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Item permissions and remembering your defaults

We’ve listened to your feedback and we’re pleased to announce that we have two new features for Channels editors.


Want to allow a certain group of people, or selected individuals to collaborate with you on your News, Events, and Announcement items? Now you can select them on all News, Events, and Announcements posting/editing forms. Just go to the last tab, labelled “Permissions”, and select the individuals or groups to whom you wish to give editing rights, using a tool similar to the channel selector. Note, that the people who appear in the list are only those who have News, Events, or Announcements posting rights themselves. You will also see a list of Active Directory groups to which you belong — you can assign item permissions to an AD group, not just individual people. Once the item is saved, it should show up in the “My Items” page for those who have access to it.

Saved Preferences

If you find that you are always choosing the same channels over and over, this feature is for you. It’s simple — just click the box beside “Make this my default selection” underneath the channel selector, and these channels will be selected by default on every new item you post. In addition, this feature is available for Permissions as well, so if you are collaborating on a regular basis with the same individuals or groups, you may want to save your preferences on the Permissions tab in the same way.

“My Items” page

Based upon your feedback, we have added a “my items” page, which lists the last 50 items you have saved. This is handy if you need to quickly find the items you were last working on, or to locate the items that won’t go live until some time in the future (these are a bit tricky to get to).

“My Items” page

Good and poor feedback

Thank you all for your feedback! All of it is extremely useful, and all of it is receiving immediate attention.

However, there is two kinds of feedback — good feedback, and poor feedback. Here are a few examples of good feedback:

«I have added an announcement to the “collaboration” channel (item id 100011), but it doesn’t seem to have appeared in the block on “www.mcgill.ca/collaboration/webgroup/”.»
«When I try to add an event using Firefox 3 or Safari on Mac OS X, the time sliders in the seem to not work.»
«I cannot seem to post to the “collaboration” channel, even though I used to be able to in the past.»

These are good because they give us all the necessary information we need to start looking into what is going on. We know what is not working for you, what you were trying to do, and what browser you were using at the time.

The following, however, is what would be classified as “poor feedback:”

«Channels do not work on my page.»

«Block seems to display wrong data on /collaboration/projects/.»

«I tried to post, but got an error.»

These are “poor” because they tell us that there is a problem, but not what the problem is, or how to go about replicating or fixing it. The first example does not tell us on which page the problem occurs, so we can’t replicate it. Unless we can replicate the problem, we cannot tell what the problem is, or even how to fix it. The second example tells us where to look for the problem, but does not explain what exactly is wrong with the data. The third one does not tell us what error message you received, and so we don’t know what exactly went wrong.

When we receive “poor” feedback, it means that we have to get back in touch with you in order to get the necessary data, and that takes extra time (that is not spent fixing the actual problem). When we have other tasks in the queue, it’s easy to give preference to “good” feedbacks and put the “poor” ones on the proverbial “backburner.”

So, keep it coming — it’ll all be addressed, and hopefully all of it fixed — but do keep in mind that the better the feedback, the faster your problem will be solved. 🙂

New feature for editors

In order to make the transition from the old system of News, Events, and Announcements to Channels a bit easier, we’ve added a new feature on the “Contribute” forms. It’s a character countdown that auto-updates as you type into one of the short Description fields. While you’re inside the limit, the number will appear brown, however once you go over the limit, the number will become negative and also turns red. The limit is 400 characters, and applies to both French and English fields. If you leave a very long description in either short Description field, you will be warned when you submit your data that it will be truncated.

The instructions on the Description tab have also changed to reflect this new feature. We strongly encourage you to make use of the flexibility of the new system by only entering a short synopsis of your Channels item in the short Description field, and afterwards, if you have a lot of details, please enter them into the Long Description field.

Check out the following images (click on them to view full size) for examples of the new feature in action.

New description tab look

Over the character limit.

Ongoing events in blocks fixed

Thanks for your feedback! The Channels block has been fixed and should show ongoing events again.

Feed links from home.mcgill.ca

I just fixed a problem with RSS feed links showing 404 errors when clicked from home.mcgill.ca (i.e. when you’re signed in). The reason the problem existed in the first place is because we’re currently redirecting everyone who is signed in to an “authenticated view” — from www.mcgill.ca to home.mcgill.ca — but feeds cannot possibly function from home.mcgill.ca anyway, so I took away the check-and-redirect for RSS/ICAL feed locations.

Q: What is an ical feed and how do I use one?

A: ical feeds are designed to be used by calendar applications to display information about events. You can subscribe to them using applications such as ical (for the Mac), Yahoo! Calendar (via the web), and Outlook 2007 (Windows). We’re preparing more documentation on this, but in the meantime here is a PDF explaining how to subscribe (and unsubscribe) to an ical feed using Outlook 2007:

How to subscribe to an ical feed with Outlook 2007 [PDF format]

Q: Why do Channels look different from the rest of the McGill site?

A: Channels has been launched at an exciting time: we are re-writing our CSS [Cascading StyleSheets – the code that tells your browser what a web page should look like] to make it faster to download, and to make it portable to other McGill sites. This blog, for instance, uses the new styles – although it has been ‘flavoured’ just for this blog.

Here are another couple of examples of the new styles in action, with flavours applied:

  • mcgill.ca/cio/security/ – the CIO’s website was the first site to get creative with the new styles.
  • mcgill.ca/collaboration/fair/ – the Teaching and Technology Fair people at Content and Collaboration Solutions test-drove the styles to advertise their next event.

Eventually the new styles will be applied to all mcgill.ca pages. We shall post more information on this blog about this soon.

Thank you for your feedback

…keep it coming. We have had some really useful feedback via the form already this morning; we need your comments and observations. We will try where possible to reply individually, but sometimes it will be more efficient to post your question here as an FAQ.

Introducing Channels

Channels are being launched on the 8th April; they are a really flexible way to publish information on the McGill website. Here’s how it works:


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