Weekly Web Development Round-up June 27-July 01, 2011

To give our colleagues a better idea of what’s changed in our web applications each week, we’ll be preparing this quick list for publication each Friday. Not all of the details of each change are included below, but we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments.


  • News items in RSS feeds are themed as they are on the website. This support will be expanded to other content types over time. Images from News items are added as enclosures in the RSS feed. See the Middlebury News archive feed for an example.
  • We’ve added a module to allow conditional email recipients for forms. When creating an email for your form, you can specify that the email will be sent based on the value of one of the fields.
  • Modules update: feeds
  • Drupal version update: Pressflow 6.22.104 (fixes an issue where URLs for files and images were relative to the site, rather than including the host name).


  • Added support for m4a files. Users can now upload m4a audio files. The application will preview them (with any associated images) and will generate embed code for them. Quicktime is required to preview these files.
  • Embed code generated for video files now uses HTML5 embed tags that reference the mp4 and webm versions of the videos for HTML5 compliant browsers. All others will fall back to a Flash player (currently Strobe player).
  • Constrained widths of elements of the main file listing table. Before long file names could force the table below the sidebar. Now the elements should remain positioned correctly despite the size of the contents.


  • Created a “Summon” pluslet. It is now available for use in subject guides from the “add a pluslet” drag and drop interface.


  • Added support for embedding m4a files from MiddMedia. Safari users will see the m4a in an HTML5 video player, allowing you to display chapter images. Users of other browsers will see a download link, allowing them to open the file in a desktop application, like iTunes or in the browser window if they have the QuickTime plugin installed.
  • Added WP RSS Images plugin which adds image enclosures to the blog’s RSS feed. If you set a Featured Image on the post, it will be added as an enclosure in the feed. See the Middlebury Magazine feed for an example.
  • Added the OnSwipe plugin which enables a special WordPress theme for iPads. See MiddBlog for an example.
  • We have removed the cforms plugin that allowed you to create custom forms in WordPress. This has been replaced by webforms in Drupal.
  • The BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY bar at the top of the page will not be displayed for blogs whose URL does not include sites.middlebury.edu. We have the ability, using a domain mapping plugin, to host sites on our instance of WordPress that display a different domain name in the address bar. Since these don’t appear as part of sites.middlebury.edu, that bar doesn’t get displayed.
  • Plugins updated: wptouch, geo-mashup
  • WordPress version update: 3.1.4 (security release)

3 thoughts on “Weekly Web Development Round-up June 27-July 01, 2011

  1. Carrie Macfarlane

    Hooray for adjustments to RSS feeds! Thanks! I’m glad that images now will display. Will it eventually be possible to preserve formatting, such as bullets, and links too? (I’m not sure what is meant by “This support will be expanded to other content types.”) With bullets and links, the “Library Spotlight” feed on the library home page would be more readable. See for example the post that’s there now (http://go.middlebury.edu/lib). It doesn’t make a lot of sense without the bullets and links that were in the original (http://sites.middlebury.edu/lis/2011/06/24/welcome-to-our-summer-students/). Thanks!

    1. Ian McBride

      Good question, Carrie. The adjustments to RSS feeds mentioned in this post are just to the feeds that Drupal *outputs*, rather than the RSS Page content type that’s part of how Drupal *consumes* RSS. In this case, you’re talking about a feed generated by WordPress that is then displayed in Drupal, rather than a feed generated by Drupal.

      However, you’ve brought up an issue that we can work on resolving. The problem with the Library Spotlight RSS Page node is that the RSS Page module (which was developed by Amherst as part of Monster Menus) only displays the content of the <description> tag in the RSS feed, which WordPress outputs as a summary of the post content with many of the HTML tags removed (it leaves image tags and links only, I believe). What we want to display is the content of the <content:encoded> tag from the feed, which contains the full post and markup.

      I have a preliminary version of this working in development, but want to develop it further to ensure that only allowed tags are allowed through (so we don’t allow arbitrary JavaScript or embedded media to be displayed via an RSS feed), that we handle media enclosures correctly, that we do it in a way that doesn’t change everyone’s RSS feeds overnight, and in a way that Amherst can turn off the feature if they (likely) decide not to use it.

      Look for notes about this in one of these weekly updates as I get closer to getting this in production. Thanks for the feedback!

    2. Ian McBride

      I’ve now made the change I described back in July live on the site so you’ll see the full markup version of the content in the Library Spotlight RSS Page and others.


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