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Introducing Network-wide Page and File Types

8 Apr

One of the long-standing features of PBworks is the ability to create page (and file) templates simply by tagging .  These templates allow you to standardize the content on a workspace.  For example, you can create a “Meeting Note” template that you can use whenever you set up a new meeting, rather than having to start with a blank page.

As we’ve added more capabilities, like page and file properties, we’ve extended the template system to incorporate them as well.  For example, if a file template includes the property “Status,” with the possible choices “Active” and “Inactive,” uploading a new file with that template lets you specify the status at upload, and to change it later.

But despite these additions, the fact that templates were attached to individual workspaces rather than network-wide had a number of drawbacks.  For example, any time you wanted to use a template on a new workspace, you would have to set it up manually.  And even if you took advantage of our workspace types and templates to include a “Meeting Note” template on each new workspace, if you wanted to make any changes to that template, you would have to circle back and change every single workspace that had been created.

Nor could you search all meeting notes across all workspaces–the pages that were created from a template didn’t maintain any relationship with that template.

That’s why we just introduced Network-wide Page and File Types.  These new types, which can be created by going to the new “Types” menu within the “Admin” panel, address the drawbacks of the old workspace-level templates.  Creating a single network-wide “Meeting Note” type now allows you to create new meeting notes on any workspace.  And the single network-wide type allows you to change the parameters of any future meeting notes in one place, rather than requiring you to make changes workspace by workspace.

Finally, Network-wide Page and File Types are first class elements of the product; they are labeled on screen, and you can even use the search box to search a single type.  An advertising agency, for example, can create a network-wide “Case Study” file type, then search just case studies to find a match more quickly and easily.

If you’ve been a heavy user of the old workspace page and file templates, don’t worry, they’re not going away immediately.  For the next two months, until Saturday, June 7, your existing workspace page and file templates will continue to work just like they always have.  This should give you plenty of time to experiment with the new Network-wide Page and File Types, and to replace your existing templates.

To help you get up to speed on this new feature, we’re offering a free “Network-wide Types How-to Webinar” on Tuesday, April 15:

PBworks: Network-wide Types How-to Webinar
10 AM Pacific/1 PM Eastern/17:00 UTC/18:00 BST
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/700479086

We’ll walk you, step-by-step, through the process of using these types, and give you a chance to ask your own questions.

Introducing New Property Types

18 Dec

One of the unique features of PBworks is the ability to combine structured and unstructured information.  A typical workspace contains a lot of unstructured information (wiki pages and files), but both the workspace and specific items of content can be associated with structured information (properties).

PBworks properties can take the form of a drop-down list, text field, integer, date, or PBworks user.  But while these properties cover a wide range of applications, we’ve heard consistent requests for more specific property types.  That’s why we just launched five new property types.

1. Currency
2. Decimal
3. URL
4. Email
5. Workspace Type

Here’s how they work:

1. Currency

Now you can specify the exact dollars and cents, rather than being limited to integer values.  We also add in American-style commas for large numbers to make them easier to read (i.e. $1,000,000.00 versus $1000000.00).

2. Decimal

The decimal property, like currency, lets you go beyond integer values.

3. URL

When you use the URL property, PBworks makes the property a clickable link, rather than requiring users to cut and paste a URL into a web browser address bar.

4. Email

When you use the email property, PBworks makes the property a “mailto” link, rather than requiring users to cut and paste an email address into their email client.

5. Workspace Type

This special property allows you to specify a relationship between individual workspaces and workspace types.  For example, an agency customer might have a “Client” type and a “Project” type.  A project manager could use the workspace type property to specify that the “Hilton Kuala Lumpur” project workspace should be linked to the “Hilton Hotels” client workspace.  The property is clickable, so it’s easy to jump from the project to the related client and vice versa.

