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Course Catalog

This module manages and publishes your course catalog directly through OU Campus. Both listings for courses and programs are configured, as well as PDF output of the catalog. Course catalog supports both pulling data from an external source and manual content management.

Because this is a highly customizable module, it's likely that your implementation of course catalog has some unique features that aren't covered by this documentation. The basics are covered below, but for specific questions, consult your developer notes.

StructureLink to this section

Course catalog is set up as a separate site in your OU Campus account. The home 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.

At a basic level, it consists of individual pages within folders, and an index page that pulls information from these pages and displays them in a listing. Each individual page contains data about a specific course or program, and then the listing pages pull in that data, sometimes with a link back to each page.

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 changes as well, but must be published for those changes to appear on the live website.

Subfolder listing pages contain a page parameter where you can specify a subject code. The listing page then only pulls 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.

The course data, such as course or program title, descriptions, and times, can be added in two ways. One option is to manually enter the data into each page. The other is to pull the data in from an external source of information, such as a third-party program managing course data. Individual course/program pages that pull information from an external source typically have a page parameter that allows the user to identify the data to be pulled, such as "Course ID."

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 pages; it does not create new ones.

You can also make normal interior pages, referred to as regulatory pages. These pages do not pull from a provided XML export or aggregate data into a listing, but are edited as normal.

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, since you can edit those settings directly in the catalog.pcf page.

Configuration File

You might have a file called _config.pcf at the top level of your catalog. 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 afterward, as they pull from the published output.

PDF OutputLink to this section

Course Catalog uses 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 displays before a section with the weight of three. Items with the same page weight are then sorted alphabetically.

ArchivingLink to this section

As each school year passes, you might want to archive your school's catalog. One option is to 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.