Author Archives: Ian McBride

About Ian McBride

I'm a web developer at Middlebury.

Weekly Web Updates – October 26, 2015

New Features

We have added the Featured Video Plus plugin to our WordPress sites. If you are using a theme which supports featured images for posts, you can enable this plugin to replace those featured images with videos.

The MIIS website homepage was updated to include new dynamic content from across the site. In addition to the MIIS Spotlight on the right, you can now page through an additional set of hand-picked stories on the left.

Additional messaging has been added when working with recycled items in Drupal. If an editor is on a page that has a link to an item in a recycle bin, a message will display above the content indicating that the file won’t be viewable by people who cannot edit it, and provides a link to the recycle bin so the editor can either permanently delete the file or restore the file.


Additionally, when trying to download a media item that has been recycled, an alert will display instead of the original item with the email address of the last editor to modify the item.



Fixes & Tweaks

  • The old Stats plugin has been removed. You can still get site stats using Jetpack or Google Analytics.
  • The Drupal Instagram content type stopped working because the IDs of the images were larger than the database expected. We have changed this to anticipate even larger photo ID numbers.
  • A small fix to MiddSTART to account for the case when the column identifying the type of donor is empty, to ensure that they are given credit on the project page.
  • All staff in the Library and in ITS should now be able to edit the Library & ITS Wiki. If you’re in one of those areas and can’t edit, please let us know.
  • We have updated the code we use to create test WordPress sites on our development server to disable plugins like Jetpack and Subscribe2 so that you should no longer see Jetpack notices about your site URL changing or receive emails when posts are published on our development server.

Weekly Web Updates – October 19, 2015

New Features

The CCI Alumni Profiles site has been refreshed to once again include the rotating profile feature and we’ve added options to sort the profiles by major and class year.

One of the most common Drupal issues we’ve seen is that files in Recycle Bins work normally if you’re an editor who is logged into the site and has permission to edit the file. This sometimes causes an editor to forward a link to that file, which others can’t access. Now, when viewing a file in a Recycle Bin there will be an extra message after you’ve logged in. The “recycle bin” link will take you to the bin with the file so you can Restore it, if you’re the editor, and the contact link will allow others to send an email to the editor letting them know they can’t access the file. We also recommend reviewing our documentation on working with files in Drupal.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.10.45 AM


We’ll be working with College Communications to feature search promotions on our Google Custom Search Engine. This will ensure that when, for example, you search for “inauguration” you receive the appropriate page at the top of the list. We had originally thought about doing this automatically using the list of “searchable” GO shortcuts that appear when you start typing in the search box, but decided to start with a few manual entries. ITS will be adding some for internal audiences and welcome your suggestions. Also, if you are an admin of one of the CSEs like the custom one for the Helpdesk, you can add these yourself through the CSE dashboard.


Tweaks and Fixes

  • We believe we have resolved the issue with editing Drupal sites in Internet Explorer. If you continue to encounter issues with this, please let us know. We did discover a minor issue that occasionally occurs while editing Drupal sites in Microsoft Edge while testing this. You can review our Browser Support documentation for the latest information.
  • The “SITES DOT MIDDLEBURY” and “SITES DOT MIIS” bars on our WordPress instances are now responsive and won’t cause themes to appear extraordinarily small on mobile devices.
  • The FlatOn WordPress theme now supports the Co-Authors Plus plugin.
  • We’ve fixed a bug in the WordPress Sign-Up Sheets plugin that stopped the event date from being included in confirmation emails.
  • We’ve fixed a big in the Course Hub Moodle Resource that was causing the “visibility” setting of the Moodle site to not be reflected correctly when editing the resource.
  • content embedded in Drupal can now have a custom title and author set via the shortcode.
  • We’ve added a[n admin-only] system for cleaning up deleted files (that are no longer referenced in content) from our Drupal file-upload directories to save space.

Weekly Web Updates – October 12, 2015

Last week we launched a “new” website for Sustainability. New is in quotes because, while much of the content was updated and it features a new, responsive design, it’s still in the same Drupal site that it used to be. We are very happy that we were able to do this “in-place” update of the site. Among its new features are a content type for events (which we’ll be rolling out to other areas of the site) and a custom tagging vocabulary with themed tag pages. The Sustainability tags can be added to any “Basic Content”, “News”, or “Event” node in the site, but only by one of the editors of the Sustainability site or the Communications department.

