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V6 Differences for Classic CommonSpot

A separate page describes the upgrade process, its several phases, and the projected timetable.

People who use the "manage" interface will find that the primary differences are within the Rich Text Editor, where you spend much of your time, but even there the primary changes are limited to the link-building, document-uploading, and image-placement processes.  Further details are provided separately.

This page deals with how to use V6 to work on classic CommonSpot subsites; it is intended for people who are already more-or-less familiar with V5.1, (i.e., who are comfortable with the information in the pages linked through the secondary navigation block at the left).



Overview    Browsers    Javascript    Limitations    Authoring Interface Changes

Building Links    Render Options    References

Classic CommonSpot FAQ for V6


V6 Overview

CommonSpot version 6 is a major upgrade.  We believe that once you are familiar with the new authoring interfaces, you will find them to be a significant enhancement.  We believe you will find that an initial investment of effort and time is required to become familiar with the new ways to work in CommonSpot V6.  The V6 upgrade process therefore includes an opportunity for subsite pagemaster and content contributor experimentation, so that you can begin that learning process ahead of time, and so that we can identify and resolve any issues that might otherwise disrupt your work.


Browser Issues

We are installing CommonSpot V6.2 now; version, V6.2 does officially support Firefox 5 and Internet Explorer 9.  Please do not update your browser beyond Firefox 3.6 or Internet Explorer 8 yet, because Firefox 4 and 5 and Internet Explorer 9 are known not to work with CommonSpot V5.1 -- wait until after the upgrade to V6.2 is completed.

We have encountered multiple bugs in V 6 that affect only Internet Explorer; the work-around is to use Firefox.  Therefore, every Windows user who will be creating or updating CommonSpot pages should install Firefox (you can also get those instructions through the "Authoring Browsers" link in the secondary navigation block on the upper left).

During testing with FireFox 3.6, you may notice that the cursor is hard (or impossible) to see while editing.


Javascript Issue Workaround for Testing

The various javascript files that are involved in CommonSpot authoring are written and tested as a group for each version of CommonSpot.  Trying to author with CommonSpot while your browser is using javascript files from more than one version of CommonSpot is likely to create mysterious, frustrating, unpredictable issues.  Clearing your browser's cache ("deleting temporary internet files" in Internet Explorer, or "Clear Recent History" in FireFox), will ensure that your browser is not using a version of any of the files that belongs to the other version of CommonSpot (you may safely leave "cookies" in place).  During the preliminary testing and experimentation, you should do this every time you change between test (V6) and production (V 5.1).  You should also do it again, one last time, after we have upgraded the production system to V6.  You can automate this by the following settings adjustments during the testing phase:

  • For IE, go to Tools, Internet Options, and then click on the "Settings" button for the "Browsing history" section in the middle of the General tab; in the first set of options, "Check for newer versions of stored pages:" select the first choice, "Every time I visit the webpage."

  • For Firefox, go to Tools, Options, Privacy tab, check "Clear history when Firefox closes," click on the Settings button, and ensure that "Cache" is checked.


Limitations of the Current Test Environment

We believe that most, if not all, of the limitations described next will be resolved before the upgrade:

  1. The test environment is not available from off-campus. 

  2. If you have not already done so, you must update your browser's configuration so that it will trust the test servers, not just the production servers.  See the "Authoring Browsers" page (also linked from the secondary navigation block at the upper left); from there you can link to the step-by-step instructions for FireFox and for Internet Explorer.

  3. The test authoring server is an appreciably weaker machine than the production authoring server; therefore, many activities will be perceptibly slower during testing than they will in production.

  4. You can still force a login by going to your subsite's admin.cfm page; however, in V6 the result is to display the CommonSpot dashboard page in its subsite administration mode, for your subsite (see the discussion of the new authoring user interface in the next section).   We suggest that you should generally start your test sessions by going to http://authortest.oit.ohio.edu/secure.cfm, and plan to start your real sessions after the upgrade by going to http://author.oit.ohio.edu/secure.cfm. Please let us know if you encounter any problems logging in.

