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Global category system vs module category system?
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I would appreciate some feedback on the categories function in the Sprockets module. Specifically, I'm wondering if it should be removed.

Sprockets currently offers global tagging and global categories. What I have found through my own modules is that global tags are a very useful thing, but when it comes to putting objects into hierarchical categories, I usually find myself wanting to have a module-specific category tree. Tags seem much more useful for classifying things site-wide.

So I had a look at creating a 'super' category tree in Sprockets that would let you do that. The first level of the category tree would be a list of all modules. Then you would be free to add categories and subcategories under each of those. This would give you access to a) all categories on the site (could be useful for making a site directory), or b) module-specific category subtrees, as you need.

Problem is, this could get very messy from a usability point of view. It would be better if each module had a tab that let you manage its bit of the category tree from within the module admin, rather than sending people to a separate module with everything in it.

The alternative is to take it out and just leave category implementation to module developers. Do people think there is a need for *global* categories (bearing in mind that we have global tags already)?

What do you think?

Posted on: 2012/6/17 2:17
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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Interesting question, and I really like that you also consider the usability,because that is what will decide if your visitors will use the functionality or not...

I wouldn't leave out the site-wide categories or tags. One of the big limitations we have at the moment is that our modules are universes of their own, without much links or integrations with other modules.

Universal tags and categories can allow users and site owners to structure the information on their site in a uniform way, even if it happens to reside in different modules.

That depends of course how you see categories, tags and their uses. Do you allow multiple categories for a single item, do you allow tags to have parents and children, do you use tags and categories to define the structure of your site content?

To answer more directly to your question (this isn't just a random rant, don't worry) I would leave the universal category and tag option like you mentioned, and it is the responsibility of the module administration to handle the parts that are specific to them.

If you can come up with a system with which the core can detect if module-specific tags and/org categories exist for the current module (that should be a single query), I think it could be interesting to look into an extra tab that gets shown automatically in each module that supports it. That form would be managed by the sprockets module, but it would be shown in the context of the module where the user is working in.

If I want to do some work on tags accross modules, I would still have the option of going to the sprockets module itself, and have all the tags in the system to work with.

Posted on: 2012/6/17 10:20
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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Thanks for the comments. My own implementation of tags and categories is:

* Tags are global, non-hierarchical labels. An object can have multiple tags. Tags can't have parents.

* Categories are hierarchical, in that they can have parents and be nested. Objects can belong to multiple categories.

I use tags as key navigation elements, eg. for building select boxes that allow you to filter page content. On the user side, only tags that are actually in use by a module are displayed, and each tag has a switch that allows you to optionally disable its use as a navigation element (so won't be displayed in select boxes). This potentially lets you have a lot of tags while keeping site navigation under control.

Categories are significantly more complicated to work with, because of the hierarchy. If you delete or disable a category or restrict its access to certain groups, this has implications for any subcategories or branches underneath it. This is why truly global categories can be a headache if you want to limit their display to certain modules. Parsing a complex tree could also get very expensive in terms of resource use and anything involving recursion always makes my head hurt.

I think having a global category tree with modules as the first branches might be a good way to go, in that it would give you access to both global and module-specific category trees. Anyway maybe other people will post their comments too.

Posted on: 2012/6/18 6:15
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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personally i think module categories are best left to the module along with tags.

though having the category and tags system in the core should be a necessity, whereby the modules would just hook into it.

have a categories table & a tags table.

and in that table a field for storing module id.

module id = 0 could be used for a global/system category. but if say module_id = 20, then that category hierarchy is used only for that module & the module could be built to hook into that core function itself, so that the module itself doesn't require all the code of a category class.

Posted on: 2012/6/18 11:58
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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As a follow-up on this, what are your thoughts on integrating tagging and categories in the core?

Integrate it in the core, or keep that functionality in a separate module?

Posted on: 2012/6/19 14:37
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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imo

as categories and tags are such a useful & usable functionality, many modules and systems use categories & usually its left to the author to write the code for it.

but being as it is really a widely used function, i do think categories & tags should be a part of the core classes as opposed to in a module.

Posted on: 2012/6/19 20:30
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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I think it should either be included in the core package... like banners, content and profile is.

Or, if the code's not bulky, perhaps it should be integrated directly into the core.

I think that the idea of the global categories would be a very good addition to the Sprocket code.

Posted on: 2012/6/19 21:02
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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There is already a way to use something like global categories in IPF based modules, just not in use yet..

Posted on: 2012/6/19 21:35
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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I looked at that but I don't think it was finished, also there were some limitations on the handling the category tree, in terms of extracting information from it etc (I cannot recall exactly what it was, but some parts was due to hard coding stuff).

Posted on: 2012/6/20 2:54
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Re: Global category system vs module category system?
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Could you have a look at the current state and see if it's feasable to get the same (or better) category and tagging functionality in the core as there is in your excellent sprockets module?

Posted on: 2012/6/20 21:52
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