Here is a sample portfolio page:

You’ll notice as you scroll down on the page, the black header area will shrink up a bit, and just show your name and avatar.  You can scroll back up again to see full header details.

Getting Started

To get started, log into the Commons and click on your avatar.  Your profile is now divided into two tabs: “Public Portfolio” and “Commons Profile”.  (You’ll see the “Edit” button only if you are logged into your account.)

  • Public Portfolio – This tab is designed to be shared outside the CUNY Academic Commons community.  It is your online presence that can be configured to reflect your add friend3accomplishments, current projects, interests, positions, publications and RSS feeds.  The new interface provides many ways to build your profile.  You’ll notice very little reference to the Commons on this tab.

When viewing other member’s portfolios, logged-in members will see some options (pictured above) that are displayed immediately under a colleague’s avatar.  You can easily create a friendship (if you are not already friends), send a private message or mention that person.

  • Commons Profile – This tab is designed for working within the Commons.  It has all the easy navigational links you’ll remember from your old profile page.  You can quickly access your sites, groups, and friends.

Start Building Your Portfolio

who can seeClick on Edit (circled in red, above).  There are a number of legacy fields that are essential to both profiles, and most of these can be configured to display, depending upon the status of the viewer.  (See screenshot, right.)

So, for example, if you only want to display your phone number to your friends on the Commons, click on the “My Friends” radio button.

The fields are listed in two columns:

  • Full Name
  • Role(s) (only displayed on Commons Profile)
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social Media links (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Academia.com, Delicious) – these are automatically converted into icons.

Describe Yourself

A couple of important new fields, only displayed on the “Public Portfolio” tab, are now available:

  • Brief Descriptor – this field is a neat little tag line displayed underneath your name.  It is displayed in a different color (grey) and highlights your profile.  It is limited to only one line of text.  This field is not required, and if not used, it absence will not be apparent.
  • About You – This field is much larger, but is still constrained to 350 characters.  Once again, this text is not required.


Pronouns are an optional field on the Commons. Share your personal pronouns with the community to help fellow members know how to address you with caring, respect, and acceptance. When added, they will appear on your public profile and in Commons groups. This is a free 80 character field that is automatically formatted with slashes. (For example: (he/his/him), (she/hers/her), (they/their/them).

Quick Links

Another great improvement rolled out with Commons 1.5 is the ability to create customized short URLs.  For your Commons Portfolio, your quick link will automatically be populated with your username, but you can easily change it using the textbox shown in the screenshot below.  Type in some text in the box, and the system will determine if it is available (i.e. already taken or not).  When you save your changes, you will be able to more easily access and share the URL of your portfolio.  Simply use http://cuny.is/yourQuickLink.

short URL 2

Profile Widgets

To customize your profile, use the widgets that are provided below the text boxes:


All the widgets conform to the portfolio’s basic layout – a section name, displayed in bold on the right, followed by a block of text, displayed on the right.  You’ll notice that some are grayed out.  This indicates that they have already been used in your existing portfolio, and that the particular widget can appear only once.  To change content for one of these widgets, you’ll need to go into edit mode (described below), and click on the section’s text area.

If the widget is not grayed out, you can simply click on the “plus” icon to add a new section.  You will be taken directly to the widget data entry area.

Widget Edit Mode

Clicking  on the “Edit” button automatically puts you into widget maintenance mode.  Hovering your mouse over the text of each section will turn the text area yellow.  Clicking on a yellow area will start the edit process.  Clicking “OK” or “Cancel” will take you out of editing the section, but will not save your profile changes.  To save your profile changes, please remember to click “Save Changes” button.  This will save all the changes you’ve made to the text boxes, described previously, as well as to the widgets, and will take you out of edit mode.

If you want to remove a widget area, you can click on the “Remove” button while in Edit Mode.  After saving, the widget will not appear in your portfolio.


Re-Ordering Sections

In Edit Mode, you can drag and drop sections of your portfolio.   Click on the grey stripped area of a section, and drag it up or down to find its best place. Make sure you save your changes once you’ve got it looking the way you want.