  5. If you start working in CommonSpot, and then do other things for so long that your session expires (typically 20 minutes of inactivity), it will display a generic, non-Ohio University login dialog that you cannot use:

    Un-usable V6 Login Lightbox

    The vendor is working on this issue; a fix may be in place before mid-August.  In the meantime, if you get the above login lightbox (without the red editorial comment, of course), there are two ways to work around this problem:  you may either quit the browser and start over, or manually go to http://authortest.oit.ohio.edu/secure.cfm (where your browser will automatically renew your session) -- either by typing the URL into the address box, or by using a bookmark -- and then manually return to the page you were working on, and reload it.  As with V5.1 in such a situation, un-saved work in progress (e.g., within the Rich Text Editor) is likely to be lost.

  6. Manage Pop-Up Menus may not work with Internet Explorer:  existing pop-up menus continue to function, and changes are possible through FireFox.  This issue appears to have been fixed in V 6.2.

  7. Image Grid elements may well not work:  existing image grids continue to function, and changes may be possible through FireFox.  This issue has been reported to the vendor.

  8. Global Edit Text Fields do not work.  This issue has been reported to the vendor.

  9. Changing ownership of a page or template may generate an error message, but it works.  This issue has been reported to the vendor.

  10. Changing the subsitewide default value of the number of days of version history to display may generate an error message, but it works.  This issue has been reported to the vendor.

  11. Don't try to use the "Quick Find" feature (located in the top-center of the full-width menus -- see the third illustration in the Author Interface Changes section, immediately below); it does not work.  If you try to use it, you will not be able to do anything until it times out, after 120 seconds, and then you must use the browser's reload or refresh before you can do anything else (and that will destroy un-saved work-in-progress).  This issue has been reported to the vendor.

We will update this list as our understanding, or the facts, change.


Authoring Interface Changes

After you have logged in to the V6 authoring server and navigated to the page you want to work on, you will see that the three tabs (Tools & Information, Page View, and Properties & Actions) that used to live at the top center and right are gone.  Instead, the starting point is a small, square pencil tool icon at the very upper-right corner of the page:

Authoring Tool - V6

The chartreuse circle in the illustration above highlights that pencil icon.  Until you put your mouse over it, it will  be "faded" and harder to see.  Click on it to evoke the primary authoring menu:

Authoring Menu - V6

"Work on this page" is equivalent to the old "Author" mode; if others have work-in-progress on the page, then there will also be another choice, "Work on this page (All Changes)," which is equivalent to the old "Edit" mode.

After you select "View Page in CommonSpot," "Work on this page," or "Work on this page (All Changes)," the page will be re-displayed within the new "CommonSpot Dashboard," as shown here (for this graphic, we have added a blue overlay on the full-width toolbar, and a red overlay on the content-spanning toolbar):

CommonSpot Authoring User Interface

(click on the image to see it full size).

  1. The pencil tool at the upper-right is replaced by a big blue "X"; clicking on the blue "X" will return to the direct, read-mode view, with the pencil tool.

  2. The old chartreuse bar across the top of inactive pages is no more.  Instead, the only visual cue that a page is not active is the presence of the orange "Activate" button at the upper right, with the same color as, and adjacent to, the "Preview" button.

  3. If you chose "View Page in CommonSpot," then no authoring tools will be displayed in the page content area.  This is effectively the old Read mode view, but with the dashboard's tools available.  To get from this condition into Author or Edit mode, click on the "View" button in the new top-spanning toolbar, and choose "Work on this Page" or "Work on this Page (All Changes)."

