Editing Pages on my.strathspey

A my.strathspey account entitles you to put your own web pages on my.strathspey (subject to the Terms and Conditions you agreed to when you registered your account). This document explains briefly how this works.

my.strathspey Site Structure

Before we can explain how to add or change material on my.strathspey, we need to explain how it gets there in the first place. The »content management system« underlying my.strathspey (which is called »Advanced Community Environment«, or »ACE« for short) can host all sorts of media – text (such as HTML pages) as well as images, PDF or Microsoft Word documents, or sound or video files.

The ACE system can also serve one type of »object«, say, an ABC musical notation file, in different formats – for example as an image showing the actual musical notation, an HTML file containing the image, or a plain-text file that is easy to edit or download, in addition to the native ABC format.

On the other hand, most of the HTML content on my.strathspey and its associated sites isn't actually written in HTML (which is a nasty, obnoxious format to be working with) but in a simple format called (very inventively) ».ace«, which is transparently converted to HTML as the pages are being viewed. This ACE text format is similar to the way you would write text, for, example, in an e-mail message (but with some, entirely optional, bells and whistles added), which makes it a very convenient way of writing content for the Web. If I say so myself.

Conceptually, we talk about »objects« if we mean files, documents, or images that you put on the server to be published, and about »resources« when we talk about what people actually get to see in their browser. (This terminology is largely arbitrary but we need to put some labels on things.) In other words, the job of the ACE software is to convert things that you upload (objects) to things that other people can download (resources).

The correspondence between objects and resources is somewhat complex. In the simplest case, an object (e.g., a graphics file in the JPEG format) will appear in unchanged form as a resource. However, due to the format translation mentioned above, various types of object can appear in a different format or even several formats at the same time. For example, an ACE text object (say, »test.ace«) will be available to web browsers as an HTML resource (»test.html«) but not in its original ACE text format. Maybe more surprisingly, a musical score in ABC format (say, »tune.abc«) will show up as all of the following resources:

Format Description Resource
ABC text Score in ABC format tune.abc
Plain text Score in ABC format, as »text/plain« tune.txt
Graphics Score in graphical notation tune.png
HTML HTML page; incorporates tune.png tune.html

On the other hand, some objects (things that you can upload) do not appear as resources at all. They are used to govern internal processes of the ACE system and can safely be ignored unless you are on the path to deep wizardry.

In the light of the previous discussion, ACE distinguishes between an »object tree« and a »resource tree«. The object tree contains all the objects that the server knows about (including directories and sub-directories for easier management) and is part of the file system on the ACE server host. It can be accessed by various methods, for example by FTP, the »secure shell« (if you're suitably privileged), or (piecemeal) by altering individual objects via a web browser. The resource tree, on the other hand, contains everything within ACE that is visible via the Web and is readable via a web browser or similar HTTP client program. It cannot be modified directly since it derives automatically from the content of the object tree. Thus, to change the resources visible on the web you need to change the underlying objects and/or the way these are being handled by ACE. The rest of this document explains how to do this.

Authentication and Authorisation

It goes without saying that usually you only get to change an object within ACE if you have the right to do this. (It wouldn't do to allow everyone to change everyone else's pages – there are environments that allow this but since ACE is supposed to let you publish stuff that can be pretty personal, such as opinions, we don't enable this by default. ACE can also be used to host material such as event registration lists that can be a bit sensitive, if not confidential, and thus should only be available to select individuals such as the event organisers.)

Generally, if you want to edit pages within ACE you need to be a member of the my.strathspey site (see elsewhere for details). After having successfully registered as a member, you will have a username/password combination that you can specify in the right places such that ACE trusts that you are, in fact, that member, and that you ought to be allowed to change the objects that that member is allowed to change, and to add or delete objects to or from places where that member is allowed to add or delete objects.

Editing Existing Pages Through The Web

The easiest way to make simple changes to a page is to log in as a user, using the »Sign in« link at the top right of many my.strathspey pages. Even if that link does not exist, you can usually log in by typing

http://SITE/accounts/login/

in your browser's URL entry field (where SITE is the name of the site you are accessing, for example »my.strathspey.org« or »www.rscdsvienna.org«). This presents you with a form where you can enter your username and password; if these are correct you will be logged in as a member, and the »Sign in« link will be replaced by an indication of your current username.

Note that even though all username/password combinations are valid for all sites hosted on my.strathspey, you may have to log in several times if you want to access various web »servers«, e.g., »www.strathspey.org« and »www.frankfurt-scd-club.org«. This is because ACE uses »cookies« to recognise logged-in members, and cookies are specific to particular web servers. For example, if you log in to »www.strathspey.org«, ACE hands you a cookie that will identify you as logged in to that site, and that cookie will be no good on »www.frankfurt-scd-club.org«. This is somewhat tedious and there seem to be various solutions to this problem; feel free to make appropriate suggestions if you are a web authentication guru.

Once you are logged in, you can try to edit existing pages (i.e., objects in ACE text format). This is most conveniently done if the page shows an »edit box« in the left-hand column (which it will if you are logged in and have permission to edit the page). Click on the button in the edit box, and your browser will display a version of the page that has the original ACE text of the page in a big text area at the bottom. Change this to your heart's content. You can either »preview« your changes (to see whether they look correct before making them visible to everybody) or else »save« the page, at which point it will become visible on the web (including your changes).

In due course there will be a web-based method to add new objects to the object tree or to delete existing ones. However, this is not finished yet – see the next section to learn how to add material by FTP.

Editing, Adding, and Deleting Pages By FTP

You can use an »FTP client« to upload and change arbitrary objects on my.strathspey (that you are authorised to change, anyway). Connect to »ftp://my.strathspey.org/« (or »my.strathspey.org« in an FTP client) and use your my.strathspey username and password to log in. This will give you access to the object tree for your personal page. (If you have one, that is – see the note at the top of this document.)

If you manage another site that is hosted on my.strathspey but has its own domain name – such as »www.central-germany.rscds.net« or »www.frankfurt-scd-club.org«, use that site's »slug« (short textual name) together with your username. Anselm will have told you (or one of your co-admins) about the appropriate slug for your site. For example, the slug for »www.frankfurt-scd-club.org« is »fscdc«, and to connect to the FSCDC object tree Anselm uses »anselm+fscdc« as his FTP username. That is, your username for a site different from your personal page is your username, followed by a »+«, followed by the slug for that site. (Your password, though, is always the same.)

It goes without saying that you only get to access sites that you actually are allowed to access. Feel free to try »yourusername+fscdc« but if Anselm has done his job right you're not going to get in that way.

Incidentally, a very convenient way of working with ACE content is to use an environment that can make stuff on a remote FTP server appear as if it was in a local file. KDE on Linux with the Konqueror browser would be a prime example. Simply open

ftp://yourusername:yourpassword@my.strathspey.org/

to see all of your objects in the browser window, and drag-and-drop new stuff in or old stuff to the waste basket. You can also click on objects to open them using your usual applications. For example, the Kate editor is great for editing ACE text files, and there are lots of nice tools for editing graphics, photos, and so on.