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This glossary will grow in time. For now we are limiting it to just the core features of Magnolia 5. We would like you to become comfortable with the basic terminology before we go into greater detail and start introducing all of the apps that come with Magnolia 5. As with all of the releases in the Magnolia CMS series, Magnolia 5 has been designed with developers in mind, meaning that potentially there could be two sets of glossaries -  one for admin and editors (who will be using the UI on a day to day basis for publishing web pages, editing pages etc.) and one for developers who may even be creating apps for Magnolia 5 and so will require more detailed information about the inner workings of the system.






Why naming conventions are important

  1. Precision - Naming things correctly makes it easier to talk about them.
  2. Identity - Many of the features in Magnolia 5 are unique - not just to Magnolia CMS but even in the wider context of content management.

Table of Contents


Action is an instruction to invoke an event in the user interface. Users execute actions when they navigates in Magnolia, invoking place changes and interacting with dialogs. "Edit page properties" is an example of an action. It opens a dialog with a form and a number of fields. After the user has filled the fields, they click Save. This is another action that saves the input. Both of these actions take place in the user interface only. They don't interact with external logic such as Web services. To do more complex things, an action can execute a command. 

Action bar

An action bar makes actions available to users. The bar is typically displayed on the right hand side of the browser subapp. The action bar definition organizes the actions into sections (green label) and groups (between horizontal lines). Availability rules determine which section is displayed to the user. For example, when the user selects a content item, you want to only display actions that are relevant to working with that item. Groups bind together actions that have something in common, such as actions for adding items.

Action popup

Action popup is a context menu, displayed when the user right-clicks an item. You should only display the most often used actions in the popup so it remains usable. If your app only has a few actions, you may want to simply extend the action bar. This way the popup displays the same actions as the action bar. Extending also allows you to manage the items in one place (action bar definition) rather than two.


Activation is the process of publishing content from an author instance to public instances. Activation is typically not instantaneous but involves an approval workflow.


AdminCentral is a legacy term that is being discontinued in Magnolia 5. The Magnolia 5 Shell uses a version of AdminCentral that works in close conjunction with the Magnolia 5 UI. Essentially, while the the Magnolia 5 UI is where you can perform all of the necessary operations for creating and updating content heavy web pages, AdminCental keeps Magnolia 5 UI configuration strictly in the back-end. From a high-level perspective, AdminCentral enables you to configure the Shell.


App is a focused tool that let's you work on one task or one data set at a time. Apps are purpose-built to perform a specific function, such as editing a page. Magnolia allows you to create your own apps based on what is important to you.

App controller

The AppController interface manages the context in which an application runs. Context is an abstraction layer that represents the environment of the current process. It provides access to important components such as the current user.

App descriptor

An app descriptor is a group of configuration nodes that describe the app. The descriptor gives the app a name, an icon and an implementation class. The name of the app node must be unique as it is used to refer to the app across the system. This means you cannot name your own app pages since a Pages app already exists.

Apps launcher

Apps launcher is the first page you see when you log into Magnolia CMS. It organizes the available apps into groups and allows the user to launch apps.

App framework

This app framework is a collection of classes that makes it possible to develop apps. It also controls app lifecycle events such as starting and stopping the app and bring the app into focus. In addition, the app framework maintains a history of app use and remembers what app the user used last. 

Browser subapp

Browser subapp is a specialization of the basic subapp, provided by the content app framework. The browser subapp allows you to view and organize a list of content items. The browser subapp descriptor is similar to the basic subapp descriptor but the classes are different.

Content app

Content app is a specialized app type that manages custom data sets. The content app framework provides a user interface layout that consists of a browser subapp and a detail subapp. Content apps make it easier to organize content items such as contacts or products. Many Magnolia 5 native apps such as Pages and Contacts use the content app framework. Since this app style is used often, the framework provides convenience classes to make building a content app faster.


Commands are custom actions executed at pre-defined trigger points. Magnolia CMS uses commands to activate content, send email, flush the cache, take backups, import and export data, and to do many other tasks. Commands can perform duties within the system or connect to external resources.


