Knowledge Base Module Updates for Sugar 7.7: How It Works (Part 1)
The Sugar Knowledge Base module is a great place to store shared information in "Articles". The articles can cover about any topic you wish to store and make available internally or externally using the Sugar Portal. For more basic Sugar Knowledge Base information, please refer to the Sugar documentation.
This blog article will be outlining the updates made to the Knowledge Base module in Sugar 7.7 along with some "how to" support. In this blog article, please note that the abbreviation "KB" will be used interchangeably for "Knowledge Base".
The first thing we notice is that the Knowledge Base menu contains some new items. The new menu items for Sugar 7.7 are Create Template, View Templates, View Categories, Import Articles, and Settings.
The KB Menu in Sugar 7.7
The KB Menu in 7.6
Since a Knowledge Base is mainly a place to store and access articles let's begin with changes made for "viewing" the KB article records. When a user selects View Articles from the menu, the articles will appear in a ListView. Sugar 7.7 uses the Sidecar framework making it easy to "Preview" the KB article's contents within the intelligence pane. As a plus, if there is an attachment linked to the article, the file can be downloaded directly from the Sidecar without having to drill down into the KB record. The ListView page can be changed to display the Activity Stream and now supports in line editing without having to leave the page (for editing some fields). This is a screenshot of the new look you will see when viewing the list of articles (note the Preview [intelligence pane] on the right).
New fields when creating an article:
- Active Revision
- Publish Date
Before we can view articles, we need to create them. When creating a KB article, the look and feel of the Create page is different than in Sugar 7.6 (more fields exist on this page but are not shown here). Article creation help is available in the Intelligence Pane if needed by clicking the "<<" arrows next to the Save button. The only required field when creating a new article is Name field (if this value is not entered, the article cannot be created).
To create an article based on a pre-defined "template", select Create Article from Knowledge Base menu, and then click the Templates button (just below Save on the right of the page). This will open another page displaying the available templates to choose from (show in the next screenshot). Click anywhere on the row for the template you'd like to create a KB article from and the body of the article will populate with the template's body.
After the article body is populated from the template, modify it as needed, enter the required Name value, and then save the new article. You may optionally add attachments to these articles.
If entering KB articles one at a time may not be something that excites you, maybe the new Import Articles feature will. New to the Knowledge Base module is the ability to import many articles at one time. This process works similarly to the way contacts are imported into the Contacts module using a CSV file. This process uses a CSV file to store the articles that will be imported into Sugar. Please keep in mind that to "learn" the data structure needed for the CSV file used to import articles, you can download an import template file and modify its contents to be used to import your KB articles. The first page that appears after selecting "Knowledge Base > Import Articles" will have a link labeled: Download Import File Template (NOTE: This import feature is only available to users with administrative access to Sugar). After the mapping the fields within the import process and running the import, the records in the CSV file will be available as KB articles.
Article Templates (View Templates / Create Template)
Why do double-work when templates are available? If you are using the Knowledge Base module and making many articles that are similar in format and function, like KB or FAQ articles for example, take advantage of the KB templates feature to avoid all that repetitive ground work. Build a template for each type of article you write!
Selecting View Templates from the KB menu opens a ListView containing the templates available for use when creating a new knowledge base article. There are only four columns available in this view and each column's visibility is controlled using the gear icon to the right of the column header labels.
Click on a template's "Name" link to open it for editing. In the following screenshot, you can see that the "KB" template is designed to store information for a PROBLEM, the CAUSE, the RESOLUTION, and for MORE INFORMATION. This is only an example, and there are no real limitations. HTML formatting is available for these templates, and that formatting is carried over into the KB article when the template is used (that is explained in the next section). HTML formatting enables you to format the text (bold, colors, italics, underlines, etc.), create bulleted/numbered lists, control indentation, add images, hyperlinks, and more so have fun and give your articles some punch!
To create a template from scratch, select Create Template from the Knowledge Base menu and you will get a clean template page to start with. The Name field is the only required field when creating a new template:
Since HTML formatting is supported, if you are knowledgeable in HTML, you can use the "<>" button to open the HTML Source Editor for fine tuning your template (but keep in mind that users can create templates without needing to know HTML at all).
After a template is created, it can be used to create a new KB article. This is described in the Create Article section above.
Start using the new and updated Knowledge Base features when you get your hands on Sugar 7.7 and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.