Why does my site address include muwww03-new.marshall.edu rather than www.marshall.edu

As part of the transition to a new web server, it is necessary to run both servers in parallel for a period of time, and to make both of these servers addressable and reachable from a web browser.

In early 2013, the server you see identified as muwww03-new.marshall.edu in your browser address bar will assume the name www.marshall.edu.  This change will not require that you do anything differently in order to reach your site.

If you have a site on the server addressed as muwww03-new.marshall.edu during the transition, it should be possible to reach your site by typing www.marshall.edu/sitename as well. Please refrain from using the muwww03-new.marshall.edu address in marketing collateral, as it is unnecessary and only intended to be a temporary name to facilitate server and site transition.

If you have any questions, please contact the web team at webfeedback@marshall.edu.

Resetting WordPress Password

Marshall University content management sites do not rely on the internal WordPress account database.  As a result, attempting to use the “Reset your password” link in the WordPress admin will have no affect on your ability to access your site.

You should be logging in to your site using your MUNET credentials. The password you use to access your WordPress CMS site will be the same as the password you use for any other resource accessed using your MUNET username.

If you’re unable to remember what your MUNET password is, please contact the IT Service Desk for assistance in having it reset.

Using the "Go" URL System to Create Custom URLs

Overview

In may situations, you might want to create a simple, easy-to-remember URL to use when directing users to a specific page within your website.   The “GO URL” system allows you to create custom URLs on demand for campus web resources.

Details

When visiting the Go URL homepage you will be presented with a simple, two box form asking you for information about the URL you want to customize.

The first box, labeled simply “URL”, is where you enter the URL that you want to customize.    The second box, labeled “Optional custom keyword” is where you can enter a word to be used as part of the URL you are creating.   If you leave the custom keyword field blank, a randomly generated URL will be created for you.

Example

Imagine that I have a page within my website that I want to easily be able to direct users to, but which has a cumbersome URL.   In this example, imagine that the URL is http://www.marshall.edu/mysite/mydirectory/mypage.html

Visiting the Go URL site I can enter this long URL in the box labeled “URL”.    For the “Optional custom keyword”, in this case I’ll chose the word “raptor”.

Once I’ve submitted the form, I’ll be notified that a new URL has been created for me.    That URL, based on my requested custom keyword will be http://www.marshall.edu/go/raptor

Visitors to this page will be directed to the original, longer URL that I placed in the URL box.

Remember

The “Go URL” system works because the application expects all custom URLs will be prepended with the /go/ directory alias.    In most cases, creating a “go” URL is a fine self-service solution.   If, however, you require that the /go/ directory alias NOT be a part of your custom URL path, you will require a special server side URL alias.   To request this type of custom URL, please open a ticket with the IT Service Desk.

Campus Building Information API

Overview

We have recently made available a public service URL that will return an XML formatted string with information about buildings on campus.

Details

The URL for this script:
http://www.marshall.edu/services/getBuildingInfo.php

Calling the URL directly will return an XML formatted string of all information in the campus tour database.   This information includes the names, descriptions, and image file name for buildings on campus.

Optional URL parameters:

You can obtain the ID of a specific building by calling this script directly.    Once you have the ID you want to use, you can reference that ID as a URL variable when calling the script, so that only information about the building associated with the ID being passed is returned.

Example:  http://www.marshall.edu/services/getBuildingInfo.php?id=5 will return XML for Harless Dining Hall.

 

Accessing your V Drive from a Macintosh Computer

If you need to access your personal V Drive space from a Macintosh computer, please follow these instructions.

1.  Make sure that “Finder” is your active program.   The active program is the program whose name is listed to the immediate right of the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen.     If “Finder” is not your active program, you can make it the active program by clicking anywhere on your desktop.

2.  From the menu at the top of your screen, choose “Go>Connect To Server”.

3.  In the “Server Address” box, enter “smb://users.marshall.edu/users/username” where “username” is your MUNET account name.

