MyRealPage Websites: Anatomy of a Website
MyRealPage Website is modeled one level higher than a web Page and is comprised of the following elements:
- Collection of Pages
- Master Template
- Site Settings
- Web-Drive for images, files and resources
In addition, MyRealPage Websites automatically support the following features:
- Separation of Live and Staging (Editing) areas
- Publishing of changes to become visible on the Live site as a separate step
- Archiving old Pages, Master Template or Site Settings before publishing changes; and ability to recover these when needed
- Hot swapping Themes, where each Theme can be selected from a Theme Picker; and where each Theme can be structurally different (i.e. different HTML code, not just CSS)
- Ability to preview the ENTIRE website from the Staging area: both pages that have been edited and those that haven’t; creating a fully merged website preview. Staging area can be viewed by following a special URL which can be sent by designers to their clients for preview and approval prior to publishing.
An in-depth view of the Page and Master Template has been covered in another article; hence, we’ll cover here the following topics:
- Edit-Publish Cycle + Archiving
- Site Settings
- Domain pointing
- Miscellaneous (URL space, custom robots, custom sitemap.xml)
edit-publish cycle + ARCHIVING
MyRealPage websites are designed to provide the user with a “Staging” (Editing) area for their website. When editing the website, all changes are made within the Staging area and only when the changes are finished and ready to go live, they can be PUBLISHED to the live website.
The Staging area not only provides the ability to make changes and preview them, it also provides an entire “mode” for the website. The Staging mode allows the ENTIRE website to be visible in a merged fashion, where all the pages with edits and pages that have not be edited are seamlessly merged into a coherent website. This is especially useful for someone who makes the changes and can later send the “Staging” URL to the client for review and approval: this would be equivalent to providing a link to an entirely new website with all the changes applied to an existing website but not visible live.
All changes to the Site Settings, Pages, and the Master Template undergo the consistent Edit-Publish Cycle. The user can select to publish several selected items, or everything in the “Staging” area. Note, however, that resources and assets in the Web-Drive DO NOT abide by the Edit-Publish cycle and are available live immediately upon upload.
An important step in the Edit-Publish cycle is Archiving. Before any item is published to the Live website, if this item existed on the Live Site prior to publishing, it will be copied into a timestamped area in the Site History area. This provides an additional level of recovery in case something goes wrong and a prior version of an item (Page, Master Template, or Site Settings) needs to be recovered. Each timestamped archive provides a merged website preview, much like the “Staging” mode and the user can see how their pages looked at a particular time in the past. (Note that if the Theme or CSS has been changed since the archive was created, the archive may be previewable in the current Theme, not the Theme that was in effect at the time of archiving.)
Site Settings is a collection of options and settings that are applicable to the entire website. It is available for editing through a “Site Settings” dialog. Site Settings allow the user to edit:
- Theme: selected Theme for this website
- Basic Owner Info, such as website title, sub-title and slogan. These are useful for weblets, such as Flash Banner, and Contact weblet, email content, etc.
- Owner Photo: can be skipped, but otherwise used by Contact weblet, Flash Banners, etc.
- Owner Logo: can be skipped, but otherwise used by Contact weblet, Flash Banners, etc.
- Menu / Navigation: this is the navigation tree which can be configured as a model for the entire website navigation. This tree is used by the Menu Weblet, Site Map weblet and others. It is not strictly necessary to create the menu and navigation; as these can be configured manually on a per Master Template or Page basis. However, it’s useful for the sitemap and sitemap.xml
- Keywords: the content for meta tag “keywords” that will appear in ALL pages (use with care!)
- Favorites Icon: the favicon which will appear for ALL pages (can also be configured for an individual page)
- Custom Home Page: typically “index.html” is the home page on the website, but a custom page can be configured, such as “intro.html”, etc.
Site Settings: Basic
Site Settings: Menu
Site Settings: Custom
Site Settings: Advanced
It is important to remember that Site Settings undergo the same Edit-Publish cycle as all pages on the website. Hence, you can modify any information in the Site Settings and have it only appear in the Staging version of the website and publish it when ready.
