Content Modelling - The Purpose of a Content Model

The idea of a content model is new, but it has similarities to both a database design and an object model. The purpose of both of these is to provide a foundation for the logic of the operation. With a database design, we want to structure the data in a meaningful way to make storage and retrieval effective. With an object model, we define the objects and how they relate to each other so that accessing and managing objects is efficient and effective. The same applies to a content model. It's about structuring the content and the relationships between the classes to allow the content to be accessed and displayed easily.

The following diagram is a simple content model that shows the key content classes and how they relate to each other. In this diagram, we see that resources belong to a collection which in turn belongs to a context. Also, a particular resource can belong to more than one collection.

As stated before, there is no such thing as the "right" model. What we are trying to achieve is the most "effective" model for the project at hand. This means coming up with a model that will provide the most effective way of organizing content so that it can be easily displayed in the manner defined in the functional specification. The way a content model is defined will have an impact on how easy it is to code templates, how quickly the code will run, how easy it is for the editors to input content, and also how easy it is to change down the track. From experience, rarely is a project completed and then never touched again. Usually, there are changes, modifications, updates, etc. down the track. If the model is well structured, these changes will be easy, if not, they can require a significant amount of work to implement. In some cases, the project has to be rebuilt entirely and content re-entered to achieve the goals of the client. This is why the model is so important. If done well, it means the client pays less and has a better-running solution. A poor model will take longer to implement and changes will be more difficult to implement.