Using the Guides Tab

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Video Orientation

Creating a Guide

Creating a New Guide
See below for details.

Adding Content to a Guide

Adding Content to your Guide
See below for details.

Content Box Types

Content Box Types part 1

Content Box Types part 2

See below for details.



The Guides tab is where you create, manage, edit and (on a sad day) delete your guides. Some notes on the overall splash screen:

1. The Edit your Guides box will show you the guides listed under your name. The three icons correspond to:

  • Gear: Edit your Guide Metadata -- see below, Creating a Guide
  • Eye: View your guide on the live site. I.e., from the perspective of a user, rather than a guide creator
  • Chain: Check the links inside your guide to make sure they're all still ok

2. The title of your guide. Click this title to start editing your guide

3. Status and Guide Type. The slightly larger text tells you if your guide is published or unpublished, while the slightly smaller text tells you what type of guide it is.

4. You can find guides that might not belong to you from this full list. Note that when you click in the box it is an autocomplete, so you can start typing part of your guide's name to more quickly find it.

5. You can create a new guide here. You can also use the dropdown menu under the Guides tab to do this.

6. This probably should be turned off unless you are trying to migrate from LibGuides to SubjectsPlus. Migrating from LibGuides to SubjectsPlus.

Creating a Guide

Creating a guide is a two-step process. First, you set up the metadata for a guide (you are taken to this screen when you click "New Guide"), and then you populate your guide with content.

Set up Metadata


This is the screen you will see when you create a new guide. Some notes:

1. If you want to use an existing guide as a template, click this link. More information at "Copying an Existing Guide," below.

2. This is where you put the title of your guide

3. This is the unique id for the guide that shows up in URLs. E.g. if you put "history" in your short field, your URL might be Choose a good shortform for SEO (search engine optimization). Don't use spaces or special characters.

4. By default, SP has three guide types: Subjecs, Course, Topic. Your SP admin can make any types you want, though, by using Admin > Config Site

5. If your library has more than one header available, you can select the header type. For instance, we have separate headers for our branch libraries, so if I were to create a Music Theory guide, I might select the "music" header from this dropdown. This would then allow me to

6. Visibility. Remember to only make your guide public once you are ready for everyone to see it. Public guides show up in the subjects/index.php page--i.e., the listing of all guides.

7. Right now, we haven't done much with parent guides, but if you want you could use this to set up a hierarchy of your guides for a custom display. Right now, setting up a parent guide allows you to access the Related Guides pluslet/box once you are adding content to your guide.

8. Save button!

9. By default, the person who is logged in shows up here. You can add other users, but there must be at least one person associated with a guide. Note that this is leveraged by the staff list, to get a list of all the subjects associated with a person. This also helps populate the Subject Specialist box type in the guide creation screen.

10 and 11. Metadata for HTML purposes, and also might display on your list of guides depending on how you have your page set up.

12. If you need to point to some other guide, like an old pdf or god forbid a LibGuide, you can use this. This field trumps all other fields when the software is deciding how to route a clicked link for this subject.

13. Don't worry about this :)

Build your Guide!


Once you have saved your metadata, you should see a pinkish message bar along the top. Click the "Add Content To Your New Guide" link to continue. You will be taken to the Guide Creation screen, which will look something like this:


1. This shows the title of the guide you are working on.

2. Click the eye to see the public version of the page.

3. Click the gear to modify the metadata. It will pull up the exact same page you just came on, except in a pop-up window. If you change the title of the guide, you might need to refresh this page to see the modified title.

4. Search this guide creation tool for content. Potentially helpful if you have a lot of content.

5. The Tool Flyout. Each of these squares is clickable and will show you more options. We will look at these in turn below, but briefly:

  • Boxes: These are different types of content boxes that you may drop onto your page. Once you drop a box, you will then edit its contents.
  • Find Boxes: To find previously created content and re-use it in the current guide. You can either link to content (i.e., it mirrors what is in the original box, including any future changes made to that box), or copy it (no link to original).
  • Custom List: A way of quickly generating lists of resources already stored in the Records part of SubjectsPlus
  • Layouts: Different page layouts that you may select to organize your content boxes
  • Tabs: You can use this to a) organize your tabs if you have a lot of them, b) create a new guide based on the content of a tab
  • Analytics: Some quick statistics on this guide usage. Beta.
  • My Guides: A quick way to access other guides associated with the current user

6. The content area of one flyout (in this case, Boxes). We will look at each flyout type below.

7. The pink tag will allow you to minimize this flyout. Hidden behind the flyout is the tab creation area.

8. Drop zone. You can drag boxes from the flyout onto the drop zone for each area. You can also double-click a box from the flyout and it will just drop it in the center column.

