Welcome to the University Blog Service!

The University Blog Service provides sites for faculty (for non-course related purposes) and staff at The University of Texas at Austin. The service uses WordPress, a popular blogging platform. Blogs can be created for individuals, groups, projects, or departments.

Have a question? Read about the University Blog Service and find help and the Service Level Objectives (SLO). Alternatively, you can submit a Service Now ticket by emailing us at help@sites.utexas.edu.

WordPress 4.6.1 Incoming

The University Blog Service team will be updating its WordPress installation from 4.5.3 to 4.6.1 during the scheduled maintenance window on December 1st, 2016. The service will experience outages between 5PM and 10PM while the team performs all update operations.

This release is a maintenance and security update which includes the following changes

Editor Improvements in 4.6

Improved Auto Save Feature
WordPress 4.6 brings improvements to autosave feature in WordPress. Previously, when users disabled revisions, it also affected restoring posts from autosave feature.

WordPress 4.6 will fix this issue and users can restore WordPress posts from browser backups and autosave even when they have revisions disabled.

Highlighting Broken Links
If you are using the visual editor to write posts, then adding a broken URL will be highlighted.
As soon as you add a link, WordPress will check if the link is valid. If you take the cursor to the linked text, then you will see the link in red color instead of the usual blue.

New UT Branding Bar Plugin

The UBS stewardship team is happy to announce a new plugin called: UT Branding Bar. This plugin is optimized for sites using the UT Responsive Theme.

Activating this plugin will place the University Brand Bar bar across the top of your site.

The University Brand Bar provides visitors to UT websites with a quick identifier of the UT brand and a consistently implemented route back to the UT Austin homepage. – UT Brand Guidelines

Here is what it looks like –

UT Branding Bar Example

That’s GREAT – but can I hide the existing UT Branding logo built into the theme header?

YES! Simply add custom CSS code following  these steps:

  1. Go to Appearance > Customize
  2. Click the “CSS Styles” tab in the left-hand menu
  3. Paste this CSS code into the box “Custom CSS Styles”
#UTbranding {
    padding-top: 40px;
    -moz-box-shadow: 0px 1px 2px #707070;
    -webkit-box-shadow: 0px 1px 2px #707070;
    box-shadow: 0px 1px 2px #707070;
    background: none repeat scroll 0 0 #FFFFFF;
    height: 50px;
    width: 100%;
    display: none;
    }

       4. Click Save & Publish

5. Now your site will look like this –

UT Branding Bar Plugin Example

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

If you activate this plugin and would like to remove the Black bar at the top of your site, do this:

  1. Go to Plugins
  2. Search for or find: MU Admin Bar
  3. Click Deactivate

We have added a Log In link in the footer of the UT Responsive Theme that will allow users to log in to their sites.

Please Note:

This plugin was developed for the UT Responsive Themes. It is recommend that site administrators use the UT Branding plugin with the UT Responsive theme. Your results may vary if using a different theme.

Archive in Progress

UBS stewards are in the process of archiving inactive sites.  A site is considered inactive when there have been no updates to it in over a year.

It is very important to us that UBS administrators be made aware of any actions or scheduled actions to their site.  In this effort, we have sent notifications to administrators with sites that are involved in the archive process.

If you are an administrator on many sites that have become inactive, you may have received a large number emails from the UBS service.

Phase Out of blogs.utexas.edu Domain for sites.utexas.edu

Hello Blog Owners!

In August 2014, the University Blogs Service transitioned away from blogs.utexas.edu to sites.utexas.edu as the service’s primary domain. Currently, this domain is being hosted on the UBS server alongside sites.utexas.edu where all visitors of blogs.utexas.edu are being redirected to sites.utexas.edu.

We are in the process of completing the final stage to this transition and do away completely with blogs.utexas.edu. This will occur in two steps;

First, anyone visiting a “blogs.utexas.edu” URL will no longer be redirected along to sites.utexas.edu but to a page advising of this change. The purpose of this is to give visitors the opportunity to update their applications that rely on the old domain to use sites.utexas.edu instead.

The final step will be to instruct UTNIC to remove the DNS entry for blogs.utexas.edu after which point the domain will be retired and visitors will no longer reach the service.

These changes will occur first on June 30th, 2016 after 5:00 PM. The final “remove” step will occur on August 19th, 2016 by the day on September 15th, 2016.

Be sure to review any bookmarks, podcatchers, RSS feed readers, or any application that relies in some way on blogs.utexas.edu will no longer work. Your websites and content will still exist but will require that it be accessed with sites.utexas.edu.

