Tips and tricks: Life without tabs

Earlier this month we released a new user interface for Wikispaces that transformed your tabs into page buttons. But never fear: all the familiar tools are still there, they just look a little different.

Global Navigation
These are the elements that stay at the top of the page, no matter where you go in Wikispaces. When you’re not actively using these controls, they will collapse so that nothing shows but your unread messages and your avatar. To expand the global navigation, just roll your mouse over it.


When you’re not logged in, the global navigation will identify you as a guest. You’ll get a Join button that lets you request membership in the wiki you’re currently viewing, a Help button, and a Sign In button that will let you sign in or create a new user account.


If you are logged in, the global navigation will start with a number that represents how many unread messages you have in your inbox. Click on this number to review unread messages or go to your inbox.

Next you’ll see your avatar and account name. Click on this to go to your user dashboard. Click on My Wikis for a linked list of all the wikis you’re a member of. And, of course, you can always click for Help or to Sign Out.

Page Buttons
These redesigned buttons have all the same functionality of the older tabs.


Of course you already know the Edit button. If your wiki has been set to one discussion area per page, the button immediately to the right of Edit is the Discussion button. It has a double white conversation bubble and shows the number of existing discussions posts. Just click on it to go to the discussion area, where you can read, review, and reply to posts.

To the right of the Discussion button you’ll find a single yellow conversation bubble that shows the number of Comments on this page. Click on it to toggle the comment view on and off.

Next to that is a button with a clock icon that shows the number of revisions to this page. When you click on this button, you’ll be taken to the Page History where you can review previous versions of the page, or revert to an older version.

And, finally, you have the ellipsis (dot-dot-dot). This button gives you More Page Options. These are the options that used to be accessible by hovering your mouse over the down arrow on the page tab:

  • Tags
  • View as Print or PDF
  • Rename
  • Redirect
  • Delete
  • Lock/Unlock
  • Permissions
  • Notify
  • RSS feed
  • Backlinks
  • Source (the wikitext for that page)
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15 Comments

  1. Sue Knox
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Is there any way of doing a search for something like a name on discussion posts?
    Is there any way you can format discussion posts with Bold and bullet points etc?

  2. Walter Lemieux
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    I like the page buttons replacing the tabs, except for the way they and the page header intrude into the workspace of the page. They may be above the space we can actually use, and so are functionally like the tabs that they replaced. But visually, they are part of the white workspace.

    I wish that at least some of your themes would still allow us have the title and page buttons appear as part of the surrounding frame, and not as part of the workspace. I use that space creatively, so I don’t appreciate having a bold black header and the edit tools inside of it whether I like it or not. Before this, I could choose the colors of the header and its background color, making it as conspicuous or inconspicuous as I chose.

  3. Posted February 7, 2012 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    It is really unfortunate that you removed the discussion tab. Encouraging people to use teh discussion boards was already difficult, and by removing the tab – the use of the discussion board has dropped off completely as participants in my course are unsure where to find the discussion boards. Is there any way that this tab can be brought back, or a template set up to make this tab optional. The discussion tab was one of the main reasons I used a wiki for all my courses. Please please bring back the discussion tab

    Kind regards
    Helen de Pinho

  4. Diane Chido
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Having the new buttons follow you around the page is not nearly as useful as having the edit button accessible from anywhere on the page. If you have a long page and you want to edit something, you have to go all the way back to the top to activate the edit mode, then scroll back down to where you wanted to change something.

    I also agree with Walter that the new buttons are somewhat in the way. I didn’t mind the tabs, and I agree with Helen that it was easier with them to make sure students were collaborating.

    Being able to customize the headers was also important for our team projects because we had a system in which we colored the headings red when students posted an updated report they were ready for me to edit. Now we have to rename the pages with an asterisk or something so I know what to review.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment and for making wikispaces available to us. Our department could not function without them.

  5. JB Miller
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I absolutely agree with Helen. With the Discussion tab, it was very clear to students where they should go to join the discussion. In addition it allowed me to ensure that students knew what discussion went with what lesson. Now I am going to have to go back in and re-label all the discussions to clearly link them with the appropriate lessons. A lot of work for no gain. I am disappointed with the decisions to make these changes without giving us input. As an instructional website, you should understand that these kinds of changes have a big impact on the instruction.

  6. Posted February 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree with Helen and JB. With the Discussion tab, it was very clear to students where they should go to affix the discussion. As well as it allowed me to ensure that students knew what discussion went with what lesson.

    Now I am going to have to return in and re-label all the discussions to obviously hyperlink them with the suitable lessons.

    Plenty of work for no gain. I am upset with the selections to make these adjustments with out giving us input.

    As an tutorial website, you need to understand that these sorts of adjustments have a huge impact on the instruction.

  7. Miles Gray
    Posted February 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I also like the Discussion tab at the top of the edit window.

  8. Kent
    Posted February 12, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    I think you forgot the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Was there really a problem with the tabs? I think you just created a new problem. Leave well enough alone.

    I agree, the new what-ever-it-is takes up space and gets in the way.

    If there is one thing that is REALLY REALLY BROKE, it is the horrible tables. I wish someone would make it so I can control the size and borders. I know there the widget, but it is useless if I have to have students entering stuff in the table. If you are going to screw with something, make it something that makes a positive difference. (Sorry, if this sounds frustrated….it is!)

  9. Posted February 14, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Rest assured everyone, there were and are actually very good reasons for us to make these changes, particularly replacing the tabs with the new UI. Things were “broken” in the sense that they were holding us back from making the site faster and improving functionality. So we did have to make these “fixes”.

    We know change can be frustrating sometimes but it’s always a balancing act. We’re confident Wikispaces overall is going to keep providing a really good experience and keep improving and these changes are a big part of that.

  10. Kapil
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I am a new user and I appreciate the ability to use wikispaces and the functionalities it provides. I expect it will be a valuable addition to the course I teach.

    I do, however, have to agree with the comments above about the discussion page and tabs. It’s hard for students to find the discussion page. And try as I might, I have not been able to figure out how to comment directly on a project page, even after enabling the “Private to wiki” setting and checking the “allow comments” box. The Comments button does not toggle as promised. It seems the only way to comment is to start a discussion.

  11. Posted February 15, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    This is just the perfect answer for all forum mmerbes

  12. Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    This has actually worked out well for me, although I had to change the format of my pages slightly.

    I created a small .jpg, using a screenshot of the discussion tab icon, and added a little coloured arrow, and some coloured text “log in to discuss.” I put this .jpg in front of all discussion questions, and I make the questions stand out by using a coloured font. this does two things: it reminds new people that they must log in to participate, and it shows them where the button is.

    I think this will work better than before.

  13. Posted March 21, 2012 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    I also agree with Walter that the new buttons are somewhat in the way. I didn’t mind the tabs, and I agree with Helen that it was easier with them to make sure students were collaborating.

  14. TJ
    Posted March 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Like Kapil, I’m a new user to Wikispaces, and have also had trouble understanding the Comments tab. I also agree with the various comments above, starting with Walter, about how the title and page buttons appear to be part of the content of the page. I’d like to be able to set the title of a page, but it always seems redundant given the fact that the page name is so big and bold right above it. I hope that you provide an option to make the tabs be more like tabs, placed above the actual page space.

  15. Posted April 17, 2012 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    Sounds a little complex to me. It may have some advantages but i would go with the mainstream tabs.. However if one gets used to it there should be no operational problem

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