These new workspace properties are available immediate to all users (paid and free).  If you’d like to get a refresher course on how to use Properties, we’re holding a free “How To Use PBworks Properties” webinar at 10 AM Pacific (1 PM Eastern, 18:00 GMT) on Tuesday, January 14, 2014:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/458459110

Introducing Search Improvements

15 Oct

Search has long been one of the most popular and powerful features of PBworks.  Our search engine allows you to search through your entire network, including the text within the files you upload.  You also have the opportunity to “facet” your search results (for example, you can filter the search results so that they only show files where you uploaded the most recent version).  The goal is to make it as easy as possible to find what you’re looking for.

Given the strength of our search engine, we’ve discovered that the way to make it even better is to eliminate the need to even complete a search.

While we’ve long had an autocomplete feature, which brings up potential matches as you type in our search box, it was a simple autocomplete, which provided a single list of potential matches.  You can see an example of a simple autocomplete at Google–just type in “What should I do” and Google will quickly offer you options like “What should I do with my life” and “What should I do tonight” (Answer: Invite more users to your PBworks network).

We’ve now launched a greatly improved autocomplete that takes into account the nature of the content you store in PBworks.  As you type into the search box, PBworks brings up a miniature search results page, with the results categorized by the “type” of object that matches.  The basic object types in PBworks are: Files, Pages, Folders, Tasks, Task Lists, Workspaces, Collections, Users, and Reports.  You can always complete the search, which will bring up a lot more results (the autocomplete only finds up to five *exact* matches per object type).

If you know in advance that you’re looking for a particular object type, for example, a file, you can click the dropdown next to the search box and filter the autocomplete to a single object type.  PBworks will return a full list of exact matches (or at least as many as will fit on your screen), and if you want to see all the matches, you can still complete the search and the resulting search results page will automatically be filtered by type.

As your PBworks network fills with content and documents, search becomes more and more critical.  With the latest improvements, PBworks now offers the best search engine in the market, allowing you to find whatever your looking for more quickly and easily.

These search improvements are a free enhancement, and have automatically been activated for all our business customers and freemium networks.

Introducing the Workspaces Gallery View

16 Sep

One of the most popular features we’ve introduced is the Gallery View of files and wiki pages.  This thumbnail view complements the standard list view of files, and makes it easy for you to visually pick out the files you’re looking for.

However, files within a workspace aren’t the only list that could benefit from a Gallery View.  Over time, we’ll be adding visual Gallery Views to other parts of PBworks.  We’ve just taken the first step in that process by introducing the Workspaces Gallery View.

The Workspaces Gallery View lets you switch the Workspaces tab from a list view to a visual grid.  To make the switch, just click the Gallery icon next to the “New” button.  The visual grid uses the workspace logos you’ve uploaded; in cases where you haven’t uploaded a logo, one of the default textures will be displayed.  To upload a new workspace logo, go to the Settings tab and click on “Branding”:
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/27482896/Branding

Clicking on a workspace logo (or texture) takes you to that workspace.  To bring up a workspace card, mouse over the name of that workspace.

Like the Gallery View of files, the Workspaces Gallery View is a “sticky” setting–once you switch the Workspaces tab to the gallery view mode, it will stay switched until you switch it back.  Whether you’re viewing the Workspaces tab in list view or gallery view, the number of workspaces shown per screen remains the same.

To learn more about the Workspaces Gallery View, visit our user manual:
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/42027946/Workspace%20Listing

Coming August 26: Updated Naming for Roles and Permissions

20 Aug

Here at PBworks, our powerful and flexible system of custom security and user permissions is one of the key capabilities that makes our collaboration suite enterprise-grade.  When you’re a PBworks customer, you have the ability to specify exactly who should be to do what and where.

The downside of this highly granular security has been a certain level of confusion about terminology.  When someone says that they’re an admin, does that mean they are a Network Admin or a Workspace Admin? (depends)  Can you grant a Page-Level Only user access to a particular folder? (yes)

Because more and more organizations are using PBworks more intensively, we’ve decided to update the names we use for roles and permissions to eliminate the confusion.  For example, rather than wondering about the difference between a Network Admin and a Workspace Admin, you’ll be able to distinguish between a PBworks Admin and a Workspace Moderator.

