How do you manage and integrate your taxonomies?

geoff's Avatar


04 Jun, 2014 03:02 PM

Hi folks,

I'm researching what it will take to create and manage a taxonomy (perhaps a few thousand terms) and to integrate that taxonomy into Cascade to enable content creators to easily assign terms to assets. If you use taxonomies of any size or complexity, I'm guessing your taxonomies don't live in Cascade's built-in metadata and data definition features (they seem too flat and not robust enough for true taxonomy management). So I'd like to hear how you create and maintain human-curated taxonomies for use in Cascade.

Where does your taxonomy live? In a dedicated thesaurus/ontology management application? A basic database? Something simple like Excel? Or perhaps straight XML? What tool do you use? How is the tool or its output programatically connected on the back end to Cascade? How are the terms programatically accessible to Cascade users on the front end? What are some of the key benefits and limitations of your methods?

I'd appreciate any leads and insights you can provide, particularly if described for a layperson (I'm not a developer but will work with one to implement this). Thanks!

  1. 1 Posted by Wing Ming Chan on 05 Jun, 2014 04:18 PM

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    Hi geoff,

    I want to join the discussion on this topic. But I have a big question to start with. How do you plan to use the terms in Cascade? I can make the entire taxonomy, or a small part of it, available in Cascade as data to be displayed on pages, but NOT as metadata or definition data (used in dropdowns of data definitions, for example). For that, you will need something like web services.


  2. 2 Posted by geoff on 05 Jun, 2014 04:48 PM

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    Hi Wing,
    Good question. Ideally, the terms in the taxonomy would be accessible from content blocks in a manner similar to Cascade's smart data definitions, where content creators can select one taxo category at a time and progressively drill down from broad to narrow taxo categories until they reach the most specific taxo category that's relevant to the content. The term they select would be published as metadata.

    ...that's the simplified scenario. A more complicated scenario is if we create a polyhierarchical taxonomy where content can reside in (be tagged with) more than one taxo category.

    I also haven't really explored what type of interface would be the most elegant way to present categories to content creators. I suspect drop-downs could become a bit unwieldy as a taxonomy grows, particularly a polyhierarchical taxo, but I don't know yet just how many terms is too many to choose from at any one level.

    Unfortunately my ability to describe what I'm looking for is rather limited by my knowledge of what's available and possible. I know there are stand-alone, dedicate thesaurus/ontology management tools (which track changes and relationships among terms) and that people somehow hook either those tools to a CMS or an output (XML) from those tools to a CMS to facilitate classifying/tagging content that lives in the CMS. But beyond that, I don't know much. (Think I'll also visit some taxonomy-centric forums to see what they're doing.)

    Thanks for chiming in to help!

  3. 3 Posted by Wing Ming Chan on 05 Jun, 2014 05:00 PM

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    You are definitely in the territory of web services because you want to use the taxonomy as either metadata or definition data. And because you want to keep some sort of hierarchy, it will be tough. Data definitions may be a better choice. But still I can imagine that the data definition(s) involved will be very complicated to use.


  4. 4 Posted by geoff on 05 Jun, 2014 05:08 PM

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    That (web services) at least points me in the right direction.

    Out of curiosity, in what tool or format does your taxonomy live? (...assuming your taxo wasn't hypothetical)

  5. 5 Posted by goodwinj on 05 Jun, 2014 05:32 PM

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    I would like to jump in this discussion because it was only yesterday that I was browsing discussions in search of a solution to format a sitemap that comprises of all a website's pages, which would automatically populate at the bottom of each page - preferably assigned to 3 different categories, and / or in alphabetical order. I would love some guidance in how to approach this. Thanks ahead of time.

  6. 6 Posted by Wing Ming Chan on 05 Jun, 2014 06:08 PM

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    You hit right at the target - it is all hypothetical! But I am quite capable of web service development.


  7. 7 Posted by Wing Ming Chan on 05 Jun, 2014 06:13 PM

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    Hi goodwinj,

    What you want probably doesn't require a taxonomy in geoff's sense. What you need probably is to use a metadata flag to categorize pages so that when you index the pages they can be grouped accordingly. Then in the format you just need to look at the categories and sort them using some sort mechanism and display the result. Your problem is much simpler than the problem of taxonomy.


