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pagemasters toolbox -- classic commonspot

V6 Authoring Tools in Classic CommonSpot


Table of Contents

These items are organized according to the locations that they had in the tab menus in CommonSpot V5.  Those tabs and their menus are gone in V6, but we believe that many of those with authoring responsibilities for classic CommonSpot pages will think about them in terms of their former locations.



These discussions of various tools leave many of the details as an "exercise for the reader."  We hope that by the time you get to this, you will be comfortable in CommonSpot.  If we are in error, please let us know!


Other Properties & Actions Tools


Pending Actions

This provides a summary of a variety of situations that you are likely to be interested in:  pages with work-in-progress, pages that CommonSpot knows have broken links, etc.

  1. Login; navigate to any of your pages; click on the pencil tool icon at the upper-right and select View Page in CommonSpot, Work on this Page, or Work on this Page (All Changes), so that you are in the CommonSpot Dashboard.

  2. Click on the "My CommonSpot" link:  the leftmost item in the second row of the full-width toolbar at the top.

  3. Observe the main content section of that page, in the center and left.  The work in progress (pages that contain edited content that has not yet been submitted for publication) is separated into two groups:  anyone's changes to pages that you own, and your changes to anyone's pages.  The several categories may not be populated immediately; please allow a minute or two to see the complete lists.  There is a maximum number of entries displayed in each group by default; if you have more pages with changes pending in either group than the default number, there will be a link at the lower-left of that group, such as, "20 more"; click on that link to see the full list.


Content Expiration

This creates a mechanism to notify you when it is time to review page content to see whether any updates are needed.  You can also mark content as expired, so that it will not be visible to non-administrators.  When content has expired, you can set CommonSpot to automatically redirect any non-administrator who attempts to access the page, taking that user to the proper URL of your choice.

Some of the people who try to access the expired page will do so by following a link from another CommonSpot page.  For those people, you can speed their access to the proper URL by telling CommonSpot to update any other CommonSpot page that has a link leading to the expired page, changing the destination of that link.  That method is discussed online under the title, "Referring Pages."

You would still also do the steps below, for the benefit of people who come to your expired page from another system, and to prevent any other pagemaster or content contributor from linking to your expired page. 

  1. Login and navigate to your page whose content you are concerned to keep up-to-date, or to mark as out-of-date. 

  2. Click on the pencil tool icon at the upper-right and select Work on this Page, or Work on this Page (All Changes).

  3. Click the "Properties" (at the left end of the top row of the content-spanning toolbar), and select "Standard...".

  4. The (content) "Expiration" section is near the bottom of the Standard Properties lightbox.

  5. You can specify either no expiration (by clicking on "Clear") or a specific date (by clicking on the calendar icon, and then clicking on the date twice).

  6. Once a date is selected, you will see the action choices.  Those action choices are no action, notifying yourself, denying the general public access to the content, everyone access to the content, and re-directing users to another page.  In the usual case of redirecting:

    • If you redirect to a CommonSpot page, then use the "Choose" button to make the link; the pages will be listed in order by filename, rather than by title.

    • If you redirect to a non-CommonSpot page, then be sure to type the full URL, starting with "http://".

  7. Don't forget to click on "Next" or "Save" when you are done.


Renaming a Page

When you rename a page, it will not let you over-write an existing page (although the error message may be misleading, complaining about a title collision instead of a name collision).  If you have a page that should replace an existing page (e.g., "new_index" should replace "index"), perhaps because you have re-built it using a different template, then you must first delete the existing page or rename it (e.g., to "old_index"), and then rename the new page in to replace it.  There will unavoidably be a short period of time when anyone attempting to access the page will be told that it doesn't exist.

When you move or rename a CommonSpot page, any CommonSpot pages with links to that page will be updated to point to the page in its new location or new name, provided that those links were constructed with the Page Gallery or Page Finder dialogs in prior versions of CommonSpot, or the "Choose" dialog in V6.  Therefore, if you are using the rename command to replace an existing page, we suggest that you first go to the old page, before re-naming or deleting it, use the "Referring Pages" process, discussed elsewhere, to point all internal-to-CommonSpot links to the new page, and then do the rename process.

If you want to change the subsite or sub-subsite where the page is located, use the move option in the "Copy/Move Page..." process, discussed earlier.

  1. Login and navigate to your page whose name you want to change. 

  2. Click on the pencil tool icon at the upper-right and select Work on this Page, or Work on this Page (All Changes).

  3. Click the "Actions" button (near the left end of the top row of the content-spanning toolbar), and  select "Rename Page...".

  4. Specify the Name (which will have ".cfm" appended to become the last part of the URL), the Title (which is the internal-to-CommonSpot identifier), and the Title Bar Caption (which becomes the TITLE in the HEAD section of the generated HTML).

