Folders and channels correspond to pages and postings, respectively. Folders are containers that are used to organize pages, and can be created in a hierarchical fashion. Besides the obvious benefit of organizing pages according to their purpose so that they are easier to find in the future, folders also allow access to different sets of pages to be controlled. Users in different roles, such as authors and editors, can be granted the right to access some folders but not others, which provides a way to enforce the division of responsibility for different portions of a Web site.
Channels are containers that are used to organize postings, effectively determining the organization of a Web site from the perspective of someone browsing the Web site. Using the default URL scheme for a Content Management Server Web site, the channels are visible as the components of the URL after the domain name. For example, the underlined portion of the URL "http://www.microsoft.com/cmserver/default.htm" is the channel portion of the URL. In effect, channels mirror the folder structure of a file-based Web site, a structure that is not inherently present in a Content Management Server Web site due to the fact that the entire site is maintained in a database.
Like folders, access to channels can be controlled using rights groups. This provides a mechanism through which access to the Web site can be restricted in different ways for different users.
The Content Management Server documentation recommends that the folder hierarchy created to organize pages be set up to mirror the channel hierarchy created to organize postings. Real-life experience has shown that it is much easier to administer the Web site when this recommendation is followed.
If the Web Author application is used to create and update content for the Web site, the site administrator needs to enable Web authoring in the channel's Properties dialog box. One of the required settings is that the corresponding folder must be defined, so that when new postings are created in the Web Author application, the pages will be created in the correct folder. Of course, from the perspective of the content author creating the posting/page, the distinction between the two is not apparent.
Note that in Content Management Server 2002, folders will move behind the scenes. The Site Manager application, formerly the Site Builder application, will not have a folder hierarchy.