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The Matrix allows you to perform a detailed comparison of different products and services. You enter the products and features to compare, and the Matrix will pull together all the results for you. An example of this can be seen on the Compare Stuff Network (

The Compare Stuff Network contains a number of matrices geared towards specific interests, from entertainment to technology, and is constantly growing. Users may add products to any matrix in the network; the more who participate the better the data. Plain Black hosts the Compare Stuff Network and extends an invitation for all to join.

To build your own matrix:

  1. Select the Matrix asset from the New Content menu of the Admin Bar. The “Add/Edit Matrix” screen will open.


  1. Enter a title for your matrix in the “Title” field.

  2. The “Menu Title” is the title of the asset as it appears in the site navigation. If left blank, WebGUI will simply insert the “Title” here.

  3. The URL may also be left blank and WebGUI will fill one in for you, or you can enter one.

  4. In the “Description” field enter a brief explanation of your matrix, perhaps explaining what products or services are being compared, or a brief set of instructions.


  1. The “Categories” field determines the categories of comparison used to compare products/items in the matrix. The default for this field is Features and Benefits; you may add additional categories, placing a carriage return after each. Once Categories are created, you will place attributes under them. For example, if you have a Category labeled Color, you can later create attributes such as red, blue, yellow etc. to place under the category.

  2. The “Maximum Comparisons” field determines the maximum number of comparisons that will be allowed per search or list. The default value is 10.

  3. The “Maximum Comparisons (For Registered Users)” field is similar to the Maximum Comparisons field, except that this refers to registered users on the site. Using this field you could allow registered users the ability to compare more or less products in the matrix.

  4. The “Privileged Maximum Group” allows you to select a group of users with the capability of an increased number of allowed comparisons.

  5. The “Maximum for Privileged Group” allows you to set the maximum number of comparisons allowed for members of the Privileged Maximum Group.

  6. The “Ratings Duration” field determines the amount of time that must pass before old ratings are cleared out of the system.

  7. Set your display settings in the “Display” tab.


  1. Hide from navigation?: if toggled to Yes, the asset’s title will not appear in the site navigation.

  2. Open in new window?: if toggled to Yes, the asset will open in a new browser window, if viewed directly.

  3. Display the title?: if toggled to No, the asset’s title will be hidden on the web page.

  4. Style Template: choose a style in which to view the asset. This is the style in which the asset is wrapped when viewed directly. If the asset is part of a Page Layout or other container asset, that parent's style will override this.

  5. Printable Style: if the page is made printable a pared-down printer friendly version of the asset will be made available. This is the template for that style.

  6. Templates: the Matrix, Search, Detail, Compare and Edit Listing, Listing Screenshots and Listing Screenshots Config templates are all default templates for the matrix. You can edit any of these templates by clicking on the Edit button next to their respective fields.

  7. Default Sort: determines the criteria by which comparisons will be sorted for display to the user when initially entering the matrix. Options are Asset Rank, Most Recent Update, Alpha Numeric, and Score.

  8. The Display tab contains a number of color pickers you can use to customize the appearance of the matrix. These colors are used to display results when users compare products. You can click on a color to open a color picker.



  1. The “Maximum Screenshot Width” and “Maximum Screenshot Height” fields allow you to control the size of screenshots displayed in listings. This field is set in pixels. Any images uploaded that are larger than this will be resized to this proportion.

  2. “Statistics Cache Timeout” is the length of time statistics will be cached. Since all matrix users view the statistics in the same way, you can set this field to be a long length of time.

  3. “Listings Cache Timeout” is the length of time listings will be cached. Since all matrix users view listings in the same way, you can set this field to be a long length of time.

  1. Set your security settings in the “Security” tab.


  1. Owner: the owner has full viewing and editing rights to the asset. Usually, the owner is who created the asset.

  2. Who can view?: determines who can view the asset on the page.

  3. Who can edit?: determines the group of users who can edit this asset.

  4. Group To Add: this is the group of users allowed to add listings to the matrix. To manage the group, or create a new one, click on the Manage link to the right of this field.

  5. Submission Approval Workflow: this is the workflow performed on each listing added to the matrix. Clicking the manage link to the right of the field will direct you to the Manage Workflows screen. If the workflow includes an approval step, new listings to the matrix can undergo an approval process. This is just like the approval process used for approving version tags on the site. The group to approve will receive an email message indicating that a listing has been added and will then have the opportunity to approve or deny the listing. You may want to have a specific workflow set up for this matrix asset.

  1. The Metadata tab is the standard Metadata screen common amongst all assets. If you need to handle metadata for the purposes of content profiling you can do so here.

  1. Click save, and your matrix will be created on the site.




Create Attributes

Attributes are specific qualities or details of a product selected under the major categories. For example, if you are creating a matrix that compares dog breeds, you could have a Category labeled Temperament. Then, you would create attributes that represent different values to list under that category, such as calm, feisty, affectionate, high-energy etc.

To create attributes:

  1. Click on the List Attributes tab, located on the right hand side of the matrix asset, under the Expand the Matrix heading. This will open the Attribute List screen.



  1. Click on the Add Attribute link located on the main body of the screen. The Edit/Add Attribute screen will open.



  1. Enter a name for this attribute in the “Name” field.

  2. Enter a description of this attribute in the “Description” field.

  3. Select the “Field Type.” In general, the Matrix Compare field type will be most useful, but Select Box and Combo Box are also available.

