Archive for February 28, 2008

Plain Text Editor in LibGuides

Many of you have come to rely on the LibGuides Rich Text Editor for entering content into your guides. The rich text editor is neat because it provides an easy way for non-techie people to create beautiful html text that looks really nice on your guides.

However, some of our power users have experienced a few issues with the rich text editor in that they find the editor sometimes changes some of their manually entered html tags and javascript code. Namely, the text editor “cleans up” the code, i.e. it makes sure that the code and tags entered are standards-compliant html. For all practical purposes this is a good thing because your html code should be standards compliant and have proper attributes, as defined by the W3C consortium.  But, sometimes, in order to make scripts work right (especially for javascript and forms) you don’t want LibGuides rich text editor correcting your code. Plain Text Editor to the rescue!

When you want to enter the html code/forms/javascript yourself and don’t need the rich text editor, click on the “switch to plain text editor” link which is now part of the rich text editor popup. See the screenshot below.

Plain Text Editor

LibGuides Sys Admin Toolbox

We released the first batch of useful utilities for LibGuides System Administrators. When you (the sys admin) log on to the main admin screen, you will notice a new option at the bottom – “Admin Toolbox” (see photo below).

Admin toolbox screenshot

The first 3 functions to be released are:

  • Display Emails of All Users – this function enables you to get a comma-delimited list of registered email account holders, so that you can easily paste this list into your email application. Handy for sending a bulk email notice to your users.
  • Change Guide Owner – when you need to switch owners for a particular guide.
  • Global Search and Replace (for Database URL changes) – this is a very powerful function so use with caution. It enables system administrators to perform a global search and replace for links in the system. The function is useful for changing the URL of databases in the system, for example. Note that the search and replace is only done for links contained in Simple Links and Info Links content boxes.

We will be adding more of these useful sys-admin functions so let us know what you’d like to see in there.

Improved Rich Text Editor in LibGuides

Many of our LibGuides users have come to depend on the rich text editor functionality when creating content in LibGuides. The flexibility it offers when creating html formatted text and forms is great, but there were some minor browser compatibility issues present. Today we upgraded the LibGuides rich text editor to the latest and greatest version and our tests indicate this version is much improved in terms of browser compatibility and support. It also loads faster inside the browser!

In addition to better browser support and faster loading, the new version offers more flexibility in customizing the text and html attributes. You can now customize the css elements, individual text attributes and even pick text and background colors using the color chooser. Very cool! Check out the screenshot below and give the editor a try. As always, please let us know what you think.

Rich Text Editor Style screen shot

The New and Improved LibGuides Widgets

We’re pleased to announce the release of the new and improved LibGuides Widgets. Some of the new features are:

  1. Three different widget sizes. Small (190 pixels) – suitable for side bars on web pages; Large (400 pixels) – great for prominently featuring your guides; and Wide (500 pixels but only 200 pixels tall) – suitable for embedding into Blackboard pages.
  2. Menu options: You can pick whether you want to feature “New” and “Popular” guides on your widget, or whether you just want to display your Featured guides.
  3. Search the Library Catalog box is now optional. You can chose to display it on your widget, or not (not displaying it will save about 30 pixels from the widget height).
  4. Fully customizable widget colors. Choose from thousands of different colors for your widget – just enter the Hex RGB color value.
  5. You can put a randomly selected guide inside your widget. This option is great for advertising your LibGuides system – insert a random LibGuides widget onto your library website or your personal blog, for example.
  6. The new widgets are much smaller (only 10KB vs 50KB for the old ones) so they will load very fast.

We encourage all of our current users to convert their old widgets into the new format because the new ones are much more flexible and a lot faster.

We created a LibGuide with many examples of the new widgets in action. Check it out – http://demo.libguides.com/widgets

LibGuides and Course-Specific Research

We recently came across a post from Sara at the world famous Tactless Librarian blog, that presents an interesting use for LibGuides.  Sara has been creating research guides for course-specific instruction sessions held at the library.  These “class shortcut pages” contain all the information presented during the instruction session, including reference tools, polls, and of course links to those expensive subscription databases:

“One database, Literary Reference Center, got 80 hits that month from my LibGuide alone.  If I had done my typical session the students would have forgotten the database and gone to Academic Search Premier because it was the first on our  list of databases.”

To help promote these instruction sessions Sara has been providing faculty with links to specific shortcut pages, which are then embedded into the campus courseware system.  In addition to reinforcing the lessons learned during the instruction session, this also creates an excellent integration point for the library’s online reference program:

“The guide solved a variety of problems.  First, it allowed us to link to a Meebo chat … with the librarian who made the guide if they put a Meebo box in.  Any guide made with our reference account gets the Ask A Librarian box because it’s on that profile.”

It is great to see librarians finding new ways to use LibGuides, and Sara’s approach to course-specific research guides is definitely one worth mentioning.  You can read her original post, as well as leave your own comments and questions, at
http://www.librarygirl.org/wordpress/archives/97.

Front Page Material!

We are happy to report that LibGuides made the front page of The Butler Collegian last week. The article outlines all the right reasons for the success of LibGuides at Butler, and echoes what we’ve heard from our member libraries world-wide.

All of us at Springshare are very proud that LibGuides is bringing libraries and patrons closer together and changing the ways libraries deliver information to patrons. As one Butler student puts it, “(LibGuides) helps save a lot of time and makes researching more effective.”

You can read the entire article on our website:
http://springshare.com/pdf/butler_collegian.pdf