By Michael Albert at Apr 23, 2010
We have added still another feature to ZCom - a big one that the New York Times, Le Monde, even Microsoft - don't have.
The idea is this.
As of now, Sustainers can create their own version of the ZNet and/or the ZSpace top page. A few of you have even done this!
Suppose, for example, that Joe, a Sustainer, does it. In that case, Joe can access the top page of ZNet as everyone sees it, what we call the public ZNet top page - or Joe can access his own custom version of the ZNet top page that he has created for himself. And the same holds for Joe and the top page of ZSpace. He can access the public one like everyone else, but he also can access his own customized version. Indeed, he can look at public or customized versions at any time.
On the custom pages that Joe has made for himself - of the sort that any Sustainer donating sufficiently to have that permission can make for themselves - Joe was able to place content and menus of his own choosing. He controls the left menu, the tab menu, and the content boxes of his custom top pages. Mire, once he accesses them, his custom tab menu and left menu stay with him as he travels through the site, until he returns to the public top pages. In other words, he has his own version of the site.
More, editing your own custom version of ZNet or ZSpace is just like editing your own ZSpace page. It is all point and click easy. In fact the only real differences is that when you edit your own ZSpace page you are creating something for others to see, mainly, when they look you up. In contrast, when you create your own custom ZNet and ZSpace top pages, you are creating something for you to see and that therefore features what you are interested in having quick access to.
So what's new beyond the above?
Well, we realized that users have been slow to pick up on the new capacities, and so we have worked hard to make it much easier and quicker to get your own site features in place.
Thus, we now have a Customizations Page, http://www.zcommunications.org/zcustom, that displays links to all custom pages that any Sustainer or Writer has created and choosen to make visible for others to see. Where it used to be that Joe could see his own custom pages and I could see my own custom pages, but Joe couldn't see mine, and I couldn't see his, nor could anyone else see anyone else's custom pages, now, in the new approach, anyone - whether a Sustainer or not - can go to the new Customization Templates Page and see any custom page that anyone has created. You can also see on that Customization Templates page a number of custom pages that ZStaff has created, as templates, for others to use.
And here is the real virtue of it.
If you are a Sustainer with Customization privileges and you go to the ZCustom Page, and when you look at various people's custom pages and you see one you like, you can copy it for your own. You just click the link to see it, and then up near your name under the tabbed menu, you can click the link to copy it - and if you do that, it will take a couple of minutes but it will replace your own custom page of the same ZNet or ZSpace type.
Here is an example to clarify.
Suppose I go to the Customization Page and I look at and decide that I like Joe's custom ZNet. I go to his creation and click to copy it, and now it becomes my custom ZNet top page, replacing whatever I may have had before, or perhaps it is my first one. Then if I go to my custom ZNet, of course I can edit it, in effect using his creation as a jumping off place to create my own.
More, the pages that ZStaff have supplied as templates you can copy in the same way, and then you can edit and otherwise refine them however you like. We are putting them up for your pleasure and have tried to give them indicative names revealing their relevance to people with certain sorts of interests.
Thus, you might copy our Green ZNet, Economics ZNet, Anti Racist ZNet, Feminist ZNet, Visionary ZNet, Parsocish ZNet, Internationalist ZNet, or whatever other one we have put up - or will have up by early next week, at any rate, that interests you - and then, once it is your custom page, you can further alter its left menu, tab menu, and content boxes until it fully fits your needs and desires. Over time, we will add more to choose from - we are just getting going, too and are spending a lot of time as well on setting up Group Pages.
Basically, the customization feature let's users see ZNet and ZSpace in very nearly whatever look, feel, and content mix you desire. The Customization and Templates Page let's you see what others have created, including ZStaff templates, and adopt anything you like as your own, then editing further, if you so choose.
Is there too much in our menus for your taste - no problem. Cut it back. Do you want links to favorite sites of yours. No problem, add them. Do we have, in your opinion, not enough international content on the top page. No problem. Add more to your custom version. Want different graphics - fine, pick and place them. Want more videos front and center - go for it. Want some countries in particular, to have content boxes, or some topics, no problem. Want particular people's work featured, on particular topics, easy to do. Want to see your friends efforts front and center, automatically, in content boxes. Just filter as you decide. And so on.