  5. Click on the "Save" button.


Clear & Update Cache

In order to improve performance, CommonSpot maintains several files on the server disk drives that contain variant versions of each page, ready for sending to the different browser types.  Whenever a page is modified, those cache files must be erased, and then re-created.  At times, the automatic clearing fails; one-page-at-a-time clearing is possible:

  1. Login, navigate to the problem page, click on the pencil tool icon in the upper-right, and select "Work on Page."

  2. Click on the Action button on the content-wide toolbar; select the last choice, "Clear & Update Cache..."

The cache files will be erased and the page will be re-displayed (forcing immediate creation of the cache files appropriate to the browser in use).

It is also possible to perform a subsitewide clearing of these cache files.


My Tasks

The "My Tasks" feature was never used on Ohio University's CommonSpot system, and the feature is not even part of CommonSpot V6.


Other Page View Tools

Inspect Version History

CommonSpot's Version History mechanism lets you see what the site content used to be, and restore it to an earlier state.  Not all changes are recorded in the Version History, though, so some manual restoration may also be required.  In particular, changes that take effect immediately, as discussed previously, including features that can be changed using the "Properties" dialog for the page, such as page background color, are not recorded in the Version History.  Only versions that had (yellow) work-in-progress icons and were approved for public visibility ("published") will be included in the version history.  When the current version is the first and only version ever published, no list may be generated.  All prior versions are in the database, but the length of time that prior versions are reported in the Version History list is limited.  That limit can be set on a subsite-wide basis; the default currently in place for Ohio University's CommonSpot installation is 30 days.  You can also change this value for a specific page by clicking on the "Change" link at the top of the left column in step 4, here:

  1. Login and navigate to your page whose version history you want to inspect. 

  2. Click on the pencil tool icon at the upper-right and select Work on this Page, or Work on this Page (All Changes).

  3. If the left column of the dashboard is not visible, click on the narrow orange button to expand it, and then click on the "Page Versions" tool icon in the orange block at the bottom (if you let the mouse rest over each icon, it will display a text box describing what that tool does).

  4. Observe the displayed information starting at the top of the left column (such as revision date and time, the identity of the author responsible for the page changes, and a link to see the comments from the author at the time that version was published).  If the author did not provide any comments at the time when he or she submitted the change for publication, there won't be any here to help you identify the version you want!

  5. If you click in two of the versions' check-boxes, and then click on the "visual differences" display (at the bottom of the left column, just above the orange block), CommonSpot will display the page in a lightbox organized to help you to identify what the differences are.


Use Version History to Recover

As you will see in the steps below, CommonSpot provides a mechanism for you to restore prior content.  At this time, such restoration to a prior version must be done manually, one element at a time:  there is no method available that puts the entire page back to the way it was.  Restoration includes only element states that were published; cosmetic changes that occur immediately, without having to be submitted for publication, are not available in the Version History, and so cannot be restored.

In prior versions of CommonSpot, the use of the Version History feature to recover previous content could not be relied upon to function as expected.  Therefore, until we have accumulated more positive experience with the current version of CommonSpot, we urge you always to make a copy, using a different filename, of the current version of the page before you attempt to use Version History to recover a prior version of the page's content.  This will preserve the current version only -- the version history is not copied along with the file, only the current version.  If your efforts succeed, then do your housekeeping, and delete that saved copy of the page.

  1. Follow steps 1 through 4, immediately above, to inspect the version history. 

  2. In the left column, click on the date and time (boldfaced and underlined) of the version you want to view.

  3. In the upper-right corner, if you have the pencil icon, select "Work on this Page"; if you have a blue "X" in the upper-right, then choose "Work on this Page" from the View menu on the content-spanning toolbar.

  4. Observe the prior version without the authoring mode tool icons, except that, for each element that is different, there is a "revert" icon at the upper-left corner of the element.  Examine each such element.  If it is better than the current version, for whatever reason, you may choose to re-activate it by clicking on the "revert" icon , and choosing "Revert Content" from the resulting menu.

  5. This will bring up a "Restore Version" lightbox.  Click Restore to confirm restoration.  Doing so will put you back into the current version, but with that element now being "Work-in-Progress" that if published would restore the prior version of that element.  The Version History display will now include a non-published work-in-progress version at the top.

  6. You can repeat steps 1 through 5 to revert other elements, one at a time, to prior versions, accumulating work-in-progress in the current version.  You may choose to revert one element to a prior version from one date, and a different element to a prior version from a different date.

    If you want to restore the page to a state in which an element that currently exists was not present, then delete that element from the current version.

  7. Once you have restored the content to the state you want, click on the yellow icon and submit the entire page for publication, which will install this as a newest version, available in the Version History.  Be sure to include appropriate comments; usually it is helpful to include "reverting [element] to version of [date and time]".

  8. After the change is published, inspect the Version History in the left column; observe that each version is listed with comments and the date and time that it was published, but that there is no identification for any version as to which other, prior version(s) it was copied from, if any.  This is one of the reasons why it is particularly wise to form the habit of providing comments when you submit a page for publication!

    In the example illustration below, content from the June 1, 2003, version was restored on August 20, 2003:


Other Tools & Information Tools



  1. Login and navigate to the page whose changes you want to monitor. 

  2. Click on the pencil tool icon at the upper-right and select View Page in CommonSpot, Work on this Page, or Work on this Page (All Changes).