Starting on the evening of Monday, August 26, these changes will be reflected throughout PBworks, including dialog boxes, menu items, and even tab names.  For example, the current “Everyone” tab on your network will be renamed “Users,” and the current “People” tab on your workspaces will be renamed “Members.”

(If you’re an advanced user, and you’ve already modified these tab names, don’t worry, we won’t overwrite your changes)

For a complete list of changes please visit our user manual:
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/68348268/Terminology%20Change

Introducing PBworks Reporting

26 Jul

PBworks is pleased to announce its newest feature, Reporting.  This feature allows you to define, save, run, and download management reports from a new Reports tab.  The goal of Reporting is to allow you to generate an instant, high-level snapshot of some aspect of your business.

Here’s how it works.  When you define a report, you select which workspaces you want to report on.  For example, you can select all the workspace in a particular network collection, or all the workspaces of a particular type (e.g. “Project”).  From there, you can select which columns are going to appear, and drag and drop columns to organize your report.  When your report is complete, you can download the results into a spreadsheet for distribution or for further formatting.

Here’s just a few ways you might want to use Reporting:

  • See you hottest prospects at a glance
  • Monitor the status of all your active projects
  • Check which workspaces are consuming the most resources

Your network now includes a Reports tab with one or more sample reports.  You can modify and run these reports to see how they can help your business.

We’re offering two free webinars to show you how to use Reporting to better understand and manage your business.  You may register for either or both.  Even if you can’t attend, you can register, and we’ll send you a recording of the webinar afterwards.

For specific instructions on how to use Reporting, visit our manual: https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/67622741/Reports

Customers who want specific help and advice should contact their account representative to set up a professional services engagement.

To create new reports or download report results, you’ll need to buy the new premium Reporting package, which lets you create and run an unlimited number of reports.

Introducing Page and File Properties, Copying Tasks and Task Lists, and the Network Collection Picker

14 May

We’ve got three new features for you to try, all of which are available immediately (to all business users), and at no extra cost.

Page and File Properties

Page and File Properties extends the concept of structured properties from your Workspaces to the Pages and Files within those Workspaces.

We believe that structured data is one of the key ways that PBworks helps you manage your business processes.  Workspace properties help you do things like filter your projects by client or status.  Page and File Properties let you do the same at the workspace level; for example, you can label all your call notes with a “Page Type” property with the value “Call Note.”  This makes it easier for your to view all your call notes on a single screen.

Unlike our tagging system, which lets users enter any value for a tag and creates a “folksonomy,” Page and File properties are defined by network administrators who can define a specific set of options.

You can modify the properties of a page or file from the “Properties” section, right next to the “Tags” section.
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/36586108/Tags%20and%20Properties

To define properties for Workspaces, Pages, and/or Files, visit the Properties screen under network Admin settings.
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/36732314/Properties

Copy Tasks and Task Lists

One long-standing request has been the ability to copy tasks and task lists.  Now, that feature has arrived.  The Copy Task feature works just like the Copy Page feature; from any Task or Task list, click to pull down the options menu and select “Copy Task” or “Copy Task List” as appropriate.  You can use this to set up repeated tasks, or use copy a Task List when you have a process you need to duplicate.
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/27368599/Creating%20a%20Task

Network Collection Picker

Here at PBworks, we try to apply a set of consistent user interface approaches throughout our product.  One of the popular features of the “Files” interface within our workspaces is the ability to navigate using a tree structure, rather than simply having to click and drill down into sub-folders.

The Network Collection Picker applies the same principle to your Workspaces tab.  Some of our customers have many network collections on multiple levels.  This can make it hard to find the specific collection or set of workspaces you’re looking for, or to navigate between collections.

The new Network Collection Picker acts like the folder tree in our workspaces–you can use it to navigate to any collection within your network.
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/32472113/Workspace%20Collections

We hope you enjoy trying out these new capabilities!

