Site guide

2005/02/02 by Lassi A. Liikkanen

On this page:
o Sissi
o Documents and scripts
o Site
o Bilingual
o Dates
o Names
o Status
o Layout
o Linking
o Copyright
o Vip

Site guide
A help for SiSsi users

What is SiSsi

SiSsi is an acronym for ScrIpting System for a SIte. In another terms, it's a web-based content management system. A piece of software. See SiSsi project page for details.

Materials: Documents and Scripts

All electric material on the site belongs to one of the two distinct categories: documents or scripts.


Documents refer to variety of different types of documents: html documents (like this one), Adobe PDF files, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and so on. What makes them documents is the fact, that they are named and persistent.

Every document has a name, like this one, which happens to be called site guide. Actually it has two names. The latter is the short name, but the document has also a longer name. In this site, document's longer name (URI) also shows in your browser's address bar, or in a similar location. It's also printed to the end (footer section) of every page on the site.

Persistency refers to another property of document. It means that the document with the given name will stay the same and accessible over the years - like your favorite book in the bookshelf. But unlike the book you've got, the electronic form of the document allows it to get better over the years, like good wine or hardcover reprints of the book. As new features are added, you can still have the good-old-content, but get some extra value. Anyhow, you can rely on finding this document later on with the long name, because it's persistent.


Script is word from computer science jargon. In current SiSsi scripts also refer to the implementation platform that is PHP scripting language. To make things simple scripts are generally used to refer to pages you can interact with, like the emailMe page. Scripts also have a name, like documents. Scripts are also inherently dynamic, that means that they don't always look the same, they may change during years, maybe even radically. Anyhow, you should be able to find a script with same function if you use the long name (URI).

Site structure

The website may seem aconfusing because it has been built on several hierchical levels. That means that you can't always get from page A to page Z. That is generally considered as a bad thing. Unfortunately that's about the only way to organize (potentially) large amount information. Following table describes the current situation from the documents' perspective. Hyphen represent missing category levels:

Highest level, categories
(static content)
Mid-level, groups
Lowest level, document
English - site_guide
contact information
Publications Usability Cell phone in the Car
Cognitive Modeling GOMS and ACT-R
Cognitive neuroscience Musical imagery
Reviews Music R.E.M.: Around the Sun
Video Emmerich: Day After Tomorrow

In this case, we would have three highest level items, like ones shown in the sitemenu, top left of this page (in current layout scheme). The highest level can be called the width of site structure. Currently, these items are static, so they are shown even though they would not happen have any content. But when it comes to mid-level, it is created dynamically, so site will never offer you link to a document group (mid-level item) that is empty, in another words, doesn't contain any documents. Documents where described earlier, as you can see, each document belongs to a category and a group. Some documents may also belong to secondary group, which is indicated by the keyword in the page footer, or to a family of documents that shows in a link row before the first header and before the footer. This site is also inherently dynamic. If you're not familiar with the jargon, it can be read as meaning that some parts of the site, like group listings, are updated automatically, every day or so.

As all great definitions, SiSsi makes some exceptions. So actually, everything is not as straightforward as it looks (still hopefully working). More on things like artificial menus, scripts, submenus and stuff like that can be found from SiSsi project documentation.


SiSsi is inherently multilingual. Current implementation uses two languages, english and finnish. Although the system is designed to keep languages separate, it is quite possible for the user to drift into a situation where language suddenly changes. In that case, it's best to return to the frontpage and start again. For logged in users, the site user interface language can be selected manually by editing your profile.

Document's dates

Every document has three dates. That's quite a lot, don't you think... But what do they stand for? Let's see.

Creation, writing date

This date informs you when the article has been created originally. This date is tied to document identity, if document content changes radically, it becomes obsolote or something else shoudl happen then a new document is created and (possibly) published. Majority of the content, if not stated otherwise in the document, originates from this date.

Publication date

This date has two functions, depending on value. If it has a date set, it means, that the document has been published at that given day. Note that this may differ from the origin date, as the documents may have sometimes be published, with or without a reason, some time after the writing. But if the date is missing, it means, that the document has NOT been published. In which case SiSsi doesn't provide a link to it for you, so you shouldn't be looking at it. In some occasions you can access it with its long name (URI) if you receive that from the author.

Modification date

This date tells when the author has last made changes to document's content. Amount or quality of changes is not anyways deducible from this. Modification can mean a single correction of misspelling or in another extreme, a considerable update in the content. In the latter case, this maybe be indicated in the content. Modification date is the date that shows in the document's longname (URI).

Document's names

In SiSsi, a document can be described with four different names! They go as follows:

Page topic
Example: Site guide. A help for SiSsi users.
Every document starts with a topic or a title. You should use this topic if you make references to resources within the site. In technical terms, the topic is currently contained within the H2 XML element.
Shortname = Parentname
Example: site guide
This short name is used in the page window title, you should see it in the browser window's title bar. It is usually an abbreviation of the page topic. You can use this as a search term for finding documents, BUT as it may not be unique for this document all references should be made with the longname, see below.
Parent refers to the property of SiSsi to manage different versions of the same document. For example a new site guide may be written after few months. If you now try to access the old site guide you'll get a message stating that a new version of the document is now available. Both documents will have the same parentname but a different longname. You can think that a document with a longname is a sibling of the short name abstract document. In terms of object oriented programming, shortname is equivalent with the object class where as longname refers to instances of that class.
Longname = URI
This name should be used when making references to the document. It's basically a longer version of the shortname. The basic idea of URIs is described here. You should note that longname is composed of several components, for example this document has the following name composition:
  1. Protocol = http://
  2. Domain name =
  3. Path on server = lassial/
  4. Document's category = english/
  5. Document's group = (optional, empty in this URI)
  6. Document's year = (optional, empty in this URI)
  7. Document's modification date = 050129-
  8. Document's short name = site_guide*
Example: sissi_docs
This concept is used internally to mark documents with different parentnames to belong together.

