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Weekly Web Development Round-up April 25-29, 2011

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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.

Drupal:

  • A bug that caused file upload replacements to fail has been resolved. You can now replace an existing file by editing its file upload node and uploading a new version of the file, even one with the same filename.
  • TIFF images have been added to the list of allowed file types.
  • Added a Google Calendar content type that can be used to embed Google Calendars on pages of the site. MIIS has been using this for their events calendar for some time.
  • The cache files for RSS feeds are now kept in the same location as other cache files, meaning that the feeds will be refreshed with the same periodicity as other features on the site.
  • The full URL of the result page will now be shown below each search result. This was a suggestion we received from the Site Search Satisfaction Survey.
  • We’re now keeping usage data on site search so we can better analyse how its various features are working.
  • Updated the calendar template so that promotional calendars work properly when linking to the originating calendar.
  • On the “business card” style list of profiles, the person’s name will now link to their specific profile instead of the page their profile appears on to handle the case where multiple profiles appear on a single page.

GO:

  • The “my codes” area now lists your codes alphabetically for easier management. Thanks to Chris Norris for this suggestion.
  • “Superadmins” now have additional features available when moderating flagged codes and for determining whether or not a code appears in the site search suggestions.

MiddLab:

Lots of new student project in MiddLab this week from the Spring Symposium. You can follow MiddLab on Twitter and get alerted to new projects as they are added.

Weekly Web Development Round-up April 18-22, 2011

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

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.

Directory:

  • Updated the class photo roster application to work with the new class-group structure in the Active Directory. You will now see separate lists for instructors, students, and audits for each course.

Drupal:

  • Internet Explorer 7 users saw a notice on our homepage about a script taking too long to load. The IE 7 rendering engine has problems displaying over 100 stories on our homepage, so people using that browser will now see a smaller, random selection. If you’re using any other browser you’ll still see all the stories.
  • We’ve switched back from the OSMF player to FlowPlayer temporarily for videos. The OSMF player requires the user to have Flash Player 10 and the distribution image just includes Flash Player 9. We’re going to add a prompt to the OSMF player to let people know they need to upgrade, then put it back in production.
  • Custom splash images now work in Drupal videos. To add a custom splash image to your video use the [video:url image:url] syntax.

GO:

  • We’ve removed the Banner Web Scout which provided pseudo-load-balancing between the two BannerWeb servers through GO. All of the GO shortcuts for Banner now go directly to the primary server with no intermediate steps.

MiddLab:

  • We’ve redesigned some aspects of the MiddLab theme to make the site easier to navigate and provide more space for project content and larger video players. Watch MiddLab next week as many new projects from the Spring Symposium will appear.

Weekly Web Development Round-up April 11-15, 2011

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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.

Drupal

  • Webform emails have been fixed to correctly send as HTML. Each field will be shown on a single line (except multiline fields) with the field title bolded. If you want to get really fancy with your webform emails, you can create your own email templates.
  • We’re now using the Open Source Media Framework’s Strobe Player to play videos on the site. This improves the playback performance with better support for buffering streaming videos, so the content will load faster for you.
  • The “waveform” or “equalizer” feature on some of the top-level pages, like Student Life and Academics had so many stories that the title of the page wasn’t displaying. This is a good problem to have, and it’s now fixed in all browsers except Internet Explorer.
  • The Online Donor Roll is now configured to automatically switch from using the Banner reporting database to the Banner production database in the event that the reporting database is not available.
  • Lots of fixes to the New Edit Console, including a way to go back to the old Edit Console if you decide you don’t like it.

WordPress

  • Upgraded WordPress to version 3.1.1 and upgraded the XML Google Maps plugin.
  • Added the Stout Google Calendar plugin allow easier embedding of Google Calendars.
  • Added the Plugin Stats and Theme Usage Info to allow admins to monitor plugin usage and remove unused ones.
  • Posts with multiple authors (like this one) will now show information about all of the authors at the bottom of the post when you’re in a single post view. If you don’t appear in the list of authors on a post where you’re an author, you may need to configure your profile in WordPress.
  • The FeedBurner FeedPress plugin will no longer redirect all of your tag feeds to the blogs main feed address. You can now use this plugin and tag feeds at the same time.

Other

Links

Interesting news and posts from around the web about web development this week.

Issue with HTML Emails for Webforms in Drupal Resolved

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Last Thursday I got a notice about the module that sends HTML emails for our website was no longer supported and an upgraded version was available. I installed the new version of the module and its supporting modules, tested submitting a form, got an email response that looked appropriate and upgraded our live servers to use the new version of the module.

