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Difference between revisions of "Understanding categories and articles"

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What are sections, categories, and articles, and what are they used for in Joomla! sites?
  
==Intro==
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===Articles===
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Let's start with some definitions. In Joomla!, an Article is some written information that you want to display on your site. It normally contains some text and can contain pictures and other types of content. For many Joomla! sites, articles form the majority of the information presented in the website.
  
This short article will explain in detail what categories, sections and articles are all about.
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It is important to understand that, with Joomla!, the content of the site (for example, Articles) is totally separate from the formatting of the site -- the way it looks on the page. So it is best to think of articles as pure content, independent of the way it might be presented. For example, the same Article might be shown with different fonts, colors, headings, and background, and might be shown in different locations on the page.  
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First of all, let's make some simple differences. Sections and categories are non-content items, more specifically they help you organize your content the way you want it. The actual content is contained in articles.
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Seeing the description above, you could be a little bit overwhelmed. You could think yourself "why should I organize my content using this scheme? Couldn't I just write articles and period?". The answer is yes, you could that, but think a  little bit from the perspective of your site visitors. If you don't organize your content into sections and categories, the users will see a very long (and sometimes boring) list of articles that just "float" in thin air. If the content is categorized, a visitor may find it a lot more easy to navigate it.
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An user-friendly website is not the only advantage. Breaking your content into sections and categories can help you organize and link to your
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==Sections==
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===Sections and Categories===
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Sections and categories in Joomla! provide an optional method for organizing your articles. Here's how it works. A Section contains one or more categories, and each Category can have articles assigned to it. One Article can only be in one Category and Section.
  
A section is a well designed part of your website. Generally, sections don't relate to each other (the only common point is the actual theme of the website) and they contain major topics. Let's see a short example.  
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For example, you might have a Section called "Pets", and categories called "Dogs" and "Cats". Articles about dogs would be assigned to the "Dogs" Category, ones about cats the "Cats" Category. So an Article about dogs would be in the "Pets" Section and the "Dogs" Category. You could not have one Article that is in both the "Cats" and "Dogs" categories. To work around this, you could either (1) create a new Category called "Cats and Dogs" or (2) create a second Article to put in the second Category.
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Imagine a website about cars. As we can see, the theme of the website is quite a general one
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===Why Use Sections and Categories?===
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There are two main reasons you might want to organize your Articles in sections and categories.  
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====List and Blog Layouts====
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First, there are built-in Menu Item Types in Joomla! that take advantage of this organization. These are the Section Blog, Section List, Category Blog, and Category List. These Menu Item Types (also called "layouts") make it very easy to show articles that belong to sections or categories. As new articles are created and assigned to sections and categories, they will automatically be placed on these pages according to the parameters you set for each page.
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For example, say you have a Section Blog layout for the "Pets" section, and say you have it set to order articles starting with the most recent one first. When you add a new Article to the "Pets" Section, it will automatically show on the "Pets" blog page as the first Article. You don't have to do anything other than add the Article and assign it to the "Pets" Section.
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====Organizing Articles in Article Manager====
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If you will have a large number of articles on your site, a second reason to use sections and categories is to simply group the articles so you can find them. For example, in the Article Manager, you can filter articles based on Section or Category. So if you have 200 articles in your site, you can more easily find an Article if you know it's Section or Category.
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===Sections and Categories vs. Menu Organization===
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It is important to understand that, just because Joomla! uses a 3-tier organization level for articles (Section &rarr; Category &rarr; Article), this has nothing to do with the structure of the menus on your site. For example, your site could have one menu level or six menu levels.
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===Other Types of Categories===
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There is also a potential for confusion about categories. Sections are only used for articles. However, categories are also used for other components, including Banners, Contacts, News Feeds, and Weblinks. These categories are completely different from Article categories and are set up in different screens in the back end of Joomla!. So when you see something about categories, it might refer to Article categories or it might refer to categories for these other components.

Revision as of 12:50, 18 November 2008

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What are sections, categories, and articles, and what are they used for in Joomla! sites?

Contents

Articles

Let's start with some definitions. In Joomla!, an Article is some written information that you want to display on your site. It normally contains some text and can contain pictures and other types of content. For many Joomla! sites, articles form the majority of the information presented in the website.

It is important to understand that, with Joomla!, the content of the site (for example, Articles) is totally separate from the formatting of the site -- the way it looks on the page. So it is best to think of articles as pure content, independent of the way it might be presented. For example, the same Article might be shown with different fonts, colors, headings, and background, and might be shown in different locations on the page.

Sections and Categories

Sections and categories in Joomla! provide an optional method for organizing your articles. Here's how it works. A Section contains one or more categories, and each Category can have articles assigned to it. One Article can only be in one Category and Section.

For example, you might have a Section called "Pets", and categories called "Dogs" and "Cats". Articles about dogs would be assigned to the "Dogs" Category, ones about cats the "Cats" Category. So an Article about dogs would be in the "Pets" Section and the "Dogs" Category. You could not have one Article that is in both the "Cats" and "Dogs" categories. To work around this, you could either (1) create a new Category called "Cats and Dogs" or (2) create a second Article to put in the second Category.

Why Use Sections and Categories?

There are two main reasons you might want to organize your Articles in sections and categories.

List and Blog Layouts

First, there are built-in Menu Item Types in Joomla! that take advantage of this organization. These are the Section Blog, Section List, Category Blog, and Category List. These Menu Item Types (also called "layouts") make it very easy to show articles that belong to sections or categories. As new articles are created and assigned to sections and categories, they will automatically be placed on these pages according to the parameters you set for each page.

For example, say you have a Section Blog layout for the "Pets" section, and say you have it set to order articles starting with the most recent one first. When you add a new Article to the "Pets" Section, it will automatically show on the "Pets" blog page as the first Article. You don't have to do anything other than add the Article and assign it to the "Pets" Section.

Organizing Articles in Article Manager

If you will have a large number of articles on your site, a second reason to use sections and categories is to simply group the articles so you can find them. For example, in the Article Manager, you can filter articles based on Section or Category. So if you have 200 articles in your site, you can more easily find an Article if you know it's Section or Category.

Sections and Categories vs. Menu Organization

It is important to understand that, just because Joomla! uses a 3-tier organization level for articles (Section → Category → Article), this has nothing to do with the structure of the menus on your site. For example, your site could have one menu level or six menu levels.

Other Types of Categories

There is also a potential for confusion about categories. Sections are only used for articles. However, categories are also used for other components, including Banners, Contacts, News Feeds, and Weblinks. These categories are completely different from Article categories and are set up in different screens in the back end of Joomla!. So when you see something about categories, it might refer to Article categories or it might refer to categories for these other components.