Doing a Content Inventory

Jeff Veen's latest in the Adaptive Path essays is Doing a Content Inventory (Or, A Mind-Numbingly Detailed Odyssey Through Your Web Site), in which he talks about the process of taking stock of client data, mostly as a pre-requisite to building/deploying a CMS within an organization. Includes a link to download the Adaptive Path content inventory template. Related to this article is Janice Crotty Fraser's article in Web Techniques last year.

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InterestinIng but...

Makes you wonder why he didn't use an outliner to create the document? Seems like an idea task for an outliner.

And it seems like a great task for OmniOutliner and a few AppleScripts. Automate some of the tasks and use it to build some reporting function (like creating a new outline with a list of sections that have a majority of ROT links)

Simple

Because the method predates the release of OmniOutliner, and OO is the only outliner I know of that supports multiple columns per line item. Also, for distributing the inventory among non-Mac users, we need to be able to export to Excel or something like it (such as tab-delimited), and OO doesn't handle this as gracefully as we need it to. A bit of Perl scripting could probably clean up OO's output to make it Excel-ready, but that's something I haven't gotten around to exploring yet.

Windows outliners

There aren't any comparable outliners for Window?

Richer than outlines

These other outliners exist for Windows, but I think there are good reasons to use a spreadsheet rather than an outliner. I've been doing very large inventory-like documents for a digital library with many more columns than Jeff Veen's. I am working on a spreadsheet that is now like 36 MB with a lot of tabs. The inventories we do also serve as requirements documents for programmers, so there are even columns that contain search queries for database driven pages. What eventually happens with these types of documents is that they are exported to tab-delimmited files to be flowed into databases, to be imported into diagramming applications, to generate indexes. I just find that spreadsheets scale much better when you are dealing with a lot of descriptive data for requirements.

Incidentally, James Spahr's OmniGraffle/AppleScript solution has been working nicely for me to generate radial diagrams from these spreadsheets as well on the Mac side. Thanks, James. You rock.

Interesting overview of outli

Interesting overview of outliners. Also a nice illustration of just how bad some UI design on the PC is. You can understand why a "one man" desgn shop would not have exceptional UI design but the Lotus Notes example was almost as bad as the design in the old version of Debabeliser.

I think that even with the number of columns Jeff discusses you'd probably be at the limit for easy use with an outliner. If you had more colums then I think it would be very impractical to use anything other than a spredsheet. I just tend to think in terms of outlines and outliners and I'm a bit spreadsheet phobic so when I saw the illustration in Jeff's article I immediately thought of an outliner based solution.
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Now if someone could come up with a hybrid outliner/spreadsheet.

James also has a script to tally time estimates from an OO outline.