Frequently Asked Questions about the Web CMS

Sections:

Overview

What is a Web Content Management System (CMS)? A Web content management system (Web CMS) is a software system that provides website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of Web programming languages or markup languages to create and manage website content with relative ease.  Bottom line: It makes our jobs easier.

Is this just an editor for Web pages? No.  The CMS is much more than just an editor for Web pages.  It is an enterprise level software system that will manage all of our Web content and how it interrelates.

What CMS has Montana State University purchased? The university has purchased OmniUpdate’s OU Campus. This system will be used across all four MSU campuses and affiliated organizations.

Is this similar to CourseLeaf? Yes. It is similar in a general sense. CourseLeaf is a CMS that is specific to Course Catalogs. The CMS, OU Campus, is built for higher education, but is a more general purpose tool to manage a broad set of Web content.

Is this opt in or is it something we’re required to do? In its initial implementation the CMS will not be required for use. However, due its efficiencies of management and security, in the future using the CMS may become a requirement unless granted an exemption by the university.  Ideally, the CMS will offer enough benefits that most users will highly desire the opportunity to work within it.

What is a Web Content Manager? This is the term that we use to identify people that manage, create or update Web content on the MSU Web domain.

What do you mean by MSU Web Domain? This is the term that we use to identify any website that is affiliated with Montana State University.  This includes colleges, departments, offices, research groups, student groups, organizations, grants, special topics, etc. There are over 1,000 sites within the MSU Web domain comprising over 100,000 individual Web pages and managed by hundreds of Web Content Managers.

Will there be a demo of the CMS? Yes. There will be live demonstrations of the system before it moves into production. These will likely begin shortly after January 1, 2014. 

Do we have to do this in January 2014? No. But there will be advantages to moving into the system immediately if your site’s content can be migrated in the initial migration. Likely the longer a site waits to start using the CMS, the more work upfront it will take for the site to be used within the CMS.

Migration

What is preferred for a site that has its own Web server currently: to stay hosted separately or to move to being published on the main MSU Web servers? This should be evaluated on a site by site basis.  The CMS will offer the benefits that the main MSU Web servers were unable to offer in the past. For this reason, many distributed Web servers may move back to the main MSU Web servers.

Will there be assistance in moving to the CMS for websites that are custom and need to be imported manually? Yes. However, the resources that will be available are finite and will be prioritized by the university.  This may mean that there will be a waiting period for these sites to be migrated to the CMS.

Will subdomains and sites hosted on other servers be part of the automatic migration? It is our hope that some subdomains and sites hosted on other servers will be part of the automatic migration.  However, we are still working out the details on how this tool will function so we cannot at this time guarantee inclusion in the initial migration.

Are there any issues with bringing content over from other CMSes, such as Drupal or Wordpress? These should be evaluated on a site by site basis.  While the content should be able to be brought into the CMS, certain functionality and how the data is stored within those systems may need to be investigated before they are migrated into the CMS.

Editing and Workflow

Is there local software needed to manage and make updates in the CMS? No. The Web CMS will be accessed through a Web browser.  You will be able to access the Web CMS from your office, your home or even mobile devices such as your phone.  You will browse the to the Web CMS, log in with your NetID and immediately gain access to the Web content that you have permission to edit.  You will be able to make your edits through a simple interface and then publish your content to your website.

How does editing a page compare to using Contribute or Word? The most basic user interface for editing a page is through a WYSIWYG (“What you see is what you get”) editor that would appear similar to Contribute or Microsoft Word.

Can we still work in source code? Yes.

If we want to continue making edits using Dreamweaver, how will we go about uploading files? The CMS allows for WebDAV connections that would allow tools like Dreamweaver to continue being used. WebDAV will allow tools like Dreamweaver to connect with the CMS through FTP.  There may be some functionality though that is lacking if one decides to go this route. It likely will not be recommended except for advanced users.

Administrative

What is the number of user roles? The CMS allows for ten different user roles to grant permissions to general functionality and tools. However, specific user permissions are fairly granular.

Will the help desk be better able to support this? Yes.  The Help Desk personnel will receive extensive training so that they can do entry level support for the CMS and its users.

Will everyone in a department be able to change all pages within in the department? This will depend on the structure that works best for each department.  Users will only be given permission to content that they have been specifically granted the ability to view and edit. This will be done on a site by site, page by page, and content block by content block basis.  In other words, if a department desires to allow a member to edit one page, that member is not automatically granted the ability to edit all pages.

What if we have more of an Intranet site versus a more public site? As long as the CMS is able to access the intranet site via FTP to publish its content, it will be able to manage the intranet site.  Depending on authentication methods of the intranet site though, there may be functionality within the CMS that will be limited without affecting the site itself.

Templates and Design

Will Colleges have different templates from departments? No. Colleges and departments will have access to the same styles of templates. However, it could be an option for the college to determine that it will use one style of landing page and have its departments conform to another style for consistency.

What if our site is not already in the current template? If a site is exempted from using the MSU Web templates, the site will need individual templates built for it in order to be managed within the CMS.  These will be looked at on site by site basis and prioritized for completion after the initial migration and implementation is completed.
If a site is supposed to be using the MSU Web templates (as determined by MSU’s Graphic Identity and Brand Identity Policy) but not currently using the latest versions of the templates, it will likely not be able to automatically be migrated into the CMS.  This means that the site may need to be moved into the CMS manually.  These will be looked at on site by site basis and prioritized for completion after the initial migration and implementation is completed.

How will the CMS help us maintain and/or convert our site to the current templates? The CMS will lower the technical bar for managing a site’s content within the MSU Web templates. Also, once a site is migrated into the CMS, its templates will automatically be updated to the current version of the MSU Web templates. This will save organizations immense amounts of time and effort in updating their templates.
If the site’s content needs to be migrated into the CMS manually, the ease of content creation within the CMS will allow even non-technical staff to move content into the CMS easily.

Advanced and Technical Capabilities

Will we still be able to use PHP & AJAX? Yes. The CMS will facilitate the use of server-side code like PHP and ASP, and enable the use of client side code like Javascript and AJAX.  However, there may need to be adjustments made to pages that are currently using these languages to remain fully managed by the CMS. Likely, sites that are using these types of languages heavily will need to be investigated on a case by case basis before migrating into the CMS.

We currently use Adobe forms, will the CMS support them still? Yes.  The CMS itself should still support the overwhelming majority of third party tools and services that are currently being used across our Web domain. The CMS will also bring new tools that will provide powerful integrated options for those who wish to use them.

Will the CMS support PDF forms? Yes.

Will this handle large files? How will versioning work for files? This will handle large files. However, versioning of larger files (images, movies) may be limited due to storage concerns.  Specifics on file versioning are to be determined.

We have a site where we maintain an organizational database… will we be able to display this within the CMS? Yes.  The site will still be able to be managed by the CMS. However, it may need to be looked at as a special case to determine how best to integrate the existing system within the CMS.

How will this handle distributed servers? The CMS will be able to designate specific servers where a site is published. This means that distributed servers, regardless of hosting environment, should be able to continue to host the published content as they have in the past regardless of their location.  The only requirement is that the distributed server allows for SFTP connections from the CMS software.

Can CMS content co-exist with non CMS-content? Yes. However, it may make sense to move non-CMS content into separate hosting areas for organization and management.

Can the CMS act like a WordPress blog? Yes. The CMS would be able to replace the functionality of a WordPress blog.  While the CMS does not function identically to a blog, the functionality of the blog is just a very content specific CMS. In some cases however it may make sense to continue to use WordPress as a blog.



All comments and feedback are welcome, but should be channeled through Jake Dolan, the committee chair.