4.  When prompted for your username and password, use the following format for the username:  MARSHALLusername.

After entering your password and authenticating, you should see your V drive appear as a mounted disk on your desktop.

Determining the Overseer of a Marshall University Web Page

Overview

In certain situations, it’s useful to be able to find out who is responsible for the content on a Marshall University website, as well as how to contact that person to report a problem or error.

Details

Each website on the Marshall University web server requires that a faculty or staff member agree to serve as overseer for that site.    Being a site overseer means that you have agreed to be responsible for the content of the site, and to serve as point of contact if problems with your site are encountered.

There are two easy methods for determining the overseer of a site on the Marshall web server.   Sites using the Marshall University template and shared footer will display a small green envelope icon in the bottom right hand corner of the pages on the site.   See image below:

Clicking on this envelope will take you to the Overseer detail page for that particular site.   On the overseer detail page, you’ll be given the name and email address of the faculty or staff member responsible for site content.   An example overseer detail report is displayed in the image below:

If the site isn’t using the shared footer, you can visit the Overseer lookup page directly, and enter the site name in the form on the page to obtain the same information.

Obtaining Photographs of Campus

Marshall University is providing content developers with photographic resources for use in the web content being developed for the University.    Photographs that are available for your use are located at http://muphotos.marshall.edu.

MU Photos is a site run by “SmugMug”, and online photo storage site similar to Flickr or Photobucket.   Uploading photos to MU Photo makes it possible to provide simple galleries to users, where photos can be downloaded and saved locally.

Some content stored on MU Photos is intended for internal use only.   If you see galleries that have a “lock” thumbnail image on them, this means that they require a login in order to access contents, and generally are not available for public use.   A good rule of thumb is that anything you’re able to see/download you are ok to use.

If you have questions about how to use the MU Photos site, please open a ticket with the Marshall University Help Desk requesting assistance.

Introduction to Content Management: Is it the right solution?

Part of providing an infrastructure for web publishing at Marshall University is opening up the ability to create web content to users who might not have the technical skill required to build a website from scratch. One of the ways that we do this is through the use of a content management solution that allows users to create basic web content in a familiar “what you see is what you get” interface.

Some users may question whether this approach is right for their group or department. This short overview of the pros and cons of using a content management system will help you make the right decision based on your specific needs.

Pros of Using a Content Management Solution for your web content

  • Content is relatively simple to create, using a familiar word processor style interface
  • Existing content can be easily edited and maintained as textual changes are required
  • The University template will be applied to your site, helping maintain the look and feel present in top level content
  • No technical skill, HTML knowledge, or understanding of the underlying framework is required in order to create a page
  • Content creation can be distributed among many users, with granular user control
  • Authentication to your content management based site can be controlled using your existing security framework
  • A rich plugin architecture allows you to simply and quickly expand the functionality of your site

Cons of Using a Content Management solution for your web content

  • Highly customized or intricate designs will be difficult to create and maintain
  • Site specific custom widgets (flash animations, custom menuing, DHTML and AJAX scripting) are more difficult to apply
  • Styling beyond changing the design of the content within the page is not supported

In short, if you need to maintain a site with many users whose primary job responsibility doesn’t include the management of web content, a CMS solution will help you simplify this content creation, and will allow you to easily bring your site design in line with top level University content.

If you are a skilled technical user, comfortable with the creation of HTML pages, CSS, flash animations, etc. and want a highly customized look and feel for your site, you would be better off using a standard HTML/ASP approach to site design.

If you have additional questions, or want to find out more about our content management offerings, please open a ticket with the Marshall University Help Desk requesting more information.

Understanding How Search Works

What Happens When You Search the Marshall Web site?

Marshall University, like many other public colleges and universities, relies on Google Syndicated Search services to answer search requests on our web site.    Google’s technology is superior to that of many competitors, and search results are generally very fast and reliable.

