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.

UBS Release Notes: 7/27/17

  • Mass deactivate The Events Calendar Plugin
  • Update Domain Mapping Plugin

UBS Release Notes: 6/4/17

Update UBS to WordPress 4.7.5

Installed Multisite Custom CSS to enable “Additional CSS” in theme customization network wide

UT WordPress Theme Now Available

Today we make available on the University Blog Service UT WordPress Theme. Site Administrators can activate the theme in their dashboards.

What is UT WordPress Theme?

UT WordPress Theme is based on the Genesis Framework and is bundled with branded CSS, images, and other web resources. Originally this was the theme available only through the CMS Hosting Platform, a service offered by ITS starting October 2016, in the WordPress for Texas upstream. We are making the UT WordPress Theme available on the University Blog Service in an effort to better support the UT Brand guidelines.

I want to use UT WordPress Theme on my site(s). What do I do?

If you are considering using UT WordPress Theme with your existing site, we recommend you evaluate UT Theme in the UBS Customer Acceptance Testing environment ( a.k.a., QUAL ) located at qual.sites.utexas.edu/<SITE URL> first. There you are free to make whatever changes you want without consequence to your live site.

Great! How do I get my site look like that?

What gives the theme’s design is the pages, posts, menu items, and widgets we preload into a site when it is created. We refer to this as “default content”. This is great for new sites created on UBS. Site administrators can make minimal changes to their new sites and see how we do design internally. However, existing sites will not have this content immediately available to them. This is to avoid corrupting the site’s existing content and configuration.

UT Theme relies on widgets for a number of elements of the overall design; mainly the footer and sidebars. We also recommend the following changes to achieve that look and feel;

  • Check out how to create the footer areas using Widgets
  • How to set up the Navigation Menu
  • What the default settings for widgets and supporting plugins

You can find specifics about how to implement elements of UT WordPress Theme’s design in this Service Now knowledge article.

What About the UT Responsive Themes?

UT Responsive themes will remain on the service.

My New Site Looks Funny After Switching Away. What Gives?

WordPress Themes rely on sidebars for their function and design. UT WordPress theme is no different. Often times two different themes will use the same name for sidebars. When this happens, themes will pack their widgets into the same sidebar and set whatever widget there as “Inactive”. As UT WordPress Theme uses widgets heavily, this can be impactful if a number of themes are being evaluated for a site. We recommend referring to the theme implementation article to overcome this issue.

Custom Domain Mapping Support

The University Blog Service will no longer accept requests for custom domain mapping. The stewardship team has made the decision to no longer provide custom domain mapping for new domains going forward. While we strive to provide additional functionality to UBS, this decision was made due to technical considerations and the internal support required for custom domain mapping.

Current sites in the service that already have a custom domain will not be affected. Those sites will continue to be served at the current custom domain URL.

UBS Release Notes: 5/4/17

– Update Google Calendar (now known as Simple Calendar) to 3.1.9

Event Calendar to Simple Calendar Migration

With the retirement of The Events Calendar Plugin, calendar functionality on UBS will now be handled by the Simple Calendar Plugin which utilizes Google Calendar.  These steps will help you set up Simple Calendar and import your existing Events Calendar events into Simple Calendar. For departmental blogs or sites with multiple administrators who will manage calendars cooperatively, we do recommend that a new and separate Google Account is created for the group and that the credentials are shared in Stache with fellow administrators.

  1. Activate and configure the Simple Calendar plugin
  2. Export your existing events from The Events Calendar plugin
    • This can be done on a per month basis
    • Go to the Events Calendar page for the month you want to export
      • Use the “view as” dropdown in the top right to put the display in month viewClick the “+ EXPORT EVENTS” button in the bottom right to download an .ics file with the month’s events
      • Click the “+ EXPORT EVENTS” button in the bottom right to download an .ics file with the month’s events
  3. Import existing events into your Google Calendar

Other considerations:

  • Set the cache rate for your Simple Calendar to 1 minute while making updates to be able to confirm event creation
    • From the edit view of a calendar, under Calendar Settings at the bottom, select Advanced Settings tab and set cache interval
  • Set the earliest event date far enough in the past to account for old events you would like to bring over from Events Calendar
    • From the edit view of a calendar, under Calendar Settings at the bottom, select Events tab and set the earliest event fields to desired point in history
  • Consider using the List view if accessibility is a goal for your website. Additionally, the same Google Calendar can be used in multiple formats and in parallel so the same information can be provided in a better accessible form.

How to use Simple Calendar Plugin

The Simple Calendar Plugin is an easy way to add Google Calendar events to your WordPress site. This plugin is available to your site by default.

There are a few steps you must follow before embedding your Google Calendar onto your site page.

  • Create a Google API Key
  • Activate Simple Calendar from your plugin dashboard.
    • Login to your site. From the Dashboard, click Plugins and activate Simple Calendar.
  • Enter the Google API Key from your clipboard into the activated plugin:
    • Calendar > Settings

screen-shot-2017-04-26-at-3-22-34-pm

For the full listing of help topics for the Google Calendar plugin, please go to – https://simplecalendar.io/

 

UBS Release Notes 4/27/17

Update UBS to WordPress 4.7.3

Update the Events Calendar to 4.4.5

Update WordPress Importer Plugin updated to 0.6.3

Update to internal tools (WP-CLI)

Addition of PHP extensions required by incoming plugins

The Events Calendar Plugin on UBS

Hello Blog Owners,

Last week, on April 17th, the UBS stewardship team announced the retirement of the Events Calendar Plugin. UBS stewards have secured the plugin against the reported vulnerability with help from the Information Security Office. As a result, The Events Calendar plugin will not be removed from the service on April 27th as originally stated. However, the plugin will be retired from the service on June 29th, 2017 instead. This decision was made based on ongoing incompatibilities with other critical plugins on the service.

The impact of this change is that sites using the plugin will lose access to their calendar(s) unless site owners find an alternative to displaying calendar information before June 29th.

Stewards have made available the Google Events Calendar plugin which offers similar functionality. Current users will be provided documentation on how to make this transition. Assistance will be made available on a best effort basis during Web Publishing office hours (every Tuesday in FAC 30, between 1:00PM – 2:30PM).

All sites which have The Events Calendar plugin already activated will remain active until June 29th. Do not deactivate the plugin until you are ready to transition away from it as it will become immediately unavailable.

Best,

UBS Stewards

UBS Release Notes 4/20/17

Hello Blog Owners,

Please note the following changes now in effect.

UBS Email Configuration Updates

UBS now relays email through the proper channels.

Apache Logging Format Configuration Update

UBS will now log access over HTTP(s) in the expected format.

Please do let us know if you should have any questions help@sites.utexas.edu.