At the Forge - Publishing with Bricolage
If you publish an on-line newspaper or magazine, you probably already have looked into a content management system (CMS). CMS software makes it easy to keep track of the many pages on a Web site by handling issues as varied as users, groups, permissions, editing responsibilities and site-wide templates. The more pages on your site, or the more people working on it, the more likely it is that you can benefit from a CMS.
Many companies have sprung up to meet this need, offering CMS software that claims to do everything but write your site's content. (Although given the quality of writing on some sites, you sometimes have to wonder.) It has taken some time, but a number of open-source CMS packages are available that can fulfill even the most complex site requirements. One of the most powerful and popular packages is Bricolage, which combines the mod_perl module for Apache, the PostgreSQL relational database and the HTML::Mason templating system into one neat package (sourceforge.net/projects/bricolage).
In previous installments of this column, we looked at some basic configurations of a Mason system, including alerts that can be set to fire when certain events occur. Until now, however, we have neglected the most important task of all for a CMS, namely, publishing content to an actual Web site. This month, we follow an article as it goes from inception to publication, working its way down the Bricolage publishing pathway.
The first step in all of this is to create a Web site on which the content can be published. I created a virtual host named output.lerner.co.il on my server, with its own directories for error and access logs. I then added an appropriate VirtualHost directive in my Apache configuration file, as follows:
<VirtualHost 184.108.40.206> ServerName output.lerner.co.il ServerAdmin firstname.lastname@example.org DocumentRoot /usr/local/apache/ ↪v-sites/output.lerner.co.il/www CustomLog /usr/local/apache/v-sites/ ↪output.lerner.co.il/logs/access-log combined CustomLog /usr/local/apache/v-sites/ ↪output.lerner.co.il/logs/referer-log referer ErrorLog /usr/local/apache/v-sites/ ↪output.lerner.co.il/logs/error-log </VirtualHost>
Now, when my server receives a request for output.lerner.co.il, it looks in the output.lerner.co.il/www directory rather than in the main document root, generally defined to be /usr/local/apache/htdocs.
Before we can publish any articles to the Web with Bricolage, we must tell the CMS where new files should be deposited. In Bricolage, this is done with the Destinations menu option, under the Distributions heading. You can create multiple output destinations, allowing you to have multiple sites with a single Bricolage instance. This might be the case for a publisher whose staff produces several different newspapers. Each output destination can be on the local filesystem or on a remote site accessed by FTP.
Click on New Destination to create a new publishing destination. Most small sites need only a single channel, which allows all documents to be exported to the site's DocumentRoot on the disk. You then must indicate a few things: 1) whether the Web site resides on the same computer as the Bricolage system or whether files must be copied to a remote computer using FTP and 2) the output channels to which this should be made private. We assume the Bricolage server and the final Web server are on the same computer—but in a larger-scale environment, especially where performance is an issue, it would be wise to split them up. The first new destination screen is shown in Figure 1.
Although Bricolage allows you to define new output channels, keep the default Web channel for now. The difference between output channels and destinations can be a bit confusing at first. Think of an output channel as a logical target and a destination as a physical target, and then realize that you can mix and match them in all sorts of different ways. You can have multiple output channels going to a single destination or a single output channel going to multiple destinations.
Once you have provided some basic information about your new destination, you have to define at least one action (“move”) and then define the most important part, the server section. In the server section you indicate the server on which the files eventually should be deposited. As we've already indicated that we are copying files rather than using FTP, we need to fill in only the destination pathname, which should match the DocumentRoot of the Apache virtual host where the document will be available.
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