  8. 8 Posted by goodwinj on 05 Jun, 2014 06:20 PM

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    I see, thank you Wing. Could you please point me to a page that might give an example of how to properly format something as such in cascade? Is there a library of formats available on this website? My experience lies in editing a format for a navigation structure, but have not built one from the ground up. Thanks.

  9. 9 Posted by Wing Ming Chan on 05 Jun, 2014 06:55 PM

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    What is your preference: XSLT or Velocity?


  10. 10 Posted by goodwinj on 05 Jun, 2014 07:00 PM

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    XSLT is what's currently being used in my project.

  11. 11 Posted by Wing Ming Chan on 05 Jun, 2014 07:06 PM

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    You may want to start with _common:formats/navigation/site-map. This will help you build a site map. Next you will want to add some dynamic fields to your metadata set(s) so that you can categorize pages. You also need to add User Metadata in your index block. Then you can revisit the format and work with the metadata. The last part is to plug the index block and format to the footer region, probably at the template level or configuration level. If you need to filter out some links depending on page context, you may need to work with data definition blocks as well, because we are talking about customization using one single index block/format.


  12. 12 Posted by goodwinj on 05 Jun, 2014 08:04 PM

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    Ok, thanks. Where is " _common:formats/navigation/site-map " ? That appears to be a file directory on a local site from which I don't know where you are referring to...

  13. 13 Posted by Ryan Griffith on 05 Jun, 2014 08:26 PM

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    Not sure if this is similar to the Format Wing is referring to, but we have a sample site map XSLT Format that may be able to provide a good starting point for the listing.

    With regards to the categorization, we have a sample blog Site and new Site that you can import into your instance. Both implement a means of categorizing articles using metadata.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.


  14. 14 Posted by Wing Ming Chan on 06 Jun, 2014 12:26 PM

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    _common is a site coming with the installation of Cascade. The site-map format in _common is similar, if not identical, to the one given by Ryan.


  15. 15 Posted by goodwinj on 06 Jun, 2014 04:04 PM

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    Thank you Ryan and Wing - those samples look helpful.

  16. 16 Posted by goodwinj on 06 Jun, 2014 07:07 PM

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    Well, I'm half way there. I'm getting a strange error and I attached a screen shot. What I did was use the format provided in the example, except I commented out the second section that is responsible for listing the title of the page, , (I don't want to render a title and then a link under it, just the link with page name). I have a folder index block paired with the format - I took a screen shot to show what settings I choose. I'm not sure if the answer lies within the block or the formatting.


  17. 17 Posted by Wing Ming Chan on 07 Jun, 2014 12:29 PM

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    Hi goodwinj,

    It seems that you are a new comer to formatting. Before we look at the format you are trying to create, I would like to make two suggestions on how you want to set up an environment for format development, provided you have not done so.

    1. You want to create a confuguration in one, if not all, of your configuration sets, and name it XML. In this configuration, you just need a single region named DEFAULT. The output extension should be .xml. The configuration is used to test data definition blocks, index blocks, and so on. When you attach a block to this region without a format, you should be able to see the raw data created by the block. it is this data that you need to work with when you write your formats. Without the proper input, you can never get the output you want.

    2. You may want to get a software like Oxygen if you plan to work with XSLT. You may want to start create your XSLT library, at the least, the folder structure, outside Cascade for developing and testing your XSLT stylesheets. The folder structure you are going to create will minmic what you plan to do inside Cascade. In this way, you will have an exact copy (minus minor differences between XSL inside and outside Cascade) of all the library code outside Cascade. You will need to write code and test it outside Cascade. Only when it works, you can paste it back to formats inside Cascade. Writing XSLT code and test it inside Cascade is very clumpsy and time-consuming.

    Looking at the second screenshot you supplied, it seems that the index block has not been hooked up with a folder yet. You will need to do this. If you plan to use metadata to deal with categories, you will also need to check User Metadata. After that, attach the block to the DEFAULT region of your XML configuration and check the XML data. Only when you see what you want to see, before transformation, with all the system-folders and system-pages, can you starting worrying about the format code.

    We also need more detailed description of the problems you are trying to solve.

    Keep us posted.


  18. Ryan Griffith closed this discussion on 19 Jun, 2014 01:38 PM.

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