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IT says: Coming upgrade to make Plone faster

by Hayley Lynch, Information Technology last modified Jun 04, 2012 09:37 AM

Website administrators and content managers at the University of Louisville will be able to work faster when Information Technology introduces an upgrade to Plone, the content management system (CMS) that departments use to build and maintain their university websites. Plone 4 is expected to be much faster than its predecessor.

“One of the main improvements is performance,” said Sherry Roark, assistant director of the Next Gen Services unit that is implementing the new Plone 4 environment. “It should be three times faster than the current version. This addresses our main customer complaint, which is slow performance.”

IT will introduce the Plone upgrade on July 1 and will begin to offer Plone 4 classes that month to staff who manage their units’ websites. The Office of Communications and Marketing also will provide new sessions of “Introduction to Plone 4 at UofL,” starting in June.

Besides speed, the Plone 4 upgrade includes a responsive design for mobile devices, Adobe Flash integration and new templates that OCM designed to follow new branding standards.

The template layout has a more modern appearance.

“It’s a really clean, sleek look,” Roark said. “You can integrate your approved university logo at the top of your site. There are more choices of headers and footers, and many different designs that you can use if you want to.”

Those templates also have been programmed to allow website components to be scaled according to a range of resolutions and devices, from smartphones to tablets. This means that when UofL web administrators rebuild their sites in Plone 4, they automatically will be scaled for mobile devices, which is intended to improve users’ experiences.

“It will work perfectly on your phone, with no scrolling from side to side,” Roark explained. “With Plone 4, every site will have this functionality just by using one of the new templates.”

Next Gen created a custom button to allow web administrators to post videos to their sites using the Flash video player. Video captions can be added with XML, an encoding language that can be understood by a computer, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). University-wide credit card functionality also will be integrated into Plone 4 and will work directly with the form function in Plone. Web administrators still will need to work with the UofL’s Treasury Office to set up an account.

“We tried to think of anything and everything the university would need,” Roark said.

Details and how-to information about Plone 4, as well as a schedule of classes, will be available online starting in July through the Plone Help Center and on IT’s training site. Times, dates and locations of OCMu “Introduction to Plone 4 at UofL” will be available soon.

Departments will have two years to rebuild their sites in Plone 4. Their web administrators can do the work or they can hire IT Next Gen to rebuild their sites. A request form will be available here.

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