Under review

Feature Request: Auto-populating Collections

Kevin M. Cox 5 years ago in BLOX Total CMS updated by Andrew Link 4 years ago 6

Here is what I want and why I want it:

I'd love the ability to create a Collection asset and then define a slug template that would automatically assign any specified asset type matching that pattern to the Collection as a child.

For example: 

Create a Collection, set the Start Time, Sections, Workflow, etc. Then define the following for matching:
Type: Image
Slug: 180518-new-shooting*
(The asterisk being a wildcard just like in slug search.)

The system would run a search on the slug either constantly or every five minutes or something and then automatically add the matches into the collection.


Or maybe even options for keywords instead of slugs:
Type: Image
Keyword: #sfhsshooting

Two scenarios where this would save a ton of time:

1. We had a mass shooting today and it would have been a huge help for photographers to FTP their images into TotalCMS and not even need to open the browser and login to BLOX. Just upload the photos and know they'll be added into the existing live photo gallery within a few minutes. (Transmitting images via FTP directly from Photo Mechanic is hands-down the fastest way to get photos into TCMS.)

2. It would save a bunch of time when covering sports to setup the Collection ahead of time and then let it auto-populate as photos are sent during the game. During the World Series last year I was able to send photos during the games but usually didn't have time to get into BLOX until afterwards. So while my photos where in TCMS, they weren't online for any readers to see.

A feature like this would help level the playing field for small publications that don't have dedicated web staff sitting in the office to build galleries.


I agree collections should be able to be auto-populated based on keyword.

Yes, this would be amazing. -- by keyword would work better for me than by slugs (and keywords can be batch edited; I don't think slugs can)

Under review

We are considering something like this, but it comes at this idea in another way...

We are thinking of a "dynamic" collection, where essentially you create a new asset and as part of the asset you define a search query - so it could be populated by slugs, keywords, tags, priorities, or any important parameter.

Then, on the front end, it can still display as a gallery, but essentially it is a search that just keeps populating with those results.

Nice things about this:

1. There is no upper limit, so you could have thousands of assets which are relevant to the gallery.

2. It would be lazy loaded, so, again, it could be infinite. A user would read the most recent things first (or whatever sort priority you decided to use) and then keep traveling back in time.

3. It could grow over time, so you could have something like "prepsports" or "lion attacks" and each time you posted something that qualified, it would automatically show up.

4. Since it is search based, it would not cause performance issues when you are loading thousands of assets at once.

5. In theory (I just thought of this so I'm not 100% sure we could do it) you could have an article search for dynamic galleries that are related by keyword, and automatically show those articles as cards on a story.

6. The gallery would automatically use the first child as the preview image, or you could define a teaser image specific to that gallery which doesn't change.

At the same time, we are considering adding an upper limit to standard photo galleries to ensure they are more efficient. I think as long as we had the dynamic gallery, a limitation to regular galleries is fine. Do you guys agree? Like a 100 image limit for new galleries, existing galleries would be unaffected. Regular galleries would be used for short, specific stories that should be closed after a time. Dynamic galleries would be open and ongoing.

Let me know what you think of this idea and you can help flesh out the requirements. =)

It sounds like this could work. Most of our collections are related to specific events and not things that are continuously updated past a day or two. So for us using the slug (with * wildcard) as the filter will be crucial. But I could see this expanding our options and potentially allowing for other uses we haven't thought of yet.

1. Good

2. For all our existing uses we'd want oldest first, with new things added to the end, telling the story of an event chronologically as a users scrolls through.

4. Always good, but how does that look in the back end? Would you be able to see all the assets that fit the criteria in the BLOX Editorial editor?

6. Being able to define a specific teaser would be good.

We'd probably be OK with the upper limit on standard galleries. There are only a handful of times we've gone over 100.

In contradiction to your last thought, we'd probably use the dynamic galleries for "short, specific stories that should be closed after a time" since the main reason we want them is to auto-populate during big hectic events.

What about an option to convert from Dynamic to Standard later on? For instance we create a dynamic gallery at the start of the hurricane/flood/shooting event so it can go live immediately and be automatically populated with images as photographers transmit remotely. Then once the event is over we want to freeze it as-is and insure that we don't accidentally have new, unrelated images get added based on the filters we selected (e.g. reuse of a keyword)?


I wouldn't be a fan of an asset limit in collections. We have a number of large galleries with more than 100 photos. A limit would take away potential pageviews.

We run daily AP history photo galleries that usually have over 100 photos. And as for local galleries, we have a handful of big community events that we display a lot of photos from.


I think this would work well for the types of collection assets that we'd likely use it for. What I've done is this:

Greitens coverage -- https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/post-dispatch-coverage-of-greitens-his-campaign-and-the-mission/collection_1f91d9e4-20fe-5c4d-9f53-dd661198f3ec.html

Crooked county executive coverage -- https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/st-louis-county-executive-steve-stenger-pleaded-guilty-to-pay/collection_9b20ca96-c708-594d-9504-1beabb91170f.html

Which I'm doing by adding link assets to a collection set to "series" presentation. Then I add it as an embedded gallery at the bottom of relevant articles, and it acts as a topic-specific "infinite scrolls" of sorts. 

Having a collection that auto-populates will eliminate one of the steps in that process. I'd probably still create link assets for relevant articles, as adding a series collection as an asset (embedded or not, if I remember right) to an article/collection/asset that is in the series causes the site to crash.

But even for photo collections on ongoing issues (floods/major news events), this would be great to auto-update the collection as assets hit the system.