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pagemasters toolbox -- classic commonspot

V6 Creating New Pages with Classic CommonSpot

Table of Contents



There are two methods for creating new pages in CommonSpot:

  • Start from scratch, building the page on an existing template that is either public (such as the "official_pages1" or "unofficial_pages1" templates), or was created by you, or to which you have been granted access.  If you need to create a page on a template that is not available to you, please contact OIT (593-1222 or servicedesk@ohio.edu).

  • Copy an existing page that has already been built on the template you wish to use.  If that existing page was created for the purpose of such copying, we call it a "blank page."

As you can see from the table of contents, above, we will discuss the creation of pages from scratch, then the creation of your own derived templates, and then the use of a blank page to create a new page by copying an existing page.


Create New Page (from template)



A template is the starting point for constructing a page in CommonSpot.  Using templates provides a way to more easily build a site with consistent page design, and to maintain that consistency over time.  The system provides a choice of templates, and you can also create your own templates, by starting with one of the system templates and adding page elements. 

The CommonSpot software design works with two kinds of templates:  "base templates," and "derived templates." Base templates are hand-coded by programming staff.  Derived templates are layered on base templates or other derived templates, and use CommonSpot page elements and other features to add content.

A useful mental model for templates is a multi-layer overhead transparency:  you start with a base layer, then add more and more items on top of it.  What you and your audience see at any time is all the layers together.  The figure below illustrates the relationship among base templates, derived templates, and pages built on them:

The illustration above is simplified by having only one derived template in the stack.  You are likely to find it useful to have multiple derived templates, one built upon another, as the starting point for many of your pages.

At Ohio University, we have configured CommonSpot with several different templates that are available for use by pagemasters and content contributors.  The templates that are presented to you as available choices when creating a new page may include templates whose use is required, permitted, or forbidden, for that particular page.  It is the pagemaster's and content contributor's responsibility to choose an appropriate template.

All official Ohio University Web pages, on any server, are required to meet specific design guidelines (including the placement of the new logo graphic mark in the upper left corner and the copyright statement at the bottom), regardless of the server they are published on.  Templates are available in CommonSpot that facilitate meeting those guidelines, for use by pagemasters and content contributors building official sites.  Those templates must not be used for unofficial sites.

All unofficial Web pages (student organizations, personal pages, etc.), on any server, are forbidden to use official Ohio University graphic logos (any variation of the Cutler Hall woodcut, the Intercollegiate Athletics "Attack Cat" logo, the University Seal, etc.), and must not say that they are copyright by Ohio University.  Separate templates are available in CommonSpot that facilitate meeting those guidelines, for use by pagemasters and content contributors building unofficial sites.  Those templates must not be used for official sites.

The "official_pages1" template was coded in 2003 to facilitate the building of sites that were closely modeled on the Front Door design as it was then.  Whenever the formal university policy on Web page design is finalized, additional templates will be created as needed and made available through CommonSpot, in order to provide the full range of flexibility to CommonSpot users that is permitted under that policy to users of other servers.

The corresponding base template for use on unofficial sites includes options to display a link to the Front Door.  Such a link is required for use on unofficial subsite home pages, and is permitted, but not required, for use on all other unofficial pages. 

Because some people will be responsible for both official and unofficial subsites, you may have access to templates that must not be used for a particular page.  Similarly, templates may be created and made available to you that are coded such that it is possible to change a page from official form to unofficial form.  These technical possibilities do not mean that those choices are permitted.

The system programmers can revise the base template your page is built on, or you can edit a derived template, as discussed below, changing the CommonSpot elements on that particular template.  In either case, the updates made to any template are reflected immediately in the display of all the pages built on top of that template, without losing the specific work on any of the pages built on that template (provided that inheritance has been preserved).

What should you do if you realize that you want to have a page that is already under construction or in production be built on a different template than the one you chose when you first created it?  The following sequence of steps summarizes the complete, 29-step discussion:

  1. Make a new page, building it on the now-preferred template, but using a different filename (e.g., if building a replacement for "index" use "new-index"), to work with temporarily.

  2. Copy any elements that you do want to continue to use from the original page (which you can still do, because it is intact), and paste them into the new page you are building.  The old page will continue to be visible, undamaged, while you rebuild the new page.  You must copy and paste one element at a time, until you have copied and pasted all of the elements that you want to preserve.

  3. Add any other elements, and update the copied elements, as needed.  When the new page is ready, rename the old page (e.g., to "old-index"), and then right away, so that there will be only a short interval of time when the page is broken...

  4. Go to the new page and rename it to the original, permanent name. 

  5. Navigate to the old page, and use the "Referring Pages" tool to tell CommonSpot to change all links pointing to the current (old) page so that they instead point to the new replacement page.  Renaming the old page in step 3 has caused all links leading to it from other CommonSpot pages that were constructed using the CommonSpot tools (as opposed to having the URL typed in) to be re-constructed to point to the renamed old version, instead of the replacement version.

