In a past life I was a speechwriter, often on fairly technical matters of financial policy. In that experience I had the benefit of being able to use standard terminology that was meticulously defined by a parliamentarian and/or within bills, laws and the like.
That policy world is far back in my rear-view mirror now. Yet I cannot escape the lingering desire to see language used consistently. In the general web/software world this just leads to frustration. Things move so fast there is often no consensus, time or desire for best practices to prevail. How do you pronounce the name of the file type GIF? Why does Microsoft have two products called “Explorer”? Aren’t the terms “responsive” and “adaptive” exactly reversed? Many questions, few answers.
Our Higher Logic language evolves as products are born, functionality grows and improvements are made. “Discussions” arrive while “eGroups” fade away. I do what I can to help us all speak the same language—both with the larger technology lexicon and evolving HL-speak. To that end, we recently had some good questions from a new client. Essentially, they boiled down to a single question: What do your words mean? I realized this was an opportunity to answer the questions for everyone’s benefit.
Where the words exist, Higher Logic uses terms that mean the same thing across the web and software industries. We strive to not coin new words (which never works out, by the way). The internet powers-that-be determined webpages that adjust to the size of the browser do so in a “responsive” manner. Thus, Higher Logic’s Bootstrap-framework sites are described as “responsive” when we tell you about them.
We have a lot of HUG members who never ran a website prior to joining our community. For those members, here are some terms we did not invent and strive to use the same way as everybody else:
This is just the beginning, and it is easy to get lost in it. Bootstrap Themes (which we support) are different than Bootstrap Templates (which we do not). When in doubt, I suggest Googling it or putting the term right into Wikipedia.
Higher Logic Jargon
When we invent something, we use English to name it. Inventing words, as I said, rarely works out for the best. It would be possible to call Higher Logic “Communities” something unique, like “Kwangots”. But, really, who wants to be in a Kwangot? The price for not having Kwangots is that a number of English terms have special meaning in the Higher Logic platform. (You’ll see that I personally try to capitalize these terms to give a hint to this.)
Of course, our words can and do change. Once upon a time we would do some fancy capitalization to point to our products. We really don’t abbreviate “Resource Libraries” as “rL” any longer. Seasoned community members may recall those olden times. That convention and “eGroups” are examples where our language evolved with our brand. You’re unlikely to notice them, but some formerly common terms are no longer officially used per the recent brand enhancements.
The terms “products” and “modules” have been used by Higher Logic to describe the specific unique feature sets that comprise Higher Logic functionality. Internally, we describe the functionality enjoyed by all clients as our “Core Suite” of Products. WikiGlossary, for example, is within Higher Logic’s “core suite”. Event Manager is an example of a “module” that may or may not be licensed by any individual client. See this page of the Higher Logic website for a breakdown.
There are a lot of English words that mean something specific in Higher Logic's platform. Some words just won't work and need more words to explain exactly what you are referring to. "Content' is a great example.
The Higher Logic platform has multiple opportunities to create “Content”. It is perhaps easiest to think of them in two distinct forms.
1. Content within Products - The central features of the Higher Logic products – Discussions, Library Entries, Blogs, Events, etc. – create content. This content often is often visible or hidden to individual users by Community membership status and/or Security Group permissions. Content within products can generate email and can be accessed on web pages.
2. Content only in web content - The Higher Logic CMS allows unique web pages to also be created (like any other website). The CMS allows web pages to be hidden/shown to users based on Security Groups status. The CMS protections for web page content center on login state and organizational membership status.
Either kind of content may be an option for a given communication need. Should X be the subject of a Discussion Post within a product or a Content Item (note the caps!) on the home page only in web content? Either approach, or both, can be used for relaying information to users.
Documentation resources are valuable in figuring all this out. The following pages are especially helpful in understanding particularly important Higher Logic language and terminology.
Security Groups: http://support.higherlogic.com/customer/portal/articles/1326855-security-groups
Content Management System: http://support.higherlogic.com/customer/portal/articles/1326875-website-admin-pages
As a final note, I do want to recognize the current limitations in our products’ documentation. As of today we are supporting two code bases, and roughly half of our clients are on each. This state of affairs makes effective documentation nearly impossible (do you know which code base you are on?). We are striving to get all our clients into the R2/Bootstrap world for many reasons. One of my favorite reasons is that it will allow universally applicable documentation to again be possible.
It is within my power to promise our admins and users that all Higher Logic documentation will be updated for the responsive/Bootstrap/R2 code base before Super Forum 2015. The documentation overhaul continues. See you in October!