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Archived News for CommonSpot Authors

These are presented in reverse chronological order.  Some of the more routine announcements (e.g., authoring freezes during patch installations) have been removed for the sake of brevity.


December, 2011

Authoring was frozen from 1:45 pm until about 4 pm on December 20, and intermittently from about 8:10 to 3:00 pm on December 21. Authoring was frozen most of the time from 9:30 to 10:30 am on December 22 in order to increase the RAM allocated to the authoring server. We did have a few short authoring freezes during the day in order to adjust the software settings to take best advantage of the new RAM.

There was an authoring freeze from 11 pm on Thursday, December 22, until 12:12 am on Friday, December 23, in order to re-constitute the 46,303 thumbnail graphics used in the image gallery.


August 15, 2011

The V6 upgrade was started this morning, but has been rolled-back and authoring restored using V5.1; we will update this page as soon as possible with information about the next attempt (which may be this coming weekend).  As many of you will have noticed, the temporary server that we had in place to provide continuous read-only serving of CommonSpot pages was not able to handle the load this afternoon.


Authoring Server Name Changed -- August 21, 2010

Effective immediately, the authoring server is now called "author.oit.ohio.edu," instead of the prior "author.admsrv.ohio.edu" (or the even older, "pages.ohio.edu"). We are updating links on our pages, and we have established a redirect, so that any attempt to get to a page on the authoring server by its old name will leave your browser pointing to that page on the authoring server by its new name. That is a bit slower than going there directly, so we do urge that you update any bookmarks or favorites that you may have established in any browsers, now that the change is in place. For example, instead of starting an authoring session by going to


you now start your session by going to


To achieve full efficiency, update your list of trusted sites, replacing all references in your browser's configuration to "author.admsrv.ohio.edu" with "author.oit.ohio.edu"; that way you will not have to give permissions for pop-up windows.

There was a brief authoring freeze during the name-change process, in the early morning hours. This work was combined with the work already scheduled for August 21, as described next.


New FireFox Update Released March 31, 2010

The Mozilla Foundation has released a new update to FireFox 3.0, version 3.0.19; this version incorporates security patches, so anyone still using any earlier version of 3.0 should immediately update to 3.0.19.

At this time, FireFox 3.0 is the most recent supported version of FireFox for CommonSpot authoring; it is the only supported browser for CommonSpot authoring on Macintosh. Mozilla has announced that they do not intend to release any more security patches or other updates for version 3.0, and they have released security patches since then for 3.5 and 3.6, so the time has come to stop using FireFox 3.0 for routine browsing, but it is of course still safe to use for CommonSpot authoring.

FireFox Version 3.6 has been released, but we have had reports of crippling problems when trying to author with that version. We anticipate that PaperThin will release an update to CommonSpot that will support a more recent version of FireFox, but in the meantime, we can neither suggest nor recommend trying to use 3.6.

We know that many basic authoring tasks can be performed with FireFox 3.5, but we don't know that everything will work correctly. You can easily get the latest version of FireFox 3.5 from Mozilla.

Getting the installers for FireFox 3.0.19 is more difficult, so we provide direct links here for the US variant of the English-language versions:


CommonSpot Upgraded to V5.1 July 29, 2009

We upgraded our CommonSpot installation from V5.0, Service Pack 2, to V5.1 during the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 29.  This work did not disrupt public access to the pages through http://www.ohio.edu/, because at all times throughout the process at least one of the CommonSpot Read-Only Public Servers ("ROPS") was in service.  However, there was an authoring freeze in effect throughout the whole process, from midnight until the work was completed, around 3 am.

We do not anticipate that the changes between versions 5.0 and 5.1 will present any particular difficulties for pagemasters.  The user interface is quite similar.  The primary features of V5.1 are the following:

  • Official support for authoring with Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 and 8, including on Windows Vista.

  • Official support for authoring with FireFox 2 or 3 (but not yet 3.5), on Windows and Macintosh.  In particular, the "vanishing RTE link tool" bug appears to be fixed.  Because FireFox 2 received its last security patches in December, 2008, we urge you to use the latest version of FireFox 3.0, instead.

  • You will now be able to upload and link to binary documents that have any of the newer Microsoft Office file types (".docx" or ".xlsx" etc.).

