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Template Development

The guides in this section are intended as a reference for the various attributes and elements used when making templates. For more detailed instructions on how to code in OU Campus, refer to our tutorials and videos:

The templates used to make new pages are comprised of three pieces: a TMPL, which defines the editable structure and layout of the page; a TCF, which defines the form that users fill out when making a new page; and an image, used as the thumbnail icon for the template in the +New menu. The information entered into the TCF is combined with the layout defined in the TMPL to create the new page (PCF). The page tagging used to build a TMPL (and therefore a PCF) doesn't handle design elements. Instead, it controls the ways in which users can access and edit the content on the page. Templates in OU Campus are written using XML, a customizable markup language. Styling is then applied via XSL stylesheets.

The template file must end with .tmpl. The TMPL can be coded to create text-based include files (.inc), XML files, and other files. A variety of output formats can be specified upon publish, most commonly .html, .pdf, and .xml, but can include a variety of other file formats. The OU Campus system uses XML/XSL-based templates, HTML templates are rare and only supported in a few legacy cases.

The TCFs generate the page creation form that accompanies the creation of a new page from a template. Users click +New (from Content > Pages) and select a template. Templates can be designed to create a new page, a new section that creates a new folder and supporting pages, a new XSL template, other specific content pages such as those for a RSS article or archive, or a faculty profile page. Depending upon the template selected, and upon template design, the TCF provides more specifications for the page creation. For example, this can include page title, description, author, keywords, the inclusion of a navigation file, and file name, among other options.

The file format for the thumbnail image can be an extension of .gif, .png, .jpeg, or .jpg. Image file names should match the names of the templates they represent. If the prefixes of the file name (e.g., one-column.gif and one-column.tmpl) match, then the user sees the image representing the template after clicking the New button. If the prefixes don't match, or if a file extension other than .gif is used for the thumbnail, the complete path to the file on the production server must be defined. This is configured from Setup > Templates > Thumbnail URL field for the specific template.