As you can see, you will not lose all your work done building the page on the template you chose first, but the process of switching a page from one template to another is labor-intensive; CommonSpot rewards those who plan ahead carefully and select their templates thoughtfully, by punishing those who don't.


Template-based Page Creation:  Step-by-step

  1. Login and navigate to a page in your subsite.  Click on the "New" button in the full-width toolbar, and select "Page..."

  2. Select the subsite, or sub-subsite, you want the new page to be part of from the drop-down menu, if it is not already chosen as the default, and then click on "Next".  You will only see listed those subsites and sub-subsites that you are authorized to use.  If the sub-subsite you want is not displayed, then click on "Cancel." After the subsite pagemaster has created the sub-subsite, or you have been granted permission to use it, you can return to this process for creating a new page.

  3. Choose the appropriate template: 

    • Select the appropriate category, usually either "Ohio University Templates" or "Shared Templates."

    • For the reasons discussed in the last two paragraphs of the previous section, your life will be simpler if you make the correct template choice at this step, so give it some thought.

    • Initially, you may well choose the "official_pages1" template (or the "unofficial_pages1" template), because that is the only one available that meets the requirements for your pages.  Later, after you or another person have saved derived templates built on the appropriate base template, you might choose one of them.

    • If you don't see the template you want, scroll on down -- the list is sorted "alphabetically," but case-sensitively, so all the uppercase letters precede all the lowercase letters.

  4. Once you have found the one you want, click on it, so that row is highlighted; then click on the "Next" button at the lower right.

  5. Fill in the page information:

    • The new page's "name" field should include neither punctuation marks nor spaces; the URL of the new page will have the subsite (or sub-subsite) URL prepended to, and ".cfm" appended to, the name you specify.  For example, if you are working in the "/demo3/" subsite, and specify a page name of "sampleb", then the new page will have a URL of


    • The page's title will be used within CommonSpot to identify the page, and the "Title-bar Caption" will be included in the HTML TITLE of the page, which is routinely the clickable text of the link leading to the page in search engine output.  Therefore, exercise care in the choice of each.  To the extent possible, choose a page title and title-bar caption that is unique among your pages, indicative of the content, reasonably terse, and not obscured by the use of acronyms.  You can click on either orange icon with the black down-arrow to propagate that field down into others below it.

    • The "category" field will usually be either "Ohio University Website," "Other Documents," or "Unofficial Ohio University Page."

    • The "Include In" section has two check-boxes.  The "search results" one does not matter, because we are not using that feature of CommonSpot; except in unusual circumstances, you should ensure that the other one, Page Indexes, is checked.

  6. Click on "Next" and the page will be created in an "inactive" state.  When you are ready to make the page visible, click the orange button in the upper right, marked "Activate" (next to the similarly colored button, "Preview").  In class, and while first developing a subsite through author.oit.ohio.edu, activate it right away.  Once a subsite is in production through www.ohio.edu, you will most often choose to activate the page only when it is fully ready for public viewing.

    If you later need to "de-activate" an active page, click on the "Actions" button of the content-spanning toolbar, and select "Deactivate."

  7. Confirm that you are Viewing My Changes or Viewing All Changes; if not, click on the "View" button in the content-spanning toolbar, and make the appropriate choice.  If you are creating an official page directly on the "official_pages1" template, skip to step 9; if you are creating an unofficial page or are building a page on a derived template that has been "locked-down" (as described below), observe that the center of your page has text "Click here to define the Tabular Layout element."  Click there.

  8. In the resulting dialog box, you can choose the number of rows and columns for the central section of your page.  In class, accept all the defaults (one row and one column, no borders).  Click on the "Save" button.

    Setting a width other than 100% for this table can result in different effects on different browsers, so we advise that you leave the width choice at "100%."

    You can modify the choices you have made here later on in several ways that we will discuss.

  9. Observe that your page contains a "Click to insert new element" choice near the middle (the exact location will depend on whether you are building an official or unofficial page, and the template that you are using).  Click there to get started; wait for the Element Gallery to appear.  In class, select a Simple Text Block (without header); click on "Click here to define the Simple Text Block (without header) element"; and type some text that includes the name of the page.  Click on the "Save" button when done.

  10. Click on one of the yellow "work-in-progress" icons, which should look similar to one of the following:  , , or .  The yellow WIP icon replaces the element properties gear-wheel icon (element properties gear wheel icon), and has all of its menu choices, plus the change-related choices of Submit, Submit Page, and Discard Change.

  11. Select "Submit Page" or "Submit" as appropriate.  The former submits all pending work-in-progress on that page for publication; the latter submits only the changes for the element whose yellow WIP icon you clicked.  When you have added a new element, at least the containing layout element will also have been changed, and so a simple "Submit" will not suffice for your new content to be visible to the world.

  12. In the resulting dialog box, you will find the opportunity to provide comments.  Please make a habit of doing so -- they will prove quite useful when you need to use the Version History feature, among other times.

  13. In class, wait your turn to click on the "Submit" button.

Although the page has been created, that is, it now exists, your work is only just begun!


