The new MSARS website has many powerful features, with only the basics enabled to date. Behind the scenes lies substantial infrastructure with the potential to add even more functionality and features in the future. The first of those features to be launched is direct access for members to create their own content.
At least half a dozen members have expressed an interest in contributing material (and I’m happy to be emailed this) but if you're up for attempting to post it yourself then please do have a go. I’ll be writing a few news items and articles myself, but it’s your website so unless you want it to remain a static record of 2021, the website needs your input one way or the other. Please consider creating a snippet for the site once in a while, even if it’s just a paragraph or a single photo and caption. I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated by all the members.
Each individual post you see published on the website is known in Joomla-speak as an ‘Article’, and belongs to a ‘Category’ (such as ‘News’ or ‘Feature Articles’ etc.)
Each article has a descriptive ‘Title’, a unique ‘Alias’ to differentiate it from any other article, and a body of content. The website is simply a collection of all these articles and categories presented in a logical hierarchy, as indicated by the menu structure that you can see.
Access to the members-only section of the website now gives you the ability to create such an article, title it, assign it a category, upload images to include within it and to lay it out as you see fit. You can then 'save' it and I can check it for compatibility. I'll then make any minor edits required and ‘publish’ it. This second step is to help keep formatting consistent across the site, but also to prevent you from having any accidents or from worrying about having any accidents!
I should say that whilst I’m happy for you to post anything related to the club or of interest to club members, I of course won’t allow the website to be used for spam, other inappropriate advertising (radio gear for sale is fine), unrelated nonsense, political rants… you get the idea. No live hyperlinks will be allowed in user-submitted articles.
To get started, first go to the ‘Home’ menu item at the top left of the webpage at msars.org.uk. Hover over the ‘Home’ button momentarily and then slide your cursor down to the last menu item ‘Members Only’ and click it.
To protect the website from various web-nasties, self-registration has been disabled. On the Members Only page, you will see an access request Contact Form. You will also see the Member Login dialogue box on the right of the screen.
If you are a member of the Mid Sussex Amateur Radio Society, or indeed just a recognisable friend of the society, please continue to complete the Contact Form. This will send an email directly to me.
Be sure to include a valid email address or the setup will fail when I manually add you to the system. Please also include your callsign so that I can perform some kind of validation and verification via QRZ etc. or an explanation as to your interest in gaining access. You don’t have to actually be a member of MSARS to register - if you have an interesting contribution to make, then you are very welcome.
You will need to complete the ‘Captcha’ before you can press the ‘Send Email’ button. I’m sure you’ve had to do this a million times before. Crosswalks, traffic lights... tiresome but necessary.
You will not be able to log in via the ‘Member Login’ box on the right until you have pre-registered.
Once I receive your Contact Form submission, I will register you on the MSARS site. Your Username will be your callsign, and you will be assigned a random password. I will set your ‘display name’ on the system in the format ‘Firstname Callsign’. Please don’t change this in your profile unless you have a particular issue with it.
I will add your email address to the database, and complete your registration. The system will generate a Welcome email confirming your registration, and it will contain your new temporary password.
Logging in for the first time
Once you have received your password, you will need to return to the ‘Home/Members Only’ page where you can enter your callsign into the ‘Member Login’ box on the right, along with the password that you were sent. Once you click ‘Log in’ you will be required to change your password straight away.
Usernames are NOT case sensitive. Passwords ARE.
You now have a secure login to the website. If you ever forget your password, you can request a reset in the login box. If you forget your callsign I’m guessing you’re a Russian spambot, but you can click that option too.
For security reasons, the login box is only displayed on this one page. If you want to log out when you’re done creating, please return to ‘Home/Members Only’ and click the 'Log out' button. Your session will timeout after a pre-determined period anyway. The 'Remember Me' tickbox will set a cookie allowing you to return to the site at a later date without having to sign-in again, assuming you don't 'Log out'.
As we are storing some of your personal data, we’re required to offer you the standard privacy rights - access to a copy of your personal data, and the ability to request its deletion.
You may do all these things in the new ‘User Menu’ which you’ll see pop up under the login box. Here, you can also see a link to ‘Your Profile’ where you can find out loads of interesting information about yourself.
Most importantly, you can see a ‘Submit an Article’ link in the User Menu.
Formatting your article
When I set up your registration, I will assign you ‘Author’ status. That means that you can create Articles but not edit them once submitted. If you need to do that - don’t worry, either submit a duplicate article with your changes applied or I’ll help you fix the original. Once you become proficient, I can promote you to ‘Editor’ if required, giving you greater access rights - including those to modify existing content, including your own.
Enjoy yourself. You can’t break anything. I have backups anyway, just in case.
Moving onto editor usage, it looks very straightforward - and it is (see editor screen image above) but because it’s a browser-based editor the code it produces internally can vary significantly by browser.
For that reason, I ask that you keep the formatting as basic as it can possibly be.
Fill in a title, but leave the ‘Alias’ field blank. Joomla will generate a unique alias for you. A catchy yet relevant title is good. That's what will appear in Google's search results.
Image upload and selection
Next, upload any images. Click on the ‘Image‘ button in the editor toolbar.
If you clicked the image button, you’ll now see an ‘Image’ window (as above). Please be a little bit careful in here. You can’t delete or edit anything, but you can upload any amount of stuff to any folder.
Click the ‘articles’ folder. Please put all your images in here. Images should be pre-edited and named in lower case with underscores instead of spaces like ‘image_of_bobs_radio.jpg’.
The workspace you’ll be operating in - your ‘page width’ is exactly 700 pixels wide. For simplicity, I therefor try and keep most of my images either 700 or 350 pixels wide.
In the image window, select an existing image, or scroll down to the bottom of the window where you’ll find the upload options. Once uploaded, select your uploaded image and click the ‘Insert’ button at the top of the window. The image will be inserted where your cursor was back in the editor window. You can return to the image window as many times as you need to insert multiple images within your text.
The main editor window
Returning to your editor window, here are some more tips.
Don’t bother with the Module, Menu, Contact and Article buttons.
Only use the ‘Paragraph’ and ‘Heading 3’ fonts to stay consistent with the rest of the site.
Check your work before you ‘Save’ it. Remember, you will not be able to edit it once submitted.
Use the ‘Toggle Editor’ button under the editor to see what HTML you’ve generated. It’s also a good place to double-check your work and correct it if necessary.
There are tabs along the very top of the editor screen (above the Title box). This is where you can set the ‘Category’. Generally speaking you should set this to either ‘News’ or ‘Feature Articles’ depending on which you think most suitable. Feel free to add some metadata if you like. This helps the search engines find and index your article.
Submitting your work
Apologies, you’ll have to do another Captcha before you can ‘Save’.
I’ll be notified once you submit something, and I’ll check (and potentially tweak it) before it gets published.
Congratulations - you’ve just created some real web content, and not just boosted the revenue streams of a faceless corporate social media company. I’ll leave you play around with the tools and learn by experimenting. You can message me directly via my email address, or indeed via the Contact Form on the Members Only page at any time.