Metadot Portal Administration Overview


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This page is an overview of the functions that can be performed by the Metadot Portal Server administrator. New Metadot administrators should read the user's guide prior to reading this documentation, since the user's guide provides background on important Metadot concepts and features.

Managing Portal Contents

Administrators have the right to manage all if the site content, including users' content. Since Admins have rights on each page, they will see the Enable Editing button at the bottom of each page.

The Admin vs. Site Managers

Metadot Portal Server provides two levels of admin privileges, the admin and site managers. There is only one admin per site, with login admin. There may be multiple site managers, and a user can be granted site manager privileges by either the admin or a site manager.

A site manager is able to acccess only a subset of the site configuration options of the admin. When logged in as the an admin, the configuration pages indicate via red asterisks the options available to the site managers. The site manager is also not given privileges to access "Toolbox" configuration. However, a site manager is allowed to perform many administrative tasks, including those related to user management and channel management, and has the ability to modify all site content.

The remainder of this document describes the full set of Metadot Portal Server administrative features.

My Page

My Page contains two type of elements or boxes: news-feeds and tools.

Tools are boxes that do something via HTML e.g. perform a web search or implement a calculator. Site admins can make tools available to their users or create new one.

From the software point of view, tools are simply Metadot site Items that are displayed in a framed box. To add and maintain tools:

Click on the link: Generic Elements For MyPage. Add an Item to create a new Tool, or click Edit or Delete to modify/delete an existing item. The HTML that implements the tool (e.g. the search box) goes in the Description field for the Item. The existing tools provide a set of examples for you to look at.

These Items will be available to users when they configure their MyPage.

Default My Page

When a user registers and then goes to their My Page, they see a default page that is built by the site administrator. Users can modify the content or layout by clicking on the appropriate toolbar button.

Anonymous users (those not logged in) also have access to a default My Page but cannot modify its content.

Modifying the default My Page content

Site administrators can modify the default 'My Page' content by doing the following:

My Website

Users can modify their individual 'My Website' portal content if they are logged in and enable Editing mode. Users' content is accessible to other users without restrictions, i.e., there is no private area. Administrators can modify any user portal.


Metadot delivers channel content, such as newsfeeds, to end users based on subscription settings. Notifications are processed by the Metadot "channel daemon", the script. This script polls for and then processes new content. The daemon should be activated by a cron job on Unix/Linux machines, and by the task scheduler on Windows NT or 2000. See the "Daemon" section below for additional information.

Customizing the site look and feel

Admin changes to the site look and feel are accomplished via selecting "Styles & Colors" under the "Manage.." pulldown menu available when editing is turned on. If Themes are enabled, then selecting "Styles & Colors" will first take you to the Themes configuration page. If not, you will view the Advanced Styles and Colors configuration page.

Only a site Admin can access the Styles & Colors configuration pages.


Page Theme mode allows the site admin a means to easily set and change the logo and color scheme consistently sitewide, without needing to modify a collection of color settings on the "Advanced Styles and Colors" page, or to change the templates in the Advanced Styles and Colors page. Theme mode uses a set of fixed layout templates, which you do not have to modify yourself; thus, it supports a very simple interface to control the site look. If you do not want to use the fixed layouts provided by Theme mode, then the Advanced page allows you a more fine-grained control over the template html used. See the section on Themes for more information.

The Advanced Styles and Colors Page

The advanced Styles and Colors page allows configuration of several differnent aspects of the site's "look and feel". Any HTML changes are applied immediately after you click "save". See the Styles and Colors section for more information.

Headers and footers

There are several types of headers:

Footer: there is only one type of footer, so it is displayed on all pages except the form page.


Site Templates are used with Style 4. Templates are html with embedded GizmoTag directives. See the section on gizmotags and templates, and the Developers' Guide, for more information about using templates and GizmoTags.

The Site Stylesheet, and site colors

From the Advanced Styles and Colors page, it is possible to change the CSS style rules used for Styles 1-3. (Style 4 and Themes are based on HTML templates which include their own style rules).

It is also possible to change many of the table cell/frame colors used throughout the site. [If Themes are enabled, these cell colors are overridden by the Theme colors].

User Management

Adding users

Users are added when they self-register.

Modifying user information

You can modify user information as follows:

A page is generated with all of the users' account information.

You also can look up users using the Portal search field. or get a list of users via the following cgi link:


From the Metadot portal's perspective, everything is a channel. There are two kinds of channels: external (i.e. from the outside world e.g. CNN news) and internal (from your Metadot web site).

Managing channels

Logged in as Admin, Enable Editing, then select Channels from the "Manage..." pulldown menu. This brings up a page from which the different types of Channels and GizmoTools can be accessed. The administrator has control over the full list of channels available for the site users to place on their page. Deleting a channel will remove it from this list.

To add an external channel as the site administrator: enter the URL of the RSS channel.

The name, description, logo and other information comes from the channel file itself. Once the channel URL is entered, users will see the new channel after the next cycle of the Metadot daemon script (every hour unless modified by the site administrator). The site administrator can change this time interval by changing the daemon run time. See the Daemon section for more information.

To Edit or Delete a channel, just click the appropriate edit or delete button.

Metadot Daemon

The "Metadot daemon" is a perl script called This program does the portal's background work:

The daemon is run by the cron daemon under Unix/Linux and by the Task Scheduler under Windows.

This is the default recommended Linux cron configuration:

*/20 * * * * cd /home/metadot/metadot/; nice -19 perl -m -s  >/dev/null 2>/dev/null
If you wish to enable the email-to-discussion feature, use the following variant on the cron command above:
*/20 * * * * cd /home/metadot/metadot/; nice -19 perl -m -s -fetch >/dev/null 2>/dev/null
Then, add this second line to the cron table:
18 1 * * * cd /home/metadot/metadot/; perl -o >/dev/null 2>/dev/null

The first line tells to run every 20 minutes with low priority (nice -19) with the -m option, which means daemon mode (normal mode). The second line tells to remove any lock file that would have not been removed previously.

Note: The directory path in the cd command needs to be adjusted to where the Metadot perl files are on your local system.

In Unix/Linux, to list your existing crontab, use 'crontab -l' at the command prompt.
To edit your crontab, use 'crontab -e' at the prompt.

For information about configuring the Task Scheduler under Windows, see the installation instructions.

As a general rule, external channels should be fetched no more than every hour. Internal channels and subscriptions can be processed every 20 minutes or more often if needed.

Apache configuration

You can run Metadot as a regular cgi program or using mod_perl. The difference is that the cgi way can be quite slow and do not scale as nicely as mod_perl. Using mod_perl, Metadot is very fast. Here is the correct Apache configuration for mod_perl:

LoadModule perl_module        modules/
AddModule mod_perl.c

Alias /metadot/  /home/metadot/public_html/metadot/

<Location /metadot>
SetHandler  perl-script
PerlHandler Apache::Registry
Options +ExecCGI

Make sure you do NOT have the directive 'PerlSendHeader on' somewhere in your Apache configuration file.

If you want to use Arabic or other fancy language like this add

AddDefaultCharset Off

to your Apache configuration file.

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