Set the Page Background Color

Depending on the template you have chosen, the page may be generated with no explicit body background color.  Because different browsers have different default background colors (usually either white or gray), you should be sure that the page is generated with an explicit background color of your choice, so that your page will appear as intended for all viewers.  When in doubt, use white, as shown below, for maximum contrast with dark text, to be most easily read.

  1. Login and navigate to the page whose background color you want to specify.  Select "Work on this Page" or "Work on this Page (All Changes)."

  2. Click on the "Manage" button in the content-spanning toolbar; select "Page Margins Colors and more ..." 

  3. Click in the data entry box to the right of "background"; in class type to replace the existing "#FFFFFF", changing it into "#FFAA55" (without the quotes, but be sure to include the initial pound sign).

    You could also choose to specify a background image, instead of a backgound color.  If you do, be sure to choose an image that will "tile" gracefully whenever the browser is using a window bigger than the image.

  4. Click on the "Save" button.

  5. The background color change takes effect immediately, with no need to submit for publication or to seek approval, and is not recorded in the Version History, so it can be restored only by re-doing the above steps.

  6. Restore the background color to white by re-doing steps 2 - 4, specifying "#FFFFFF" in step 3.


Create Derived Templates

Derived templates make it easier for you to create and to revise a set of pages with common features.  Likely candidates for elements to include in your derived templates are header graphics (just below the standard header and sitewide navigation bar), subsite or sub-subsite navigational links, contact information, and E-mail links, located, for example, either in the custom footer text or at the bottom of the page content area, just above the footer.  We anticipate that most subsite pagemasters will choose to create several derived templates, for use with various categories of pages:  sub-subsite home pages, other navigational pages, content pages, etc.

Any time you can identify a group of pages that share identical content, that situation presents a strong possibility for the creation and use of a template.  It is rarely sensible to have a template on which only one page will be built.

As you build and work with your own derived templates, it is essential that you keep clear in your mind the distinctions between templates, blank pages, and mock-ups, as discussed earlier.  As part of your design process, you may well have created a CommonSpot page that is a mock-up of your planned template design.  If you have built a mock-up page, do not just save that mock-up page as a template.  Instead, build your new derived template by starting from scratch or by copying a blank page, and then, for each element in the mock-up that will be identical in every page to be built on the new template,  copy and paste one whole element at a time from the mock-up page into the new page.  Be sure to insert content-free, undefined tabular layout elements as placeholders at each location where page-specific content will be included in the pages built on the new template.

Ordinarily, derived templates are available only to the person who saved them as a template.  System administrators can permit derived templates to be accessible to other users.  Therefore, if you are going to be working as part of a team, please send an e-mail to servicedesk@ohio.edu to let us know when your template is ready, so that we can confirm that it is properly locked-down, and provide access to your whole team to use it for creating new pages.

It is possible (but not always wise!) to turn any page into a derived template;  this includes starting with a blank page, built on any existing template, and adding items, or starting with an existing page and removing or editing items.  When you create a new derived template, you may find that you already have a page that includes some, many, or all of the elements that should be part of the new template.  In that case there are several approaches you can take to using this starting page:

  1. Start with a blank temporary page, based on the appropriate existing template, and copy and paste whole elements, from the starting page into the template, as you build it; when you save it as a template, choose "Convert the current page to a template," which removes the temporary page from existence.

  2. Make a temporary copy of the existing page to use as the starting point for building your new template, and remove any elements that should not be part of the new template; when you save it as a template, choose "Convert the current page to a template," which removes the temporary page from existence.

  3. Save the starting page as a template, choosing instead "Copy the current page as a template and change its inheritance to derive from the new template."  This will preserve the starting page's existence, creating the situation illustrated below:

    All the elements that were in the starting page survive as parts of the new derived template (e.g., in the illustration above, the irregular blob in the upper left corner).  Thus, you have the same situation as if you had created a brand new page on the new template:  when you look at the new page, all of the elements from any of the template layers are present, but there are no elements in the page layer itself, yet.  If some of the elements that are in the new template layer should be specific to the one page, but not be part of the template (which would make those elements part of every page built on the template), they can be copied from the template, pasted into the page they belong in, and then deleted from the template.  This should be done immediately, and then the template should be locked-down, to avoid problems with broken inheritance.



  1. In class, you will start by creating a new page using the "official_pages1" template; give it a name of "going-to-be-demoX-first" (where you should use your specific digit instead of the "X").

    In general, you would first decide whether you will be starting from scratch, as we are in class, or using one of the three approaches outlined above:

    • If starting from scratch or using approach 1, above, create a new page using an existing template, by clicking on the New button in the full-width toolbar, and selecting "Page...", as described above, to serve as your starting point. Give this page a name that indicates what it is going to be -- it will be deleted when you save it as a template.

    • If using approach 2, above, navigate to the starting page and copy it as described below.  Activate the page, revise it as necessary, and then skip down to step 12.

