1.3 Recommended Skills and Tools

Content Server brings together a wide variety of technologies to deliver advanced functionality. To modify the system, certain experience and skills with some or all of these technologies is required.

The technical skills required to customize your content management system can vary depending on the complexity of the customization. For example, much customization can be accomplished with knowledge of HTML and Idoc Script.

This list describes, in descending order of importance, the skills you may need to modify the Content Server:

  • Content Server Architecture—You should thoroughly understand how the Content Server works and how components and dynamic server pages function before you begin customizing your system.

  • HTML/CSS—You'll need a good understanding of HTML and cascading style sheets (CSS) to make changes to the Content Server Web page templates. The templates are not complex in their use of HTML, but they make constant use of HTML tables and frequent use of forms. The std_page.idoc and std_css.idoc files include cascading style sheets to control the look-and-feel of the default templates, including fonts and layout.

  • Idoc Script—Idoc Script is the custom server-side scripting language for Content Server. Almost every Content Server Web page includes some Idoc Script, which provides the methods for processing various page elements.

  • JavaScript—The internal content of most Content Server pages do not use JavaScript, but the Search, Checkin, and Update pages are notable exceptions. You must have an understanding of JavaScript before you create customization that is called in place of these pages. Also, you must understand JavaScript to alter layouts. Changing layouts relies heavily on JavaScript and cascading style sheets for design and navigation.

  • SQL—The Content Server uses Structured Query Language to perform queries on the database. Knowledge of SQL can help you understand the standard queries and create your own custom queries.

  • Java Programming—The Content Server is implemented with Java classes. You should have a thorough understanding of Java and the Content Server Java class files before attempting to make any changes to the underlying functionality. However, the product can be customized extensively without having to work with Java.

  • Other programming—Experience with other tools such as Visual Basic, COM, .Net, C++, VBScript, and so forth may be helpful if you are doing complex customization or integrating your content management system with other systems.

You may find the following tools useful when customizing the Content Server:

  • Text Editor—Most product customizing can be done with a normal text editor such as Microsoft WordPad or vi.

  • HTML Editor—If you prefer to use a graphical HTML editor to work with HTML pages, use caution—such programs often change the source HTML, and may cause Idoc Script tags to be converted into a string of characters that are no longer be recognized by the Content Server. If you use a graphical editor, make sure you edit in a non-graphical mode.

  • Multiple Browsers—You should test customization on multiple versions of any Web browsers that might be used to interface with the content management system. Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, and Safari do not display content in the same manner, and different versions of the same browser may exhibit different behaviors.

  • JavaScript Debugger—A JavaScript debugger can ease the task of JavaScript development. A number of JavaScript debuggers are available for download from the Internet.

  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Java—If your customization requires the development of Java code, you need an appropriate Java development environment.