Author Archives: Ian McBride

About Ian McBride

I'm a web developer at Middlebury.

Weekly Web Updates – April 27 📬 🎁 😻

WordPress 4.2

  • You can now switch themes in the Customizer, making it easier to compare how new themes will look on your site.
  • Added Tumblr and Kickstarter to the list of services that can be embedded by just pasting a URL into the editor.
  • Extended character support, including native support for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters as well as mathematical and musical symbols. Also, emoji 👻

WordPress / Google Calendar support

In the past our and WordPress systems have offered a variety of plugins to support embedding Google Calendars in posts and sidebar widgets. Over time the authors of these plugins have moved on and not updated them to work with the latest versions of WordPress, leaving us with broken calendar support.

We are pleased to announce that we have now retired the old plugins and have replaced them with a streamlined pair of plugins, a Google Calendar Shortcode plugin that allows embedding of calendars in posts and pages and a Google Calendar Widget plugin that provides a sidebar widget which displays an “agenda” view of upcoming events from a calendar. These plugins can be enabled and used on any site in our systems.

See the LIS Wiki for instructions and more information on how use these plugins. For users of the old plugins, we will be going through your sites over the next few days and updating them to use the new plugins.


Tweaks and Fixes

  • Google claims that the issue with embedded Google Calendars being blank has been fixed. Let us know if you notice this occurring again.
  • In Drupal, on the Middlebury site, RSS feeds and forms on pages with blank sidebars will now use the full width of the content region, rather than being confined to 450px. This mirrors an earlier fix for promotional calendars.
  • Also on the Middlebury Drupal site, Facebook buttons and boxes in sidebars won’t have a dotted line border around or beneath them any more.
  • Choosing to hide one field in a profile on the Middlebury Drupal site, such as fax number, will no longer also cause the photo to be hidden.

Weekly Web Updates – April 20

New WordPress themes available

The following themes are now available in and


  • WordPress plugin updates:
    • WPtouch Mobile
    • Subscribe2
    • Schedule Posts Calendar
    • Resize Image After Upload
    • Redirection
    • Post Types Order
    • NextGen Gallery
    • MailPoet Newsletters
    • Akismet
    • Liveblog
    • Email Users
    • CM Tooltip Glossary
    • Blog ID In Site Admin Menu
    • BBPress
    • QTranslate-X

Known Issues

  • We’ve been noticing periodic stability issues with the web-server that hosts the GO application. We anticipate that these issues will be resolved by an upcoming system update.

Tweaks and Fixes

      Fixed a broken view that was preventing

faculty-housing listings

    from displaying.

Weekly Web Updates – April 13, 2015

Multi-File Uploads in Drupal

Thanks to some assistance from our colleagues at Amherst, we’re almost ready to allow multiple files to be uploaded into a File Upload content type in Drupal again. Please try out this feature on our development copy of the site and let us know if you run into any issues. It works just like uploading files does now, except that you can select multiple files when you click the Browse button. We hope to have this feature enabled in production this month.

Files on ‘user’ Pages

Back in 2009-2010, while we were still setting up the Middlebury site and getting used to Drupal, it was possible to upload files to your personal “user” page, rather than your site’s hidden File Uploads page. We’re removing the otherwise unused “user” pages, which aren’t used for anything else and take up a lot of space in the database. There were still about 170 files on those pages, so we moved those files to the appropriate department or office site. If you see a sub-page of your site’s File Uploads page with someone’s name on it, that’s where that came from.


Known Issues

Tweaks and Fixes

  • The Email share button on was not working because we needed to add that domain to the allowed domains list for MIIS’s reCAPTCHA API key. If there are other WordPress domains that desire to use the Email share button aside from,, or, please let us know.
  • Images in File Upload nodes where the Link URL field was not blank in the Carousel were hidden. We’ve fixed this so that the images are shown.
  • We have removed photos from the MIIS header, except on the homepage, and constrained the header width to 960px. This is part of an ongoing effort to do some work refreshing elements of that site’s design.
  • We have improved the performance of permissions-saving and deleting in Drupal. If you noticed problems with these in the past, they should now be resolved.

