Explore provides you with the ability to create customized web pages listing Explore data. These pages are called views. A view is a listing of content in Explore, filtered and formatted according to options you choose. Views are customized in the Explore web interface.
Why should you use views? Without a view, you can already link to web pages in Explore such as course descriptions and faculty profiles. But doing so requires you to code information into your web site that may go out of date, such as the title of a course or a faculty member's full name. In a view, all the information in a listing is generated from Explore and constantly updated for you.
Note: Before you can begin using views, you must schedule a consultation with an Explore administrator. They will consult with you about your web site needs and set up default views for you to begin using. Using views may require technical skills you don't currently have. In this case the Explore administrator may refer you to a contract web services group who can carry out your project for you.
There are several steps in working with a view:
1. Choose the type of data the view should display
Currently, views can be created to display the following kinds of information:
- Courses: List courses with a link to each course home page.
- Faculty: List faculty members with a link to each faculty profile.
- News: List university news items with a link to each story.
2. Filter the data for the view
Since you don't want to display all courses or all faculty in your web site, you'll need to select options for limiting the view to the specific data you want. Filtering options include:
- Courses can be filtered by course prefix (the four letter code in the course number) and term (semester).
- Faculty can be filtered by affiliation (department), discipline (broad area of expertise), and campus.
- News can be filtered by affiliation (department), broad topic, type, source, and intended audience.
In addition to these filtering options, a view can be created to display specific items that you select. This is accomplished using groups. A group is a set of Explore records (such as courses or faculty) that you choose. You control which items are in each of your groups. Groups also allow you to place items within multiple headings in a single view -- for example, a view that lists faculty by category. Your Explore administrator will work with you to set up any groups you may need when you first begin using views in Explore.
3. Determine the formatting of the view
You can exercise a great deal of control over the appearance of your views so that they integrate seamlessly into your web site. There are three aspects of formatting that you control.
- Each view has basic formatting options that determine how items in the view are displayed. For example, in a faculty view, you can determine whether to display each faculty member's title and short description in addition to their name.
- You can apply a page template to each of your views. A page template is a header and footer in HTML code that will appear before and after the contents of the view. In this way you can add your web site's header, main navigation, and footer to each view.
- Each view contains CSS class names that you can refer to in a custom CSS stylesheet. Using the stylesheet, you can control the formatting of items in the view in great detail.
4. Place the view in your web site
There are two main ways to place a view in your web site.
Each view is a web page with its own web address that you can link to. A link to a view in Explore looks like this:
The number 189 in this link is the ID number of the view, which is assigned by the Explore system. You should replace this part of the link with the ID number of your view.
If you have formatted your view with a custom page template, users can link to your view and continue to navigate as if they were within your web site. The links you provide in your header and footer will simply link them back to the other parts of your site.
The number 13 in this code is the ID number of the view, which is assigned by the Explore system. You should replace this part of the code with the ID number of your view.