We certainly do appreciate your patience and understanding during these changes.

Be sure to send your blogs related questions to help@sites.utexas.edu

Best,

The University Blogs Team

 

EDIT: Updated “remove” date to September 15th, 2016.

Facebook Page Plugin

To use the Facebook Page Plugin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/facebook-page-feed-graph-api/):

  1. Request the plugin be added to your site (help@sites.utexas.edu)
  2. Activate the plugin
  3. Place a shortcode where you would like to display a FB status feed

[facebook-page-plugin href=”<name_of_public_facebook_page>” tabs=”timeline” adapt=”true” height=”600″ width=”800″]

If the url for the page you want to display is, http://www.facebook.com/facebook, then the href value for your short code will be “facebook”.

ex:

[facebook-page-plugin href=”facebook” tabs=”timeline” adapt=”true” height=”600″ width=”800″]

Wave of the Future: Google Analytics

Dear Readers,

The New Year is always a harbinger for change. This is no different for the blog service. One of our most widely used plugins “FireStats” has fallen into neglect and is no longer being maintained by its author. The blogs team is in the process of retiring this plugin in favor of another that utilizes Google Analytics for users of web analytical tools. A retirement date of June 18, 2015 has been scheduled and we encourage all users of FireStats to transition over to Google Analytics.

This post will walk you through getting your site up with Google Analytics and properly configured. Let’s get started!

Before beginning, please be sure to review the best practices policy for the use of analytics on campus. Ensure that you have the following before beginning to configure your blog site:

• Site administrator credentials for a University Blog Service blog
• An email address that is not hosted on UTMail
• 30 minutes of free time

First, create a Google Account. This can be your own personal Gmail/Google account if you have one. For departmental blogs or sites with multiple administrators, we do strongly recommend that a new Google Account be created for the group and that the credentials be shared in Stache with fellow administrators.

Next, you will need to create a “Universal Analytics Code.” To do so, log into the Google Analytics page, http://www.google.com/analytics/web, using the blog’s Google Account. Then,

• Click on “Sign up”.
• Complete the next page titled “Tracking Method” with the information relative to your website (i.e., Your URL like sites.utexas.edu/mysite, or utexasapproveddomain.org).
• Select “http://” in the drop down under “Website URL.”
• Towards the bottom of the page you will see a section titled, “Data Sharing Settings.” Uncheck all options in this section.
• Click “Get Tracking ID” and accept the terms of agreement.

 

Google Analytics Settings Page

 

You will want to look for a string of characters that look like this: UA-12345678-1

 

Google Analytics dashboard which contains where the tracking code is

 

Copy your tracking code, as you will reference it for this next step.

Next log into the Dashboard for your WordPress blog site. Perform the following actions after logging in:

• Click on “Plugins” in the left hand menu.
• Look for a plugin named “Google Analytics for WordPress.”
• Click on the “Activate” link under it.

The Dashboard will refresh once the plugin had been successfully activated. At this point the plugin will need to be configured to follow the best practices for Google Analytics use on campus.

• Click on the “Analytics” in the left hand menu, then on “Settings” link underneath.
• Click on the checkbox for the “Manually enter your UA code.” This is the same tracking code that you copied in during the previous step.
• Scroll to the bottom of the page for the section, “Ignore users.” Select “Subscriber” from the drop down.
• Locate the setting “Anonymize IP’s.” Check that box, too.
• Click on “Save changes”.

Google Analytics Settings Page

To disable FireStats tracking, click on the “Plugins” link on the left hand menu and search for “FireStats.” Click on the “Deactivate” link below. Be forewarned that once this plugin is disabled, you will not be able to reactivate it.

That’s it! You’re done! If you should have any questions, please feel free to send a quick email to help@sites.utexas.edu!

Questions
Will I be able to import my FireStats data to Google Analytics?

There is no option to import FireStats data into Google Analytics.

Would it be possible to get my FireStats data?

It certainly is possible to provide you your site’s analytical data. This information will be exported from the WordPress database in the form of dumps of tables that the plugin created for your site.

Yours humbly,

The plugin-retiring-happy blogs University Blogs Team

Introducing Your sites.utexas.edu!

Hello University Blog Service customers!

The University Blog Service (UBS) has completed its transition to its new domain name sites.utexas.edu! This change highlights the service’s content management and general Web publishing functions; the new name was approved by the Web Technologies and Infrastructure governance committee.

Blogs is now Sites!

