Introduction

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to introduce site designers to the Gondola platform, including how to manage the templates and media for a Gondola site.

About Gondola

Gondola is a hosted content management system (CMS). We manage all of the “back-end” code on our servers, while providing full access of the “front-end” code for customization of the look and feel of the site. Gondola is written using the Django Web framework.

Getting Started

Overview

Gondola provides remote access to templates and static media files via the WebDAV protocol. Since Gondola is a hosted service, all your development must be done against our remote system. You will have access to a development site where changes can be tested prior to pushing to production. Assuming you are working on mysite.com, you will be setup with the following URLs on our system:

  • mysite.gondolacms.com - your production site
  • dev.mysite.gondoclacms.com - your development/testing site
  • mysite.webdav.gondolacms.com - WebDAV access to your templates and static media

The Admin

The administration interface is used to manage content on the site. It can be accessed via http://[mysite].gondolacms.com/admin/. In addition to site administration, you will see a set of links in the upper-right:

_images/docs_updates.png

Documentation

The site documentation provides links to documentation for all of the features available to you as a site designer. Probably the best place to start is the Views documentation which will show you every page available on the site, what its function is, what template it uses, and what variables are available within that template.

Gondola Updates

We regularly update Gondola to add features, make it easier to use, and fix bugs. Any major changes are documented here.

Customizing your Site

After poking around the admin a bit, you’re probably ready to start customizing your site. The first step is to connect to your files via WebDAV. All the major operating systems have WebDAV support built-in so the remote files can be edited as if they were on your local machine. If you are unsure of how to connect via WebDAV, consult your operating systems help files or simply look it up on Google. Once connected, you will see two folders:

  • static - your static media (CSS, JavaScript, Images, Flash, etc.)
  • templates - your site templates

Within each folder, you will find 3 directories:

  • default - a read-only copy of our default files that will provide a fully functional site
  • dev - the files used for your development site
  • production - the files used for your production site

When serving your site, the dev or production folders will be used first. If the file needed is not in those folders, Gondola will fallback to the files in your default folder. If the file does not exist there, an error or 404 Not Found will be returned. In this way, it is not necessary to re-write every file used by your site, only the ones you would like to customize.

Gondola uses the Django template engine which should be relatively easy for anyone who has written HTML templates before to pick up. The documentation at the link above is an excellent start.

Suggested Workflow

In order to minimize the possibility of breaking the production site, we recommend the following workflow:

  1. Prior to making changes, create a local backup of any production or development files in case you need to roll-back.
  2. Edit the development files and confirm their functionality by visiting http://dev.[mysite].gondolacms.com. Run these by the site owner to get confirmation as well.
  3. After confirmation, copy your dev files to production. A simple drag-and-drop in your file-browser will do.
  4. Confirm that they are functioning properly at http://[mysite].gondolacms.com

Setting up the Domain

When your site is ready to launch, you’ll probably want to serve it from your own domain. This can easily be done at your domain registrar. You’ll want to take two steps:

  1. Create an alias (aka, CNAME) pointing www.[mysite.com] to [myite].gondolacms.com.
  2. Setup a domain forwarder from [mysite.com] to www.[mysite.com].

Troubleshooting

We have a Google group setup for designer questions at http://groups.google.com/group/gondola-cms. For general questions about the Django template system, lots of help can be found simply by searching Google or asking via the recommended channels.