OpenLab Help pages
September 15, 2020 at 3:03 pm #8520
First of all, I want to just say that I am grateful for this community putting up with all my questions about OpenLab. I don’t know why my server has had such a rough go at it or why I seem to find more bugs than other places, but I wanted to let you know that I appreciate the help I have been given.
Today I am struggling a little bit trying to get Help pages set up. As a model I am bouncing back and forth between CityTech’s help pages trying to understand how the organization works.
Problem 1: Getting the sidebar to appear on the main help page.
With the help page that was autogenerated when I installed openlab, I can’t seem to get the sidebar to appear. When I go to page templates, I have 2 different page templates that are labeled “help.” When I activate either of those page templates, my content disappears, but the sidebar is visible. When I go back to the standard template, I see my content, but no sidebar.
Is it a bug that I have two help templates? (see screenshot of multiple help templates)
Problem 2: The “Our Support Team Widget”
On my site, every picture in our media gallery is currently being shown as “Our Support Team” when the sidebar is shown. I can’t find where and how to edit what widgets are shown in the help sidebar or how to edit that specific widget.
Just a general question:
When I was looking over the City Tech OpenLab pages, I couldn’t help but notice that in addition to the help pages, they have created a simple WordPress website called using openlab for students. If you were starting from scratch creating help docs, would you use the help pages functionality in Commons in a Box or would you just build a separate WordPress site?
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.September 28, 2020 at 7:50 pm #8525RayKeymaster
I can confirm both bugs.
For the first issue, you can temporarily patch
page.phpwith the following: https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/openlab-theme/pull/294/files
For the second issue, you can temporarily patch
sidebar-help.phpwith the following: https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/openlab-theme/pull/295/files
For your general question, that’s going to be a decision that you and your organization will have to make. If you need something more comprehensive, then a new sub-site housing further documentation and perhaps using a theme better suited as a knowledge base could be something to consider.
At the moment, the OpenLab theme doesn’t use a widget sidebar for help pages. So if you wanted to customize the sidebar with additional widgets, that is not currently possible. Keep an eye on this ticket for updates: https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/openlab-theme/issues/219
Hope that helps.September 29, 2020 at 10:44 am #8526
I applied both patches and of course, they work just as you described. Thanks for the response and the fix.October 8, 2020 at 12:03 pm #8535
Hi Ed – a belated note to say hi and that we’re delighted to have you here – you’ve definitely surfaced some bugs, to the benefit of others. So please don’t hold back! 🙂
Re the OpenLab for Students (https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/openlabforstudents/), we just created it – along with Teaching with the OpenLab for faculty (https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/teachingwithopenlab/) – in response to the pandemic, but are kicking ourselves for not doing this sooner! 🙂 We built them both as standalone sites as they’re being integrated into programs run by other teams at the college (e.g. student orientation), so a modular approach seemed like the right way to go.
Our Help on the City Tech OpenLab has accreted over many years and we are aiming to do some reorganization (hopefully this year, though with everything that’s going on it’s hard to commit to a timeline). It’s also on our list to come up with a more robust Help solution for CBOX OpenLab.
In the meantime, of course, you’re very welcome to leverage anything we’ve created. Bear in mind that, while they’re very similar, there are some differences between the City Tech OpenLab and CBOX OpenLab.
The City Tech OpenLab’s Help does use some custom functionality, as you’ll have seen. Bree can give you more details about the plugins we’re using, and we’re happy to answer any other questions you may have.
Finally, you might also be interested to know that we just heard CBOX OpenLab will be receiving funds from the CUNY-wide OER initiative enabling us to create a WP plugin that will allow members to export any site for others to import into their own installation, and vice versa. (This is necessary because the existing WordPress exporter doesn’t include images and other uploaded files, but instead downloads them from the source at the time of import; because of group privacy and other settings we need everything to be bundled into a zip.) This will make it much easier for people to share content across WP installations.October 8, 2020 at 12:22 pm #8536
We ended up creating a subdomain. We felt like that gave us the possibility of using a theme that was designed to be a knowledgebase. Thanks for openly licensing your content! Our help pages are cloned from yours for now. (My student intern is working on this project, and I will continue to help her as she does this work, including giving a better attribution to OpenLab for the original work)
If the clone tool is still being developed, you might want to look into how Pressbooks does it’s clone feature. As another large system built on top of WordPress multisite, they created an API where one Pressbooks can clone another Pressbooks even if they are not on the same system. First, it checks to make sure the site is openly licensed, and only if it is it can make a new copy for you.
