PennPortal: Working with channels


Channels are the building blocks of PennPortal. Any official student group or group affiliated with the University that works with students is encouraged to apply to create and manage one or more channels.

Channel request forms are available online: just login to PennPortal with your PennKey, and click on the "Create a Channel" link in the upper right section of the page.

Once you are registered as a channel manager, the portal administrator will work with you to set up your channel's basic properties. These include the channel's name, the category under which students can browse for it, the color of its title bar, authorization to include advanced HTML or RSS code if appropriate, and a list of those people authorized to edit its content.

Managing channels 

  When you have registered as a channel manager, you will see a yellow "Manage Channels" link below the "Log Out" button in the blue banner area of the portal when you log in. Clicking this link takes you to the "Manage Channels" page, where you can select the channel you wish to edit (it's possible to be authorized to edit more than one channel).


Editing Content 


Step 1   Click on your channel to select it and then click on "[edit content]" to bring up the channel editing tools. For this example a channel was created with the name "Demonstration."



Step 2   Use the dropdown menu to select your first piece of content. In this example, a heading has been selected. When you have selected the heading, click on the blue "INSERT" button.


Step 3   Type the text of your heading in the text input box and then click the "INSERT" button. In this example the words "Upcoming events" have been typed.


Step 4   Your heading now displays as it will appear in the channel. Blue control buttons appear on the line beside the display. These buttons allow you to bring up a text box to edit the heading, to delete it from the channel, or (when other lines of content have been entered) to move it up or down in the list.

You can undo your work in two ways. To remove a heading or other content element you have inserted, use the "DELETE" button. Using your browser's "Back" button to type new text in the input box will not delete your first entry. It will create another element. To undo all changes since the last time you saved your work, click on "RELOAD FROM DATABASE."

Save your work by clicking on the "COMMIT MY CHANGES" button. This action updates the database. If you have edited or deleted text during this work session, you will not be able to retrieve the earlier version after committing your changes.

Continue by selecting "a list item" from the dropdown menu and clicking on the "INSERT" button.


Step 5   Select an insertion point to position the list item you are about to create. When you create a content element for a channel, you may insert it above, below, or between any existing content elements.


Step 6   Type the text of your item in the input box provided. If you want the item to link to another web site, type the URL of that site in the lower input box. A linked item will open in a new browser window when the viewer clicks on it.

List items should be brief. Type the text without carriage returns; the portal will wrap it to fit the column width in the viewer's browser. If you need more than about 50 characters for a list item, consider using the "story item" element (see step 7).


Step 7   Insert a story item in the same way you inserted a list item. If you have already created one or more story items, you may select one from the list using the dropdown menu. If you need to create a new story, click on "manage stories for this channel" to bring up the story editing tools (See step 8).

Story items open to the full width of the browser window within the portal (not in a new window). Use them for a more expansive presentation of content than is possible in the channel itself.


Step 8   Click on "add a new story" to bring up the story editing window.


Step 9   Type the content of your story in the appropriate input boxes. If you check the box labeled "automatically insert HTML breaks," typing a carriage return will add a linespace in the body of your story. To instruct the portal to display a copy of the channel itself in the right column beside your story, click the checkbox at the lower right. Including the channel in this way can help your reader remember the context for your story's content.

The title and subtitle of the story will appear in the channel as list items. When a viewer clicks on the story title, the story window will open.

When you have finished typing the story's content, click on the "ADD THIS STORY" button to add it to the dropdown menu of stories available to insert in your channel (see step 10).

If you are authorized to use basic or advanced HTML tags you may type them in the story editor's text input window. If you do so, uncheck the "Automatically insert HTML breaks" checkbox.


Step 10   Select your new story (or an existing story) to insert using the "Select a story to insert" dropdown menu. Click on the "INSERT" button to choose the insertion point, as you did for list items.
Step 11   Your story item now displays as it will appear in the channel. You can preview the channel's appearance by returning to the "Manage Channels" page and clicking on the name of the channel in the list. The channel preview will appear in the right column.

If you are authorized to use HTML or RSS directly in your channels, here are instructions for using HTML and instructions for using RSS.



For more information 

Questions about PennPortal can be directed to the portal administrator via the Feedback Form.

Online forms for applying to have a channel created for your group to use:
see the tools in the upper right section of PennPortal, (you must first login to the portal.)

You may also, if you prefer, submit a request to be a channel editor via a paper form,
available in .pdf format: