Specialized Modules and Features

There are quite a few other modules listed on the module configuration page which have not so far been mentioned. In this section, you'll find descriptions of some of them. Some are currently running; others are turned off. You can also load other contributed modules by downloading them from drupal.org and installing them yourself. Make sure that they are for Drupal 4.5 or they may not work.

Always remember that whenever you enable a module, you should check any permissions the module might have associated with it in order for users to have access to the module. When working with permission settings, it is often useful to create a test user and grant them the role for the permissions you are enabling. Then login as that user and verify that you have indeed granted the permissions.

Also check the administration menu and adjust any configuration settings. Some modules may have their own listing in the top tier of the menu; others may have a listing elsewhere, such as within the settings area of the menu.

Buddylist: Creating a CivicSpace Friends List

The buddylist module allows users to create a social network of friends within a community site. When visiting another user's account page, a user can choose to add them to their buddylist. The my buddylist page will then list all added friends and provide links to their recent posts, as well as providing a list of friends of friends.

Contacts: Maintaining a Database of Users

Much like a phone book, the contact module allows the creator to sort contacts into different contact lists (which can be exported into a spreadsheet) and to maintain information for each contact for use in other modules (such as RSVP ). This information includes email address, name, zip code, city, state, and telephone number by default. Additional information can be added through administer contact . This information can be entered as text fields, passwords, text areas, radio buttons, pull down menus (selection), check boxes, or file (to upload files for the surveyor).

Email can be sent to selected contacts through the contacts interface (using your default email application). The contacts list is also searchable . Contacts can be sorted into subcategories for easy organization.

A contact list source list must first be created in the source administration section.

The node_import module can be used to import contact lists.

Drupal Module: Connecting with other Drupal Sites

The Drupal module uses XML-RPC to connect your site with a Drupal server which maintains a directory of Drupal sites on drupal.org. Enabling this module will also allow members on all sites using it to login to your site without registering using their Drupal distributed ID and vice versa: your members can login to any other Drupal site using a login name which looks much like an email address for your site: username@example.com.

To setup this module:

  • Enable it on the modules page.
  • On the Drupal module settings page,:
    • Make sure that the Drupal XML-RPC server field is set to http://www.drupal.org/xmlrpc.php.
    • Check the Enabled button
    • And save the configuration

NOTE: If you want your site listed in the directory of Drupal sites, you'll also need to provide a slogan and mission on the main configuration page.

Events: Adding Things to the Calendar

The Event module includes a field for an event's location and drop-down menus for the date and time of an event. It also adds a calendar navigation block to the sidebar so that readers can click on a date and list which events are scheduled for that date, as well as a page listing upcoming events, sorted chronologically. Users are able to set up RSVP , volunteer signups , and books for created events through this same interface. An RSS feed is available for the events calendar so that users can receive notification of the scheduling of new events.

HtmlArea: Creating Content: With a WYSIWYG

The javascript-based module which provides an HTML WYSIWYG used in creating content such as blogs or comments, making it easy for users to format content without knowing HTML. This module can be turned on in the module configuration section. The htmlArea configuration section allows the administrator to set the menu options provided by the user and various format options.

NOTE: htmlArea does not work properly with some older browser versions.

Localization: Customizing Hard-Coded Site Content

The locale module is used to substitute text which is hard-coded within CivicSpace to create alternative language sets for a site.

Site designers can also use it to replace CivicSpace terminology with more site contexualized text. For instance, an administrator could customize the descriptions of the node types listed on the create content page. Or change the label for the links underneath nodes, such as replacing "add new comment" with "post your thoughts" or something similar.

To begin using the the locale module,

  • First turn on the module and give the administrator permissions.
  • Go to the localization section of the admin menu and add a language.
  • Assuming English, create a custom language by adding "en-US" in the Language code text field.
  • Give your language a name, such as "custom-English" (be sure not to use spaces in your language name), and add the language.
  • This will return you to the main localization page. Set your new language, "custom-English" as enabled and as the default. Save the configuration. Then disable the original "English" language set (otherwise users will be given the option to choose between the two in their account area).
  • Now, any time you visit a page with CivicSpace hard-coded content, it will be added into your language set database.
  • Once you have visited a page that you wish to change the content, return to the manage strings area of the localization section. Enter in the string you wish to search for. Edit the result and enter your replacement text.