9. This is the area where the content boxes appear. You can drag boxes around to where you want them to sit in relation to one another.

Step 1: Choose your layout

You don't necessarily have to follow these steps, but you might want to start by selecting the Layouts flyout:


By default, a new guide starts with a three equal columns layout; you can change it to one of the other layouts by clicking on the different icons. Note that if you have a guide full of content and switch from a 3 column to a 2 column layout, the "removed" column will put the boxes into one of the remaining columns. Add New Section allows you to create more complicated layouts--for instance, start with a one column layout, then move to a three column layout, then back to a two column one.

Step 2: Add a new box

Now select the Boxes flyout:


You will see that there are a number of box types. For each box, you can either drag it onto one of the "Drop Here" spots in the main content area, or double-click it. Once a box has been placed on the page, it will be in an editable mode. Here's an example of the most common box, the Editable Box:


Let me explain what's happening on this screen now, with the help of our numbered dots:

1. When you drop a box on the page, the flyout menu swings in. You can make it come out again by clicking the pink tab.

2. When the flyout is minimized, you will see the hamburger menu; click this to see the full SubjectsPlus admin header.

3. When you make any change to the guide, the "Save Changes" button will appear. Click that periodically so you don't lose your data. Clicking this will also change your boxes on the page into their "closed" state. A gear will then appear (where the garbage can is in #8)--you will click this to start editing a box again. We'll get to that later.

4, 5. This is the tab creation area. By default there is one tab (or no tabs, really) called "main." To add a new tab, click the + and fill out the pop-up. To edit the title or visibility of an existing tab, click the gear next to the tab title (in this case, next to main).

6. Click this caret to minimize all boxes on the page. This will then only show the title area for the boxes--the idea is to make it easier to rearrange your content (when you have a lot of content).

7. This is where you can put in a title for your box. If you don't want to have a title, that's fine.

8. The garbage can is for deleting the box you're working on. If it stinks, throw it in the bin.

9. These are the editing widgets for the text area in #10 below. Basically, you will write your text in the blank space in #10, and then use the widgets in this area to add formatting, images, etc. If you hover over any of these little boxes, you should get a hint of what it does (although some may be self-explanatory). So, if you want to have bold text, write your sentence, highlight the part you want to be bold with your cursor, and then click the B icon. To create a hyperlink, do the same thing--create your link text, highlight the text that should be linked, and click the little chain icon. This WYSIWYG editor is from a 3rd party, called CKEditor. I'll include a little more about CKEditor immediately after this section.

10. The content area where you type in stuff, much like a Microsoft Word document.

Sidebar: The CKEditor

CKeditor, as noted, is an open source piece of software that we include with SubjectsPlus. We have selected a slightly minimal set of widgets, but your SubjectsPlus admin should be able to add more if anything is missing. (Customizing CKEditor) I'd like to highlight a few more of the CKEditor widgets:


1. Image upload. Be sure to both browse for your image on your desktop, and also to click the "upload" button. It's sometimes not clear that you have successfully uploaded an image. Hit OK and you should see your image on the page. You can double-click on the image to edit the image options; these are helpful for aligning text to the right or left of an image, for example

2. Paste from Word. If you have a bunch of content in a Word document, heaven help you if you try to paste it into your guide, because it brings all sorts of hidden crap along. Pasting first using this widget should remove all that Microsoft xml gobbledygook.

3. This will give you the source view of the editing window. I.e., you can see the HTML. Even if you fear HTML, this can be handy to see if something weird is happening with your content. Something weird often happens after you cut and paste content from Word or a website, and bring all sorts of HTML or XML along for the ride.

4. This, and the next 3, are custom ones for inserting other content into your guide as "tokens." #4 allows you to search for a database record (i.e., found in the Record section) and provide a linked back token that will show up as tidy HTML when you click "save guide" and also for the public. Tokens, lamentably, look like this:

{{dab},{86},{Complete English-Hebrew Dictionary -- Alcalay},{000}}

Ugh, what? Just don't mess with the stuff inside the double curly braces. But if you're curious, it's structured like:


5. Upload a file. Say, you want to upload and link to a pdf document. You can do that here.

6. Show FAQs. If you have set up FAQs for this subject, this is a quick way to insert them.

7. Catalog Links. A way to link to catalog records, or catalog searches. Your site admin will need to set up the appropriate search strings for your catalog in Admin > Config Site

8. This allows you to maximize the editing window if you need more space to create your masterpiece. But keep in mind that it will all be crammed back into whatever real estate is available in your column of the public webpage.

