Squiz Matrix Asset Listings: 10 Top Tips for Success
If you’re a Squiz Matrix user, one of the most common features you’re going to want to take advantage of is an Asset Listing.
Asset Listings are a great way to select, sort, and format content items for display to your users. When combined with a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and the Squiz Manuals, you’ll be surprised how many configuration options are available at your disposal when using Asset Listings to display dynamic content.
In this article we’ll demonstrate 10 top tips and tricks you can use when implementing your next Squiz Matrix Asset Listing. From correctly configuring your asset selections, to setting up display formats, to sorting, grouping, and column layouts; you’ll be able to implement your next asset listing with confidence using the below tips and tricks.
1. Configuring Asset Listing selections
When setting up an Asset Listing, one of the first things you'll want to do is ensure you’ve identified the asset types, content, direction, and depth of your asset selections. To do so you’ll need to pay particular attention to the following items available from the Details screen of your Asset Listing:
- Asset Types to List: One of the best features of Asset Listings is the ability to configure the types of assets you want to display. Whether it’s a single asset type or multiple asset types (i.e. Standard Pages and Links) excluding irrelevant asset types gives you a much greater chance of producing an expected outcome when implementing an Asset Listing.
- Asset Statuses to List: Selecting assets that hold the status Live is a feature many content authors commonly use when configuring Asset Listings. However when building new content, you may want to select Under Construction assets to test your content selections. Do this by configuring asset status selections.
- Root Nodes: By selecting a starting (root) node, your Asset Listing will select assets either above (if configured) or below. If left blank and you’re using your Asset Listing as a standalone page, you’ll be able to select assets directly beneath the current page using this feature.
- Minimum/Maximum/Depth/Height: It can be handy to limit the depth of of your asset selections to a certain number of levels beneath your root node. An example of this may be selecting assets which fall up to 2 levels below the root node.
- Link Types: Just like a Squiz Matrix Menu Normal Design Area, when using Asset Listings you have the option to select either Type 1 or 2 elements individually, or both. This can be a great way to exclude elements from your selections.
2. The Display Formats screen
I’m going to start this section by making it very clear that “Asset Listing Display Formats are way more powerful than most users realise”. Display Formats in essence allow you to change the way your Asset Listings appear whilst providing added functionality in the areas of Grouping, Position formatting, and configuration of assets by type.
In this section we’ll provide an overview of the basics of Display Formats so you can get a feel for using Type Formats with the goal of expanding into Group and Position formats.
- Display Formats screen: By right-clicking your Asset Listing, you’ll be presented with the Display Formats option. This screen allows you to configure how you want certain assets to display giving you a great deal of control on an asset-by-asset level.
- Customised Asset Type Formats: The Customised Asset Type Formats section of this screen allows you to configure individual display formatting of asset types. For example, if you want to customise the display of a Link asset, you can do so by configuring a new format which will appear underneath the Type Formats folder in the asset tree.
3. Group Formats
Group Formats are another handy tool when it comes to shaping the order and display of assets.
For example, if you’re looking to group and display assets that have a certain metadata value, you can do so by configuring a Group Format. To do so, right-click on your Asset Listing and select Asset Grouping. This screen (which is linked to from the Display Formats screen) will allow you to configure your asset grouping by configuring a new group format from the Add New Group section, then by configuring your Asset Listing to utilise a metadata field from the Type menu and subsequent group formatting options.
4. Position Formats
If you haven’t used Position Formats before when implementing an Asset Listing you’re gonna love it. Position Formats as the name suggests allows you to format an asset listed by your Asset Listing based on their print count. For example if you wanted to change the appearance of the first element in your listing, you can do so with Position Formats.
To configure a position format, visit the Display Formats screen of your Asset Listing then navigate to the Customised List Position Formats section. From here you’ll be able to configure a New Position Format (i.e. 1) which will appear under your Position Formats folder beneath your Asset Listing where you can edit the display contents of your position format.
