The Course Catalog module allows institutions to manage and dynamically publish their course catalog directly through OU Campus, with the capability to pull data from a third-party student information system. Content is automatically published in both HTML and PDF file formats, and XML if needed. Course Catalog utilizes specific templates associated only with the module to ensure a consistent appearance and organization for the pages.
At a very basic level, Course Catalog consists of individual pages within directories, and an index page that pulls information from these pages and displays them in a listing. Both a full-catalog listing and listing pages for courses and programs are configured.
Course Catalog exists in its own site within your account, to make archiving easier - this will be covered in more depth in the Archiving section. The actual URL can be configured as you wish, either as a subdomain (e.g. catalog.school.edu) or a folder off the root (school.edu/catalog). However, the URL type in site settings should be root-relative.
Your course catalog can pull in resources such as a header and footer from another site, but the XSL files must be separate.
While working in OU Campus, sites can be switched via the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner of pages list view.
Course Catalog Pages
The page catalog.pcf is the listing page that aggregates all course and program data and displays it. It is this page that is exported to become the full PDF catalog.
Listing pages, which display data pulled in from other pages, cannot be edited via editable regions as a usual page would be. This is because they pull the data in automatically; there is no need to edit them. The typical listing pages in a catalog are:
- The entire catalog PDF aggregate page
- Course listing page
- Program listing page
When another page is edited and published, the listing page will change as well, but must be published for those changes to appear on the live website.
Individual listing pages contain a page parameter where you can specify a subject code. The listing page will then only pull course data matching that subject code.
The majority of pages are grouped within two folders: Courses and Programs. It is important to keep these two folders distinct from each other, and to ensure pages are placed in the correct folder. Programs refers to degrees or programs (e.g. Biology, Accounting, Theater), whereas Courses refers to specific classes within a program.
Course Catalog also allows for interior pages to be created, referred to as regulatory pages. These pages do not pull from a provided XML export or aggregate data into a listing, but are edited just as normal interior pages are.
The data populating pages can be added in two ways. One option is to manually enter the data for each page, such as course or program title, descriptions, and times. The other is to pull the data in from an external source of information, such as a third-party program managing course data. Regulatory pages will always use manual entry only, and individual course/program pages that pull information from an external source will typically have a page parameter that allows the user to identify the data to be pulled, such as "Course ID."
Index and Table of Contents
Depending on when your module was implemented, you may have two additional .pcf files labeled _pdf-index and _toc or _table-of-contents. These files are used to configure the index of terms and the table of contents for your catalog. If you have these files, do not rename them.
Newer implementations of course catalog do not have these files, as that functionality will be included in the catalog.pcf page.
Course Catalog utilizes XSL-FO to create PDFs from its pages. These PDFs pull content from the published pages, so they are automatically updated whenever a new page is published. Due to the nature of XSL-FO, the formatting on PDFs is fairly inflexible and does not allow for customization of individual elements (e.g., every Level 3 Heading must have the exact same formatting).
If you wish to include a custom font in your PDF, you must provide it for the implementation.
The page weight attribute determines how items in the PDF are sorted. Items with a higher page weight are placed first, i.e. a section with the page weight of seven will display before a section with the weight of three. Items with the same page weight will then be sorted alphabetically.
Adding New Courses
New pages must be created in OU Campus to add the courses to your catalog. The data being brought in from any external sources only fills out existing page templates; it does not create new ones.
To create a new page:
- Navigate to the course catalog site.
- Navigate to the appropriate directory for the page - i.e., if you were making a page about the new astronomy course, you would probably navigate to the Science directory.
- Select the green +New button at the top of the pages list view.
- Select the appropriate template.
- Fill out the form fields accordingly; if your course catalog is pulling in data from an external source, make sure the course ID you fill in is identical to its ID in the third-party program, as that is how OU Campus will identify the proper source for the information.
- Edit and publish the page as usual.
Because Course Catalog is in essence a new site added to your OU Campus account, the steps for going live are the same as for any other site. For the site go-live steps, visit this page.
At the top level of your catalog, the file _config.pcf will most likely be present. Its name cannot be modified; it is used to specify resource files, headings, and other content that applies to an entire catalog version.
This file is similar to a Section Properties file (_props.pcf), which exists in each folder to specify folder-wide attributes. Unlike a Section Properties file, the Catalog Configuration file only exists once per catalog version and is applicable to the entire catalog directory.
The _config.pcf file needs to be republished when a different XML Source is selected, or when the data from the XML Source changes. Upon publish, the XML from the source file is reformatted into a more standard structure that is compatible with OU Course Catalog. This also helps with efficiency, removing extraneous data and ensuring there is a data source local to the production server that can be referenced. Any additional pages using this data must then be republished afterwards, as they will pull from the published output.
As each school year passes, you may wish to archive your school's catalog. One option is to simply save the PDF files of the catalog, either to a dedicated folder in OU Campus or an external hard drive, and then edit your pages to reflect the new schedule.
Another option is to duplicate the "current" folder in your catalog, make all necessary changes there, and then rename the existing "current" folder to its calendar year, and rename the duplicate folder to "current." This process can be repeated every year without having to modify any other files or archives.
If you are archiving catalogs via this method, ensure Dependency Manager for your catalog site is turned off, or else it retain links pointing to their original files, and not the new catalog. Links in the course catalog site must also be set to "Page Relative," via Site Settings. For more information on disabling Dependency Manager, visit the Revert page.