A Structured Content Initiative

Categories: Development, Community Created by Lidia Demin
Wireframe line drawing of websites with content elements.
Photo: Danae Paparis / Unsplash
Without extensions like Gridelements and Flux, creating and editing semantically and hierarchically structured content can be difficult in TYPO3.

Some use cases developers and integrators can struggle with are flexible accordions, content containers as content elements, content element placement restrictions, and drag and drop. Unfortunately, this has often led to difficulties with upgrades or migrations.

At the 2018 TYPO3 Camp Mitteldeutschland in Dresden, Germany, this topic once again gained popularity and an interest group started discussions in the TYPO3 Slack channel #cig-structuredcontent.

Now, things have become serious through the creation of the Structured Content Initiative.

Better Support for Custom Content Elements

The main goal of this initiative is to build better, native support for custom, semantically structured content element types in TYPO3. We would like to:

  • Create a better experience for editors to work with content types in a more intuitive way

  • Enable integrators to easily create flexible and reusable content types. These content types will not be bound to layouts, templates, or technologies like FlexForms

Our agreed focus will be to not look at the current implementations and limitations first, but to rather find the best user experience, then look at the technology!

A Huge Task—Three Working Groups

Our analysis of what we understand as structured content, our expectations of the initiative, and a look at other CMS providers, showed that this is a very complex topic. 

To achieve results quickly, we identified three main parts that should be covered by separate working groups:

1. Editing Interface User Experience Group

This working group will develop a concept for UX, creating wireframes, mockups and layouts, in order to make content management for the editor as intuitive as possible.

2. Content Element Creation Group

The focus of this working group will be to simplify the creation process for content elements and their hierarchical relationships by taking registration and maintenance into consideration. This group will create a technical concept as well as evaluate the processes for storing and connecting content element data.

3. Rendering Group

Containers, wrappers etc. will be this working group’s focus. Their first goal will be to develop a concept for semantic content interpretation in the frontend (e.g. by using modern markup to better identify coherent structures).

These working groups will operate in parallel and continuously share their work in progress and ideas to support their common goal. 

Currently we have one slack call a month, but there is no fixed schedule yet. The working groups will create their own schedules, and we will keep up the monthly calls to exchange information between the groups (note participation is not mandatory for all group members!).

Get Involved and Join Forces!

It doesn‘t matter if you know the core or not. Our first steps will be to create concepts. We would like to define how things should behave to make both editing and development easier. Of course, we are also looking for technical people too, especially for the later steps.

We are also interested in joining forces with other initiatives that intersect with our working areas. If you have thoughts or ideas on this topic, please feel free to share them with us and enhance our concepts.

Join the #cig-structuredcontent channel in the TYPO3 Slack.

Copyediting: Mathias Bolt Lesniak • Proofreading: Amy Hunt