Introduction to Mercury

Introduction to Mercury
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What is Mercury?

Mercury is a Drupal-based content syndication system used to input news and events (plus related photos and videos) for websites. It is the back-end source for the Daily Digest, Campus Calendar, and News Center, as well as for news and event listings on dozens of other campus websites.

How Does it Work?

Communicators all over campus enter news and events (plus related photos and videos) into Mercury, which can then be shared among all users of the system. This way, you only have to enter and edit your information in a single place, but it can be shared with lots of different sites. Items entered into Mercury are associated with users’ groups (more on that in a minute).

News and event items can be distributed to websites by building feeds of those items within Mercury. Other websites are configured to periodically visit Mercury to make a copy of the items contained in a feed and display them on the site. In a typical Mercury installation, the website will “check in” with Mercury every hour to get the latest copy of a feed. Therefore, depending on how your website is set up, items you enter in Mercury may not immediately appear on your website.

Main Parts or Sub-systems

Mercury consists of the following sub-systems.

Groups

All Mercury users are members of two or more groups (at a minimum, a Mercury training group plus the Georgia Tech Events Calendar group). Groups serve as buckets for content associated with the group's focus. Groups are typically set up for a main academic unit or office, but separate groups for a sub-units unit can be added as needed. For instance, a research center could have its own Mercury group separate from its parent school or interdisciplinary research institute. To request that a new group be established, please visit the 'Request a Group' form in Mercury.

Users, Roles, and Permissions

Users are associated with groups and may have varying roles within those groups — typically authors or publishers. It is possible to have different roles in different groups.

  • Authors have the ability to create content within their assigned groups, but it stays in draft form.
  • Publishers can publish content to make it live and available to other websites.

Content

As noted above, content consists of news, events, images, videos, profiles, and a few other types discussed elsewhere.

Content entry forms provide many fields, so these items should be flexible enough for most purposes. For assistance with creating news and events (and related photos/videos), visit the how-to pages for creating news and events.

Feeds

The major point of difference between Mercury and your average content-management system is Mercury's feed system. Content can be organized (arbitrarily or via a selection of rules) into XML Feeds, which can then be displayed by remote sites (like yours). The Feeds system allows you to organize any content from Mercury — your own and others' — to populate your news and events pages, and the XML output format gives developers the flexibility to show those pages in a wide variety of ways.

Feed Readers

This is the code on your site that allows it to read the feeds you create and to display them. We offer a number of tools, including a Drupal module, for getting this set up.

What's in a Name?

In Greek mythology, Mercury was the messenger of the gods. Likewise, Mercury is our divine method of communicating and sharing information.

When you visit the website where you enter content into Mercury, you'll notice that it starts with “Hg”, which is the symbol for the element Mercury on the periodic table. And well, heck, we're geeks: so we can do that ... sort of thing.