Teacher needs help/advice making page for PDF downloads

Hi everyone. I’m new here and am working on putting together a website for my students to use. One thing I’d like to have is a page (or a series of pages) with “nested” folders with PDF files to view/download/print. I plan to limit it only to my students by using Sitelok or Joe Workman’s Page Safe. However, my question is about the handling and storage of the PDF files themselves. I have hundreds of PDF files (math worksheets, etc) that need to be organized by type (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, etc.) and topic (Linear Equations, Monomials, etc). The regular Rapidweaver download page and Resources folder does not seem like it will be the best choice for this. Is there a better way to accomplish this? I basically need something that will fit into the theme I am using for the site and will let students drill their way down through nested folders (for example: “Algebra 1” to “Linear Equations” to “Lin_Eq_Worksheet_04.pdf”) until they get to the PDF they are after. Once there, they need to be able to open the PDF and view, download, or print it.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Ok, not RW related, but what about https://moodle.org

There’s several different ways to accomplish what you want. The path taken will depend on your own aesthetic sensibility plus the very specific requirements you have for your students.

… here’s what I do when developing course websites (but it may not fit your needs):

  • videos are embedded on the webpage
  • audio presentations included via Playlister stack (with chapters)
  • PDFs (and I use a lot) tend to be put into collections (or folders). The folder is then zipped, uploaded to my server. I then create a link in RW to that zipped folder. Zipped materials will auto-download when someone presses the link.

In a typical course I’ll probably have about 120 PDFs for students to download. But the actual number of downloads is about 15 as many are collated into downloadable folders.

If you have “hundreds” of PDFs then I would think about creating sensible collections. Download links can be done in a variety of ways (some are cool stacks, some are simply using HTML or Markdown). The key, at least to me, is warehousing those little PDF puppies.

Thanks for the advice. I don’t think the zipped folder full of pdfs will work for this application. I need for a student who is studying Algebra 1 (for example) to be able to go to a page that might have 3 folders or icons on it, maybe “Algebra 1”, “Algebra 2”, and “Pre-Calculus”.

Then, if the student were to click on the “Algebra 1” folder or icon, the student would be taken to another page with folders/icons or even a list with such names like “Equations”, “Inequalities”, “Proportions”, etc.

Then, if the student were to click on “Inequalities”, the student would be taken to a new page with folders/icons or a list with such things as “Graphing Single-Variable Inequalities”, “One-Step Inequalities”, “Two-Step Inequalities”, etc.

Finally, once the student chose one of those, for example “One-Step Inequalities”, the student would be on a new page with maybe 10 one-step inequalities pdf worksheets that he or she could click on to open and view or download.

I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I’m kind of looking for something that works much like a finder window in Mac does for drilling down and getting the file you need through an organized set of nested folders.

I’m not sure if there is a good stack for this or if there is a better way of dealing with the actual files (some kind of cloud database perhaps) than going through the web host service. In reality, between the different classes, I could realistically be dealing with well over 1000 pdf files.

Take a look at moodle and find somebody to install it for you. It’s software for teachers / teaching / online courses etc.

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OMG that’s a LOT of clicking. However, I understand what you’re after. I’m not sure what the best way to do this is, but having all those separate pages (per your description) would drive most people (developers and users) crazy. There are several alternative ways to do the same thing: even within one page, or certainly using fewer. This is a design problem.

I’m not sure which stacks will be your best options (as several might help) but I’d include looking at Stacks4Stacks Sort Stack and Filter Stack (2 different products) or YabDab’s Filter stack. One of those could help a lot. Maybe not THE solution, but part of the solution.

1,000 PDFs is a lot. I’d still warehouse them. But it seems before you make that decision you’d want to mock design how this will all work. (I’m not sure Moodle will help tremendously here.)

Here’s some relevant links:

Mathew… may I ask… I have problems with people not having the knowledge on how to download ZIP files on their mobile device. A lot of my visitors are older and not very “tablet savvy”. In lot’s of cases they have never even downloaded (added) an app to their iPad. So I have to do a lot of “customer service” to guide these people. Do you experience that with your zip files? I tend now to avoid zip files for that reason. People think they can’t use them… :slight_smile:

All are welcome to comment…

chokse… Mathew’s advice is good. +1

@1611mac Greg you make a good point. In my case I’m typically having students download a folder of PDF materials to their computers. And, on the first day of class (and via a screencast), I show them how to use the website and download materials.

If I were in your situation, I would probably provide links to individual items, and thus I probably would NOT zip them. Apparently a lot of your users are on tablets/phones and it would be much easier in that case to link directly to the PDF.

Yes, even though I have HELP files telling how to download and expand ZIP files people don’t read them. So non Zip works best in my case. But in the case you describe ZIP would be preferred. I present only as something to think about. Each circumstance is different.

Another TIP: I provide both a normal link and a Button “force download” link for each file. The button link runs a php script to download the file. That works well on desktop where some people don’t know you can save a PDF to disk (and they don’t know to right click.) The regular link seems to work best on tablets. Thus, I provide both. Anything to ensure success without having to do customer support.

@1611mac Nice tip re: force download link. Probably very needed for some.

Thanks for all the advice everyone. It has been helpful. I will look into the suggested stacks and figure out what will work best. I guess I was hoping that there would be some kind of database stack that would create links based on what was in it. Should have known it would not be that easy.

There probably IS a database solution out there, but not an “easy” one that I know of.

That said, another direction to consider is using spreadsheets or CSV files. That does allow for some very efficient searches with a large amount of data. Then you need to look for “table” stacks. There’s a few out there. You might want to first consider the Grid Iron stack that works with Google sheets:

There are another 3 or 4 products in this area. So if Grid Iron does not work, perhaps one of the others will.

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I seem to recall that @barchard at chillidog has a plugin or stack for file management and access. I’m not sure if it will do what you want but hopefully he will see this and chime in. I think it’s called weaverFM. Might be worth a look see.

It might be out there but RapidCart Pro can have categories, tags and allows digital downloads. It doesn’t have to be used to sell items as they can be ‘free’ to download.


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Moodle is a full on LMS not recommended for just distributing files. try a simple use of Site lock and one of the download plugins or stacks

@chokse I have used the Hunter stack from Doobox to organise information by complex inter-related categories. It doesn’t address your storage issue but it might help with the design of the access.

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Greg, what is the php script? That sounds like a great solution as you can never tell what device or PDF viewer will be used. Downloading a PDF appears to have got more difficult as time goes on. Even Safari is too difficult for many.

webdeer - Tons of examples all over the web, in different versions depending on error checking, etc. Do a search for “Force download script.” Again, I provide both button that runs php script AND a standard link with instructions to “Click the Download button. Try the standard text link if you have problems.”

I’d be happy to post the code I’m using but I don’t see a way in this forum to post code. Possible?

Just create a fiddle here. You are not able to execute PHP though…