CMS List Plus Dashboard

Dashboard / Panels / List Items

Below is an example of an operations dashboard page created using Zen CMS List for a hypothetical company. Here you have a high-level component diagram of a particular system, with interactive components, and panels containing relevant resources needed to support it.

Tap on image to zoom.

List items inside each panels in the dashboard points to either an internal or external resource — e.g. documentation, reports, configuration pieces, support contacts, code, logs, etc. — which will be used by support to troubleshoot or complete a task or service.


Dashboards is a tool used to bring all relevant resources into one place to efficiently conduct a specific undertaking.

Dashboards are pages configured to use the CMS List Panels template. It may contain a number of panels that is relevant to the dashboard context or purpose. Typically, for support, a component diagram comprising of salient pieces of a system is presented a the top of the dashboard — highlighting components that are critical (e.g. high probability as potential points of failure) in an undertaking, system or process.

Each component in the diagram would be linked to the components environment-specific data — e.g. logs, configuration, service monitors, etc..

Below the diagram are panels which are groupings of related components like relevant resource materials, reports, or live data propagated to the panel via external sources. For example, one can configure a panel to show color-coded indicators of operational levels using data pulled from an external web service.


Panels are created using the listbox shortcode. It’s intended to group related resources in one place. A panel can have a title (band) and optional link to a home repository, list items and a bottom caption.

List items can be arranged in multiple columns with row limits. Items can be populated using static data embedded in the shortcode, a category feed, list of source attributions from a post (list of labels and links associated to a post), or an external data source using the “data” shortcode attribute — provided the external service returns a json array of labels, links, and an external flag. External links are differentiated from internal links using bullet colors — local resource uses gray bullets while external resources uses teal. List items can be rendered as a plain list or thumbnail grid.

Thumbnail grid uses CMS List file type by default to generate the thumbnail and falls back to a posts Feature Image if none is found. Posts that are neither file types without any image or lacks a feature image are excluded from the list.


Security can be enforced in each panel. So a particular panel can be made available only to a specific target audience.

Example: Different set of panels can be created for Administrators, Managers and Help Desk personnel specific to their roles, but all may share one or two panels, like reports and service-level agreements.

Items inside each panel, which are drawn from categories or posts, are automatically enforced with security rules from the CMS configuration. Therefore, two audience may share the same panel but may see different items.

Example: If panel items were populated using a tag, only post items traversed by the tag in categories where an audience has access to will be visible in the panel.

Use Cases

The example above is modeled from corporate I.T. operations, however, the dashboard approach can be applied to virtually any operations or undertaking in any field. It can be hospitality (operations, maintenance, inventory and booking), academic (student information systems), industry and manufacturing (where the traffic light approach is modeled from), and even personal or household use (like a personal CMS — where panels are used to logically group each areas of active concern).

As a matter of fact, I’m using Zen on a daily basis to organize everything within my realm. Running WordPress and XAMPP on my notebook. Instead of having as my home page, I use my own Zen dashboard to bring order to chaos.

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