Smart Folder Intelligence
You've seen how collections provide a way to augment an organization of content, with overlapping or overarching additional smart folders that key on date, or specific fields, or text searches. There is a deeper meaning to this, which gets to something called metadata, or "data about data," introduced in the section on Setting Basic Properties. Content management systems have this metadata, a kind of low-level intelligence, built into them. Plone incorporates the Dublin Core metadata element set, which was devised in Dublin, Ohio in 1995 at a library conference (Librarians are on the ones really on top of information, you know). As the name indicates, there is a core set of things one could describe for different bits of content, be they images or full documents, or whatever. The Dublin Core, properly, the Simple Dublin Core, includes the following 15 items:
There are added-on wrinkles to this core you may read about here, but for this introduction to the concept, the Simple Dublin Core will suffice. You'll find some of these under the Properties tab of any item in Plone, and several others are implied by the nature of the content itself, such as for Type and Format, or by basic record-keeping wired into Plone, as for Publisher.
We are all lazy by nature, someone said. If only we filled in this optional information for any content item we create -- Think of the vast information and power at our fingertips! An exaggeration? Perhaps, but as we explore here, the functionality is there waiting for your data-describing impulse to discover hidden potential (not so hidden -- in fact, right in front of your face).
Imagine a woman who stuffs all her content into a single big folder holding thousands of content items -- images, pages, events, news items, links -- the works. If you looked over her shoulder at this swirling mass, you might first think her to be a lazy person, or just one missing the organization gene. But you notice that she can always find stuff, and has quick search links stored away, and, when she needs to find something special, or to build a custom report, she is adept at fast assembly. How does she do it? She does it by dedication to filling out those metadata fields and by taking advantage of those clever smart folders.
The one-folder woman is using Plone as a content management system de rigueur. (Of course, it is so easy to also organize by folders, even in some crude sense, if you really are missing the organization gene). You might think such dedication should be limited to very large organizations, or especially to those cases where finding connections within information can bring significantly greater understanding -- or, potentially, wealth. But think of all those photos you've been taking with your digital camera. You have had the presence of mind to fill in at least the description field, haven't you? You know how quickly months become years, and 100s of photos become 1000s. You get the idea.
The payoff to using an intelligent system properly is efficiency and the discovery of relationships, perhaps subtle.