Fife and Tayside T4 group

Fife and Tayside T4 group meets for the first time write-up on Scottish Web Folk T4 blog

Fife and Tayside T4 group meets for the first time write-up on Scottish Web Folk T4 blog

This morning Steve Evans (University web manager) and I travelled to deepest, darkest Dundee for the first meeting of what is hoped will be a regular meeting of TerminalFour Site Manager administrators and users from the universities of Abertay, Dundee and St Andrews.

We met in the ‘moot court room’ in the school of law at the University of Dundee, hence the stern-looking photograph above.

You can read about it on the Scottish Web Folk T4 blog.

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jQuery cycle plugin

Examples of jQuery cycle plugin options

Examples of jQuery cycle plugin options

Where would we be without jQuery, the JavaScript library that speeds up development no end?

I’ve recently been using the Bootstrap 2.3.2 CSS framework within our content management system, TerminalFour Site Manager and I ran into a number of issues with its built-in carousel.

The requirement we had was that the user should be allowed to choose however many carousel slides as she wanted: 1, 2, 5… 10? Which was fine, except that if we were to use the built-in Bootstrap carousel it uses very specific code which requires HTML5 data-* attributes and I didn’t fancy a) relying on the user to have to fill this in, or b) having to write some JavaScript or PHP to generate the code dynamically. Because I’m lazy like that!

So, I moved the carousel over to use a jQuery plugin that we’ve been using for a few years now: jQuery Cycle Plugin by malsup.

One of the things that I really like about this plugin is that it will create a carousel/cycle out of just about anything. For example, to create a simple carousel all you need is something as simple as:

<div class="slideshow">
  <img src="image-1.png" />
  <img src="image-2.png" />
  <img src="image-3.png" />
</div>

and then you call it from within your JavaScript like this:

$('.slideshow').cycle();

Brilliant!

If you want to add pagers, arrows or a variety of effects then jQuery Cycle Plugin will handle all of those to, dynamically creating the additional HTML to inject into your page much of which you have control of, such as class names which you can then use CSS to style.

We’ve found this to be a particularly useful plugin when using T4 Site Manager.

The plugin author has recently released a new version Cycle2 which I’ve still to check out, but if it’s anywhere as good as the first version then I imagine we’ll be moving to that in the not too distant future.

If you’re looking for a good, versatile carousel plugin then you can’t go far wrong adding this to your jQuery toolbox.

Website roadmap

Snowy road

A couple of weekends ago we upgraded our enterprise web content management system, TerminalFour Site Manager, from v.6.2 to v.7.2 This has been a major upgrade, and something that we’ve been gearing up to for the last two years.

Prior to the upgrade we held a number of demo sessions to show users what the new version would look like. Feedback has been, generally, very positive.

At those sessions we also handed out an information sheet informing users where we see ourselves heading in the next year or two. The following is a slightly updated version of that roadmap.

Roadmap

As part of the upgrade to the new version of Site Manager we have been reviewing the following areas with a view to improving the user-experience for both content editors and website visitors. The following is a summary of changes that will be implemented during the coming months.

Infrastructure

Over the summer and autumn we have been upgrading the website infrastructure, for example moving to new, faster servers. There are a few other enhancements that we are currently testing which will improve the reliability and reputation of the website.

Related content

We plan to simplify the way related content is managed. This will remove the need to tediously hunt down rel_{something} sections. We also plan to make things more efficient by using existing data for contact details, for example, pulled from central databases.

Faster publishing

The new version of Site Manager is significantly faster than the previous version. While the main university website used to take 40 minutes to publish, it now takes just under five minutes enabling content to be published more frequently.

Lowercase URLs

Since the launch of the website in 2007 URLs have been published using a mixture of upper and lowercase letters. To improve consistency and make URLs more predictable we have now switched the website to use all lowercase URLs.

Standards and consistency

We are in the process of looking at how to improve and standardising many elements of the website content to offer a more consistent user experience.

Style guide

We are in the process of updating the web content style guide. This will be published online in the coming months and will cover guidelines on spellings and formatting, as well as certain Site Manager elements like naming conventions.

Writing for the web training

We would strongly recommend that you attend writing for the web training. We run courses regularly; please check PDMS for dates of the next course.

Users

We have recently removed around 130 user accounts: 70 accounts that have never been used since attending a Site Manager training course and a further 60 accounts that have not been logged into during the past 18 months. Coupled with an issue of some users requiring to update content only once a year, this has highlighted a need to reduce the number of content editors but increase the remaining editors’ skills.

Review user accounts and permissions

Changes in the way that Site Manager v.7 manages users means that we need to review how permissions and editing rights are assigned to our current users. We will continue to monitor which users are accessing Site Manager infrequently to ascertain whether they really need access or not.

Training

We plan to run more frequent Site Manager and writing for the web training courses (see PDMS for dates).

Design

The web is continually evolving and we need to respond.

Mobile web

We will be moving to a design that is more responsive to mobile phone and tablet devices, as well as the laptop and desktop devices that the current website is optimised for. It’s an exciting time for web development, particularly as the new HTML5 and CSS3 standards continue to take shape offering new possibilities.