Mass Mailer: Maintaining Mailing Lists

The mass mailer module is used to manage email mailing lists. Through the mass mailer administration menu, you can

  • Create multiple lists.
  • Send messages.
  • Schedule messages to be sent at a specific time.
  • Check on the status of sent messages.
  • Browse and delete messages maintained in an archive.
  • Update subscriber information or delete subscribers.

Once a mailing list has been created and made public, users can subscribe to mailing lists via the list subscriptions link in the navigation menu.

The mass mailing list settings page allows administrators additional configuration options such as

  • Adding a header or footer to all out going messages. Useful to add an automatic signature for your organization and provide information on unsubscribing.
  • Customizable subscription and unsubscription email messages
  • Advanced options for sites with very large mailing lists. Use the batch processing option if mailing lists are so large that they create a heavy CPU load for your server host.

News Aggregator: Syndicating Content from Websites

The News Aggregator is a powerful onsite RSS syndicator/news reader which can gather fresh content from news sites and weblogs around the web. The aggregator module requires cron to work correctly.

Thousands of websites on the Internet provide links to RSS feeds. Look for links that specify "syndication" or an "XML" button. For example, your CivicSpace site has already been configured to pull new posts from CivicSpace Labs. The Berkman Center at Harvard maintains a list of some popular news media sites with links to information on their RSS feeds.

Once you've found an RSS feed, you can add it to the aggregator by following these steps:

  1. Copy the link to the clipboard.
  2. On your CivicSpace site, click on administer-> aggregator-> add feed tab.
  3. Type a title for the feed. This can be whatever you like, but is usually the name of the site you are adding.
  4. Paste in the URL of the feed.
  5. Set the frequency of updates. The standard practice is to update every hour, because that limits the amount of hits a site gets on the feed, and depending on their setup, they would have to incur extra bandwidth charges if too many people update too often.
  6. You must be running cron about as frequentely for the updates to occur on schedule. Once every hour is the standard.
  7. Choose whether you wish to enable the item block. This allows you to show the last x (a configurable number) items in that feed in a block.
  8. If you have created categories select which categories you wish items to automatically appear. Individual items can be tagged with categories later.
  9. Click submit.

The administrator help on the aggregator provides additional documentation.

NOTE: You'll find that various pages displaying multiple nodes in your CivicSpace site will provide an XML button that allows users to subscribe to new content for that area. Consider enabling the Syndicate block in the block management menu to provide a direct link to syndication for your home page.

Node_import: Importing Content

The node_import feature available in the content configuration section provides a way to import nodes and contacts for the site using comma separated values (CSV) files. It can be useful for uploading lists of contacts that were created in an Excel spreadsheet file. Since this feature allows the loading of a large amount of content into your CivicSpace database, the permissions for this feature are best configured for administrators only.

Importing Contacts

  1. Create a spreadsheet with data and columns with the following headings:
    • Email
    • First name
    • Last name
    • Zip code
    • City
    • State
    • Phone number
  2. Save your file as a CSV file with elements separated by commas and data enclosed in double quotes. For example,
    "Email","First name","Last name","Zip code","City","State","Phone number"
  3. Under import in the content administration section, upload your csv file and select contact from the pull down menu.
  4. CivicSpace will then ask you to match your fields to the fields in the database.
  5. Once you have done this, preview your results and then select import.

Importing Nodes

The process for importing nodes is the same as for importing contacts, except you will want to create a spreasheet with columns

  • title
  • uid
  • name
  • type (blog, forum, story, etc.)
  • body (the text of the post)
  • And any other database fields from the node type you would like to add.

NOTE: You may use either the uid or name of the author. If neither of these is included, CivicSpace will post the node with author Anonymous.

Once you've created the CSV file, under import in the content administration section, upload your CSV file and select raw data (advanced) from the pull down menu.

Notify: Receiving Emails of New Site Content

The notification module allows users to subscribe to periodic emails which include all new or revised content and/or comments much like the daily news letters sent by some websites. The administrator sets the frequency of the emails in the notification configuration page.