  4. If you chose "Work on this Page," or "Work on this Page (All Changes)," then the page content area will include the various CommonSpot authoring tool icons.  Many of those, such as the "gear wheel" element properties icon, will be quite familiar to those who have worked with V5.1.  Thing are emphatically "new and different," however, at the top and left of the page:

    • There are two rows of buttons and links all the way across at the very top, and two more rows all the way across the top of the page content area; they, and their associated menus, are new (although many of their actions will be familiar).

    • There is a new left column; the chartreuse circle in the image above highlights a thin orange button that hides or shows the left column, including the Page Details, Page Tools, and Page View menus and the several tool icons in the orange block at the bottom; by default the left column is hidden, and the orange button appears at the left margin of the page, where it is easy to miss.

    • Warning!  While you are in the CommonSpot Dashboard, whether working on a page or doing subsite administration tasks, BEWARE using your browser's "reload" or "refresh" function when any lightboxes are visible.  Any work in progress in such a lightbox (e.g., the Rich Text Editor) will be lost if you do that!

Collectively, the top buttons and the left column's tools provide access to complete all the tasks that you used to do by working through the menus of the three old tabs (Tools & Information, Page View, and Properties & Actions).  Many common tasks are now simpler; for example, to see your work in progress in Preview Mode, you just click on the orange Preview button at the upper-right; it used to require clicking on the View Modes menu, sliding down with the mouse (being careful to stay over the menu, so it wouldn't collapse), and clicking on Preview.

Most actions that used to bring up a separate window now operate through a "lightbox"; for example, the Rich Text Editor (still used to create and update Formatted Text Blocks) looks like this:

Rich Text Editor V6 Lightbox

The RTE lightbox is constrained to stay within the content area of the main browser window, but you can move it around by dragging it with the mouse when the mouse is over the outer parts of the lightbox (wherever the mouse displays as a four-pointed star), and you can click near the upper-right corner to maximize it.  As with V5.1, each of the four segments of the toolbar at the top of the RTE has its own overflow button with additional choices, RTE Menu Expansion Tool Icon , at the right end of the segment.


Building Links

As in V5.1, when you are building a link from text in a Formatted Text Block, first select the text to be linked, then click on the chain tool icon.  You will see a new dialog for constructing the link:

  • When building a link to a CommonSpot page, select a Type of "Page or Bookmark on Page" and then click on "Choose" (which replaces the old Page Gallery).  The list will include pages, but will not include uploaded documents.

  • When building a link to an already uploaded document, select a Type of "Uploaded document" and then click on "Choose from current subsite..." or "Choose..."  The list will include uploaded documents and images, but will not include CommonSpot pages.

  • When building a link to a non-CommonSpot page, select a Type of "Unregistered URL or Relative Internal URL" (the last choice on that pop-up).  If it is a non-CommonSpot URL, be sure to give the entire URL, starting with "http://".

It is again possible to build a link that opens in a new window while leaving the location and size of that window un-specified; you can also click on the "default" button to deposit standard values that are the same as V5, and hence are rarely better than what the browser will do on its own if you leave them blank.  You may well want to update existing such links, removing the numbers that you used in V5.


Render Options

In CommonSpot before V6, the official_pages1 template was built on a base template that used the "Render Options" feature to permit control of page width, presence or absence of the site-wide navigation bar just below the header, and custom vs. standard text in the footer.  The Render Options mechanism is not available in CommonSpot V6.  We plan to update the header section of the template so that your pages more closely match the Front Door shortly after the upgrade to V6, but otherwise your pages will remain as they are, with each render option as it was when we upgraded from CommonSpot V5.1 to V6; you don't lose any page content, but you do lose the ability to control those aspects of the page's presentation.

Please contact OIT (servicedesk@ohio.edu; 593-1222) if this is an issue for your subsite.



Each of our pages documenting classic CommonSpot for V5.1 is being revised for V6:

When the upgrade is finished, we will swap each of these in, replacing the corresponding V5.1 page that is in place now.

You may well also find some of the following useful to begin your familiarization with V6:

We will add other items as they come to our attention.