One particular setting in the Site Settings can have a profound effect on how your website looks in the Staging and in the Live versions: the Theme. You can switch the Theme in the Staging (editing) website and have the entire Staging website change its look and feel without affecting your Live website. When publishing your changes, don’t forget to publish your Site Settings if you changed the Theme; otherwise, all the changes will be visible in the old theme of your main website. The old Site Settings are always archived before the new ones are published and you can recover the archived Site Settings. Note that recovering archived Site Settings automatically recovers them to both Live AND Staging site.
Web-Drive is a place in MyRealPage website where images and other files can be uploaded to. It has two root folders: “My Web-Drive” and “My Vault”.
“My Web-Drive” provides a starting point for all publicly available files. You can create arbitrary folder structures under “My Web-Drive” and upload files to any of these folders. Web-Drive allows similar file management to what you will find in many File Managers. However, note the following points about the Web-Drive:
- “My Web-Drive” can be manually linked to by a relative link that begins with “_media/…” and followed by the folder structure and filename you are linking to
- Web-Drive does not keep reference counts and doesn’t prevent you from deleting a file which is referenced on your website: take care not to create broken links!
- Web-Drive includes an integrated Image Editor which allows users to size, crop and optimize their images for the web
- Web-Drive also includes an automatic detection when the user attempts to insert an image into a page where the image is too large to be accommodated by the current layout. The user is then presented with a dialog, asking whether the image should be automatically resized, manually resized, or left as is.
“My Vault” folder in the Web-Drive allows users to upload files which they wish to protect from public view and make available only to registered website users. These can be useful for cases where special reports or other materials may require a login (MyRealPage websites automatically support login and registration for web users and it’s very easy to make a page login protected: it’s just a simple checkbox in Page Settings).
MyRealPage website management system includes integrated ability for users to connect to their resources, such as images, files, etc. The Rich Text editors and other screens have been modified to include the “File Browser” to let users pick their resources: i.e. no need to copy and paste intricate URLs; most resource linking can be achieved via direct mouse click selections. The same is true for page linking, no need to remember URLs, most screens include a link to a Page Browser which allows direct mouse click selection of a page for linking within a website.
Domain Management and Pointing
MyRealPage provides a full Domain management interface. This is the place where a website is connected to one or more domains. The Domain management provided by MyRealPage is pretty powerful and allows a user to:
- Register and a configure a brand new domain (billable)
- Transfer and configure an existing domain (billable)
- Simply configure an existing domain without registering or transferring (free)
- Point the domain to
– Main Website
– A Page in the Main Website
– A Listing page (if subscribed to Listings)
– A Pre-defined search (if subscribed to Listings)
– A Pre-defined search form (if subscribed to Listings)
– An Agent page (if subscribed to Agent Directory as broker)
– A 301 (permanent) redirect to another website
– A 302 (temporary) redirect to another website
- Specify whether you prefer the domain to follow [non-www] naming convention or [www] naming convention
- Edit the pointing domain options at a later date
Miscellaneous (URL space, custom robots, custom sitemap.xml)
URL Space: MyRealPage provides a flat URL space for its pages. All pages are created as [page-name].html entities and are always referenced off the “root” of the website (no hierarchical page URLs at this time). This has an side benefit to making the website’s URL structure very simple and hence portable if the content ever needed to be migrated elsewhere. Note that specialized URLs, including hierarchical ones are going to be supported for special sections in website: more information pending.
Robots.txt: MyRealPage will automatically generate the robots.txt file from the root of the website. If the contents of that file are not satisfactory, the user can upload a custom robots file named “custom-robots.txt” to the root of “My Web-Drive”.
Sitemap.xml: MyRealPage will automatically generate the sitemap and sitemap.xml for every website. Sitemap.xml will include all pages, as well as all links to Listings (if subscribed to Listings), and all links to Blog Posts. If the contents of the sitemap.xml are not satisfactory, the user can upload a file named “custom-sitemap.xml” to the root of “My Web-Drive”.