Introducing Task Colors

2 Apr

The Task improvements just keep on coming.  In the wake of our Tasks 2.0 release, drag-and-drop Tasks, and Personal Tasks, we’ve now shipped Task Colors.

Task Colors offers a visual way to organize your tasks that is especially helpful in the Calendar View of tasks.

For any task, you can now set a task color.  This color appears in all the different views of the task.  For example, on the Calendar View, the entire task is colored in to make it easy to see.

The task color can mean whatever you want it to mean, and is independent of Task List, due date, or any other bit of task information.  For example, you can highlight your critical tasks in red, then sort by task color on the Sort View of tasks to find all your important tasks.

All your existing tasks will be set to “no color,” and if you don’t want to use Task Colors, simply don’t set any.

Task Colors is a no-cost upgrade to all business plans.

Workspace Properties Upgrade

27 Mar

One of the more unique features of PBworks is the ability to combine structured and unstructured data.

Structured data is the kind of information you might find in a database with a very specific format, like a phone number.

In contrast, unstructured data is a blog of information that doesn’t impose any requirements, like a wiki page.

PBworks often combines structured with unstructured data.  Take Tasks, for example.  Some aspects of a task are structured (due date, person responsible).  But others are unstructured (comments and updates).  Sometimes, the two are even more firmly intertwined.  For example, you can add a link within a task (structured), but the wiki page or file that you linked to is unstructured data.

One of the key structured data elements PBworks provides are Workspace Properties.  These properties can be defined and assigned to the workspaces in your network, making it easy to designate a Project Leader or Due Date.

Properties can be formatted as text, a number, a date, a user, or a pre-defined list of options.

We just released a major upgrade to Workspace Properties, which takes this powerful tool and makes it even easier to use.  Some of the newly released features include:

1) Support for multi-value properties.  Let’s say you’re listing the offices involved in a project.  Now you can designate New York and Los Angeles.  If you’ve already assigned more than one property value to a workspace, we’ll automatically check off multi-value support for you.

2) Workspace Properties are now visible on the Workspace Card.  When you mouse over a Workspace, the Workspace Card pops up to provide you with options and information.  the newly upgraded Workspace Card now displays all the properties of the workspace.  And if you’re a Workspace Admin, you can even edit them right on the Workspace Card.

3) Properties section of the Workspace Summary Tab.  Want to make sure all your users can see the properties?  The Summary Tab now includes a section that allows you to “Show properties.”  Just decide if you want 1, 2, or 3 columns, and we’ll format a table listing those properties, complete with a background color that matches the workspace theme and color scheme.

This Workspace Properties upgrade is active for all our business users, and comes at no extra cost.  We plan to be doing more with structured data in the future, so stay tuned!

Introducing Drag-and-drop Tasks and Personal Tasks

27 Mar

Now that we’ve launched Tasks 2.0, we’ve come back three weeks later and made our project management even better.

With Monday’s upgrade, you’re now able to drag-and-drop tasks.  From the Task List view of tasks, you can drag-and-drop tasks to reorder them within a Task List, move them between Task Lists, or reorder Task Lists.  You now have full control over the ordering of Tasks.

All you have to do is use your mouse (or trackpad) to grab a Task or Task List, then drag it to the desired location.  Note that you can’t grab a Task or Task List by the title; you have to grab another part of the Task or Task List. (Also bear in mind that drag-and-drop re-ordering is per-workspace–if you reorder the tasks on a workspace, all of the members of that workspace will see the new order when they go to the Tasks tab.  If the order of Tasks and Task Lists has changed since the last time you saw it, it probably means another team member rearranged them.)

We’ve also added tasks to your Personal Workspace (paid networks only).  Now, you can use PBworks for all your personal to-do items as well, and have them show up on your personalized Network Dashboard.

Just as with any other workspace, you can create Task Lists on your Personal Workspace to distinguish between your “Shopping” and “Workout” to-dos, or whatever other categories make sense to you.  But your personal tasks are on your private Personal Workspace.

We hope you enjoy the latest improvements to Tasks.  There’s more to come in the near future!

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