Weekly Web Updates – April 6, 2015

New Features

  • The Drupal Edit Console now has a “Files” link. This can be used to locate content where an image or document is stored. Paste in the URL of the file on the Drupal site and click “Find!” You will be shown a list of content on the site that references that file. If the file was embedded in content since we upgraded to version 7.x-2.0-beta1 of the Drupal file_entity module (February 8 for or October 23 for other Drupal 7 sites) you will also see a row for wherever it is being used.
    Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.40.22 AM
  • The Drupal Edit Console also now has a “Search” link that provides you with an interface to look up content throughout our site based on advanced search criteria. For example, in the image below we’re using it to find all of the News items with “Commencement” in the title. You can also narrow the scope of the search to focus on a particular part of the site.
    Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.46.50 AM
  • You can also create a new Drupal Issue ticket in Web Helpdesk by clicking on the “New Ticket” link in the Drupal Edit Console.
  • The Drupal Slideshow content type now supports adding a pager below the slides. This will appear as a series of • characters that you can click on to move between the slides. This feature is not compatible with loading only the first slide on page load and loading remaining slides in the background. Enabling the pager will cause your page to load slower as all the slides will need to be loaded.
  • We’ve added the Drupal google_tag module, which allows us to add Google Tag Manager codes to our sites, rather than directly adding the Google Analytics tracking code. GTM is a web interface for managing Google Analytics, Google AdWords, event tracking, and other third-party tracking objects. Using this allows us to manage the trackers and events without needing to make code changes to the website and to delegate this responsibility.
  • The WordPress Multilingual (WPML) suite of plugins is now available in If you would like to make use of this plugin suite in, please contact us.


New Documentation

  • Social Media Tools: Details all of the integrations we offer between our Drupal and WordPress sites and social media platforms to help you share content with those sites and display content from them. This includes a new documentation page for the Drupal Facebook Element content type.
  • Drupal Edit Console: This documentation has been rewritten to be accurate for the new Edit Console in Drupal and to mention some of the new features added this week. There are still some portions of this being fleshed out as we work to bring the documentation up-to-date with the current state of the interface.
  • Drupal Shortcodes: This has long existed as a reference to the shortcodes that are available for use inside your Drupal content, but we have updated it this week to include information on using the pop-out video player, Storify, and the Alumni Profiles view.
  • Troubleshooting Course Catalog issues: If course lists aren’t showing up in department sites or instructor profiles, check here to figure out where the data might need to be updated.

Tweaks & Fixes

  • The script that powers the pop-out video player (see the interview with Ron Liebowitz on the homepage for an example) is now loaded on all pages of the site, especially the homepage, and a small issue with the video caption supplied in the Drupal Story content type has been corrected. You can use the pop-out player in your own videos on Drupal with the “open:1” parameter in the video shortcode.
  • To prevent spam submissions, the comment form for news stories on the Middlebury Drupal site now has a required CAPTCHA field.
  • We replaced the “waveform” bars at the top of the Giving website with a Drupal Slideshow.
  • If the caption of a Drupal Slideshow slide contains a link, the image for that slide will be wrapped in that link so that clicking on the slide directs the user to that URL.
  • Corrected an issue with the Drupal 7 Course Lists that was preventing the “exclusive” checkbox in the Level filtering to work as intended. Checking this and selecting just “Undergraduate” will now appropriately show just the undergraduate courses, excluding those offered in both undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • We re-write the display of Drupal Webform fields to force the field description to appear between the field label and the form field. Because of this, we weren’t supporting several new display options for webform field, such as prefix labels (e.g. putting a $ in front of a “Cost” field). We’ve fixed this so that all of the new field label options are supported.
  • Items in the left navigation of the Middlebury Drupal site are now styled as a “block” so that when their labels wrap to a new line they are indented by the same 6px as the line above them. See the ITS Teams & Workgroups navigation for an example.
  • The boxes for MIIS faculty profiles are now set to be the same height as the items to their left and right in a row of profile boxes. See the MBA faculty page for an example.
  • Links to the Campus Map and EthicsPoint now appear again in the Middlebury Drupal site’s footer.

Weekly Web Updates – March 30, 2015

Searching on

We have changed the way the search dialog works on the Middlebury website. Previously, if you searched for a term within a certain sub-set of GO shortcodes (ex. “coursehub”) we would forward you directly to the page for that GO term and show a green frameset bar at the top of your screen saying, “We think this is the right page for your search…”. This behavior caused several problems.

In order to get this to work for results on websites, like Banner and the Course Hub, we have to use HTML framesets, which are a way to display two webpages at the same time in a single browser window. The green bar was one page and your search result was the other page. For security reasons, browsers don’t let one page talk to another.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.43.27 PMIf you kept browsing in your search result there wasn’t any way for us to automatically tell the green bar to go away, you had to manually close it. If you manually closed it after you’d left the main result page, you’d be redirected back to it without warning. Also, some dynamic features of sites, like Moodle’s editor, were breaking when displayed inside a frameset. This feature was a good idea when introduced in our website redesign five years ago, but was starting to show some strain.