Below is a brief description of the widgets:

  • Free Entry Widget

This widget lets you add and customize text, images, lists, links, etc.  It’s great for adding a simple paragraph of text.  You’ll need some basic HTML and CSS skills to get fancy in this area. You can also copy a block of HTML that’s already formatted the way you want and paste it in, if you want.  You can use this widget more than once in your portfolio to create free text areas, with different names.

  • Academic Interests Widget

This widget is designed to be used only once.  You cannot change its name.  By default it is displayed on both your Commons Profile and Public Portfolio.  When you enter comma delimited items into the text box, they are automatically turned into links. You can control this by using brackets around items you want to become links.  So, for example, you can add some text like “I am interested in [Mark Twain], [Whitman], and [GPS],” and only the items in brackets will be turned into links.

You’ll notice that the widget comes pre-populated with the data you entered on your Commons Profile.

The auto-generated hyperlinks are intended to aggregate members with similar interests.  If one of your interests is “history”, clicking on the hyperlink will provide a list of other Commons members who have also entered “history” as an interest.

  • Education Widget

This widget is also designed to be used only once and also has a fixed name.  Use the editable text area to create a list of degrees and institutions.

  • Positions Widget

This widget is also designed to be used only once and also has a fixed name.  Here you can create a list of positions.  Three fields are available – College, Department, and Title.  Use the text boxes to add each position you want to display on your profile.  Use the “+ Add New” hyperlink to add another one.  The widget will automatically create a list for you.


  • Publications Widget

This widget provides an easy way to list your publications.  Copy and paste content from a text editor and populate your publications section, or type your publications in directly.  This widget accepts HTML and allows you to link to online publications.

  • RSS Feed Widget

This widget lets you create a section on your portfolio, give it a name and provide an RSS feed to populate it.  You can use this widget more than once.  If you have a blog, you might want to create a section called “Recent Posts” and provide your feed URL.  The section will list the last five posts published.




Edit Mode More Intuitive

Previously, when you clicked on your avatar in the upper left hand corner of the screen, you were taken right into “edit mode” for your member profile page. To improve usability, we’ve added an “Edit” buttons in each of the two sections of your profile page. To make changes to your profile, click one of these buttons to toggle into edit mode. Click on “Save Changes” after you have entered your changes, or alternatively “Cancel” to return to your previous version.

Quick Layout Review

Your member profile page is comprised of a top section (with a black background) and a bottom one (with a white background):

my profile

Editable fields in the top section include a Brief Descriptor, an “About You” descriptor, your various social links (rendered as clickable icons), as well as your website, blog, and CUNY/IS shortlink. All fields are optional, and can be maintained by clicking the edit button.

This top section’s height expands and collapses as you scroll up and down. Scrolling down highlights the widget section of a profile page:

my profile collapsed

This section is populated by seven customizable widgets, shown below. All widgets are optional. Some (Academic Interests, Education, Publication, and Positions) can be used only once. The others can be used more than once, if needed.


Rich Text Editor

Another important usability improvement introduced in Commons 1.6 is the ability to use rich text editing when using the Free Text, Academic Interests, Education, Publications, and Positions widgets. See an example below:


Simply highlight some text and click one of the rich text buttons to transform and standardize your content.

Reordering Entries using the Positions Widget

When using the Positions widget, members often need to change the order of the jobs they enter. Now you can easily “drag and drop” entries so that they displayed in the proper order. See below:


Twitter Widget

One of the most exciting enhancement in Commons 1.6 is the new Twitter widget that displays your latest tweets on your member profile page. Simply provide a title and a twitter username to get dynamic content onto your page. You can use this widget more than once if, for example, you want to display your own tweets and also maybe tweets from a project you are involved with. Here is an example, using the Commons twitter username:

twitter widget


Members can create dynamic, online profiles, and access them with easy-to-remember URLs, using our new CUNY.IS Quick Links.

We hope these usability tweaks and functional enhancements make it easier to design attractive and useful member profile pages. If you have any questions, send us an email at support@cunycommons.zendesk.com