Customize your Space - from Easy to Extreme

Posted by Andy Singleton on November 7, 2007 20:56:00 PM

We want to help you brand and customize your Assembla space. Here is a list of ways you can customize the current version, starting from Easy (pick a tool bundle), to Extreme (modify the source code and sell us your enhancement).

Select a role and a tool bundle when creating a space
You start customizing your space by selecting a role and a tool bundle on the Create a new space page. This prepares your space with relevant tools installed. Our most popular bundle is "Software developers (trac)", which adds Trac, Subversion, Scrum, and Chat. Alternatively, if you select "Graphic Designers", you will get the Images tool, which will be positioned as the first tab and landing page so that you can get started immediately.

Add and remove tools
Tools are applications that appear as extra tabs on the space. This is a nice way to equip your team members because it only takes one click to give them a new capability, and because each team member has consistent permissions (view, edit, or all) in the new tools. To add and remove tools, go to the Admin tab on the space and select the Tools subtab.

Edit the wiki home page
By default, users clicking on a space link will land on your wiki "Space home" page. Remember to edit this page to make it useful. You should post an introduction to your space and your project, with key links, and contact information.

Add a banner
Go to the admin tab in your space, and select the "Appearance" subtab. Enter the URL of the banner you want. Enter the height in pixels of the image, so that we can adjust the header to fit. You will end up with something like this layout.

If the image is not posted on the Web already, you can upload it as a file, and use the file URL.

Change the tab order and default tab
You can also use the Admin/Appearance subtab to change the tab order and the default tab. Sort the tabs by dragging them. You should put the most frequently used tabs at the beginning. What tab do you want users to land on when they search for your space? Select it from the drop down list.

Add a Dashboard
We are testing a dashboard tool that shows important project information on a single page, including ticket and commit events, messages, milestone status, and other important project information.I am enjoying this feature a lot. Currently, it's an optional tool. To get it, go to the Admin tab on your space, select the Tools subtab, and select "Add Dashboard" from the list. As the space owner, you can customize the dashboard with a drag and drop layout manager. Just select "Edit this dashboard" on the top of the page.

Modify the style sheet
You can do some interesting things on the Admin/Appearance subtab. You can select a style from our predefined styles. This loads some modifications to the default style sheets into the style panel. Currently, we offer some styles that change the width and sidebar placement - flexible width, or left sidebar.

You can modify the style sheet by typing new definitions into the style panel. For example, you can make a white background, or small red fonts. We started working on a style guide to make custom styles easier to write.

The main obstacle to full customization of styles and colors is the background image on tabs, which is always green. In future versions we will remove the background image, and you will be able to customize all of the colors, including the tabs, with the style sheet.

Eventually, we would like to have a library of custom styles that are contributed by users.

Modify the source code
Let's get extreme and modify the source code. Assembla is an open source application, distributed with an open-but-not-free license that gives you full access for development purposes. This page explains how to set up a development environment.

If you want to enhance the product, please contact Assembla. If you just want to give us an idea, we will post it for the team. If you are ready to implement the change, we will consider paying you for the change, or adding you to the development team.

We are looking for new tools, improved user profile information, external applications that can be attached as tools, social networking and online service integrations, etc.

If that's too extreme, we also take requests and suggestions. We have implemented a number of requests and suggestions from the Docs and Suggestions list. Thanks for helping us make the app better.

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About the author

Andy SingletonWorking on Continuous Agile and Accelerating Innovation, Assembla CEO and startup founder

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