Weekly Web Development Round-up September 19-23, 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.

Site Performance

We don’t have many new features to announce this week, other than the previously announced addition of Photo Rosters to the Course Hub. Instead, we’d like to let you know about a few improvements we’ve recently made to overall site performance. We recognize that editing the site has been very slow since early in August and got worse with the start of classes. When we upgraded database servers over the summer a caching optimization that we’d made to the previous server wasn’t transferred to the new one. This optimization has been re-applied and the server should now perform better.

We’ve also made several improvements to our application code that will increase performance. We noticed that the calendars from 25Live were giving a unique code to every visitor. This made it impossible for our server to use the cached version of the page that is normally sent to non-editors after they’d viewed a calendar on our site. That unique code is no longer set. Additionally, all RSS feeds on the site are now cached for three hours, so that feeds like the Home Page Stories, which normally take 10-15 seconds to generate can be delivered in a few milliseconds instead – this in turn improves performance on our mobile site. Don’t worry though, whenever a new story is created we drop the cached version of the feed and create a new one so you’re always seeing the freshest content, just like we do with the Athletics site whenever the scoreboard is updated.

There was also a short interruption of service in the Course Hub yesterday. We’ve discovered the cause and corrected the issue so that it will not occur again.

Dining Menu Feeds

We’ve had this feature in place since the beginning of the semester, but haven’t told you about it. You can now get the Dining Menu as an RSS or iCal feed. iCal is a calendar data format that you can use to subscribe to the Dining Menus in Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, the Mac OS X iCal application, and many other calendaring applications.

The two feeds can be found at:
The feed can be found at:

If you’re only interested in a particular Dining Hall, you can limit the results by adding “today” and either “Proctor”, “Ross”, “Atwater”, “Grille”, or “Language Tables”:

If you’re only interested in a particular meal, you can further limit the results using “breakfast”, “lunch”, and “dinner”:

If you like to plan ahead, you can use “tomorrow” instead of “today” and if you’re a nostalgic type you can even use “yesterday”. Particular dates in the form YYYY-MM-DD:

MIIS Website

We’ve applied a new design to the Fronteir Market Scouts and Executive Education program sites.

Middlebury Website

Want to keep up-to-date on the latest working papers from the Economics department? We now have an RSS feed for their working papers series.


Two new projects this week:

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