    • If using approach 3, above, go to the existing page, select "Work on this Page" or "Work on this Page (All Changes)," and then skip down to step 12.

  2. Activate the empty page (by clicking on the orange Activate button at the upper-right).

  3. Click on the "Click here to insert new element" just below the header, and observe the Element Gallery.

  4. Click on the "Layout Elements" header to expand that part of the list.

  5. Click on "Tabular Layout."

  6. Observe the new item, "Click here to define the layout." Click on it to bring up the dialog box "New Tabular Layout Element Properties."

  7. In class, define the layout as 3 rows and 1 column; click on the "Save" button; and observe the three new "click to insert new element" choices, one for each row.

  8. In class, add a "Simple Text Block (without header)" in the top row of the layout.

  9. In class, add text to that text block, identifying the page as template demoX-first.

  10. In class, put an empty layout element in the 2nd row, and another empty layout element in the 3rd row, of the overall layout element.

  11. Click on any yellow work-in-progress icon and choose "Submit Page."  Type your comments, and in class, wait your turn to click on the "Submit" button.

  12. Click on the "Templates" button on the content-spanning toolbar and select "Save as template..."

  13. If you started from scratch or are taking approach 1 or 2, as described above, choose "Convert the current page to a template"; if you are using approach 3, choose "Copy the current page as a template and change its inheritance to derive from the new template."  These two choices are explained above and in the dialog box.  In class, choose "Convert".

  14. In the next dialog:

    • Select the category "Shared Templates" (if that choice is presented, which will happen only if you are permitted to create public templates).

    • Type a name for the template, in class type "demoX-first" (where you should again use your specific digit instead of the "X").  The name will become part of a file name, so it should have no spaces or punctuation, except hyphens ("-") or underscores ("_").  Because templates can be moved from private to public after creation, the name must be different from the names already in use for any other template in CommonSpot.  We suggest that you start the template name with your subsite name followed by a hyphen, followed by something reasonably suggestive of the template's intended use.

    • Provide a brief description of its intended use.

  15. Click on the "Save" button.  If you had chosen "Copy" in step 13, then you would have to choose either "View [the current] page" or "View [the new] template."

  16. You will be presented with the template in the CommonSpot Dashboard, Viewing My Changes, if you choose to display the new template, or if you chose "Convert" in step 13 (as you did in class).  You should make further changes now, as described in steps 17 through 24, but you can change to "View Page as Published" and go on to other work at any point.  If you do, please be sure to come back and complete the work.

  17. Choose "Standard" from the Properties menu in the content-spanning toolbar.

  18. Find the "Category" section, click to pop-up the choices, and select "Shared Templates" if that is not already selected.

  19. Click on the "Save" button if you made a change; otherwise click on the "Cancel" button.

  20. Choose "Security" from the Manage menu on the content-spanning toolbar.

  21. If "Anonymous Users" has anything other than "No Rights", click on the pencil icon to edit public access, and clear the check-box for "read" access.

  22. Click on the "Save" button.

  23. If "Authenticated Users" has anything other than "No Rights", click on the pencil icon to edit university community access, and clear the check-box for "read" access, which will also clear all other access. 

  24. Click on the "Save" button.  Close the template's security lightbox.
    At any time from this point onward, a suitably privileged OIT staff member can use the "Submit for Public Use..." choice on the Template menu in the content-spanning toolbar to permit others to see this template and build pages upon it, without distracting people who should not use it.

  25. Add any additional elements that you want to include on the template.  Choose "View Page as Published" when you are done working on the template.

  26. To return to an existing derived template to revise it, use the "My Content" feature, described below, selecting "My Templates"; click on the template's name to bring it up in the main browser window.  You can also get to an existing derived template by walking the template hierarchy, as described below, starting, for example, with any page already built on that template.

Your template is in place, and CommonSpot will let you use it, but if you use it as-is, it will be easy to inadvertently break the inheritance from this template to the derived templates and pages built on it.  Broken inheritance can result in the irretrievable loss of page content.  The following sections include detailed discussion of this problem and the methods for preventing it.


Design Issues for Authoring and Browsing Performance

Decisions you make about how to design your templates and pages can have significant impact on system performance in "Edit," "Author," and "Read" modes.

While working on the page (either "My Changes" or "All Changes"), each CommonSpot element will have at least one tool icon (the "element properties" tool icon).  Each tool icon has a menu; at least one un-cached database query by the CommonSpot server to its backend database machine is required in order to build each menu. Therefore, designing the template or page so as to minimize the number of CommonSpot tool icons will improve performance transitioning from View Page as Published to working on the page:

  • Use an image grid element where appropriate, instead of a table with one image per cell.

  • Combine adjacent images, text, and links into a Formatted Text Block ("FTB").  An excessively complex FTB may create difficulties for the Rich Text Editor; if that happens, one possibility is simply to split the content between two consecutive FTB elements: copy the FTB element, paste it in again, immediately after the existing copy, and then remove the second part of the material from the first FTB, and the first part of the material from the second FTB, leaving everything in one or the other, with no duplication.