New Features

The Middlebury Drupal site’s WYSIWYG editor now has a button for the abbr element. Use this to add explanations for abbreviations you put in your text.

You can now enable the “Pinterest Board Shortcode” plugin on any WordPress site to embed Pinterest boards. Here are a few examples.


Fixes and Tweaks

  • The “equalizer” or “waveform” bars will no longer open automatically on interior pages of the site when there is only one featured story.
  • The “ shortlinks” feature of the Jetpack plugin is no longer available on our WordPress sites. This created an external dependency on getting to our sites and caused problems when site URLs were changed. All existing shortlinks will continue to work. If you need a shortlink for a particular post, consider creating a GO shortcut.
  • The “print” button has been removed from the WYSIWYG editor on the Middlebury Drupal site to make space for the “abbr” button.
  • Fixed an issue where the Drupal user-sync process in the Course Hub was not properly importing additional data about users (FirstName, LastName, etc) and in turn was preventing the Hub from properly creating new user-accounts.
  • Fixed an name-collision issue in Drupal where users who accidentally get a new identifier in Banner were not able to have accounts created in Drupal sites associated with their new ID.

Weekly Web Updates – October 5, 2015

The New England Review website was updated last Thursday with a new design, developed by College Communications. This is a child theme based on the Genesis Theme Framework, which we’ve done an extensive security review on. It will be used to produce other custom WordPress themes including (eventually) a refreshed set of Middlebury-branded themes for use on your sites.

We have set up an application we’re calling “BannerSelect” that creates a nightly cache of Banner data that is used in our Drupal and WordPress sites. For example, lists of donors for the Online Donor Roll or course descriptions shown in the Course Catalog. This removes Banner as a dependency for these applications (though the Course Catalog was already creating its own cache) and will speed them up as well as make managing the web servers a little easier as they will no longer need to know how to connect to Oracle. We’ll be working with areas that rely on these applications to ensure they’re tested and working with the new system.


Fixes and Tweaks

  • When a piece of content on any of our Drupal sites appears on multiple pages, links to it will always go to the current page if you’re already on the current page. This mostly applied to pages with lists of profiles and lists of news stories. If you are viewing a list of faculty profiles on a department site and click on one of them, you should now always stay on that department site, rather than sometimes jumping to a different department in which that person also teaches.
  • We have disabled a redundant scheduled task that was causing slowness in the Course Hub application. This should slightly improve performance of all of our Drupal-based websites.
  • Information about commons association and advisors for students displayed in Course Hub Rosters is now stored in a local database (using the BannerSelect application mentioned above) and refreshed nightly from Banner, rather than being read directly from Banner.
  • The Study Abroad and Language Schools navigation elements will now appear properly as 36px high in all browsers.
  • When we upgraded the Drupal modernizr module this week, we took the opportunity to pare down the list of tests that the JavaScript file runs for older browsers. This shouldn’t affect anyone on the Middlebury campus, as most people should be using a modern version of each browser now, but this should mean a slight performance increase for people using Internet Explorer 7-9.

Google Analytics for Higher Education Workshop on October 28, 2015

I’ll be hosting a workshop to discuss how you can use Google Analytics to get information about and improve the Middlebury website. You can sign up for the workshop on Wednesday October 28 from 1:00-2:30pm in MBH 161. Registration is limited to 10 persons to ensure there will be adequate time to answer your individual questions.

If you want to attend this session and don’t already have access to Google Analytics, please submit a Helpdesk ticket for “Software & Web Tools – Goolge Analytics Question” so that I can make sure you’re set up prior to the session.

Description: We can give you access to our Google Analytics reports so that you can look at traffic patterns for your website, but in order to get the most from this tool, you’ll need to do a bit of set up work and understand the basics of the platform. If you do not yet have a Google Analytics account, please indicate this in your sign-up.

What we’ll cover: Google Analytics tips & tricks, what number you should care about, search engine optimization, and getting your account set up.

What we won’t cover: Goals, conversions, AdWords, and on page events.

Format: The workshop will last an hour with additional time for questions and discussion, as needed.

More information about LIS workshops is available at go/lisworkshops.

Weekly Web Updates – September 28, 2015

New Features

We are now using the “Monster Menus Field Permissions” module in production on the Middlebury Drupal site. This module allows us to define not only who can edit a type of content, but who can edit a field within that type of content. Right now this is being used for a custom tag field that will only apply to one area of our site, but it is a feature that we see as potentially useful in other areas.