Now, when you start typing in the search box you will see a list of possible GO shortcuts. Select one of those from the drop-down menu and you’ll go right to that page with no kludgy green bar. Or, if you prefer, press return or select the “Search for…” option, which will always be displayed first in the list, to go to a Google-powered search results page.

New Documentation

  • Google Analytics: details how to set up a custom segment to look at analytics for your department or office site and provides links to resources on using more advanced features of the Google Analytics platform.
  • Drupal Redirector: there are no new features of this content type, but it hadn’t been documented previously.


Tweaks and Fixes

  • The “Clicking on this image shows it full-size” checkbox in the dialog box you use to embed images in Drupal content is now working again. This will wrap the image in a link that opens a pop-out dialog window that displays the image at its full size, or scaled down so that it fits inside the browser window. See our Drupal File Upload documentation for more information on embedding images in content.
  • Animated gif images will now work when uploaded to Drupal, however, you must choose “Full content” when embedding them in content. If you allow Drupal to resize the image the processing that occurs will break the animation.
  • The “Meta tags” tab now appears correctly in the Drupal Page Settings form, so you can set meta tags and Open Graph tags at the page level. See our Drupal Meta Tags documentation for more information on using this feature.
  • The “Content Sidebar” region on the MIIS site now has 12px of padding on all sides and its content width has been reduced from 212px to 200px. This is to ensure that text doesn’t run up against the right side of the page.
  • The “Library Portal” content type has been deleted. This was used for a single piece of content, the “Library Quick Search” feature on the Library site, which is now in a Basic Content node.

Weekly Web Updates – March 23, 2015

We’re starting this feature again to let you know about the changes that we’ve made recently to our web systems. This will appear each Monday in the Library & Information Technology Services blog.

New Features

  • Drupal Instagram: You can now add lists of images from one or more Instagram users to your pages. This works well as a sidebar widget.
  • Drupal Slideshow: Allows you to put a rotating image slideshow on a page.
  • The Language Schools and Schools Abroad sites have had their headers redesigned. Additionally, there is now a fullwidth page theme for the Language Schools.
  • We now support embedding content from ExpOsure in Drupal using the video shortcode, as you would with YouTube or Vimeo. Here’s an example of it in practice.

New Documentation

We’re working on improving our documentation and have cleaned up the content types section of the Editing in Drupal page. The Drupal File Upload documentation has been revised to incorporate the changes in that system with Drupal 7, and we’ve added a page about Drupal Email Newsletters, which are created differently in Drupal now, though the process for sending them through List Manager is the same.

The new Instagram and Slideshow content types are also documented and there is a page with the pixel dimensions of each region on our site, which is helpful when creating new Instagram and Slideshow content.


Tweaks and Fixes

  • Images in the Drupal File Upload content are now wrapped in a link to the full-sized image. Note that the “Clicking on this image shows it full-size” checkbox when embedding an image is still not working.
  • The comment form on Drupal News items on the Middlebury site now includes a comment policy and the unnecessary Subject field has been removed to improve the display of comments.
  • Drupal Promotional Calendars on pages with empty sidebars now take up the full width of the content region, rather than being confined to 450px.
  • The Middlebury 404 page is no longer showing extraneous navigation elements and has the correct margins on the text that is shown.
  • Related videos are no longer shown for any YouTube embeds in Drupal.
  • The Google Analytics code on the Middlebury Drupal site has been updated to allow links to “” (the online giving form) to track as though they were hosted on our domain.
  • Google Analytics on the MIIS forms site will now track clicks on form page buttons as discrete events, showing “Page 1 of 3”, for example, when a user clicks on the first page button on a multi-page form.
  • WordPress video embeds from MiddMedia now support files containing sequential en-dash characters, ‘-‘. WordPress had been translating this into em-dash characters ‘–‘, breaking urls.
Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 11.03.00 AM

Instagram Integration for Drupal

You can now create a piece of content on your Drupal site(s) to display a list of images from one or multiple Instagram accounts. You can set the number of images to show and the width at which the images will appear. Full documentation on this feature is available on the Library & ITS Wiki.

If you want to use Instagram on your WordPress sites, you can activate the Simple Instagram plugin, then configure the plugin (start with the “Registering and Activating” header on that page).

Google Analytics for Higher Education Workshop on March 25, 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 March 25 from 1:30-2:50pm 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 either 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.