  • Text-only images should often simply be text.

  • Organize your templates and pages to minimize the number of tables and the number of table cells, because you get an element layout properties icon table element properties icon (for the whole table), plus a cell properties icon cell properties tool icon for each cell of the table, plus the tool icons for each element in each cell.  When possible, use row or column spanning (controlled through the cell properties menu), rather than tables-within-tables.  This simplification will improve not only "Edit" and "Author" modes but also "Read" mode performance, because the HTML is more compact, and because the browser will be able to parse that HTML more rapidly.

  • Locking down templates to preserve element inheritance (discussed starting in the next section) speeds authoring of derived templates and pages, because items that are locked-down in a template do not have CommonSpot tool icons when working on the pages or templates derived from the locked-down template.

  • Use dynamic elements (e.g., randomized photos) with caution.  They will make your site "more interesting," but they will prevent caching of the page, and hence will seriously degrade system performance for viewing the pages as published and while working on them.

As a general rule, design choices for templates are especially significant in terms of reading and authoring performance, because multiple pages are likely to be built on each template.  A modest change in system load per view for a template will be multiplied by however many pages are built on that template.


Preserving Element Inheritance

When a page is first built on a derived template, it is created with copies of every element in that derived template, and at that time any update to the template (either changing any of those existing elements, or adding a new element) will be promptly propagated to the new page built on that template.  This is referred to as "inheriting" the changes.  Some revisions to a page can break the inheritance, so that updates to the underlying template will no longer be propagated to that page.

The current version of CommonSpot provides no warning dialog when a page or template revision will break inheritance from an underlying template.

Fortunately, while working on a template, it is possible to "lock down" the template (using "element inheritance security") so as to prevent such inheritance-breaking, but that will also prevent some kinds of revisions to the pages and to derived templates built on the template.  Designing templates so that inheritance is properly preserved, while still permitting customized content on each page, requires careful consideration of the pages that will be built on the template, and the nature of the customizations anticipated.  This is yet another aspect of CommonSpot where planning ahead will truly reduce your long-term effort.


Steps to Preserving Element Inheritance

While designing each template, identify places on the screen where different pages built on this template should be free to have different content.  In those locations, create a tabular layout, but do not define it in the template, leave it as "click here to define the layout."  You can perform this step before or after saving the page as a template, but must do so before building any pages on the new template.  Later, while first editing the page built on the template, the content contributor will click there, define the layout with as many rows and columns as desired, and place elements in them to build the page-specific content.  It is vital that once used on a page or derived template, this undefined tabular layout element never be deleted from the template, nor be clicked on and defined in the template, as that would risk destroying all the page-specific content; see the discussion in the next section.  If you have a situation where you will have several layers of derived templates, please consult the Web Team (by e-mail to servicedesk@ohio.edu) before proceeding, because deeply nested tables-within-tables-within-tables will slow down the display of your pages.  Often it will be easy to place all of the undefined tabular layouts in the first template, using them up one at a time as you build successive derived templates, and finally the pages.

If, at any time during the steps listed below for locking down elements or layouts, you are warned that some content may be lost, take that warning seriously, and cancel the operation:  the warning will be displayed when one or more pages or derived templates built on this template already has broken inheritance for the item in question, and, if you proceed, the changed content on those pages will be lost, irretrievably, forcing you to re-create it.  Copying the pages in question will not preserve the content, because those copies will also be derived from this template and will have broken inheritance for those elements, too.

If you encounter such a case of broken inheritance, the safest course of action is to build a new template, properly locked-down, as described here, and then build new versions of the derived templates and pages that are based on it.  See the last paragraph before the step-by-step section on template-based page creation.  As discussed in that paragraph, you will be able to save some time by copying and pasting elements from the existing templates and pages.

Those elements whose content should be the same on all pages built on the template should be "locked-down" so that changes can occur only while editing the template itself, never while editing a page or derived template (which would  break inheritance).  There are three stages:  locking-down elements, layouts, and pop-up menus.  The steps itemized below can be performed only after you have saved the page as a template:


Locking Down the Elements

  1. Go to the template.

  2. Select Work on this Page or Work on this Page (All Changes); scroll as needed to see the element that should be revised only from within the template; in class this will be the text block that you created in the top row.

  3. For each element that should be revised only from within the template, click on the "Element Properties" icon, , which is located to the left, just above the element.

  4. From the displayed menu, click on "more" and then choose the option "Element Inheritance Security..."

  5. From the dialog box, click on the "Change" button in the "Restrictions" section.

  6. In order to fully preserve inheritance, lock all the access rights to the element by checking all the check boxes ("Author/Edit," "Design," "Style," and "Admin").

  7. Click on the "Save" button.

  8. Click on the "Close" button.

  9. No yellow work-in-progress icon appears:  the changes made take effect immediately, and are not recorded in the Version History.

  10. From now on, while you are working on any page or derived template that was created from this template, you will notice that the element does not display the "Element Properties" icon, .  The pagemaster or content contributor is therefore not able to edit or change the element while working on the page or derived template, preserving inheritance.


