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What Does The Lightbulb Mean?

If you've spent any time as an editor on a Berylium site, you are familiar with the lightbulb icon-- there's one next to every object you work with.

The lightbulb is a visual cue: it tells you an object's general rank and status, as well as whether that object is public or private. This document explains these publishing settings in detail, and shows you how to decode the secret messages of the Berylium lightbulb.

The information in this document is specifically for site editors, but might be interesting to anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of how Berylium's auto-indexing features work.


As you may already have discovered, every object (that is, every document, folder, image, comment, etc) has three settings that determine who can see it and where it shows up in indexes and lists. These are collectively known as an object's Publishing Settings: public, status, and rank.

Public is a boolean setting (true or false) that determines whether an object is, well, public. As opposed to private, which means viewable by members only. On sites where anyone can become a member, the distinction isn't so great, except that search engines and casual visitors won't ever see private objects. On closed-membership sites, private objects are truly private.

Status is generally set to either "posted" or "deleted." Deleted objects are only visible to editors, and only when they want to see them, whereas posted objects are viewable by anyone (subject to their public setting, of course). There are two other built-in statuses that can give you a finer degree of control over who sees an object: "new" objects are only visible to their owners and to editors, so that they can be edited and approved before being posted; and "hidden" objects are only visible to editors.

Rank is a numerical classification that allows editors to override the usual order in which objects are listed. Objects are normally created with rank 100.

The rule of thumb is that higher-ranked objects are listed first, so a document with a rank of 102 would be displayed before one with a rank of 100. Objects with the same rank are listed chronologically (oldest first) by default, but depending on folder settings they might be listed alphabetically or in reverse chronological order (newest first). The point is that rank trumps other listing orders, allowing you to always put some objects higher or lower than all the others in a list.

Rank Equals Attention

But rank does more than just determine which objects are listed first or last-- it also determines which objects are featured on the homepage and in folder indexes. But how?

First, keep in mind that websites are folder-based: all other hyperlinking aside, a user comes to your homepage and then drills down into your folder hierarchy until they get to the file(s) they are looking for. The traditional way to do this is to have each folder display an index of its contents: a list of the subfolders and files within it. But what if a file you really want people to see is buried several folders down? There needs to be a way for top-level folders to display important files that are otherwise hidden within subfolders.

Berylium solves this problem by allowing a folder's rank to determine which objects it indexes from within its subfolders. With the exception of archived objects, which we'll discuss in a minute, a folder will always list its immediate contents. But a folder will also list any object in any of its subfolders whose rank is both higher than 499 and equal-to or greater-than the folder's rank. So a folder with a rank of 500 will list, in addition to its immediate contents, any objects in any of its subfolders that have a rank of 500 or more.

Objects with a rank of 500 or more can be said to be "featured."

By default, the top-level folder in a Berylium site ("/" - the homepage) has a rank of 1000, so any object with a rank of 1000 or higher will be indexed on the homepage, no matter how far down in the folder hierarchy it is. For large sites, it is good editorial practice to have a number of second-level folders with rank 500 so that new or popular objects can be featured within these folders, while only the cream of the crop are given the 1000-level homepage ranking.

Rank Works the Other Way, Too

Website content changes over time, and users are generally looking for your most informative and up-to-date files. For a site that has been in operation for more than a few months, it is likely to be counter-productive to present visitors with a comprehensive list of all the files in a given folder straightaway. There needs to be a way for folders to list only the newest or most popular objects up front, while still allowing access to a detailed listing in case the user is looking for something unusual or historical.

Setting an object's rank to 50 indicates to Berylium that this object is "archived"-- not deleted or hidden from visitors, but not displayed at first glance, either. Archived objects still show up in searches, and in comprehensive object listings, but they are ignored by folder indexes.

Bulb Rank vs. Specific Rank

Because at the folder level we are generally only concerned with whether an object has a rank of 1000 (homepage), 500 (featured), 100 (normal), or 50 (archived), those categories determine and object's rank as displayed on the lightbulb. This is also known as an object's "bulb rank." To get the bulb rank, the object's specific rank is rounded down if above 100, or rounded up if below 100.

So an object with rank 490 has a bulb rank (rounded down) of 100. An object with rank 75 also has a bulb rank of 100. The lightbulb is generalizing about an object's rank in order to tell you how that object will be indexed.

Finally, the Lightbulbs

The color of the background tells you if an object is private...

external image Private object lightbulbs all have a green background. Green is the color of private in Berylium.

external image Public objects have a clear background.

The color of the bulb itself tells you about its status...

external image Posted items have a yellow bulb.

external image New items have a blue bulb.

external image Hidden items have a gray bulb.

Finally, the brightness of the lightbulb tells you about its bulb rank...

external image external image external image Archived objects are off.

external image external image external image Normal objects are on.

external image external image external image Featured objects are glowing brightly.

external image external image external image Homepage objects are flashing like crazy!

By the way, deleted objects all share the same sorry-looking bulb...

external image Deleted object

The Bulb Is Your Friend

If you think this explanation over-long, you're probably right. The publishing settings embodied in the lightbulb are (hopefully) the most non-intuitive thing you are likely to encounter as a Berylium editor. But mastering them is easier than it seems at first glance, and once you begin to use the publishing settings in real world ways, it all makes sense.

By the way, if you are worried about memorizing which bulb color is which, here's the best help I can give you: all you ever really need to do is hover your mouse over an object's lightbulb. The resulting tooltip will tell you everything you need to know!

By Chris Snyder on January 4, 2003 at 9:52pm

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