It’s important for users and developers to understand  the way in which content is indexed and retained as they examine the way that they construct their pages and review how search results are delivered.   This document will address some of the most common questions related to web searches on the Marshall site.

I deleted a site/page/changed my content/changed my URL but the old information is still showing up in the search results. Why?

Googlebot (Google’s automated site crawler) crawls our site incrementally every 8-10 days. During these incremental crawls, any changes to content in the index for our site are noted, and the site index is updated to reflect these changes. When content is changed or removed, it will remain in the search results until it is crawled again by Googlebot and the changes are updated in their site index. The web group has no control over how often the site is crawled, nor can we “flush” old content from the results prior to another crawl cycle.

Full crawls of our site occur every 15-40 days, depending on the traffic to our site during a given period. When new content is added, it will be anywhere from 15-40 days (depending on when in the crawl cycle the content is added) before you should expect to see that content in the search results returned for our site.

How can I get my site to show up as the first result for “insert search phrase”?

Google’s index is built based on relevance, links in to a given page, and several other factors that are all a part of their search algorithim. The best way to insure that your page is listed highly in the search results for a given search term is to make sure that your content is highly relevant to that search term.

Unfortunately, there is no way at this time for us to adjust which results appear for a given search phrase, nor are we able to control the order in which search results appear.

I’ve mistakenly published some content and need to have it removed, can you do that?

If you’ve mistakenly published content and it’s showing up in search results, the first step you should take is to remove the content from the web server. During the next crawl, the URL for that content will return a 404 (not found) error to the crawler, and the page will be removed from the site index. Until the time of that crawl, the page will continue to show up in the search results for the site, even though it no longer exists.

If you have published content that is highly sensitive and need to have it removed as soon as possible, we can petition Google to remove the content from our index manually. Again, you first need to remove the content, and then contact the Help Desk asking that search content be removed. We will petition Google for the content removal. This process usually takes anywhere from 2 to 4 days.

How can I improve the way that may page is seen by the crawler?

Many of the details of Google’s search algorithm are private, but there are some generally accepted ways of improving the way your page is indexed through the use of metadata within the source code of your page.

There are two types of “Meta” tags that you can include in the <head> section of your page to influence search results. The first is the meta “description” tag, and the second is the meta “keywords” tag. Different search engines interpret this information in different ways, but including it in your pages will usually help the crawler determine how to best index your page.

Meta Description Tags

The description tag is used much as you might imagine it would be, by allowing you to provide a description of the content that your page is providing.   As an example, the description for the Marshall home page might look something like the example below:

<meta name=”description” content=”Welcome to the Marshall University home page.  This is the primary web site for Marshall University, located in Huntington, WV.”>

In this way, you’re telling the search engine what your page is about, as a complement to the content itself.

Meta Keywords Tags

The keywords tag allows a content developer to associate additional search terms with a particular page, as a complement to the page content itself.    To use a simple example, suppose you were developing a page about Cincinnati, Ohio.  You might want to use the meta keywords tag to associate the keyword “cincinatti” with your page, so that even those users who misspell the city name will still be able to find your content.

While there are still a few search crawlers that review meta keywords, most major crawlers (including Google) now ignore this tag due to its use and abuse by content developers.   There is, however, no harm in including it in your pages to assist those few crawlers that still do support it.    Example usage:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”a, comma, separated, list, of, words, or phrases that, you, want, to associate, with your page>

Meta Robots Tag

At times, there will be situations where you do not want a particular page to be indexed by the various crawlers.   In these situations, you can use the meta robots tag to instruct crawlers not to index a particular piece of content.    Example usage:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

It’s worth noting here that crawlers also will not index pages that are protected by an authentication layer.   Any pages requiring a username/password entry to access will not be indexed.

Accessing Web Directories

Welcome New Developers Becoming a content developer for a Marshall University department or group is an exciting opportunity, but it also presents challenges for new developers as they learn the development process and infrastructure at Marshall. The aim of this document is to ease this process for new developers by providing them with essential information so that they can get off to a successful start with their development efforts.

