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February 20, 2013

Blogbuilder 3.26 and 3.27

Over the past month we have released 2 new versions of Blogbuilder, with a number of improvements and long-standing bug fixes:

  • You can now choose a fixed width version of any of the existing blog designs, and also easily move the sidebar to the right side of the page, by selecting from the options on the Appearance admin page.
  • We've added the ability to add social sharing buttons to each of your entries, using the "Show 'Like' buttons" option. This will add Facebook Like, Tweet, and Google +1 buttons to the entry.
  • We've adjusted the layout of each blog on small-screen mobile devices for easier reading.
  • And we've fixed issues including:
    • Adding tags to entries on the 'Admin entries' page.
    • Links disappearing in IE8 on the Create entry drop-down.
    • Listing entries by tags with Chinese characters, and untagged entries.
    • Apostrophes in image descriptions causing problems with inserting images.
    • Departments being listed in the wrong faculty in the directory.
    • Blockquotes not being inserted correctly.

June 14, 2011

Blogbuilder 3.25

We've just released a new version of Warwick Blogs (the last one was nearly 2 years ago!) with a number of improvements and bug fixes:

  • We've improved the RSS and Atom feeds from your blogs, and also added JSON support (add ?json=json to the URL, and you can add callback and assign parameters to do JSONP). For example: http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/news/?json=json
  • We've significantly improved our support for newer web browsers (IE9, Chrome, Firefox 4) and you should find fewer problems using these browsers with Warwick Blogs
  • We've added OAuth support to Warwick Blogs with the following details:
  • Request token: https://websignon.warwick.ac.uk/oauth/requestToken?scope=urn%3Ablogs.warwick.ac.uk%3Ablogbuilder%3Aservice
  • Authorisation: https://websignon.warwick.ac.uk/oauth/authorise
  • Access token: https://websignon.warwick.ac.uk/oauth/accessToken
  • You'll need a consumer key and secret to use OAuth to Warwick Blogs in your own application, you can contact the IT Services Helpdesk (helpdesk@warwick.ac.uk) to request this
  • We've modified the Atom API to allow setting of arbitrary permissions by adding the special elements <blogbuilder:read-permission> and <blogbuilder:comment-permission> - these can be set to webgroups, names of groups on the blog in question, or to the special strings Anyone, Staff, Students or Alumni.
  • We've increased the text limit for the biography and contact details sections of the profile page significantly (32,000 characters)
  • We've added more "Back to Blog Manager" and "Back to my blog" links to the Admin section to make it easier to navigate
  • We've fixed issues with uploading files with spaces in and inserting media into the editor

As always, if you have any problems you can comment below or email the IT Services helpdesk at helpdesk@warwick.ac.uk


September 14, 2009

Bugfix release

We've just redeployed a new version of Warwick Blogs with a few bug fixes and changes.

  • Anonymous users can no longer post web links in their comments, which should hopefully reduce the level of spam we have been receiving from paid-for spam companies
  • The Admin Entries page is now paginated, and should load a lot faster
  • Creative Commons copyright items are fixed
  • Departmental groups are fixed
  • WGA members should now be able to register for new blogs

There are a few other fixes as well, and some general tidying up. If you find any problems, or have any comments, feel free to reply here or email elab at elab@warwick.ac.uk


May 28, 2008

New release

A new version of Blogbuilder was released this morning, with the following changes:

Improved WYSIWYG Editor

TinyMCE 3.0

Version 3 of the "TinyMCE" WYSIWYG editor has been rolled out onto the system. This has a new design and should have an improved editing experience.

This also includes fixes for previously known bugs with the Blockquote and Spellcheker features - these should work as designed now.

PNG Resizing

The long-standing known bug where PNG images were not resized properly and either did not display at all or displayed with an ugly red overlay has been fixed.

