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Web Services

RSS Feeds for PHP based pages

We recently added a PHP based RSS reader in our includes folder for people to start using with their php based pages. It’s a simple tool to use, only 3 lines of code needed (well 2 if you don’t create the $url variable). Anyway here’s an example on how to use it.

<?php
require_once( $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . '/includes/rsslib.php');
$url = "http://news.uwgb.edu/headlines/feed/";
echo RSS_Display($url, 5, false, true, "D, M. j, Y g:i a");
?>

Now that we have seen it here’s how it works:

  1. The first line loads the library file that does all the heavy lifting
  2. The second line is the URL variable.  You simply need to put your news feed url here.  In this case we are displaying the headlines from the UWGB news site “Inside”.
  3. Last but now least we need to echo out the results of the RSS_Display funtion.

There are four parameters for the RSS_Display function:

  • $url – [Format = URL] – this parameter if the URL to the feed you want to display
  • $size – [Format = Integer] – this determines how many feed items to display (Default 15 items)
  • $site – [Format = True or False] – displays or hides the title and the description of the site (Default false)
  • $showDate [Format = True or False] – displays or hides dates (Default false)
  • $dateFormat [Format = String] – determines how dates are display using the PHP Time Format Manual (Default “Y-m-d H:i:s”)

If you have questions feel free to post comments below.

Avoiding “mailto” link use

It has been a common practice on campus for many years to simply throw an email address on a web page so people can easily be contacted. It’s convenient and makes us more available to our students. However, the practice of adding email addresses to pages has one detrimental side affect.  SPAM. By adding raw email address to pages bots (automated internet robot applications) scrape our pages and collect these email addresses and send them to spammers.

In an effort to make our website a better place we here in web service strongly recommend that anyone adding wanting to add an email address to a page use a technique called obfuscation. We have added a simple javascript based email obfuscation script to our core include folder which will allow you to easily do this.

First you need to add the script into the header (preferably) of your page. If your page is .asp based you’ve probably seen this at the top of your page:

<!-- #include virtual="/_template/head.asp" -->

<!-- #include virtual="/_template/endHead.asp" -->
<!-- #include virtual="/webdev/template/sidebar.asp" -->

Add the following under the “put extra head html /css after me” part.

<!-- #include virtual="/_template/head.asp" -->
<script src="http://www.uwgb.edu/includes/email-munge.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<!-- #include virtual="/_template/endHead.asp" -->
<!-- #include virtual="/webdev/template/sidebar.asp" -->

After that usage is a snap simply add in the following line instead of your typed email address.

<script>munge("webdev", "WebDev");</script>

The first parameter is the email address you want to use minus the @uwgb.edu portion.  The second parameter is the link text you want to display ( DO NOT USE THE ACTUAL EMAIL ADDRESS ) Even though at this point many of the email addresses that have been posted have already been harvested it’s never to late to start making things harder for the bots.

Siteimprove Webinars in February

Coming up:

February 12, 2:00 – Siteimprove for Higher Education
February 19, 2:00 – New User Training
February 26, 2:00 – Custom Reports
February 20, 10:00 – Accessibility 101

Tracking External Links

Did you know that links to downloadable files like PDFs and links to external sites are not tracked in Google Analytics? If you are including links to non uwgb.edu websites or downloadable files and want tracking data on the number of people clicking these links, there are two ways you can make them send tracking data to Google Analytics. Click here to read more »

Siteimprove Webinars in January

Just a reminder for Siteimprove users that you can always take advantage of their webinars to brush up on skills or learn new ones. Coming up:

January 15, 10:00 – New User Training
January 17, 10:00 – Accessibility Overview
January 24, 2:00 – New User Training
January 29, 10:00 – Reports Training

Now Hiring – Two Web Positions Open

Web Services Manager

The position vacated by our web developer has been enhanced to include high-end web programming skills and leadership. This new focus will help us implement innovative solutions to achieve strategic goals of the University. This position will report to the CIO and help shape our web strategy.

If you have…

  • Solid web programming skills
  • A passion for staying current with web technology trends
  • Experience with larger web projects such as: CMS implementations, web applications, mobile-friendly site redesigns
  • The ability to be a visionary leader

…we’re looking for you!

More information can be found on the HR website:
http://www.uwgb.edu/hr/jobs/position817.html

Web/Print Designer

The Office of Marketing and University Communication has an immediate need for a creative web/print designer to assist with production of web pages and publications. This is an LTE position.

More information can be found on the HR website:
http://www.uwgb.edu/hr/jobs/position818.html

Wacky Display After Editing with Expression Web

Did you just make an edit to a page on your templated website and nearly faint when you saw the end result? Click here to read more »

Some Thoughts on Web Strategy

We often get asked about the proper steps to reorganizing and redesigning a website. This can be especially challenging when there are multiple people or organizations responsible for the site, if the site has been around a long time, or if the site has extensive content.

The biggest piece of advice we can offer is: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Or your organization, or your department, etc. IT’S ABOUT YOUR VISITOR.

Things to consider when preparing a website strategy

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How can the website be used to achieve objectives?

Keep the focus on your audience

  • Why are people coming to your site?
  • What are they expecting to find?
  • How can the site be easier for them to use?

These questions will drive your homepage features, navigation, and content. Repeat: It’s not about you. Click here to read more »

SiteCheck is Continuing

If you’ve been following along, you know that our SiteCheck subscription with SiteImprove was expiring July 30, 2012.

Due to popular demand, I am happy to report that we have renewed the service, now known as “Quality Assurance”, and users should not notice any change or disruption in their broken link, misspelling, or accessibility reports.

http://siteimprove.com/services/quality-assurance.aspx

A big THANK YOU to all the departments that contributed funding to make this happen! Web is our University’s #1 marketing tool and your support shows how very important it is.

Moving Forward with WordPress

In June 2012, we reached the point in our CommonSpot implementation where it was either full speed ahead or change direction immediately. We had over 30 websites in the new template, ready to load into the CMS and begin official rollout.

However, something was greatly bothering us. Almost three years after the initial decision, was CommonSpot still the right CMS for UW-Green Bay? There were a number of reasons it was selected originally (many documented here in this blog), but are there different items to consider today?

I won’t go into detail here, but the bottom line is that CommonSpot is now used by around .01% of websites that use a CMS. WordPress is now used by 54% of websites that use a CMS. (July 2012)

Can it work for higher ed? WordPress is gaining a lot of ground in our sector. A public Google doc of some of the institutions using it can be found at http://bit.ly/fIDFH9.

WordPress has an extremely large developer community, contributing plug-ins, widgets, and themes every day. WordPress is very well documented with the WordPress Codex http://codex.wordpress.org/ and has good inline documentation in its source code.

WordPress and PHP are easier to hire for and we would have more interested applicants, even with our current salary limits. Campus web developers and Web Services student employees can be active participants in CMS development, requiring less specialized skills.

What about mobile? Responsive web pages can be built using WordPress. WordPress does not inhibit use of Responsive Web Design, which is our current mobile strategy. The administrative area is mobile-friendly and there is a free WordPress app available to those who are interested.

WordPress will help us reduce costs and increase efficiency every step of the way… from template/theme development and site creation to site maintenance, server maintenance, end-user training, and web developer training.

WordPress is great, but don’t take our word for it. Learn more about its features here: http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Features