There’s always something to howl about

engenu Epiphany #1: Folders become pages

When I saw this a few days ago on BHB, I was not sure I could come up with anything “helpful”.

Like most folks, when I first looked at engenu last year, I just didn’t “get” it.  In fact, I didn’t “get”  it until just yesterday when I decided to take on this little challenge.

Understanding the power of engenu requires one fundamental paradigm shift.  And that shift is this:  Folders become pages.

When you build a standard-issue web site, you think in terms of pages. If you are creating a web site for, say,  a listed property, you most likely have a page for the property description, another page talking about the neighborhood, another page for your bio and contact information, etc.

In engenu, folders become pages.

In engenu, you add a folder for a particular topic, instead of creating a page for that topic. And when you process that folder through engenu, that folder becomes a page.  For example, to create a page for your bio information, you start with an empty folder named “about me.”

If the very first page you created in engenu was a slideshow from a folder full of images, that’s great, and engenu does that extremely well, but if that is all you did, you may have missed the necessary paradigm shift.

To experience the paradigm shift, try this instead:

The prerequisites are a). Have engenu installed and working on one of your sites, and b). Have an FTP program and an basic idea of how to use the FTP program.

Start your FTP program, and in the panel for your local computer create a new folder.  Name the folder “About Me”.  That’s it.  Leave it as an empty folder.

Still in the FTP program, connect to your server/host.

Upload the empty folder to your server/host.

Exit the FTP program and go to  Click on the name of the folder (About Me) and engenu’s editor will open.  Paste a short bio into the “Body copy” text box.  Click “Save and Continue”  then click “Preview Saved Changes” .

Your empty “About Me” folder became a web page.

Think about that:  You can create a whole hierarchy of folders (empty or not), nested inside of one another.  You upload that whole hierarchy to your server.  Process through engenu, and each folder becomes a separate web page, linked on the sidebar of the master page.

With engenu you can simply create the entire structure of a site before you ever add a single sentence of content.  More on that later. Then I’ll tackle custom skins.


10 Comments so far

  1. John Kalinowski February 26th, 2009 5:23 am

    Hi Cheryl! Glad you’re tackling this. I’ll be following along as I’ve been hesitant to jump in to engenu until I figure out how it would help me. I think it’s good to have an outsider describe it to us (by that I mean someone outside of Greg’s mysterious brain).

  2. Teri Lussier February 26th, 2009 12:07 pm

    You are a gift to the world, Cheryl Johnson. 🙂

  3. Don Reedy February 26th, 2009 12:51 pm


    UUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu girl….RRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrr something to behold. Don’t stop.

    The gift of Greg + the gift of Cheryl = UB (Unchained Bliss).

  4. Greg Swann February 26th, 2009 1:21 pm

    I know we had talked about this last fall, CJ. The whole idea of a web page is kind of an illusion. Every web page is really its own web site, in the sense that a web page must exist within a hierarchy of folders. Folders can exist without pages, but a page cannot exist apart from a folder. engenu is a tool for managing folders and the files they contain. When I get a chance, I’ll use repeated instances of reinheritance to show why thinking this way matters.

  5. John Kalinowski February 26th, 2009 1:54 pm

    Cheryl- When you get to the custom skins portion, any chance you can discuss what to do if you already use a WordPress theme template? I use the Thesis theme, and would need to use engenu within that theme. Thanks!!

  6. Scott Cowan February 26th, 2009 2:19 pm

    Cheryl & Greg,

    Many thanks to both of you for all of the effort that you give to that so many of us can benefit. I am still twiddling…with engenu and I am confident it will meet most of not all of my needs! I’m buried right now in catchup work from being out sick for a few days. I will be commenting and asking questions next week!

    Best wishes

  7. Joshua Hanoud March 2nd, 2009 10:11 am

    Cheryl’s post here got me re-thinking about engenu, and I decided to put it to work.

    I’m using it to create buyer “resource” pages for each one of my buyers which would serve to host and house all of the information pertinent to their search (and I already keep PDF copies of everything on my computer, so it made sense to look at engenu to create the sites (upload, process, and wallah! right?).

    I modified the basic engenu skin to include my own custom header graphic and made a couple of slight changes to the look of the sidebar via CSS – but otherwise it works perfectly just as-is.

    I took my folder (including sub-folders) of “stuff (executed contracts, brochures, neighborhood deed restrictions, property tax estimates, agency disclosures, etc)” and dumped it to my web server, opened up engenu, clicked my mouse button a few times, and whammo – a great looking client info site ready for my customer to use as a reference.

    I’m not going to use engenu to replace my wordpress blog, and in fact I don’t even need/want it to look like my wordpress blog – but I may start using it to create single property sites as time goes on…

    For now it creates a really slick interface for my buyer clients (I’m sure i’ll use it for sellers as well as time goes on) and I’m pretty psyched about it…I created 2 buyer-resource sites in about 5 minutes.

    Not too shabby…

  8. Greg Swann March 2nd, 2009 10:37 am

    > I created 2 buyer-resource sites in about 5 minutes.

    Bingo! Good on ya!

  9. […] once you own the basic, core engenu concept of folders become pages, what Greg is describing is logical,  and actually quite easy to […]

  10. […] once you own the basic, core engenu concept of folders become pages, what Greg is describing is logical,  and actually quite easy to […]