Getting Started

When a department or group requests that a web site be created, a bit of behind-the-scenes work takes place to facilitate this request. First, a directory is created on the web server beneath the root content directory. This directory typically has the same name of the users site name (/hr would house the Human Resources web site files, as an example).

Secondly, a new "site" or "virtual directory" is created on our web server. This new resource is pointed to your file directory.

Finally, a new site editors group is created, and every member listed on the IPA is added to this group. Membership in this group is what controls whether a given user has access to edit files for a particular web site. As soon as you've been notified that your site has been created, you should take the following steps to insure that everything is in order with your site setup.

Verifying Site Directory Access

In order to verify that you have access to your web directory, take the following steps: Map a network drive to your folder on the web server. The method for mapping a drive will vary depending on your operating system, but in general:

Windows-based systems:

Map to your folder on the web server using the following format: "\marshall.eduwwwfoldername".

As an example, if you were connecting to the fictional "hr" folder noted above, your folder path would be "\marshall.eduwwwhr".

OSX systems:

Map to your folder on the web server using the following format: "smb://muwww01/foldername$"

As an example: smb://muwww01/hr$

Note that in order to successfully connect, you will need to be on the campus network, or connected via VPN. You will be asked for your username and password in order to verify your access to the directory on the web server.

Enter your username and password in the following format: Username: username@marshall.edu Password: Your MUNET password

Testing Your Access

Once you've successfully mapped a drive to your web server folder, you will want to make sure that you are able to create and edit files. To verify this, take the following simple steps:

Using a text editor (Notepad, TextEdit, etc.) type the following: <h2>Hello World</h2> Save this file as test.htm making sure that you are saving it to your folder on the web server. Open a web browser, and navigate to "http://www.marshall.edu/sitename/test.htm".

You should see a white page with the words "Hello World" in the upper left corner. If you can see this, you have verified your ability to create/edit files.

Common Problems and Resolutions

As much as we'd like the process of connecting to your web directory and editing files to be error free, problems can and do occur. Following are the most common problems our users encounter, along with the appropriate resolution:

You can't map to your server folder

This problem most often occurs when a user hasn't logged out of the MU network since being granted access to a directory on the web server. The rights associated with your user account are assigned by the domain controller when you log in to the network.

When permission changes occur while you are logged in, you'll have to log out of the network and reauthenticate to have the new permissions assigned to your account. If you've been notified that your site has been created, and you're unable to map a network drive to this folder, please make sure to log out/back in and attempting to remap the drive before calling the help desk for assistance.

Your server directory cannot be located

When attempting either to browse to your site in a web browser, you receive an error message indicating that your site cannot be located, file cannot be found, or other similar error. In most cases, the URL examples above should work for you.

There are specific situations, however, where directories are created in other locations on the server, resulting in slightly different URL mappings. If you are unable to reach your site at the http://www.marshall.edu/sitename address, please try http://www.marshall.edu/www/sitename before contacting support. If your site requires this additional /www/ in the URL and you're not sure why, contact us for an explanation.

You receive a "No Default Document" error

When sites are created on the web server, the web server looks for specific file names in sequence to serve as the "default document" for that directory. The web server will use the first "default document" it can locate. If there are no files in the server directory that match the filenames in your sites default document list, you will receive an error indicating that "No Default Document" exists for your directory. When we create a new site, we do try to place introductory content in your web directory that both serve as temporary default content, while also providing you with initial "helper" content.

There are times when we are unable to complete this step. Rest assured that as soon as you create a file in your directory that matches a default document name, this error will resolve itself. In a standard site configuration, the default document names (in order of preference) are as follows: default.asp default.aspx index.aspx default.htm index.htm index.html If you would like a different default document configured for your directory, please contact us and let us know.

Additional Information:
Mapping a Network Drive: Screencast