The following preview tutorials were published in the LISTSERV at Work newsletter prior to the release of LISTSERV 17.0. New updated video tutorials will be added on this page soon.
One of the main new features of LISTSERV 17.0 is a newsletter template builder that allows list owners to create fully responsive HTML newsletters without HTML coding experience. The system comes with more than 75 ready-to-use HTML newsletter and announcement templates, offering a variety of layout styles, color schemes and content blocks that can be used as-is or modified as needed.
When creating or modifying an HTML newsletter template using the builder, you are presented with several menu options.
The "Base Font" menu lets you make changes to the font family, sizes, colors and links that apply to all sections of the newsletter. The "Newsletter" menu contains all of the options to set the width, alignment and border of the newsletter as well as the background color and any background image that you want to use.
The rest of the menus are section-specific. The "Header" menu deals with the top banner and allows you to insert the newsletter name and a custom logo. You can also use an entirely graphical banner if you prefer. The "Footer" contains the same options for the bottom banner.
The optional "Table of Content" sections enables you to include an automatically generated table of contents with anchor links to each item in the newsletter. Simply use the pulldown menu to decide whether to include one. The table of contents can either be placed right below the top banner or in the sidebar if the newsletter has been configured with one.
The "Block 1", "Block 2" and "Block 3" menus is where you control the layout of the main content area. You can include three types of content blocks with each newsletter template. Block 1 is required for all newsletters, while Block 2 and 3 are optional. Each content block is independently repeatable as many times as you want when you send individual newsletters, so there is never any need to create and include identical content blocks. Instead, Block 2 and 3 should only be used if you want to create a newsletter with different layout styles, for example a one-column design in the beginning and a three-column design below. All layout styles are fully responsive, which means that the layout will adapt and change on smaller viewports like mobile devices. You also have full control over the headline, text and link styles. Links can either be regular hyperlinks or in a more eye-catching button format.
All of the HTML and placeholders are generated by the system, so there is no need to tinker with any code. A plain text alternative is created automatically. When you're ready to send your newsletter, you simply choose how many times each content block should repeat, depending on how many news items you have. To insert your content, just click on the placeholder name. A modal window opens where you can type or paste your content, images and links.
When you have populated all of the placeholders with your desired content, the newsletter is ready to be sent.
The automatically maintained list archives have long been one of the most important features of LISTSERV. Many long-running discussion lists carry decades worth of knowledge in their searchable archives. Depending on how the list was configured when it was originally created, the archives are usually divided into weekly or monthly segments.
While the archive search feature has always allowed subscribers to find topics of interest, the downside of the old weekly or monthly archives is that discussions and threads often continue over several weeks or into a new month, which causes an unnatural break when you're reading threads and need to click to navigate to another week or month.
To remedy this, LISTSERV 17.0 introduces a new single index, which merges the individual weeks and months into a single comprehensive archive, dramatically improving its user-friendliness. All you have to do is to reindex your list after upgrading to LISTSERV 17.0, and you'll be able to immediately take advantage of the new possibilities that the single index provides.
When you first enter the list archives after enabling the single index, the archives are rendered using "Classic View". This default mode will look familiar to long-time users of LISTSERV and looks much like an email inbox. You can sort the archives by date, sender or subject line just like before. The main difference is that the entire list archive is now used for your desired sorting method without the need to navigate across weeks and months.
This is particularly useful if you're sorting your archives by subject line or sender because threads are now displayed in their entirety. The filter row allows you to instantly filter the messages in the table, making it easier to find topics or senders of interest. The "Next Page" button at the bottom of the screen allows you retrieve additional messages if needed.
A second mode available under the single index is called "Forum View". To switch to this mode, simply click on "Use Forum View". If you're logged in to the web interface, your selection is saved as part of your personal preferences, so your preferred mode will be in effect the next time you log in.
This mode turns the list archives into a format that resembles a message board. The most recent original thread is always displayed at the top, with all of the responses to that thread listed below in chronological order.
The automatically generated RSS abstracts associated with each message are displayed directly on screen. You can also see the number of replies to each thread. To view these responses, simply click on the appropriate link, which will immediately expand the thread and display all of the replies below.
There is yet another mode available under the single index, which is called "Blog View". It's closely related to Forum View and works in exactly the same way except that it has a custom stylesheet, which allows list owners to make their lists look and feel like a blog. As with Forum View, the most recent original thread is always displayed first, followed by all of the responses (or comments) in chronological order. Because Blog View comes with a custom stylesheet, the list owner needs to enable this mode. This can be done with a single pull-down menu on the new list customization screen (which is covered in more detail in the next tutorial).
You then have the option to customize the special blog stylesheet using the same types of pulldown menus and input boxes used by the HTML newsletter builder. You can also incorporate social media plug-ins and content sharing icons into your list archives.
After you're done with your customization, or if you just prefer to keep the default settings, the list archives will now be rendered using "Blog View", which has the feel of a freestanding blog.
In previous versions of LISTSERV, any customization of the web interface required extensive HTML and CSS coding in the relevant layout templates. The new site customization feature makes the process of putting your organization's stamp on the web interface much easier. When you enter the site customization screen, you are presented with a number of categories that allow you to customize sections of the web interface through simple pulldown menus and input boxes with no HTML or CSS coding.
The "Color Scheme" section at the top of the screen contains 24 color schemes and offers the easiest way to customize the web interface. You can simply select the color scheme that matches your organization's graphic profile, which will change the color of the main navigation bar as well as report headers, links and other accent colors.
If none of the predefined color schemes meet your needs, you can simply use the color picker and enter any color that you want to use for an exact match.
To include a custom logo for your organization in the main navigation bar, you can simply enter the URL pointing to the location of the image under "Custom Logo". Since the LISTSERV web interface is responsive and allows users to view the interface on mobile devices with viewports as small as 320px, the custom logo should not be more than 200px wide, minus any padding, to leave room for the navigation icons. Note that you may need to change the height of the navigation bar if your logo is more than 40px tall.
You can also use an entirely graphical top banner by entering the URL pointing to the banner under "Background Image" and choosing the appropriate size, positioning and repeating for the image.
Beyond changes to the main navigation bar, the various sections on the customization screen offer very granular control of all parts of the web interface. You can change the fonts, sizes, link colors and background colors with just a few mouse clicks.
The same ease of customization is also extended to individual lists. While only site administrators can make sitewide changes to the web interface, individual list owners can customize their own list pages using the same menu options. Simply select the list that you want to customize in the list selector.
After that, you can make exactly the same type of customization changes as above, except that now the customization is limited to a single list.
This means that all list-related pages, including archives, login and subscription screens, message posting interface and archive search will have the new customized look.
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