5. Column Layouts
At times you may need to group your Asset Listing results into columns, either using floated DIV elements or using tables with multiple rows and cells. All this is possible by utilising the Column Layouts section of your Asset Listing.
Column Layouts are easy to configure and allow you to specify class attributes for DIV elements which can be of assistance when building responsive layouts. This particular method is preferable when using Column Layouts due to the flexible nature of DIV tags when combined with CSS, even if you’re looking to emulate the layout benefits of HTML tables.
Some use-cases for Column Layouts might include the implementation of mega-menus, or when you have limited vertical space but are looking to display a number of links.
6. Sorting Squiz Matrix assets
Within Squiz Matrix there are a number of sorting options you can choose to take advantage of when using Asset Listings. To do so right-click your Asset Listing and selecting the Asset Sorting menu.
From within the Asset Sorting menu you’ll be able to sort in Ascending or Descending order, and by the Standard Asset Field Values which directly relate to the type of assets you’ve configured your Asset Listing to select.
For example, if you’ve selected Standard Pages and Links as the asset types you want to select, you’ll be able to to sort by Name, Short Name, Created, Published and Updated dates, which are all common attributes of these asset types.
When sorting assets you may also like to toggle the No Sorting option. This option as the name suggests will allow you to override any sorting as will the Random Sorting option which can be of use for displaying random content blocks.
A rookie tip when sorting using Asset Listings is to sort by Asset Name. This is the most commonly used method of sorting assets giving you the control to order assets alphabetically.
7. Using Dynamic Parameters with Asset Listings
Dynamic Parameters are one of the more advanced Squiz Matrix Asset Listing features many newbies often shy away from. However fear not...there’s no reason to as Dynamic Parameters can be a fantastic way to enhance your development and only take a little getting used to.
By visiting the Details screen of your Asset Listing you’ll be able to dynamically configure the following elements (as well as many others):
- Root Nodes: The root node to list assets from.
- The number of Assets Per Page: The max number of assets to list per page.
- Listing Heading: The heading above the list.
- Listing Format: The presentation layout of each asset listed.
Squiz have provided a really handy step-by-step tutorial which will walk you through how to develop your first Asset Listing using Dynamic Parameters. We encourage you to take a look at this tutorial if you’re looking to use dynamic parameters to modify the look and feel of your Asset Listings and achieve consistently custom results.
8. The No-Results Display Format
Whether it’s just habit or a conscious choice, Squiz Matrix developers have a bad habit of not providing a properly styled No-Results Display Formats which can result in a really ugly user experience when your site content changes.
An easy fix here is to provide a really basic custom message which advises your user base of a lack of results. This simple checklist item should form part of your Asset Listing implementations alongside some supporting CSS to ensure your message is clean and fits in with your overall site design.
9. Block vs Raw vs WYSIWYG content
By default the Squiz Matrix CMS will set your page contents blocks as WYSIWYG elements. Although handy for content editing, this option may not be the best choice for you when working with HTML tags to display content.
10. Multi-page Asset Listings
One of our favourite features of Squiz Matrix Asset Listings is the ability to spread your results across multiple pages. To do so, you’ll need to visit the Details screen of your Asset Listing and navigate to the List Formatting section.
The List Formatting section includes the elements you’ll be required to configure to spread your results across multiple pages. These are:
- Assets Per Page: The number of assets you wish to list per page of results (i.e. 20).
- Previous Link: The link text to visit the Previous results page.
- Next Link: The link text to visit the Next results page.
- Current Page Format: The format of the current page identifier.
This relatively simple concept is a great way to handle high-volume results sets and is without a doubt one of the more commonly used features of Squiz Matrix Asset Listings.
Asset Listings are easy to configure, incredibly powerful, and a lot of fun to use. After reading these tips and tricks hopefully you’ll be able to identify a number of areas of your site you can improve using Squiz Matrix Asset Listings to showcase some really great content.
If you’re looking for assistance implementing a Matrix Asset Listings or configuring any other area of your Squiz CMS, contact OSE for a free consultation.