Even if this feature is not configured for authenticated users, it can be a useful feature for an administrator of a site to monitor content submissions and comment posts.

Privatemsg: Sending Messages Through An Internal Messaging System

The Private Messaging system is an onsite service which allows users to send messages to each other without having to share email addresses. When this is enabled, an inbox link will appear in the navigation block in the column on the top left. Users can also select whether to receive email notices of new messages via their my account section.

Profiles: Extending User Account Information

The profile module can be used to create customized information fields which users fill out when editing and/or registering their user account. These administrator defined fields allow users to share information such as street address, interests, AOL IM screen names, bios, etc.

To create a new profile information field,

  • Go to the profile configuration page.
  • Choose the best option for the type of information your users will provide under Add new field. For example,
    • Url is useful for providing a place for users to enter their home page.
    • The freeform list can be used to have users enter a list of hobbies, activities, or interests, which then become categories linking them to users with the same listed items. The user enters the items in their account area in a large textarea as a list of words separated by commas.
  • Once you have selected the field type, CivicSpace will prompt for a number of items:
    • Category. Used to group profile fields together. CivicSpace will create a separate page within the user's account page for each group of profile fields,
    • Title. The label for this profile field which will be visible to users on account pages.
    • Form name. A unique name for this profile field used by Drupal for storing the information for this field.
    • Visibility. Provides access control of the information provided by the user.
      Private field to make the information only available to site administrators.
    • Page title. Used by the freeform list (mentioned above) as a title for a particular page listing of users with the same interest.
    • The user must enter a value.Check this box to force users to enter a value in this fielde.
    • Visible in user registration form. Adds this field to the initial user registration form when creating an account for the first time. Otherwise, the field can only be completed through the user my account menu.

RSVP: Reserving a Space

This module allows users to send invitations for events to other users via email so that they can RSVP . RSVP creators can also choose whether or not to make the invitation list viewable by all, allow invitees to email one another, or allow attendees to invite others through this interface.

This functionality can only be used after the creation of an event and must be connected to a specific event.

Manange RSVP allows users to edit the invitee list and notification options that were determined during the creation of the original RSVP.

Surveys: Giving An Opinion

Allows for the creation of web forms which can be filled out by users and submitted to the survey's creator. Submissions are emailed to a chosen email address and are also stored in the database. Survey creators can also create/specify a custom “Thank You” page for respondents.

Survey questions can be entered as textfields, passwords, text areas, radio buttons, pull down menus (selection), check boxes, or file (to upload files for the surveyor). Surveyors can specify whether or not multiple selections are allowed.

Surveyors can also require that respondents validate themselves by the use of email address, data input, URL input, or zip code. The responses to a survey can be viewed online, as well as downloaded in an Excel-compatible format. Users are able to set up books for created surveys through this same interface.

The survey module depends on the forms module for the types of form elements available. This module must be enabled in the administrative settings.

Trackback: Creating Links Between Weblog Posts

Trackbacks allow one weblog (or website) to post a comment to another site without actually having the user visit the site to post a comment. Using the trackback URL accompanying each post, other weblog can send a ping across the Internet to your CivicSpace site. Once received, the trackback will show up on the trackback page accompanying the post.

CivicSpace trackback also features autodiscovery. If trackback autodisovery is enabled on your CivicSpace site, someone need only visit your post via a link from another weblog post to have trackback "discover" the linking site and create the trackback. Trackback autodiscovery also works internally within a CivicSpace site, automatically creating connections between pages which link to each other.

To manually send a ping to another site, edit your post and use the Trackback URL field at the bottom of the edit page to submit the trackback URL for the post on the other site. Once you enter submit, CivicSpace will ping the other site for you. With trackback autodiscovery enabled, your CivicSpace site will attempt to do this automatically without your intervention.

Volunteer: Soliciting Assistance

This module allows you to solicit volunteers for events. Users can set the number of volunteers necessary for the event as well as the messages that will be sent to volunteers to thank them for volunteering, letting them know that the number of necessary volunteers has been reached and their assistance is appreciated but not necessary, or that they have been placed on the volunteer waiting list. This module also sends out reminders 24 hours before the event and solicits feedback 24 hours after the event.

This functionality can only be used after the creation of an event and must be connected to a specific event.