Tip of the Week #7: Point-and-Click Editor, part 1

13 Feb

totw-banner.jpgThe Point-and-Click editor has received mostly positive feedback since it was unveiled, but of course with all new things, there are some growing pains, both in terms of technical work (bugs) and users’ comfort with the new system. To aid in this cause, I’m offering a two part series on how to get the most out of the Point-and-Click Editor.

Is it for you?

Everybody should definitely TRY the Point-and-Click Editor. I suggest trying it somewhere like this test wiki so that you can really test things thoroughly. See if you like the interface. Try some of the tips you’ll see below to see if you can get comfortable with them. Then, you can make an educated decision on whether the editor really does what you need it to. Ramit’s 90 second introduction is also a good place to start.

A few criteria will also help you think about whether the editor is for you:

  • Are you more comfortable in a syntax driven layout or a visual layout? For those people who will never ever mess with the specifics of HTML, CSS, or other web coding standards, the P&C editor allows you to avoid learning new syntax and works as if you are in a word processor.
  • How much are you going to micromanage your wiki formatting? If you need to have everything a certain way, then think about using the Classic Editor, as you’re not as likely to run into problems with code reformatting against your will. This direction is best for anybody who likes to directly fiddle with code and doesn’t like things changing “behind the scenes.”
  • You don’t have to use the same editor in all wikis. In some cases, I need absolute control of my layout and I use the Classic Editor, but I also like the new editor on my private wikis because they’re fast and require minimal thinking. For example, I can take notes for a biology class in the P&C editor much more effectively than with the classic editor.

Now for some more practical advice…

Table of Contents

I get this question about making a table of contents for a page a lot, so I’m going to get it out of the way first. To create a table of contents, click Plugins -> PBwiki Magic -> Table of Contents. The table will populate based on the headers you choose (select headings in the Format box), so use them in an organized manner to make your table best match your page.

The Depth option refers to which headers will be scanned into the table. A depth of one will only scan for the largest headers, while a depth of three will show all three header sizes.

Lists

Another confusing point for some people is how to get in and out of a list in the new editor. To start a list, just click the icon for either the numbered list or the bulleted list on the upper-left side of the editing toolbar. Once you’ve started one, it’ll automatically take you down to the same level when you hit Enter.

To go to a deeper list level, use the Tab button or click the “Increase Indent” icon. To go up a level (move the bullet to the left), press Enter again on an empty row or click the “Decrease Indent” icon. Do it enough times and you’ll be taken out of the list to continue editing normally. To re-enter a list later, just place your cursor at the end of the previous line and hit enter: the editor will automatically make room for a new entry.

Shortcuts

In my opinion, the longer you can keep your hand on the keyboard and away from the mouse, the more productive you will be. Mousing is hard work, and it’s always nice to be able to avoid it. The P&C editor uses most standard shortcuts, so try them out. These include:

Copy, Cut, Paste – Ctrl+C, Ctrl+X, Ctrl+V
Undo, Redo – Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Y
Bold, Underline, Italics – Ctrl+B, Ctrl+U, Ctrl+I

It also offers a special shortcut for the links window (Ctrl+L).

Conclusion

That’s part one of my short look into the Point-and-Click editor. Look out for part two next week as we dig into a few more technical issues.

If you have questions about the Point-and-Click editor or have suggestions for a future tip, please e-mail me. Thanks!

Jason Nguyen

7 Responses to “Tip of the Week #7: Point-and-Click Editor, part 1”

  1. Betty Preus October 22, 2007 at 9:49 am #

    I just have the free version and am using it with students.
    Is there a basic manual on how to do things in pbwiki? Besides your post here, I haven’t been able to find anything all in one place. thanks!

  2. Betty Preus October 22, 2007 at 10:03 am #

    OK. I just found the FAQ site for editing with PBwiki point and click. Everything seems to assume that people have used the prior classic version. Are there any materials for the beginner who has never used pbwiki before but wants to know how to use the features?

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