Are you a current customers of UBS? You can rest assure that you blogs will work as they did before and will continue to be powered by WordPress. Plugins and themes will work as they always had. The domain change only affects websites with the URL blogs.utexas.edu/[websitename]; these can now be accessed at sites.utexas.edu/[websitename].  UBS websites with a custom URL have not been affected. 

Worried about published links with blogs.utexas.edu? Don’t be! All traffic to blogs.utexas.edu will be automatically redirected to its new location on sites.utexas.edu until August 2016.

Are you new to campus or only becoming aware of UBS? Sign up here for your own WordPress website!

Be sure to send your blogs related questions to help@sites.utexas.edu and stay tuned for updates!

Humbly yours,

The University Blogs Team

Hello Mini Twitter Feed widget

Goodbye to the widget called: “Twitter”. Hello to the new widget called: “Mini Twitter Feed”

We have disabled the older widget called “Twitter” because it is outdated and no longer supported by the developer.

Fear not! We are introducing a new Twitter feed widget called: “Mini Twitter Feed”.

With the new widget, you will also be able to display your Twitter feed in any post or page you wish using a WordPress shortcode!

1. First, activate the “Mini Twitter Feed” plugin from your Dashboard > Plugins > Click Activate.

2. Then, go to Appearance > Widgets and add the “Mini Twitter Feed’ to an area in your sidebar or footer.

3. Now it’s time to configure the widget: In the miniTwitter widget, click “Create a new widget”.

getyourtwitter

This will take you to your Twitter account. Login and click on the blue button: “Create Widget”

sharkweekcreatewidget

You will be presented with a small bit of HTML code, something like this:

-------------------------
<a href="https://twitter.com/SharkWeek" 
data-widget-id="365134152221200385">Tweets by @SharkWeek</a>
<script>!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],
p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id))
{js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"
;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");</script>
-------------------------

 

The box maybe difficult to see but the text will be selected. You only need to note the data-widget-id number and your Twitter username.

4. Copy and paste the code into a blank Word document or the text editor of your choice.

5. Look for the numbers assigned to “data-widget-id” as well as your Twitter account name.

6. Copy the data-widget-id into the Twitter Widget ID box.

7. Then, type your Twitter user name into the “Username” box.

8. Click Save.

sharkweekwidgetready

Putting Mini Twitter feed on a page or post instead of the sidebar

If you want this on a page or post, use the Widget’s shortcode;

[minitwitter id="SERIESOFNUMBERS" width="250px" username="YOURTWITTERUSERNAME"]

 

Your shortcode will look something like this;

[minitwitter id="365134152221200385" width="250px" username="SharkWeek"]

 

Now your Twitter feed will appear inside in your post or page.

Have fun!

For more information about this widget, please see – https://wordpress.org/plugins/mini-twitter-feed/

As always, feel free to send an email at help@sites.utexas.edu if you have any questions.

Out with old themes, in with the new

It’s time for new themes! We have reviewed the themes available in University Blogs in order to evaluate:

  • Are they outdated and/or no longer supported by the theme developer?
  • Does WordPress.org still offer them from their site?

We found a large number of our themes do not meet this criteria, so they will be removed from use.

University Blogs Approved Themes

The themes below will remain in our service:

UT Responsive Theme

UT Responsive Theme

UT Responsive Small Image Theme

UT Responsive Small Image Theme

Twenty Eleven Theme

Twenty Eleven Theme

Twenty Twelve Theme

Twenty Twelve Theme

Twenty Thirteen Theme

Twenty Thirteen Theme

 

Will my blog be affected?

No. If you are currently using a deprecated theme (not listed above), it will continue to be activated for you.

More themes soon

We have already begun evaluating and testing new themes for our service. Our plan is to have two new themes up and available in the coming weeks.

Moving forward, we plan to regularly evaluate and test new themes for our service in order to build up our Theme library. We are also committed to creating more UT-branded themes as well.

Thank you for your patience as we work through this process. The new themes will be a big improvement towards more modern, mobile responsive and accessible theme designs.

The Events Calendar plugin

Events are fun – so are calendars! Publish your events with our new plugin – The Events Calendar. This is a carefully crafted, extensible plugin that lets you easily share your events.

You can activate it from your Plugins directory in your blog. Click Plugins from the left-hand side menu of your Dashboard. Once activated, view the Help link for  step-by-step instructions and videos.

From your Dashboard > left-hand side menu > Events > Help.

Or use this link – http://tri.be/support/documentation/events-calendar-pro-new-user-primer/

Enjoy….