Locking Down the Layouts

In order to be able to add an element to the template in the future, and have it be inherited by all templates and pages derived from that template, the "Click to insert new element" that you use must not have been previously used to add an element to any of the derived templates or pages.  In other words, the act of inserting a new element breaks inheritance for that whole cell.  In order to prevent such "hijacking" of the "Click to insert new element" at the page or derived template level, all of the tabular layouts in the template should be locked-down also, so that the "Click to insert new element" is not displayed while in "Author" mode on the derived page or template:

  1. Go to the template.

  2. Select "Work on this Page" or "Work on this Page (All Changes)"; scroll as needed to see the "Tabular Layout Element" icon, table element properties icon, that appears on the top left corner of the table that includes the element that should be revised only from within the template.  In general, you will need to do this for every layout element except for those that are undefined in order to contain page-specific content.  In class, you will choose the layout for the page as a whole, using the icon that is immediately under the logo graphic in the header at the top-left corner of the page.

  3. Click on the "Tabular Layout Element" icon, table element properties icon that you have identified.

  4. From the drop down menu, click on "more," and then select the option "Element Inheritance Security."

  5. Under the "Restrictions" section click on the "Change" button.

  6. In order to fully preserve inheritance, lock all the access rights to the element by checking all the check boxes ("Author/Edit," "Design," "Style," and "Admin").

  7. Click on the "Save" button.

  8. Click on the "Close" button.

  9. No yellow work-in-progress icon appears:  the changes made take effect immediately, and are not recorded in the Version History.

  10. From now on, while you are working on any page or derived template that was created from this template, you will notice that you have no access to edit those layout properties.


Locking Down Pop-up Menus

If your template has pop-up menus defined, they can be used (by creating a hyperlink to them) either in the template or in any derived template or page built on that template.  Unless the pop-up menus are locked down in the template, however, they can be revised in the derived templates and pages, thereby breaking inheritance.

Locking down pop-ups involves multiple stages:  locking down each specific pop-up menu, and possibly also locking down the Page-level Menu Properties (see the paragraph after the list of steps):

  1. Login and navigate to the template you are locking down; click on the Manage button on the content-spanning toolbar; select "Pop-up Menus..."

  2. In the resulting dialog window, click on the associated "Element Properties" icon, for each specific pop-up menu.

  3. From the displayed menu, choose the option "Menu Inheritance Security."

  4. From the dialog box, click on the "Change" button in the "Restrictions" section.

  5. In order to fully preserve inheritance, lock all the access rights to the element by checking all of the check boxes ("Author/Edit," "Design," Style," and "Admin").

  6. Click on the "Save" button.

  7. In the Popup Menu Inheritance Security window, click on the "Close" button.

  8. Observe the absence of a new yellow work-in-progress icon on the "Manage Pop-up Menus" window:  the changes made take effect immediately, and are not recorded in the Version History.

  9. Go back to step 2 if any items are not yet locked-down.

  10. Close the "Manage Pop-up Menus" window when you are done modifying the pop-up menus in the template.

  11. From now on, while you are in "Author" or "Edit" mode on any page or derived template that was created from this template, and choose "Manage Pop-up Menus" from the Page and Template Management menu, you will notice that neither the Element Properties icon, , nor the Edit Content icon, are presented for any of the locked-down menus.  The pagemaster or content contributor is therefore not able to edit or change those pop-up menus while in the page or derived template, preserving inheritance.

  12. If you decide to add a new pop-up menu on the template, be sure to lock it down immediately, using the above steps.

[This paragraph is a relic from V 5.1; the ability to lock page level menu properties does not appear to be part of V 6; once that is confirmed, this paragraph will be updated or removed.]  If you lock the page-level menu properties, you will not be able to create any new pop-up menus in the derived templates and pages built on this template.  If you decide not to lock down the page-level menu properties, then you will be able to create such menus, but you will also be able to break inheritance for any of the page-level menu properties (such as font face and size), so that future updates to those properties will not be propagated to the derived template or page.  Therefore, be sure to immediately check, and if necessary set, the page-level menu properties' font and size, as described in steps 10 and 11 of the pop-up menu discussion.


Revising a Derived Template

When you edit a derived template and publish the changes, all pages built on that template are updated accordingly (they "inherit" the changes, providing that inheritance has not been broken).  However, if one of your changes is to delete an element that was on the template, then, before you use the yellow work-in-progress icon to submit the change for publication, the following sequence happens:

  1. Click on the gear wheel icon; click on "more"; select "Delete..."

  2. A "Confirm Delete" lightbox is displayed; click on "Yes" in the lower right if you really mean it.

  3. A "Delete Template Element" lightbox is displayed, asking whether you want to:

  • Delete all instances of this element.  Delete the element from the template and delete the inherited copy on all existing pages that derive from the template.

  • Delete element from template only.  Delete the element from the current template, and therefore from all pages made in the future using this template, but leave originally inherited elements intact on pages that have already been made using this template.  (See warning, below.)

