clicking Content Types. Content types are defined in a type hierarchy meaning that certain Content Types inherit fields from other types. You can read more about Content Types here:

Individual Content Types are defined by a configuration xml referred to as a Content Type Definition (CTD). A CTD holds all the information that is necessary to represent a content in the Content Repository: the Content Type's name, Fields and Field Settings including visibility in Generic Content Views. Complex as it may sound, it's not a big deal to create your own Content Type, just go through the following tutorial:

Versioning and approving content

Versioning and approval
Content in Sense/Net can be versioned meaning that previous versions of a content are stored and last draft modifications will only be visible on public surfaces when they have been published. There are three different versioning modes: None, Major only, Major and minor. Versioning mode of content is controlled by the versioning mode of their parent folders in practice, but content-level versioning is also supported. Users are still able to check-out content for longer editing even if versioning is switched off. Versioning actions and the list of previous versions are available as action links on content (Check-out, Check-in, Undo changes, Versions) and some versioning functionality also on content datasheets (Save draft, Done editing).

Approving mode of content can be set regardless of the current versioning mode. Approving means that the modifications to a content need approval of a user with appropriate permissions before they can be published to the public. Approving actions are available as action links on content (Approve or reject). Read more on versioning and approval here:

Setting permissions

Permissions
Sense/Net has built-in functionality for user rights management. Setting permissions on content for different users or groups is done via an action link on content. The Set permissions link takes you to a page where you can edit and extend current permissions to the given content also allowing you to break permission inheritance and define new rules that will be applied to child content. You can read more about permission settings here:

Creating content from templates

Content templates
As you have seen at creating Content Types Content Fields can have default values. It is also possible to create content from templates, thus the newly created content can have different initial Field values depending on which template has it been created from. Moreover, not only default Field values can be defined using templates but whole content structures, so that when creating a new content a whole folder structure is created. To create a Content Template for a Content Type you just have to create the needed structure under the folder /Root/Global/ContentTemplates (http://localhost/Explore.html#/Root/ContentTemplates This link works only if you have a live demo install on your localhost! (Don't forget! Some feature needs authentication and/or admin rights!)). From then onwards the template will appear among the new menu items, and creating content structure from the template can be done just like creating simple content. Some pre-defined Content Templates include special file types like Empty document.docx (/Root/ContentTemplates/File/Empty document.docx) and complex structures like Project workspace (/Root/ContentTemplates/ProjectWorkspace/Project_Workspace). You can read more about Content Templates here:

A good example for creating content from templates is a Workspace. Read on to find out more about Workspaces!

Trash

Trash
The system contains a special folder for storing deleted content: the Trash bin. If a content is deleted it is moved to the Trash by default, and won't appear in queries. Deleted content can later be restored from the Trash bin. It is also possible to turn off this feature for specific content, or to permanently delete content regardless of whether the Trash bin is enabled or not. You can read more about this handy feature here:

Skins

Skin system
Let's move on and take a look at how you can customize the look and feel of your pages using the Sense/Net Skin system! Skins are defined in the /Root/Skins folder. The skin used by the portal by default is called sensenet. You can define the skin used by your pages simply by editing the properties of the page content in Content Explorer and setting the Skin field to the skin of your choice. You can read more about this here:

Built-in web applications

Web application
Let's go back to the portlets for just a second. As mentioned before there are dozens of portlets defined in the system apart from the ones that are useful to present content. You can find a couple of portlets that are stand-alone web applications. A Login Portlet for example allows your users to log into the portal on the page it is displayed. A Form Portlet allows you to display a form content and allow the users to submit forms after filling out the given form fields. You can check currently installed portlets in the folder /Root/Portlets (http://localhost/Explore.html#/Root/Portlets This link works only if you have a live demo install on your localhost! (Don't forget! Some feature needs authentication and/or admin rights!)) since portlets also appear as content in the portal. You can find detailed description of individual portlets here:

Congratulations! You have finished the Getting started guide on using Sense/Net! Managing and presenting portal content should not be a problem for you from now on. You can check out the How-tos page to see more tutorials or you can return to the Main Page and check out other Getting started guides to get acquainted with other areas of Sense/Net!