At the Forge - Bricolage Alerts
Last month, we started to look into the powerful open-source Bricolage content management system (CMS) written by David Wheeler and based on mod_perl, HTML::Mason and PostgreSQL. Content management software is a relatively new type of Web application, designed to make it possible to manage large Web sites. Bricolage has been widely hailed as a new open-source success story, demonstrating that proprietary software is not necessarily more flexible or more powerful than its free software counterparts.
It's important to remember that although a CMS is a Web-based application that depends on dynamically generated server-side programs, the output from a CMS typically is a static site. So even though Bricolage is a large Web/database program and customizing Bricolage requires server-side programming skills, it actually is an application meant to be used on a day-to-day basis by nonprogrammers. Indeed, organizations from Salon.com to MacWorld on-line currently use Bricolage. And thousands of other Web sites, from CNet to LinuxJournal.com, use content management solutions ranging from Vignette (complex, proprietary and expensive) to PHPNuke (simple, open source and free of charge).
This month, we look at one of my favorite Bricolage features, alerts, which allow users to keep track of different activities on a Bricolage system. Not only do alerts keep us informed of what is happening, they also provide a good way to see how the system works—by looking at the list of objects, by the actions that can be taken on each of those objects and by knowing when the alerts actually are triggered.
Bricolage, like most CMS software, moves articles through stations in a pipeline. In Bricolage, these stations are known as desks, reflecting the software's origins in the world of journalism. Stories thus begin at the edit desk, move to the copy desk, then to the legal desk and finally to the publish desk, from which they actually can be published on the Web.
On a small Web site being managed by only a handful of people, it is easy to keep track of which articles are kept where. But once you get beyond a small number of people or a small number of articles, it becomes difficult to keep track of what is happening with each article.
One way to handle this work flow is to look at the various desks, one at a time, to see what stories are on each one and then take appropriate action. But this looking can get tedious, and you might want to track stories in the news category or those by a particular author, rather than all of them. Moreover, it would be nice to receive notification of work-flow events via e-mail.
This functionality exists in Bricolage, and in true open-source fashion, it is customizable to an amazing degree. To create or modify alerts, click on the alert types menu item under the system menu in the lower right-hand side of the screen. This is one of the admin menus, meaning it's accessible only to users with administrative privileges. The resulting screen, like most other administrative screens in Bricolage, allows you to search for an alert by name or view all alerts that begin with a particular letter.
You can create a new alert type by clicking on the create new alert type link. This brings up a short HTML form that asks you to identify the Bricolage object on which you want to put an alert. So if you want to be alerted when something happens to stories, ask for alerts on stories. And if you want to be alerted when a new user is added to the system, ask for alerts on users. In short, almost any object in Bricolage can be placed under an alert.
As an example, let's create an alert to tell us when any story with “Linux” in the headline is moved from one desk to another. Once again, Bricolage makes it easy for us to monitor any object. This, however, is undoubtedly one of the more common types of alert that take place.
We now choose create new alert type from the admin menu, then create a new alert on Story objects. We then are presented with a list of actions that Bricolage can watch for us, ranging from category added to story to story published to element deleted from story. For this example, we choose Story moved to desk and name it Linux story moved.
Each alert type must have an owner; in this particular case, the owner is me, because I'm logged in as myself. The only user initially created by Bricolage, whose login is admin, is known as Bricolage Administrator. This admin user should be treated the same as the UNIX root user. It certainly can own alerts, but you are better off creating additional users (with the admin/user menu in the bottom left-hand corner), giving yourself administrative permissions and then logging in as yourself rather than as the administrator.
In any event, clicking on the next button at the bottom of this page brings you to the main alert type editing screen, which is used to create new alert types and modify existing ones. Each alert has four parts:
Properties: the name and owner of the alert type, which we entered on the previous page.
Rules: a description of when the alert should fire. Each rule consists of a variable (selected from a pull-down menu, thus avoiding the potential for misspellings), a comparison test and a text field into which you can enter the comparison value.
Content: the e-mail message sent to alert recipients. This can include a number of different variables, from the story's headline to its publication date.
Recipients: the users and groups who should receive the alert, if and when it fires. You can send an alert to all editors, to all authors or to George and Frank but not Deborah and Mary.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide