The Vocabulary of Content Analysis

By Deane Barker on August 12, 2007

A Lexicon for Document Analysis: Here’s an analysis that’s long overdue — just what do you call all the theoretical pieces of content management? What we call a “class” in eZ publish is a “SmartForm” in Ektron is a “content type” in Drupal is a “table” in a relational database.

It’s particularly important to agree on what you will call document types and the elements that make up structured document types. At CMS Watch we use the phrase “type” to define a particular document model or structure, and “element” to describe the constituent pieces that make up a content type. Of course some or even most content types are not structured and therefore have no elements (or contain, essentially, a single “body” element).

Tony makes some good points, specifically about how overloaded these terms get. It’s dangerous to call something a “class,” for instance, because that’s a term from object-oriented programming, and there is probably a real class somewhere in your software that encapsulates the logical “class” you keep discussing. What if you have to refer to both logical and actual classes?

In a larger sense, I see a need for a common vocabulary in my own company. What someone calls “global navigation” someone else calls “static navigation” and someone else calls “primary navigation.” It gets confusing.



  1. I completely agree with you. The number of terms for the same thing in CMS space is overwhelming and complicates learning. We often get a new client who previously used some other CMS and needs to “link” his old terminology to ours. A standardized, user-friendly terminology would make CMS systems easier to use.

    BTW: Kentico CMS uses “document type” for “content type” :)

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