Step 3. Edit some content after you have saved it


Here is a box I created about the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, after it has been saved. It is in the top spot of the middle layout column, and not in an editable state. To edit, you will click the gear in the upper right. This is what results:


Note that it is now editable, with the familiar CKEditor view, and there is a box flyout with some additional settings. Which I will now run through.

  • X will close the flyout window
  • Garbage can will delete the entire box. There is an "Are you sure" dialog box first, though.
  • Hide Titlebar will hide where "Alice Munro" is written, so only the box body content shows
  • Hide Box Content will only leave the titlebar showing. Not sure why you would do this, except to leave a heading. But there is a separate heading box type.
  • Favourite box. This will designate the box as a favourite, add a little star next to the title in it's uneditable view, and allow it to be quickly inserted to any guide via a list of "favourite" boxes at the bottom of the boxes flyout.
  • Open All Links in New Tab--that is, instead of opening them in the same window as the subject guide is in, they will open in a blank tab, thus leaving your guide open
  • Styles: Your SP admin can set up different box styles for you to choose from. By default we have a couple, but they're not exciting.
  • And then, for debugging purposes, in tiny grey print there is the ID of the box that you're working on. This can be handy if there's an error and your admin needs to know where the problem resides.

Step 4. Find some content in another guide, and add it to this guide


Use the Find Boxes flyout to find content. You can either select an existing guide to see all the content boxes on it, or search. Here's what it looks like if I search for "Alice"


There is only one result, and it's the Alice Munro box that I just created. If I had searched for, say, "Databases," perhaps I would have had many options to choose from. Anyway, you have two options with the results of a browse or search box:

  • Link -- Link back to the original box. In this case, any changes made to the original box will immediately appear in all linked boxes, and the linked children boxes are not editable.
  • Copy -- In this case, you have made a new box with the content of the original box copied into it. It has no continuing relationship with the original box.

When I click the link button, it will drop a box on the page like this:


Note that I can change the title if I like. Here I have changed it slightly. Note the linky icon:


If I click the gear icon to edit it, I see the following, which tells you where the original resides:


Step 5. Create a Custom List

Creating a list of records, especially databases, is a common task. Custom List is meant to make this process as easy as possible. Here you can see I have search for "Canad" to find all things Canadian. A rather sorry result set, but two items:


I can then click the plus sign to add them to a list


Note that I have ticked icons for Canadian Living (which will show any icons associated with this record, like a lock for restricted), and both Description and Note for Statistics Canada (which will show both of them). You can do different searches to add to your list, you can drag and drop the items within your list, and when you are ready you can click "Create List Box." This will drop a new box on your page with the tokenized version of this list. Again, save it to make it look normal.

Sidebar: Using tabs

As noted in Step 2 above, you can add tabs to your guide. There you can create and organize your tabs, but the Tabs Flyout lets you do a bit more:

  • Organize your tabs (helpful when you have a lot of tabs and it is difficult to arrange them in the tabs area at the top of the page)
  • Create a new guide based on a tab's content--see below


Here, you can start a new guide by grabbing the contents of selected tabs--as many or as few as you want. Click "Create New Guide" when you are ready, and you will be taken to the Metadata screen for a new guide. Once you fill out the metadata, and go to the Guide Creation page, you will see that the content of your selected tabs has been copied over to the new guide.

Sidebar: Analytics Flyout


The Analytics area is a bit barebones right now, but it will tell you how many hits your guide has gotten, and how many hits each of its tabs has gotten (if it has tabs). We hope to flesh it out more in the next release.

Sidebar: My Guides


My Guides will give you a quick way to hop over to another of your guides. Be sure to save your current guide before you move on!

Step 6: Preview Your Guide

Whenever you want to see how your guide looks on your live website, you can click the eye in the upper right corner


If you guide is ready to be public, click the gear and in the Metadata screen set the visibility to public. Your guide should now show up in public listings of your guides. You can still share a draft guide with others by pointing them to the public URL.

Copying an Existing Guide

You can copy an existing guide from the New Guide/Metadata screen. Click the "Copy an Existing Guide" link and select/search out your base guide from the dropdown. You will then create a copy of all the guides contents into a newly created guide. The new guide will have timestamps added to the Guide Name and shortform fields. You will probably want to change these; they cannot match the original guide's name.

You can also copy selected tabs from a guide into a new guide. To do this, select the "Tabs" button in the flyout, and then select the tabs from the current guide that you want to base your new guide on. Upon submit, this will take you to the Metadata screen for your new guide, with timestamps as above.


  • Box/Pluslet Types -- Some notes about the available pluslet/box types. You can always create your own, too.