  4. Select the Category under which this attribute will be listed in the “Category” field.

  5. Click save. The attribute will be added to the Attribute List screen, from which you may add another attribute, delete existing attributes, or edit existing attributes. To return to the site, click the Back to site link on the right hand side of the screen.



Attributes will be made available in the Add Listing screen. Users who are creating Matrix listings can select which attributes within the categories apply to the product or item they are adding. You will see an example of this in the next section. Attributes also appear when a specific listing is viewed, or when a comparison is generated. The Matrix will indicate if a listing has the attribute.


Add a Listing 

Once the matrix is set up on the web page, the matrix will need to be expanded by adding products to compare. This is called adding a listing.

  1. Locate the “Expand the Matrix” field on the page the matrix appears on.

  2. Click on the “Click here to add a new listing” link.


  1. The “Edit/Add Listing” screen will open.


  1. Enter the product name in the “Product Name” field.

  2. In the “Screenshot/Photos” field you may enter a photo or screenshot to illustrate the product. Click on the Browse button to locate the image and upload it.

  3. Enter a description of the product in the “Description” field.

  4. In the “Maintainer” field, select a user who is responsible for maintaining this listing and keeping it up to date. If left blank, this field will default to the user who creates this listing. The Maintainer will always be allowed to maintain/edit this listing.



  1. If there have been numerous releases or versions of the product, enter this listing's version/model in the “Version/Model Number” field.

  2. Enter the “Manufacturer Name.”

  3. Enter a URL for the manufacturer in the “Manufacturer URL” field if it has a website.

  4. If the product or product information is available on the web, enter its URL in the “Product URL” field.

  5. Near the bottom of this screen you will see two fields: Features and Benefits. These are the categories for comparison that were established in the “Properties” tab during the matrix creation. You may have created additional categories, which would also appear here. Under each of these fields are listed the attributes created by you in the Add Attributes screen. Set the appropriate value for this product.


  1. Click save. The product will appear as a listing in the Matrix.



Below is a screenshot of CMS Matrix. The list of items to compare is listed in the main section on the left. The listings may be sorted according to the criteria listed in the tabs across the top (sort by clicks, sort by views, sort b compares, sort by updated). On the right are Matrix statistics. Users may also select a listing to view from the statistics area of the screen.



Edit a Listing

The user who submits a listing will be that listing's maintainer. This means that the user is responsible for keeping the listing's data up to date. To edit an existing listing, the maintainer first selects that listing from the list of items to compare. In the listing's screen, there will be an asset toolbar at the top of the screen, above the product/item's name.



The Matrix Listing asset toolbar operates like any other asset toolbar in WebGUI. To edit the listing, the user will click on the Edit button, which will open the same Edit/Add Listing screen used when the listing was initially created.



View a Single Entry

Upon entering the matrix, users will see a list of all items/products that have been added. They can click on any product's name to view it.

The listing's screen displays a number of fields. On the left is a field displaying the categories and attributes assigned to this product. Product information entered at the time the listing was created, such as vendor and URL information, screenshots uploaded with the listing, and an area to rate this product are to the right. At the bottom of the screen is a comment area in which users can discuss the product.



Compare Many Products

Users can select the products they would like to compare by checking the boxes next to the product names on the main matrix page.

Below is an example of CMS Matrix, and you can see there is a long list of content management systems displayed on the page. Visitors to the site can select up to ten for comparison.



Once selected, the user can click the Compare button, located above the list, to see a side by side comparison of selected items.


Search the Matrix

Alternately, the user could click on the Search button. This will reload the screen, and open a Search area on the right.



In the Search area, users can limit the results according to specific product attributes. Each time a search criteria, or specific attribute, is selected, the list of products to compare will adjust to reflect that criteria. The items that match the search criteria will be pre-selected to indicate that they are a match, and from there the user can select which ones to compare.

Comparison Results 

Once items are selected to compare, the user clicks the Compare button to generate the results screen.



At the top, where it says “Built-in Applications,” is the Category of comparison, and each attribute added to that category is listed down the left side. The items/products being compared are listed horizontally across the top, to the right of the Category. The status of each attribute for each item (Yes, No, Free Add-On) is listed, with the appropriate color assigned. Remember, you can customize these colors when initially creating the Matrix asset.

The Matrix contains the ability to further narrow the results listed on this screen. For instance, there are many built-in applications listed in the screenshot above. if you are interested in only ten of the Built-in Applications listed, you can select just those features. Then, click on the “Hide/Show sticked” button, located at the top of the list of comparison results.


The matrix will hide any attributes that were not selected, making it easier to compare just those you are interested in. To expand the list, and show all attributes again, simply click on the “Hide/show stickied” button a second time.



You may find that a delete icon displays below items being compared, which can be used to remove an item from the comparison.

Export Attributes

You can export a .csv file containing all the attributes used in this matrix asset. The file will list the Category name, the attributes under each category, and a description of the attribute.

To export, navigate to the main screen of the Matrix. To the right of the list of items to compare is the link used to create a new listing. Directly below this is an “Export Attributes” link.



Click on the Export Attributes link to download and save a .csv file to your computer.

Keywords: Assets cms matrix comparestuff network comparison comparison engine matrices side by side comparison

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