Managing the Smart Content Manager

Managing the Smart Content Manager

The Smart Content Manager (SCM) is difficult to configure, layering a complex set of new permissions over the already impenetrable Joomla 2.5 permissions. To learn about the Jooml permissions (Access Control List – ACL) see

To learn generically about SCM capabilities please review the SCM online help, installed on our site at

This should give you an overall idea of what SCM does. It was installed to give the website’s Group Publishers a tool they could use to edit and manager their own content from the website’s front end.

I (Jim) don’t believe the component works exactly as one would undertstand it should work from reading the documentation on the link above. This may be a failure to communicate, as they say, but after a number of emails back and forth with the authors of SCM (and a threat to demand a refund of the € 15 it costs), and many experiments, I think I know how to use it in our environment. This is written so I can read it instead of spending a few hours relearning it every time there’s a new group to be created.

If anyone reading this thinks they have a different interpretation of the SCM docs, or finds a better way to set things up for this website, I beg you to share so this article is updated and I don’t experience the frustration I’m feeling right at this moment.

Note: The procedures below assume you are logged in on the Admin back end.

To make a user into a publisher of an existing group
(where a registered user is being added as a publisher, or replacing an existing publisher of an existing group)

  1. Edit the user’s login on the Admin back-end;
  2. Under Permissions, check the box next to their group name, indicating the new publisher is a member of that group.
  3. Save the user and exit.

To set up a new group publisher
(where the group does not currently exist)

Hover over the drop-down menu “Users” and click “Groups”.

  1. Note that all group publishers are subordinate to “Registered”, meaning that initially the only website privilege they have is that of a “Registered” user, namely, they can login to the site. THis process will add privileges to manager the content for their group.
  2. All existing user groups are listed. Be sure you’re not duplicating an existing group.
  3. Click the orange “Add” (+) button at the upper-right to create a new group.
  4. Fill in the new group’s name, e.g., “Newgroup Publ.”
  5. IMPORTANT: Make the group parent “Registered”.
  6. Click “Save and Close” at the upper right. The new group will appear in alphabetical order in the group list. Check to see that it’s parent group is “Registered”.
  7. Use the preceding procedure to make each designated user a member of the new group.

At this point you have established a Joomla “Group” for a new group website within the FHA website, and the designated publisher(s) have been made members of this group.

Create the New Group’s Category/ies

By the time you are ready to create the group’s category or categories, you should have an idea of how the group’s site will be structured. Generally we recommend a “home page” for the group as a Category Blog-type menu item link where they can feature upcoming events or new articles that are automatically put at the top of the page, pushing existing articles down the page. So one category needs to be created for this type of content. A second category will generally be desirable for more static content like bylaws, statements of purpose and the like. A third handy category is for draft articles not linked on the group’s (or our main) website. I (Jim) have been creating a main category, subordinate to the “Groups” category, and subcategories for “News & Home Page” and “Drafts” (each name prefaced by a contraction of the group’s name, e.g., “WoF News & Home” for Women of Fearrington News and Home Page Articles”.

  1. Open the Categories manager (under the “Content” drop-down menu).
  2. Click the orange “Add” (+) button to add the new group’s category.
  3. Set the Name field to the group’s name.
  4. Set the Parent [group] to “Groups”
  5. Page down until you see, under “Category Permissions” the name of the publisher group you created above. Click it to reveal the actions that members of this group can take with articles within this category. (Please read the previous sentence again to be sure you understand what it’s saying!)
  6. Under “Select New Setting”, change each “Inherited” setting to “Allowed”. This will allow the new publisher(s) to take all five of the “Actions” on content with this category and with content in subcategories since they will “inherit” the privileges of the parent category.
  7. Click “Save & Exit” at the top right. Verify that the new category has been created and is a child of the “Groups” category.

 Now add all the groups’ subcategories as above, except make the group’s main category the Parent category of each subgroup. The privileges of the parent are inherited by the new groups, so no need to change the subcategories’ “Action” privileges.

Configure the SCM component
so it will become available to the new group publisher(s).

  1. Open the component: Click “Smart Content Manager” inter the top menu’s “Components” menu.
  2. Click “Options” at the upper right.
  3.  Scoll down until you see the publisher group you created above, and click it.
  4. The top three settings are
    • Delete own articles
    • Publish/Unpublish/Archive/Unarchive Own Articles
    • Create Articles
  5. For these three privileges only, “Select New Setting” to “Allowed”
  6. Click Save & Exit at the upper right.

Test the new configuration!

If any step of the test procedure fails, go back and check your work, and when youi find and fix the problem, logout and back in again on the front-end (production site) and restasrt the testing. at step two (2) immediately following.

  1. Configure your favorite non-privileged website login so that its only group memberships are “Registered” and the new group publisher you created above.
  2. Login using that reconfigured userID.
  3. Verify that the left accordion menu’s “Your Stuff” drop-down shows two entries (among others): “Write an Article” and “Your Articles”.
  4. Click “Write an Article” verify that the only categories visible in the “Category” drop-down are the category belonging to the new group, which should have the group’s name as the category name, and the subcategories having the new group as a parent. No others should be visible. If you can see other categories in the drop-down, you’ve done something wrong. Do not proceed, go back and find and fix the problem.
  5. Create a test article using the editor. Pick any category. Save it.
  6. Using the “Your Stuff” drop-down, click “Your Articles” to open the SCM component’s front-end user (new publisher) interface.
  7. You should see the article you just created, along with any others this login may have created.
  8. Click the name of the article to preview it. Click “Back” to return to the SCM.
  9. Click the “Edit” icon under Actions.
  10. An editor window should open with the article in it. You should be able to change its state (Published, Archived, etc.), title, body text, etc. Click “Save” or “Cancel” to return to SCM.
  11. An orange “Add” (+) button should be at the top right corner of the SCM window. Click it and verify that an eiting window opens and has all the features you expect. Save or Cancel to return to SCM.

That completes the testing. There are two quirks I’ve noticed (and likely more that I haven’t noticed):

  1. The editor screens for new or existing articles contain a drop-down for “Featured”. Group Publishere should be cautioned that featuring something without Julia or, in her absence, Jim’s OK is a capital offense.
  2. Choosing the parent category in the filtering “Category” drop-down will show only the parent category, not the children categories, and vice versa.

Once testing is completed, you can notify the new publisher that they can use the SCM to manage their articles. Suggested text might be something like:

You now have privileges to create and edit articles for [your group] on the FHA website. You can use the “Smart Content Manager”, or SCM.  Its manifestation for you is a new link under “Your Stuff +” on the left menu, “Your Articles”. When you click this link, you should see a list of all the articles you have written that have the article category of your organization. There is an icon  beside each article title that you click to edit the article. 

Near the upper-right corner of the SCM page is an orange (+) icon. Clicking this icon will take you to an editor page where you can compose a new article.

There is some non-intuitive behavior of this page. Specifically:

  1. Even if a login has permission to change state, the SCM articles list won’t accept a click on the publish/unpublish icon or the trash icon. However, one can edit the article and do either. This is an inconsistency that, I think, is in SCM logic.
  2. The editor windows (new article or existing article) show a selection box for “Featured”. Do not use this. If you want to have your finished article placed on the FHA website’s home/main/front page, email Julia Hardy or, in her absence, email

Good luck. This has been a bear to understand, but the exercise was helpful in getting to know more about Joomla permissions.