* spaces within all names are automatically translated to underscores to avoid nasty URIs of the form site%20guide

Document's status

As there can co-exist several siblings (longnames) of the same document parent (shortname), they must ordered by their status. There are following possibilities for this property:

This document is up-to-date, the current versio and most accurate.
This document is no longer up-to-date. It MAY contain inaccurate information, dead links etc. There MAY be coming an OK version, or the OK version may already exist.
This document has been removed from public access. It MAY have been Old before this has happened.
This document doesn't yet exist. This status is more like a bookmark or reminder that this document should become available in the near future. This document may have publication date set in a future that estimates the actual publication.
This document is a working version, not yet finished. This will probably contain inaccuracies and extraordinary amount of clumsy language. Most of draft documents are not public.
This document is Old and will remain so. It is not going to be updated and is kept in public access just due its historical value (if any).

Skins and other layout options

Skins are nowadays quite common extra in many software. One of the most popular example is the WinAmp mediaplayer. Maybe four years ago, back in year 2000, I got the idea, or a fixation, that it would be a good idea to use them with www-pages. Now they're here! Although you're restricted to a set of skins designed or assimilated by the author, they should provide some entertainment for few seconds. For the interset of geeks, skins are currently implemented as a set of alternative CSS files.

As skins are more recreational than productive I have also prepared two special 'skins' that actually facilitate life. They are the printable and large text. Printable skin is quite self-explanatory. The site's default layout is optimized for screen, but printed media has different requirements, which are best met with a separate layout option. Having one special skin for that purpose also serves better as print preview. Large text skin should not either pose a surprise, it's the default layout but bigger fonts. Although I'm not sure if anyone really needs to use that sort of a setting while the browsers are getting smarter and smarter.

URI - Uniform Resource Identifier

What the heck... The more stubborn net users may have heard the term URL which is an acronym for Universal Resource Locator. But that's history nowadays so forget it. URI is here to stay. URI is used in the Internet world to describe addresses and protocols. For example, the frontpage of this site is in the URI The http:// stands for the protocol and the rest, is the address. For a distant analogy in the real life, you could imagine an URI called airmail:united states /hollywood/sunset boulevard/house 123/. I don't believe that that address really exists, but you may now see what is the idea behind the URI. It tells you an address (Sunset boulevard) and how to get there (airmail). What it doesn't tell you, in the normal case, is what's in the address.

But times, they are a'changing.

Why would the address not tell you what's there? I think it could, try for example the following:
satellite phone: Finland/President/Family/Dogs/ChiChi/bonestack Doesn't that address have a certain distinct aroma to it? So couldn't the URIs be like that also? Yes, at least the founder of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee thinks so (see his article on cool URIs). And I agree. So my URIs try their best to describe you the content they have in their address. And they are permanent (see my note on document persistence).

Linking and missing documents

Every document published in this site with SiSsi has its' own permanent long name (URI). That name that is also the pages's address is displayed in the document's footer, e.g. this document's URI is You should use that address for making links to that particular content, instead of the address your browser may show in the addres bar. It ensures that the resource will be found also in the future.

SiSsi system tries to make sure that documents that are once published never go totally missing without a trace. Sometimes this may still happen or some old content may be finally removed. For removed content you should get a message and instructions on what to do. For missing content you'll get an informal message about page not found. In that case, you have likely misspelled the address. Or the SiSsi has failed. Eitherway you can try to contact the author to retrieve the lost content. The author does as she or he pleases with the requests.

Copying, reproduction, republication and any other means of reusing or displaying of all material contained within this site, (currently also accessible through, in it's original or modified is strictly prohibited.

I allow some expections to this copyright. Electric versions of the public and published documents contained within site maybe copied for educational, non-profit purposes (distribution in classroom, material for home assignments). In these cases, you must provide the whole of the document as is. I suggest you use the printable layout option for handouts. Parts of the document may not be reproduced independently. This special right may be refused in individual documents by stating Strict copyright either in the beginning of the document, in the document footer or in the page footer. You're naturally entitled to make references to all documents and quote public and published documents according to established scientific conventions.

If you wish to copy, reproduce or republish unpublished or private material, material stated as strictly copyrighted or anything else not explicitly stated here as allowed, please contact the author for possible permission on negotiable terms.

VIPs and public and private contents

Every material in SiSsi has two important properties that control to whom it is available. They are:

Public OR Private AND
Published OR Unpublished

Every material and script has a combination of these properties.

Public and private

Public materials are available to everyone in the Internet (or maybe not if you're surfing under government control). You can access them easily with the URI.

Private materials are accessible only for certain people or groups. These people must retrieve a password from the author to identify themselves and access the materials. Existence of the private materials should not be normally revealed to public audience, although they can't be accessed with the URI without logging in first.

Published and unpublished

Published materials are usually public, but they need not to be. They are the normal case and more understandable when compared to unpublished, which are accessible with the URI but not linked in the SiSsi (see dates). This means you aren't going to see them by accident.

For further questions, requests, or suggestions please contact the author

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Document's status: Ok (Document dates explained)

This document created: 2005/01/29
Modified: 2005/02/02
Published: 2005/01/09

This document's permanent URI (linking):

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