The dashboard in the Pulse is where you can see the current status of your projects and notifications from editors etc. in relation to the publishing of pages and content. Colour coding on the Dashboard provides an at-a-glance indication about the status of a page, letting you know that it has been updated, published, deleted etc.


Digital asset management is a common term for Magnolia modules that allow you to work with images, videos and documents. Assets stored in the DAM can be used on pages.


The Favorites app is your personal workspace. This is where you add shortcuts to apps or other aspects of Magnolia 5. Highly configurable, Favorites allows you to add apps and common actions in one handy location for quick reference. The Favorites app runs under a 'what, with, where' mechanism: 

  1. "What" is an action to run.
  2. "With" is an item serving as template or input to the action.
  3. "Where" is the location where the action occurs.

When using favorites you must have a 'what', together with a 'with' or 'where' (or both). An example of a Favorite action would be the task of creating a specific page type (what), uploading assets (with) into specific folders or editing specific pages (where). Say you have a website that frequently requires product pages; you can create a favorite that creates the exact page type that you require with the characteristics that you require. The principle behind the Favorites is "two clicks and you are there". The first click opens Favorites; the second launches your shortcut. 

History fragment

Magnolia 5 automatically appends a history fragment to the end of the URL for each app and feature, making it possible to bookmark locations and states simply by using your browser.  For example, you can select a particular page in a site hierarchy simply by going to your bookmarks and selecting the relevant one.


On the Apps screen a group is a selection of apps used for a particular range of operations. For example, the Edit group contains the Pages, Assets and Contacts apps. Each app in the group covers a specific aspect in relation to creating, editing and deleting pages. Note that the apps available in the Edit group depend on the edition of Magnolia that you are working with and on your user rights.


The original is a DAM asset in its original form before it is imported into Magnolia CMS.

Pages app

The Pages app allows you to create and organize the site structure. This is where you create and edit pages.

Page Editor

The Page Editor is embedded in the Pages app. It allows you to edit a page directly. If you are using an iPad or similar device, tap the area that you want to edit and make the necessary changes. The Page editor provides WYSIWYG editing functionality.


The Pulse app keep a check on the status of your website. This is where you find statuses and messages you may need to act on.


The Magnolia Shell is the visual layer of Magnolia CMS and encompasses all of the user interface that you see when you log into the system: the green background, the Magnolia logo and the app icons. The Shell is the UI administration interface. All apps reside in and are launched from the Shell. An app will continue to run in the Shell even when you have exited the app. From a functional viewpoint the Shell is a container that provides basic services for apps. It allows you to launch apps and display dialogs. 

In addition, the Shell is what enables the smooth transition from using one app to another and is responsible for visual effects when you switch between apps. For example, when you go back to the Apps screen to launch another app, the app were just running fades into the background. This transparency is called the app stack and provides a visual indicator that the app is still running. 

The Shell is responsible for sending messages to the Pulse. A developer does not need to know which exact Shell method to invoke in order to send such a message; in the app code is is sufficient to create a reference to an AppContext object instead. This object provides shortcuts for sending messages, displaying confirmation dialogs and many other everyday things. It is more straightforward to interact with the AppContext object than with the Shell itself.


Apps are divided into subapps. Each subapp specializes to do one task. For example, in the Pages app a browser subapp displays the hierarchy and a detail subapp allows you to edit a single page.


The Tools group contains ad number of core Magnolia 5 apps: JCR,View dependencies, Logging, Backup, Mail and Cache. The Tools group is where any apps developed by the community should reside. The tools groups has been developed especially to accommodate a wide range of apps. For information on developing apps for Magnolia 5, please see the User Interface Guidelines.


Workbench an area in the ContentApp user interface that allows the user to work with content. The workbench is displayed on a tab and contains a data grid of content items. It also contains three buttons that allow you to view the data as a tree, list or grid and search box. The Action Bar also belongs to the Workbench. In the Pages app the Workbench displays a list of Web pages, in the Contacts app a list of contact persons and so on. The user can select items from the workbench and perform actions on them, such as open a page for editing.