We reviewed a couple of options to integrate accessibility checks into the WYSIWYG editor in Drupal, but neither seemed as easy to use as the SiteImprove accessibility reports. If you’re unfamiliar with this tool, you can review their video tutorials. also has helpful courses on Foundations of UX: Accessibility, Improving SEO Using Accessibility Techniques, Creating Accessible PDFs, and Creating Accessible MS Office Documents.


Tweaks and Fixes

  • The width of the header of LinkedIn profiles shown by the WordPress Social Media Badge Widget will now match the width of the badge.
  • The “description” field on Drupal webforms will no longer be shown both above and below the field when the “select or other” option is used.
  • The header of the Drupal Language Schools site has changed to replace the link for the Centennial with a link to the Language Pledge.
  • The Course Hub now displays its 404 pages without error.
  • Images in content on the Middlebury Drupal site will now include “float-left” or “float-right” as classes if they’ve been aligned to one side of the content. Additionally, videos on all Drupal sites will be wrapped in an extra element with a “video-filter” class applied to it. These changes will help ensure that these items resize appropriately when viewed at different resolutions when we add responsive stylesheets.

Weekly Web Updates – September 21, 2015

Last week there were not as many changes usual. We’re working on some interesting projects that are nearly, but not quite, ready for the live site, as well as supporting people getting sites updated and created for the new academic year.


Fixes and Tweaks

  • The link to the “Emergency” page has been moved from the bottom to the top of the “Quick Links” dropdown in the footer of the Middlebury Drupal site.
  • Images featured on the homepage of Midd History Online will be automatically resized to fit within the height of the homepage carousel.

Web Workgroup Updates – September 14, 2015

We’ll begin with a couple of notices about browser compatibility. First, while we try to support every major browser, a reminder that editing in Drupal with Internet Explorer (including version 11) is not supported at this time due to an issue with the pop-up window used to add images. If you notice any issues viewing the Drupal site in IE 11, or in any of our other systems, please let us know.

Next, many people using Chrome 45 have noticed an issue with the admin menu. Here are instructions on disabling a Chrome feature that is causing the problem. This is anticipated to be resolved in Chrome 47.

New Features

On pages with multiple Google Calendars you can now link to a specific calendar by adding “#1” to the end of the URL, using the number of the calendar in the dropdown list, starting with zero, that you want to select. For example, to get the Helpdesk Hours on the Library Hours page, you can go to since “#0” is Davis Family Library, “#1” is Armstrong Library, “#2” is Special Collections, and “#3” is the Helpdesk.

There is a new version of Monster Menus available. We have not applied this to the live site yet, and likely won’t during September. We want to test to ensure that there aren’t any issues that would impact our live sites, especially the Course Hub during the first weeks of classes. There are some interesting features in this version:

  • Recycle bins have changed substantially, with regard to what happens when a single node is displayed on more than one page:
    • Nodes are removed (or moved to the recycle bin) only from the current page. If recycle bins are being used, there is a new option to remove the node from all pages at once. Emptying a bin containing a node that appears on other pages does not permanently delete the node from pages outside of the bin.
    • When a page is moved to the recycle bin, and a node from it also appears on a page not being deleted, it remains visible on the page outside the bin. If the page is permanently deleted, the node remains intact.
  • Automatically clear specific Drupal anonymous page cache entries whenever a page or node is updated, so that anonymous users don’t see stale content. It can also clear Varnish’s cache, if used, under the same circumstances. This eliminates the 5 minute wait after you update content, in most circumstances.


Tweaks and Fixes

  • We fixed an issue with the “Site Banner” images on department and office sites. By default, the images in raw File Upload nodes link to the image file. For File Uploads placed in Site Banners, we overrode this so that they would link to the department homepage. However, if you entered a custom URL in the File Upload that the banner should go to instead of the department homepage, this did not get consistently applied. Your custom URL values will now override both built-in link URLs.
  • The Category Sticky Posts plugin in WordPress failed to load one of its dependencies, which caused other site features to break. There should no longer be any conflicts when using this plugin.
  • Some of the “Add User” links in the WordPress admin interface took you to the internal WordPress “Add User” page, rather than the custom one we set up to ensure that the user accounts are added from our directory so we can use our Central Authentication Service. any internal WordPress users created this way wouldn’t be able to log in. All of the links now go to the correct form.