There are definitely some major differences between the intention and format of Pressbooks vs OpenLab, but since they have similar architecture underpinning it (WordPress Multisite) and the Pressbooks code is all openly licensed, it may be worth looking into.October 8, 2020 at 12:36 pm #8538BreeParticipant
Hi Ed,Just to follow up on Charlie’s message, these are the plugins we use for City Tech OpenLab Help:
And I’m happy to answer any other questions I can!October 8, 2020 at 1:02 pm #8539
- Ambrosite Next/Previous Post Link Plus – for next/back navigation
- Category Order and Taxonomy Terms Order – to determine the order of categories (which are used for the sidebar menu)
And thanks, Ed – we’ll take a look!October 28, 2020 at 11:30 am #8564
Charlie and everyone,
It was so nice meeting everyone today. I sincerely appreciate it. If any of you would like to see the Pressbooks cloning features, how we use it, and what we have learned from it (I probably clone 2 Pressbooks a week for faculty through our OER initiative) I would be so happy to share.
There are several things (probably more than that) that the Pressbooks cloning feature does really well.
- You initiate it from your site, and you can clone other subsites on the same installation or you can clone from external installations.
- Pressbooks checks to make sure the other site is Creative Commons Licensed. If it is, you move on to the next step, if not, it stops.
- You then receive a list of pages, and you have checkboxes of whether to take all of them or choose individual chapters or pages. In this screen you also have the option to copy the pages to your site but leave them unpublished as drafts.
- Once it is copied over, there is clear metadata that it is a copied site. The site footer automatically reads (for example):
<h3 class=”block__subtitle”>BOOK SOURCE</h3>
This book is a cloned version of SOU-CCJ230 Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System by Alison S. Burke, David Carter, Brian Fedorek, Tiffany Morey, Lore Rutz-Burri, and Shanell Sanchez, published using Pressbooks by Open Oregon Educational Resources under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license. It may differ from the original.
- Once you start the process, there is a progress bar that lets you know current activity. (This was a huge quality of life improvement from when we first started. These sites and books can get huge, and just knowing that it is still working and that it is not a hanging operation was really important)
- All of this is done without downloaded files and reuploaded archive files, which means that it is possible without running into PHP limits on file size.
Like I said, although Pressbooks and Commons in a Box have slightly different purposes and audiences, I imagine that a lot of the functionality they have would overlap. The user stories might be useful at least, even if the code itself isn’t.
Again, so nice to meet you all!October 28, 2020 at 12:14 pm #8565
It was great to meet you all – thanks again for inviting us! And this is very helpful – thanks, Ed! We’ll take you up on this offer when we start working on this feature. 🙂December 14, 2020 at 3:11 pm #8708
Bree, quick question: We looked into the Ambrosite Next/Previous Post Link Plus plugin, but the team is concerned that it hasn’t been updated in nine years. Have you had any issues with this, and/or ever looked for a better-maintained substitute in case of future incompatibility issues?
SyelleDecember 15, 2020 at 1:35 pm #8721BreeParticipant
We are aware that the plugin hasn’t been updated, but we haven’t had an issue with it. That said, we should probably look for an alternative before it does actually become a problem. 🙂
If we find a replacement I’ll let you know.
And FWIW, we like the approach Ed and his team took with creating help as a separate site using a knowledgebase theme. Revising the City Tech OpenLab help is on our to-do list, and it’s definitely one possibility we’ll be looking at.
Bree 🙂December 16, 2020 at 8:38 pm #8728
Ed, we love the knowledge-base theme you found. Could you tell us which one it is?
And one more follow-up question: You wrote to Charlie on 8/8 “Our help pages are cloned from yours for now.” Did you mean that you copied and pasted? (Copying and pasting and then editing/adapting is how I’ve been using content from CityTech’s help documentation, to create ours; I just wanted to make sure that you weren’t referencing a fancier way!)
Thank you!December 16, 2020 at 9:13 pm #8730
The theme is iKnow: https://wordpress.org/themes/iknow/
Yes, we just copy and pasted content since it was shared with a creative commons license. I guess eventually we will be able to clone from site to site. I’m happy to share anything I can if it is helpful, like I could share a backup file of what we are using. It is still a work in progress though!December 21, 2020 at 8:47 am #8734
Thanks for the theme, Ed!
Syelle Graves, PhD
Learning Experience Designer
The Library and the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (CETLS) at Borough of Manhattan Community College
The City University of New York
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
OpenLab Help Docs: https://openlab.bmcc.cuny.edu/help/
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