Design Change – Tabbed Sidebars

Last week we made a simple but helpful change to the way you can access information on your sidebar. Our goal was 1) to introduce some quick steps new users can take to create a PBwiki and, 2) make it easier to access the information that is important to all wiki users – namely what pages have been recently edited and who were the latest visitors to the site.

The old side bar looked like this – a single sidebar where you can place links to your wiki pages, tips on using the wiki, and other helpful information.


The single tab sidebar is wonderful for advanced users who know how to set up a wiki, add pages, upload files, etc. However our newer users have been a little confused about what they’re able to do on a wiki, and where they can find the tools that they’re looking for.

QuickStart Tab

Based on that feedback we’ve introduced a new QuickStart tab to familiarize new users with the simple steps you can take to create a Pbwiki. It gives quick links to edit your wiki, create a new page, upload pictures and share your wiki with others. We hope this will be a valuable tool for our new users as they learn to set up a PBwiki.

The QuickStart tab looks like this:


Once you’ve completed all four steps in the the quick start process you can easy close the tab permanently or leave it there as a quick way to create a new page, upload pictures and share your wiki with others. We think this will be an easy way to encourage new users to get started with their wiki, and act as a reference to intermediate users who need a quick refresher.

Recent Activity Tab
We’ve also introduced a Recent Activity tab to show you who has been to your wiki and what pages have been edited. This tab works in coordination with PBwiki notifications to show you exactly what has been changed on your wiki and when it was changed. The bottom section of the Recent Activity tab is built to show the last 10 visitors who have been on your site and allow you to easily contact them by clicking on their name.


The traditional SideBar tab has been moved to the far right hand side of the three tabbed sidebar. This is where you can create a navigational index of your PBWiki. Many of our users place links to their wiki pages, instructions on how to use a wiki and even a wiki wide calendar.


I’m excited to see how new users respond to these simple changes in the sidebar design. I have the feeling that with the simple QuickStart guide more newbies will understand how to use their PBwiki and the Recent Activity tab will allow all users to clearly identify who is on their wiki and what pages have the most activity. Fun for everyone!

19 thoughts on “Design Change – Tabbed Sidebars

  1. So, if I understand correctly, you’ve just made the existing educational sidebar available to non-educational wikis, correct? If so, then my wiki ( isn’t working; even though the existing page named QuickStart ( gives the usual red “special handling” message, there are no tabs in my Sidebar. Any idea when (or if) this will be rolled out to existing wikis?

  2. Hey I really like this sidebar addition, but I would like to suggest you good people make it that it can be minized into a little tap on the edge of the Wiki, it would help make it look a little more stremlined.

  3. I hate the new sidebar. New users that need to just edit the frontpage of the wiki can’t access the sidebar because they dont know about it. the sidebar contains important links and a chat room, which they never see unless they click on sidebar. an option to make the sidebar the default tab would be great.

  4. I would like an option to remove the sidebar altogether. I have tried to delete the relevant “pages” but the sidebar still appears. There is plenty of wiki “machinery” at the foot of each page, so it would be nice for readers to see the actual page content without the sidebar.

  5. The non-educational wikis allows for the quick start tab to be taken away? that’s what it looks like. I personally don’t want the quick start tab on my educational wiki. Is there any way to get rid of it but keep the other two tabs?

  6. I like the idea of the QuickStart, but then the sidebar takes up too much room on the page. I can’t get the spreadsheet plugin and the tabbed sidebar to fit next to each other.

    I was able to delete the QuickStart tab by deleting the QuickStart page and then all previous versions of the sidebar. However, even without the QuickStart tab, the sidebar is still too wide.

    Is there any way I can narrow the Sidebar so it fits with the spreadsheet plugin? With a free account?

  7. I agree that the new tabbed SideBar can be inconvenient. I want my first-time users to be able to go straight to the SideBar since they won’t be editing the wiki right out of the gate. In fact, most users of my wiki will not be editing it at all since the content needs to be managed by a group of experts.

    How can I default the Tabbed SideBars to SIDEBAR when a user loads the page for the first time?

  8. Did Helen ever get a reply about how to resize the sidebar width? I’m having a simillar issue, the 30 boxes calendar will not fit next to the sidebar and changing the Calendar’s width property doesn’t fix the issue either, Calendar display is then distorted. Thx

  9. What are the rules for “recent activity”? Can the number of recent activity items the side bar shows be changed? Or does it go by days and if so, what number of days will show up in recent activity? Where can I read more about how the “recent activity” tab works?

  10. The thought is good, but making the sidebar more complicated to make it easier to use doesn’t seem realistic. Could the side bar have optional tabs: use one, two or three, whatever works best for that wiki AND maybe be located on the top, side, or bottom wherever it fits best?
    Like others have already said, I would like something done to the sidebar and/or calendar so they can fit on the same page without that large empty space (and my note explaining that they don’t fit side by side.)

  11. Greetings,

    I am a language and literature teacher in Robert College of Turkey. I started exercising pbwiki in my teaching this year, but I am going through a hard time in sharing with 15 years old adolescents. They are excited about putting their work on our web, but it is really hard to orchestrate them. Can you please make some suggestions to me on this matter.

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