If you choose the former (which is the default with the current version of CommonSpot), then every instance of that element will be removed, irretrievably.  If the element in question was identical everywhere, having been inherited from the template and not modified, then it can be replaced with a single update to the template.  If the element in question had been modified differently on various pages, then each of those separate versions would have to be re-created, one at a time.  This risk that you or a future pagemaster might accidentally destroy multiple content items is a strong motivation to design your template carefully and to keep it locked-down.

If you choose the latter, then those "orphaned" elements on each page will each have to be individually modified for any future updates, because there is no element in the template for them to inherit changes from, and the act of revising the element may break inheritance for the layout element containing it.


There are circumstances (involving already-broken inheritance) where even though the "delete from template only" choice is selected, the elements are in fact deleted irretrievably from the derived templates and pages built on the template being revised.  It is wise to approach with caution any element deletion from a template.  Be sure that you have the resources available to re-construct any content (on that template and any derived template or page built on it) that may be unexpectedly destroyed.

Therefore, we urge you to design your templates with complete elements (which will be kept intact on each page derived from the template) and with phantom "Click here to define the layout" placeholder items, but do not build your templates with any other elements that are phantom "click to define..." or that are intended to be modified on individual pages.  In other words, what belongs in the template are the things that will be the same on all pages built on that template.  For example, the boilerplate should not be in the template, because its content is page-specific.  You can reduce work by copying the boilerplate element from another page and pasting it into your new page, then revise it to show the correct URL and date.  You may also choose to create your page by copying a secondary blank page that includes the boilerplate element, ready to be revised.


Blank Pages Built on a Template

As soon as you have completed each template, you should create a new page based on that template and activate it without modifying it in any way.  This primary blank page will be available to copy (using the methods discussed in the next section) for others working on your subsite to build pages on the new template, even though they may not have access to that template through their template gallery.  We suggest that you choose a name for this primary blank page that is "-blank" appended to the name of the template, or "blank" substituted for "template" in the name of the template.

The first use of the primary blank page is to inspect it while in "Author" mode.  There should be the standard CommonSpot Dashboard tools, and one Layout Properties tool icon for each placeholder, undefined table that is intended for page-specific content, and no other tool icons, at all.  If there are any other tool icons, take note of them, return to "View Page as Published," navigate to the template, go to "Work on this Page," and complete the element inheritance security settings to fully lock down the template, as described above.

If you have a group of pages that will share page elements of the same kind but different contents, you may want to make a secondary blank page, built on the appropriate template, and with additional page elements added.  Once that is done, you can copy that secondary blank page (as described in the next section) to start construction of each of the pages in the group.  Some examples:

  • The Athens Campus Map and Tour pages for each building have different "back" and "next" link destinations, so those navigational buttons should not be in the CommonSpot template, but would be sensible to include in the secondary blank page.

  • The Policy and Procedure Manual pages for each policy (of a given generation) have the same signature block table at the top, but with different contents, so the Formatted Text Block (or Tabular Layout) element should not be in the CommonSpot template, but could sensibly be in the secondary blank page.


Steps for Creating a Blank Page

There are two variations:  if the template appears in your Template Gallery, or if it does not appear there.  The first case is simpler:

  1. Create a new page, choosing the template from the Template Gallery; name the page the same as the template, but with "-blank" appended before the period.  (You may well find the template in the "My Templates" or the "Shared Templates" category of the Template Gallery.)

  2. Activate the new page, inspect it for improper CommonSpot tool icons, and then select "View Page as Published."

In the second case, you should contact OIT by e-mail to servicedesk@ohio.edu, so that we can sort the problem out for you.  In the meantime, there are two work-arounds:  you may be able to identify someone whose template gallery does include that template, and persuade them to follow the above steps, and then to change ownership of that new primary blank page to you.  After that you can find it through "My Content" and then "My Pages..."; go to it; and copy it to start each page you need to build on that template.

If that is not possible, however, you can still create your own blank page, but the process is a bit more complicated:

  1. Copy any page built on that template, using the techniques of the next section.

  2. Select "Work on this Page."

  3. Click on each "Tabular Layout Element" icon, table element properties icon, that does not have a phanton link, "Click here to define Tabular Layout element"; click on "more"; and choose "Restore Inherited Content/Properties."

  4. In the resulting dialog window, click on both check-boxes, for content and for properties.

  5. Click on the "Save" button, and then click on the "OK" button in the next window, to confirm the restoration.

  6. Observe that that layout element now has the phantom link, "Click here to define the layout."

  7. Go back to step 3 if any layouts remain to be restored.

  8. Select "View Page as published" after all of the layouts have been restored.


Steps for Using a Blank Page

Once you have created the blank page, you can use it as follows:

  1. Navigate to the blank page and select "View this Page in CommonSpot."

  2. Copy the page, as described in the next section.

  3. Activate the new page, work on it, and then select "View this Page as Published."

  4. Like any other page, you can return later to the new page that you created in step 2, and select "Work on this Page."


Create New Page (copy existing page)

This method of creating a new page is particularly attractive if there is a page with nearly the same content already on the server, or if the person doing the work does not have access to the appropriate template, but does have access to a blank page that was built on that template. 