Unfortunately, the new version did not work on the production servers. I’ve spent about 20 hours since then trying to figure out why that is the case, but was unable to come up with a solution. Instead, I’ve switched to using another module which is more widely supported. After some issues testing that, and some bug fixes to the Webform module to make them play nice together, emails should now be working as they were prior to Thursday.

If you notice any continued issues with emails from our website, please let me know.

If you want, you can re-send your form’s emails. Click “View submissions” below the form, then click the “View” link next to any submission and you’ll see a link labelled “Re-send emails”.

I’m truly sorry that this issue occurred. I was able to use this opportunity to bring our development and production systems closer to having the same configuration which should help prevent similar errors from happening in the future. As always, I welcome any questions you might have.

Website Update: Try the New Edit Console

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

WARNING: This is an experimental site feature and probably still has a few bugs in it. We also may change the look-and-feel of this interface in the future. If you don’t want to be frustrated by things like that, you can keep using the Edit Console that’s been in place since the site launched. If you’d like to help us test this new feature of the site, continue reading to find out how.

Why a New Edit Console?

I’ve received some feedback that people would like to reduce the clutter on our Drupal editing user interface and make it easier to sign in to Drupal, edit or add some content, and not need to see hundreds of Edit and Delete links all over the place. I’ve also heard, repeatedly, that the labels in the Edit Console don’t make a lot of sense. The new Edit Console is an attempt to take the first step toward addressing these issues.

What has changed?

The top row shows a list of regions on the page, like “Right Sidebar” and “Carousel”. Clicking the checkbox to the left of each label will show or hide the Edit, Delete, Revisions, and other such links in that part of the page. These settings are stored in your user profile in Drupal and should stay the same every time you log in, on any computer, using any browser. So if you never, ever edit sidebars and you don’t want to see links there, uncheck the Right Sidebar option. But if you later decide that you need to edit a sidebar, you can still enable those links.

The second change is a re-organization of the links in the Edit Console into four sections. All of the options are shown across the top of the screen, so you don’t need to wait for the page to reload to switch between Settings and Contents any more. The new sections are broken out as follows:

  • Content: things you might want to do with individual pieces of content, like add a new one or change the order they appear.
  • Page: actions you can take that affect the current page, such as deleting it or moving it somewhere else in the site.
  • Sub-pages: settings that affect pages “below” the current page, including adding new sub-pages and changing the order they appear in the menu.
  • Help: documentation and a form to ask for help. These links open in a new window or browser tab.

One thing to note: when you’re editing a particular piece of content, or setting up a webform, the menu will work the same as it does with the other version of the Edit Console, though I did change the colors of the menu. This is because these menus are supplied by each Drupal module and I don’t want to overwrite the permissions and theming supplied by the module.

How do I enable this?

Click the “Try the new Edit Console” link in the Edit Console. You’ll be taken to your user settings page where you can enable this feature. If you decide that this is too much change for you right now, you can return to this page and switch back to the older version.

How do I report issues?

If something is not working, you can send me an email directly, or leave a comment on this blog post. I’ll try to correct the problem as soon as possible.

I’m also looking for suggestions on how this interface could be improved. What is confusing? Should we change some of the text? Are there missing options? Do you have a better idea for the layout? I’m open to any recommendations you have about this. This is just the first iteration of this feature and there are definitely more improvements we can make to our site’s usability. Thanks for your help in this process.

Subscribe to feeds on private blogs

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Today we released a new plugin for WordPress that allows you to subscribe to the RSS feeds of private blogs using any RSS reader.

When you are logged in and viewing a private blog, the RSS feed links will now contain a special key unique to you and the blog that gives your reader access to the feed. There is nothing special you need to do, just subscribe as usual and feeds from private blogs will now work without redirecting your reader to the login page.

Oops, I emailed my private feed link to everyone!

If you accidentally share your personal feed link with others, you can go to your profile page and revoke your key for the blog in question.

Profile Screen Shot, showing the ability to revoke keys.

Note that you will need to resubscribe to the feeds yourself if you revoke a key.

FAQs

  • If someone finds out my key, can they use it to access my other sites?
    No, keys are per-user and per-site.
  • I removed a user from my private site, will they still see updates?
    No, the feed keys just authenticate the user, they still are checked against the subscriber list before showing them content.
  • Will my feed key let me edit without logging in?
    No, the key only grants access to feeds, nothing more.

Tighter security on GO, administration enhancements

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

In order to address recent bot activity, input validation has been tightened on the form elements in GO available to non-authenticated users. This includes a captcha validation challenge on the “flag as inappropriate” area for non-authenticated users. In order to avoid having to fill this in you can always authenticate with your Middlebury account via the “log in” link at the top of go.

Also some usability enhancements have been made on the administration back-end to make GO administration smoother.