Every wiki landing page usually features a kind of overview layout to provide links to the most interesting topics or articles. This might constitute a classic table of contents, quite lengthy at times, a tag cloud of the hottest keywords (and relations, maybe), for iterative exploration, or, if you like, a dashboard of context grouped / block visualized widgets of important articles. Whatever you prefer, me, I almost always take on the dashboard approach, because it provides a great productivity in information to space ratio. Furthermore, dashboards also greatly serve the figurative memory in that one can plainly remember some article link resides in a widget up in the upper right corner of the page or yet within another widget with an outstanding background color.
However, I’m not planning to advertise dashboard / widget user interfaces here. What is to follow comprises an implementation pattern and example of setting up a simple dashboard layout in recent Confluence environments. All you need is to employ section-, column- and panel-macros in that order and hierarchy, respectively. For reference see the latest Confluence docs concerning:
Be shure to firstly understand the difference between page layout sections and, subordinate, column layout sections to prevent leaving off the wrong junction. We’re going to use the latter ones in structuring the page, only embedded in a singleton page layout section (that every page should have as its base by default).
The implementation pattern is not very much complex, really. You only have to know the aformentioned marcos, yet that they exist at all, then nest them accordingly. You place as many columns as you like, horizontally, into the column section and, alike, as many panels as you like, stacked vertically, into the columns itself again. See how this looks like in wiki edit mode below:
Any horizontal block element (column) resize, induced by the browser window, is propagated by giving a relative percentaged width to the columns. A fixed pixel based value is also possible, if you intent to keep the layout steady. There is no flow of the column blocks by the way, as comparable to html and divs. Once three columns means always three columns. Not bad for me, since such a way the layout always remains in a predefined pattern, the Dilbert macro reliably in the upper right corner 😉
The vertical block element resize, on the other hand, is just triggered by the contents of the panels. Panel widgets can though be tuned in framing and coloring to achive the recognition characteristic in dashboard layouts. Again, html and divs come into mind inspecting what is offered for configuration. Free color selection is possible through hex-code notation for example. Note however, that no input error checking is performed for the style values. A “dasshed” line style attribute value will just show no effect, do use the macro preview in place, its paying off.
Ok, then, here we go with the actual example page. One widget incredibly overtuned but very distinctive in its uniqueness, right?!…
Have fun, Peter