From July 19, 2005, through November 16, 2005, the version of CommonSpot that we were using was afflicted with a subtle bug that sometimes corrupted pages made by copying, as described here.  Use the Document Information dialog, discussed in the next section, to learn whether the page you are starting from was created during that time period.  If it was, please do not copy it.  Instead, create a new page on the appropriate template, and copy and paste elements as needed to provide your new page with the correct content.

  1. Login and navigate to the existing page you want to copy.

  2. Select "View Page in CommonSpot" or "View Page as Published."

  3. Click the "Actions" button and select "Copy page..."

    (The menu choice below "Copy Page..." is used to move a page, that is, to change the subsite or sub-subsite that it is located within.  If instead, you want to change the name of a page, without creating a new page, use the Rename Page... choice.)

  4. Use the pop-out menu to select the subsite or sub-subsite within which the new page should be created.  You will only see listed those subsites and sub-subsites that you are authorized to use.  If the sub-subsite you want is not displayed, then click on "Cancel." After the subsite pagemaster has created the sub-subsite, or you have been granted permission to use it, you can return to this process for copying an existing page.

  5. Once the subsite you want is highlighted, click on the "Next" button.

  6. Fill out the page-creation dialog.  The page's name will be part of the URL, as usual; the page's title will be used within CommonSpot to identify the page and must be different from any existing page, including the one you are copying -- hence, you must make a change from the inherited data in this field; the page's title-bar caption will be included in the HTML TITLE of the page, which is routinely the clickable text of the link leading to the page in search engine output.  Therefore, exercise care in the choice of each.  To the extent possible, choose a page title that is unique among your pages, indicative of the content, reasonably terse, and not obscured by the use of acronyms.  When ready, click on the "Save" button. 

  7. Once the page is created, you can activate, revise, etc., as with any CommonSpot page.


Document Information

  1. Click on the skinny orange button if necessary to expand the left column; select Page Details.  You will see a variety of information about the current page, and will have the opportunity to change some of it.  In particular, this dialog permits you:

    • to withdraw a page from public view entirely (to "deactivate" it);

    • to examine the templates from which this page is derived; see also the discussion of walking the template hierarchy, below.

  2. Changing the ownership of the page is now discussed in detail as part of the Advanced Pagemasters material.


Locate a Page


Locate One of Your Own Pages

This is an efficient tool that allows you to quickly find and view any of your pages, templates, and binary documents; it is especially useful when you are the owner of multiple pages within one or more subsites.

  1. Login and navigate to any of your pages; select "View Page in CommonSpot" or "Work on this Page."

  2. Click the "My Content" button on the full-width toolbar, and select "My Pages..."

  3. If necessary, adjust the search criteria at the top and click on the "Filter" button at the top-right in order to include the pages that you want with few enough other pages to be easy to work with.

  4. Click on a page title to go to the specified page.

  5. The selected page appears in the main browser window.

  6. You can also use the "My Pages" lightbox to select  one or more pages to be moved to a different sub-subsite, or to be deleted.


Locate Any Page in Your Subsite

This tool will let you quickly find and view any page in a particular subsite or sub-subsite, including both your own and other pagemasters' or content contributors' pages.

  1. Login and navigate to any of your pages; select "View Page in CommonSpot" or "Work on this Page."

  2. Click on the Admin button in the full-width toolbar.  Choose "Subsite Administration."

  3. Observe the subsite selection listing; scroll down to your subsite; click on it, if it is not already highlighted (or choose a different subsite or sub-subsite, if you wish); click on the Next button in the lower right. The "Subsite Administration" page for the selected subsite or sub-subsite will appear.

  4. Observe the middle section, "Subsite Statistics" and locate the linked number of pages; click on that number.

  5. The resulting dialog works quite similarly to the "My Pages" dialog just discussed:  click on the linked text name of the page to display that page in the main window; click in the check-box to select one or more pages and then move or delete them all at once; etc.


Walking the Template Hierarchy

When you are viewing the page in the CommonSpot Dashboard (whether as published or working on it), click on the Templates button on the content-spanning toolbar; select "Hierarchy..."  Observe that the information provided includes:

  • the templates from which the current page (or template) derives, and the templates from which those derive, down to the base template;

  • a "Siblings" tab that can be selected to list all pages derived from the current page's parent template; and,

  • if the current page is itself a template, a "Descendants" tab that can be selected to list all pages derived directly from the current page.  If any of those descendants are themselves templates, this list will not include any pages derived from those; in other words, it is really a "child-pages" list, no "grandchildren" or more remote descendents are listed.

You can navigate to any listed template or page by clicking on the appropriate linked text.  By taking this menu choice in a sequence of pages and templates, you can navigate to any page related to the one you started with.