A Block is a 'pluggable' piece of content that can be easily substituted (with or without styling) into any page region. Therefore, whenever there is content that is common to many pages or regions, i.e. an "About the Company" section that appears after every press release and newsletter, that content should be put into a block. Doing so allows the appropriate content to appear in many pages while always being updated from one place, making it easy to maintain consistency in that text/markup across many pages. Cascade users can reuse a single block on an unlimited amount of page regions.
The text or markup contained by a block can be plugged into a page region at three different levels: the template level, the page configuration level, or the page level. When a block is plugged into a page region at the template level, the block content will appear in any pages using that template. Any blocks assigned at the page configuration level will appear in any pages using that configuration.
NOTE: Most users will only use text blocks.
Types of Blocks
Commonly Used Blocks
Text blocks are basic blocks of content that can be reused throughout a site much like an XHTML block. Text blocks are not as widely used as their XHTML counterpart is, because text blocks lack the standard WYSIWYG editor contained inside of XHTML blocks that allow for the creation of rich content with images, links, and standard text formatting options.
More often, an XHTML block will be the desired solution; however, there are appropriate times to make use of a text block instead of an XHTML block. These less likely circumstances involve blocks of content where an administrator desires the user to enter plain text only, without any formatting or images. In this case, a text block is the appropriate solution for the content region. The administrator can then style the text block with an XSLT stylesheet. Like all blocks, a text block may be attached to a template, configuration set, or page, and may be reused across multiple pages. A single change to the text block will be present across all pages of the site that make use of the block
An XHTML block is a reusable block of content that provides a rich WYSIWYG interface for editing content. Unlike the text block counterpart, an XHTML block allows for a wide range of HTML elements to be created inside of its editing environment extending to items such as images, links, tables, and bullet points in addition to other standard text formatting.
XHTML blocks are particularly useful for fixed regions of content such as headers and footers that need to stay constant among all pages within the site. A single change to one of these blocks will be present across all pages of the site that make use of the block. The basic level of modularity improves the scalability of the website in addition to allowing for easier "quick edits" that cannot be easily performed if the content were to remain in the body of the overall template
Blocks used by Administrators
An Index Block is a special type of block asset that returns a listing of assets from the CMS directory structure in the form of XML data. Assets such as pages, files, folders, external links, and even other blocks can be returned as XML content that describe them. An index block can even return the data content of multiple pages within a directory for use on other pages within the system.
In Cascade Server, Index Blocks are typically used for creating dynamic navigation menus, site maps, indices, etc.
An XML block is a reusable piece of content stored as well-formed XML. XML blocks are particularly useful when there is a large amount of XML that must be styled and included on one or more pages of a site. Once the block is created, it can be assigned to a page region in a template, configuration set, or page, and, if desired, styled with an XSL Stylesheet. A single change to one of these blocks will be present across all pages of the site that make use of the block.
XML Feed Block
An XML Feed Block is a block whose XML content is pulled from a web location. This can be useful when aggregating outside RSS links, or receiving output from dynamic scripts or web applications that produce XML. This is the main method by which Cascade allows external content to come into the system and be used dynamically within system pages.
This block has one parameter, the feed URL, which is the location that will respond with an XML document. Cascade Server will then take that XML content and populate the block with it. The block can then be styled using an XSL stylesheet and included in a page region just like any other block in the system.