  • CommonSpot pop-up menus will now, by default, overlay (display on top of) all page content, including Flash, Video, etc. (the menus will now be usable without having to shift their locations).  This can be controlled if a specific menu should not overlay content.


CommonSpot Gets an Overhaul:   Labor Day Weekend, 2008

We are re-implementing CommonSpot! The work has started with major upgrades to both hardware and software over Labor Day weekend, 2008: 

  • We deployed a faster server for authoring and three servers sharing the load of public display (instead of only one "www.ohio.edu" server). 

  • At the same time, the CommonSpot software was upgraded, from V4.6.1 to V5.0.2.

The re-implementation continues, building on the upgraded hardware and software, including the introduction of new layout and design templates; new elements; and ready-to-use graphics.  When everything is in place, you can expect to see a faster, friendlier system with a great new look.


May 15, 2007

The development and test environment work is progressing, so that the domain names for those servers are now established, and so the instructions for configuring Internet Explorer and FireFox have been updated accordingly.  If you have been using a CommonSpot feature that is not documented in the Intermediate Pagemasters or Advanced Pagemasters materials, please update your browser configuration, so that you will be able to participate in future testing, to ensure that the features you are using continue to work as expected.


Windows Internet Explorer 7

Microsoft has now included the major update of IE, from 6 to 7, as a high priority update for those with automatic updates or who do it manually.  The software appears to work well with CommonSpot, with the following exceptions:

  • In the Rich Text Editor (for working with Formatted Text Blocks),  the tool button for Table Functions (which you use to insert a new table, and to control an existing table inside the Formatted Text Block), although present, accomplishes nothing.

  • For at least some people who had working configurations with IE 6, the upgrade process changes some critical settings.

If you encounter any problems, please go through all of the updated Internet Explorer configuration steps.  These do now include the additional step required to permit use of the Table functions within the Rich Text Editor when using IE 7.


Other Problems

If you encounter other problems with page authoring or access in CommonSpot, please report them promptly, so that we can work with you to resolve them.

  • Urgent problems should be reported to the OIT Service Desk staff (593-1222 or servicedesk@ohio.edu).

  • Less urgent issues can be reported to webteam@ohio.edu, or by phone to 593-1017 or 593-1016.


Form Issues

Please be aware that the "simple forms" features built in to CommonSpot do provide for the transfer of information from the reader of your page to you by e-mail, but that transfer is not secure.  Therefore, never collect sensitive information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers using such forms.

If you use an HTML fragment to create a form on your CommonSpot page using either of the generic scripts documented at http://www.ohio.edu/oit/webservices/static/append5.cfm, please be aware that the same statement applies, because the e-mails they send are also not encrypted.


Rich Text Editor Problems

The Rich Text Editor ("RTE"), which CommonSpot uses to update Formatted Text Blocks, is implemented using programming interfaces provided by Internet Explorer and by FireFox.  As such, the RTE will behave somewhat differently on one browser than it does on the other.  Also, the RTE is vulnerable to updates for those browsers as well as to changes created by PaperThin.  At any given time, you may find that one browser or the other provides a more satisfactory tool for the work you need to do.

You may well want to install FireFox, even if you are using Windows, and configure it for authoring, so that you will have both browsers and therefore will be able to work productively even when one browser or the other is affected by an incompatibility between CommonSpot and the latest version of that browser.


Finding Templates

If you cannot find the template you want to use in the Template Gallery while creating a new page, please navigate to that template, go to Author mode, and confirm that the Page Properties and Template Security are set as documented in steps 17 through 24 of the template creation process.  If the template still is not available in the Template Gallery, please contact the Web Team by e-mail (webteam@ohio.edu) or by phone (593-1016 or 593-1017).


Deleting Temporary Internet Files

If you are having problems authoring in CommonSpot, you may well find, as several of us have, that it helps to clear out your browser's temporary internet files; for Internet Explorer:

  1. Take the "Internet Options" choice from the "Tools" menu.

  2. Select the "General" tab if it is not already selected.

  3. Click on the three buttons:  "Delete Cookies," "Delete Files," and "Clear History," confirming each action.

  4. Click on the "OK" button to dismiss the Internet Options dialog window.

This is particularly likely to be helpful the first few times you try to author after a CommonSpot version upgrade -- the browser is likely to have cached the javascript files that the Rich Text Editor uses to do most of its work, and a mixture of old and new versions of those files is a recipe for confusion!