Comments and suggestions can be made in response to this entry, by email to blogs@warwick.ac.uk or on the Blogs feedback forum


March 26, 2008

Blogs in People Search

Writing about web page http://search.warwick.ac.uk/people

As some of you may have noticed, we are currently trialling a new People Search application as part of the Warwick website search at http://search.warwick.ac.uk/people - these results also appear on general searches on the Warwick website.

As part of the results for this, we display the user's Warwick Blog or e-Portfolio if they have one, and so if you have a Warwick Blog (or an e-portfolio), you'll find that your blog appears in search results, which may or may not be something you'd like to happen.  For example, a search for Mat Mannion reveals a Warwick Blog:

Mat Mannion

If you don't want your blog to appear in search results, you can turn off "Show in blog directory" from your blog's Settings page. Click here for more detailed instructions - it may take up to a week for the directory to update and for your blog to be removed from results.

If the wrong blog appears for your name, you can leave a comment on this entry or email us at blogs@warwick.ac.uk - this usually happens because the wrong blog is marked as your "personal" blog; we can change which blog is marked as your personal blog for you.


February 12, 2008

Flash player issues

SiteBuilder and Warwick Blogs use various Flash players in order to play multimedia e.g. MP3 audio, FLV videos. The most recent version of the Adobe Flash Player (9.0.115.0) has a bug that is causing all of these players to break. Technical details of this bug from Adobe can be found here.

As this was a minor Flash Player update most users will not have the affected version (9.0.47.0 for example works fine). We hope that Adobe will release an update to the player soon to fix the problem.

If you are experiencing problems playing multimedia in SiteBuilder or Blogs, try going to this page and see which version you have installed. If it is 9.0.115.0 you can install the previous version using the links below, which should fix the problem.

Internet Explorer 6 & 7

Firefox


January 25, 2008

AV Recording

A new version of Blogbuilder has been released today. This includes a number of corrective fixes (in particular, to adding and removing users to groups on your blog). This release also includes a new feature, allowing users to record audio and video into their blog entries. This is inserted in the same way as other videos into blog entries.

For more information, please see the FAQ Can I record a video or audio file in my blog entry?


January 11, 2008

New release

We've released a new version of BlogBuilder today with a few new features.

New Aggregation Views 

Recent Entries (final design)Firstly (and most visibly to most users), we've created a new design for our aggregation pages, as we thought the old design was now getting more than a little dated. Hopefully, this should make entries easier to read. We've also added some new ways to see different kinds of entries:

  • Entries by students
  • Entries by staff members
  • Entries by alumni
  • Entries in "personal" blogs
  • Entries in "academic" blogs

For the moment we are adding blogs to the list of "personal" or "academic" blogs as we go along - if you think that your blog fits this category, please email blogs@warwick.ac.uk.

Comment Moderation

You can now choose to moderate comments on your blog entries, if you wish, from the Settings screen in the "Admin" section of your blog. Moderating comments means that they won't actually appear on your blog until you've approved them.  You can choose to moderate the comments of all users, or just users who are not logged in.

More information can be found here.

Skipping over entries

On the "Recent entries" page, there's now a little box at the top of each entry showing the date and time of the entry.  These boxes have an extra, very handy function; if you don't think you'll want to read a particular entry, clicking on its date/time box will skip you straight to the next entry, and leave your mouse cursor perfectly positioned to do the same thing again should that be what you want.  This makes skipping through "All recent entries" looking for things which might interest you much easier.

As always, we welcome any comments or suggestions about these new features; please feel free to comment on this entry. 


