Dr Foster provides information about services and standards of hospitals
and other healthcare providers in the UK and works closely with the NHS, academics and leading figures from the medical
profession to provide the most authoratitive information possible. There are sections
of the Dr Foster website which are updated frequently and the Dr Foster editorial staff
and management team required a simple solution to allow them to update these pages easily.
Many of the guides on the Dr Foster site are data driven and a set of tools
has already been developed to manage the data for these guides. The main pages
requiring content management are the top-level pages such as the home page,
contacts page,'about us' pages, etc.
As only a handful of pages required content
management, it was decided that the expense of an off-the-shelf content management system (CMS)
could not be justified at present. The requirement was for a cheap, easy to use
system that existing pages could be migrated to with as few changes as possible
(preferably by an HTML developer rather than an ASP/ASP.NET developer). A further
requirement was to be able to add press releases/news items to a page through the
content management interface.
We devised a solution taking advantage of ASP.NET custom controls: A
set of ASP.NET custom controls was developed for defining content
managed sections and these can be inserted into existing (or new)
HTML pages to specify areas of the page to be content managed. An excerpt
from one of the content managed ASP.NET pages is as follows:
In the CMS user interface, a toolbar appears
at the top of each page and the content managed sections are coloured pink as
shown in the following screenshot:
The preview button in the toolbar allows the page to be previewed at any time.
To solve the problem of being able to add news items/press releases
to a page, we created a group tag which allows the user to add a section of a page (defined by the group)
in the CMS user interface. The group tag can contain any HTML or CMS tags including other group tags!
An excerpt from one of the ASP.NET content managed page showing the groups tags is as follows:
In the code above, a 'news' group is defined which contains
an 'image' group and a content managed text block. The 'image' group contains a content
managed image. This is so that a news block can be added to the page and the news block will
contain one or more images. The screenshot below shows the CMS interface for groups. Each group
has a set of buttons above the group (new, up, down, delete) which allow the user to
add a new section, delete an existing section, and move the section up and down in
relation to the other sections:
We also implemented simple workflow so that only a
manager can publish the changes to the site once they have reviewed the changes.
The system was fast to develop and has proved simple to use and maintain. As
shown above it is straightforward to adapt existing pages to use the CMS.