Web Publishing Replacement
Project Update (March 9, 2017)
Over the past two years, the web publishing team worked with stakeholders across campus to help determine how to upgrade this service to meet expanded web publishing needs. In partnership with the Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC), we have developed new tools and platforms for website publishing and hosting. These generally fall into three categories:
- Major University websites require custom design and robust content to meet the marketing and communications needs of the department. These sites are usually developed in cooperation with Marketing Communications and hosted in Conductor.
- Simple websites rely on existing templates and user-friendly tools to post and manage content. This includes sites such as faculty, labs, and class or course websites. They are best hosted within a common content management system such as WordPress. The OIT and OPAC have launched a free WordPress platform called sites.nd.edu.
- Custom-coded or legacy websites may have been hand-coded and built from scratch over many years. These are generally static sites but can be very large, containing hundreds or thousands of pages. These may be very difficult or time-consuming to reconstruct in a content management system. As a result, these are best served from a legacy hosting environment similar to NetFile www.
To help site owners decide which platform is right for them, the OIT and OPAC have launched websites.nd.edu as the home for web publishing at Notre Dame.
NetFile Web Hosting
NetFile web hosting (i.e., www3.nd.edu/~netid) is officially deprecated and new web spaces are no longer being created. Current websites may continue to use this platform but are encouraged to move to a more robust environment. New sites may be created using Conductor, WordPress, or in a vendor-managed hosting environment.
In July 2017, current NetFile websites will be migrated to new servers in Amazon Web Services. In this new environment, most sites will continue to function as they do today. The URL to your website (www3.nd.edu/~netid) will not change. We will provide more information on this transition in the coming months.
February 1, 2017: The NetFile web publishing service is considered deprecated. New NetIDs no longer receive www folders, and no new accounts will be added to the web servers.
April 2, 2017: A new feature in EDS.nd.edu will allow site owners to specify a redirect for their nd.edu/~netid website.
April 18, 2017: Inactive websites that have not been updated in more than a year will be unpublished (but remain in the user's NetFile space). An email message will be sent to any site owner whose inactive site is on the list to be removed approximately two weeks in advance. The site owner can request that the site remain online as long as the request is received prior to April 18. After the site is unpublished, site owners can reactivate their sites through eds.nd.edu.
June 30, 2017: The web servers will no longer support AFS connections to nd.edu/courses or any websites or content hosted in AFS.
June 30, 2017: Webfile.nd.edu will be decommissioned. Site owners who need to manage their content can connect using an alternate, supported method.
July 2017: Later this year, the OIT will move the current websites out of NetFile and into a new hosting environment. Current site owners will be “grandfathered” into this platform. No new accounts will be added to the platform. New sites that require this type of hosting environment can be hosted with an approved vendor.
Preferred Hosting Options
The preferred platform for most websites will be a content management system - primarily, Conductor and WordPress. These platforms provide University themes and easy-to-use editing tools to manage content, upload images, and more. OIT offers WordPress training classes and the OIT Help Desk provides basic WordPress support.
NetFile Replacement Platform
The new web servers will be hosted in Amazon Web Services and run a very similar environment as the current www3 servers (Apache, PHP, feedback.cgi, etc.). Software will be updated to current versions, which may cause some compatibility issues in more advanced websites.
What will not work?
- Database connectors, including Oracle and MySQL, will no longer be supported. Websites that connect to a database will need to be moved to a hosting environment that supports these connections.
- www3.nd.edu/courses and websites hosting content from AFS will no longer be served from this service
As the service undergoes testing, we will share any other features or components that are not supported.
The new platform will not change the URL or address to your website.
If you need to redirect your www3.nd.edu/~netid to a new location, a new feature of EDS.nd.edu will allow you to specify a redirect. This feature will become available in April 2017. The redirect includes a wildcard match for the entire URL, so any documents, pages, or files will redirect to the new location. For example:
nd.edu/~netid/2015/mydocument/image.jpg would redirect to mywebsite.nd.edu/2015/mydocument/image.jpg
Alternatives to Support Custom Hosting (e.g., hand-coded websites)
New sites that require custom web hosting can be hosted with one of the approved web hosting vendors including Amazon Web Services (if you want to manage your own infrastructure) or DreamHost (if you want the vendor to manage infrastructure for you). These are both affordable options that can support a wide range of hosting needs and have been reviewed and approved by Information Security and General Counsel. It is strongly recommended that you consult with your IT staff before moving forward with one of these options.
For more than 20 years, Notre Dame has offered all faculty, staff and students a place to host simple, static web sites using the “www” folder in AFS or NetFile. In recent years, the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) has heard from many of you about the need for easier tools to publish a web site that doesn’t require programming code. We also received feedback from people who require a platform for custom programming and web development.
In response to this feedback, the OIT is developing a solution to meet these two distinct needs:
- Provide easy-to-use web publishing solutions without programming code using Conductor and WordPress by partnering with ND Marketing Communications.
- Improve the process by which custom applications and web development can be hosted in a robust, supported environment.
The University currently has more than 1,000 web sites on Conductor (conductor.nd.edu) and Blogs.nd.edu. The OIT is working with campus IT partners and ND Marketing Communications to make it even easier to get a web site through these tools. Learn more about the University’s web publishing platforms at http://oithelp.nd.edu/web/
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