  3. Click the "Actions" button (in the content-spanning toolbar at the top) to display the menu, and then choose "Subscribe to Changes...".

  4. Choose whether to be notified of any changes to the current page by E-mail or by the My CommonSpot display, or by both methods.

  5. When you are done, click on the "Save" button.

  6. Once you have subscribed, you can see a list of all the pages you are subscribed to, and from that list manage those subscriptions, in two ways:

    • Click on the "Tools" button (in the content-spanning toolbar at the top) to display the menu and choose "My Subscriptions."

    • Click on the "My CommonSpot" button (in the content-spanning toolbar at the top), examine the "Reminders" block on the right side, and click on "Subscriptions."


What's New...

This feature has been retired.  The functionality can be achieved in large part through "My CommonSpot" and the Reports menu (adjust the default report to filter by date modified, for example).


Page Finder

This feature has been retired.  The functionality can be achieved in large part through the Quick Find feature and the Reports menu (with appropriate filtering).



CommonSpot maintains two internal databases of keywords that apply to each page: those provided by the page's author through the Properties button's Standard choice, which are visible to all logged-in CommonSpot users and are included in the META tags of the generated page, and those provided by other individual CommonSpot users, which are visible to themselves only, while using CommonSpot.


Finding Subsite Pages by Their Keywords

The following procedure can be used to find pages according to the keywords that have been assigned to them within CommonSpot by the page's author:

  1. Login and navigate to a page in the subsite you want to check.

  2. Click on the pencil icon at the top-right; seclect View Page in CommonSpot.

  3. Click on the Admin button on the full-width toolbar at the top; select Subsite Administration; the current subsite will be chosen -- scroll and choose another subsite you want to change; click on Next.

  4. Click on the Content Classification heading in the left column; then click on Manage Keywords.

  5. It will build a lightbox listing all the keywords that are assigned to pages in that subsite, with a "usage" column showing the number of pages for each keyword entry (the numbers will be linked); an adjacent column will similarly list and link "image usage" for images that have had those keywords assigned.  In a large subsite, this may take several minutes, which will seem like a very long time while the lightbox just has two curved arrows chasing each other and the word, "loading..."; be patient.

  6. Click on the Usage number to build a lightbox with a list of the pages whose keyword entries include the one on that row.

  7. Click on the link for any page you want to examine.

  8. Click on the "Close" button when you are done, if the lightbox is still open.


Adding Personal Keywords

The personal keywords feature in prior versions of CommonSpot has been replaced by "My Tags."  The following procedure can be used to add personal tags for the page currently being displayed:

  1. Click the "Manage" button in the content-spanning toolbar to display the menu, and then select "My Tags...".

  2. Observe whether you have already provided tags, so as to avoid duplication.

  3. Click in the box and type an applicable tag, or multiple tags, with a comma between words. Consider whether or not to choose tags that are already provided by the author (the Keyword View... dialog will let you see those).

    You may also choose tags from the list provided when you click on the "Select Tags..." button.

  4. Click on the "OK" button when done adding tags.


Finding Pages by Keyword or Text Searching

Use the "Find..." option from the "Tools" menu in the full-width toolbar at the top.  By default, it will search using the keywords from the Standard Metadata and also the keywords from your My Tags, for each page. 

You can also use the search feature in the upper-right corner of this page, the Front Door, or any other official page constructed on a template that provides the ohio.edu search.  If you need more control of your search, use the existing custom search capabilities.



The contact information will be available in "Read" mode to anyone who can use the CommonSpot Dashboard (any page whose subsite general security or specific page security permits the CommonSpot Interface; by default this applies for the "authenticated" category, those who have used their Ohio ID and password in this session). It is not routinely available to the anonymous audience category.

  1. Login and navigate to the page whose Contacts you want to examine or modify. 

  2. Click on the pencil tool icon at the upper-right and select Work on this Page or Work on this Page (All Changes).

  3. Click on the "Manage" button in the content-spanning toolbar at the top, and choose "Contacts" from the menu.

  4. Click on "Add contact(s)" and then click on the "Choose" button.

  5. Click on one person to highlight that individual; if the person you seek is not listed (at most 200 will be listed), click on the letter that is the first letter in that person's last name.

  6. Click in the "Responsibility Description" box and type a brief description of the selected individual's role in reference to this page.

  7. Click on the "Save" button at the bottom.


My Notes

Click on the "Manage" button on the content-spanning toolbar at the top to display the menu, and choose "Notes" from the menu.

These notes are visible to you alone, and can be seen and revised when using the CommonSpot dashboard (equivalent to being in the old "Read" mode or in "Author" mode).


See-Also References

The "Links" menu on the content-spanning toolbar at the top includes a "See-Also References" choice. Because that information is internal to CommonSpot, you should generally instead choose to make an explicit, visible (text or graphic) link to whatever you might be tempted to list as a See-Also Reference.