Min, Max, and Everything in between

You can better understand a content model using two numbers for quantity: minimum and maximum. Data modeling might refer to the cardinal relationships between data tables, but in terms of an enterprise CMS we're mostly interested in how many elements can exist (this content type or text in this location, on this page, etc):

Let's look at:
  • Min
  • Max
I have these in the example "mobile-first" page type breakdown from my last post. But it could also apply to any managed elements such as fields, images, regions, selectable options, or websites (think Tridion BluePrinting).

Min might be:
  • 0
  • 1
  • Some specific number that's "more than one"
Max might be:
  • 0 (typically you could just exclude things that can't be somewhere or don't apply)
  • Some specific number higher more than one, but not unlimited
  • Unlimited
Known and even ambiguous min and max values can tell you lots of things.
  • Toggles--Min: 0, Max: 1. These element is optional and can specifically represent a "toggle" of sorts, especially if this element always appears in the same place. Authors might check a box or pick a template to add these. In Tridion content entry forms (as defined by Schemas), you might be dealing with a fixed set of elements such as a left or local nav, promotions that can be toggled off, or other "configurable" options.
  • Lists and repeatable elements. Min: 0, Max: "unlimited." Typically something generic or a list of sorts. This might apply to a carousel or other rotating element. A minimum of one suggests a mandatory, repeatable element such as a body of text, image, or content region.
  • Mandatory--Min: 1, Max:1. Mandatory and if this appears in multiple places, you might call it a "global" element.
  • Split areas--Min: 1, Max: 2. I don't see this often, but it hints at a subdivided area like a "left" and "right" or "top" and "bottom." For the sake of symmetry, unless the design automatically makes one item fill the space for two, this might be "two or none at all."
  • Triples. Min: 0, Max 3. This is an optional set with a max of 3 which might be promotional content under a banner. You might also need an additional requirement that this is zero or three, exclusively.
  • Min: 3, Max: 3. This minimum wouldn't be typical except in a prominent design-driven location such as a landing page banner or three important tabs or points.
Even as mobile experiences change the amount of real estate to display these elements, you'll likely still find 1, 2, and 3 as important quantities. Swipable areas, drawers, slide outs, and even tabs will likely present at least 2 to 3 or more sections. Designers will continue to use specific numbers as long as they have meaning to humans or take advantage of our body parts or memory capacities (pairs as offering symmetry, 3 as having various connotations, and 7 being a particularly interesting number).

Be careful when the quantities aren't clear. If sometimes the local navigation appears twice and the "quick tips" content type can go anywhere and in any quantity, it'll make it difficult to manage elements separately. You move from managed content to HTML (5) editors, which may have a role in today's Web, but blur the line between content and design.

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