November 15, 2007

BlogBuilder Update

We have released a new version of BlogBuilder today on blogs.warwick.ac.uk. This new version is mainly a bug fix release, tidying up some loose threads that have been hanging over the past few months. However, there are a few improvements that users may notice:

  • We have upgraded our image editing software to the latest version. This should offer increased quality and usability when using this feature. Read more about image editing
  • The code that runs at the backend of lookups for music, books, DVDs and games has also been upgraded, so writing reviews should be improved. FAQ
  • When writing a comment, clicking the preview button will show the correct number of your comment, and will also show you all previous comments - so you can refer back and quote previous comments, and also see if there have been new comments since you started writing FAQ
  • We have also upgraded a lot of core libraries included in Blogbuilder, which should hopefully improve performance for users

Comments, bugs and suggestions can be posted on this entry or the blogs forum

Update 9th Nov: These features have been postponed until further notice

Update 2 15th Nov: These features have been re-deployed with problems with blog forms and comments hopefully resolved


October 18, 2007

Three years on

Warwick Blogs has been running for a little bit more than three years now; we had a pilot period between about May and September 2004, then we went live in October 2004, offering a blog to every student and staff member who wanted one.  That means that Warwick Blogs has now run for three consecutive academic years, so it seems as though this might be an interesting time to look at some statistics for those three years.  Here they are:-

Blogs Authors Posts Comments Commenters Photos
04/5 2,362 2,242 35,983 88,231 8,602 48,709
05/6 988 1,721 32,411 70,261 7,344 45,954
06/7 800 1,396 24,254 31,829 6,340 16,111

Essentially, usage is declining.  Can we hazard any guesses as to why?  I can think of three reasons, though I'm sure there may be others:-

  1. In the first year, we marketed the existence of blogs very heavily, with posters, fridge magnets, beer mats and anything else we could think of.  We went to some time and trouble to get these promotional materials dstributed widely; into academic departments, University House and the residences.  We had an enormous banner made and put it up in University House so that students who were queuing to register might see it and remember it.  Then in the second year, we did a little bit of the same sort of stuff - but nothing like as much.  And in the third year we did no marketing at all (and we haven't done anything in this, the fourth year, either).

  2. This is just a theory, but I think there was a moment when we were first getting started when blogging was, relatively speaking, a new, shiny, interesting thing, (and our own system was itself new and shiny), and I wonder if we benefited from that timing.  But nothing can stay new forever, and there are now many more alternatives to having a Warwick Blog; you can have a blog in any number of good and interesting systems, like Vox or Typepad.  Or you can Twitter instead of blogging.  Or...

  3. ... you could have a Facebook account, and I suspect that this swamps number 1 or 2.  For social networking within the academic community, Facebook is all-conquering, and we observe a startling number of students who have a Facebook account before they arrive or get one soon after they start. And if you already have a Facebook account then it's not immediately obvious that you need another place to write about what you're doing, or another place to share your photos (hence the precipitous drop in the number of photos uploaded; they've all gone into Facebook instead).
One interesting trend that we observe as this academic year got started, though: the proportion of blog entries which are essentially academic in nature seems to have risen sharply.  It's too soon to say yet whether this year will continue the overall downwards trend from last year, but it's very noticeable when looking at the recent entries for the last week or so that (a) most of them have some degree of permissions set on them (mostly "Staff only", presumably because they're entries written at the behest of a tutor), and (b) they're almost all course or study related.  Perhaps this is also a consequence of the Facebook explosion; institutional systems such as ours end up settling into a different niche (ironically, the one we had thought we were originally building for), the area of study and personal development-related blogging.  Time will tell.


September 24, 2007

Comments Re–enabled

Follow-up to Comments Disabled from Blogbuilder news

Comments on Warwick Blogs entries have now been re-enabled. We apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused.

Changes that you may wish to note:

  • The default anti-spam question has been changed (so unless you've changed it yourself, yours will have too)
  • The bug in Textile that allowed arbitrary attributes in img tags has been fixed
  • Javascript event handlers are now disallowed in all HTML elements 

September 22, 2007

Comments Disabled

Unfortunately, during the course of today blogs has been under a malicious attack from a user posting comments under the pseudonym "Dr. Deall". These comments, when viewed in the browser, cause the user to be redirected to another website which may cause distress to the user.

We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused. As a measure to stop more of these comments being posted, we have disabled all commenting on blogs until we can be sure that this cannot happen again. Again, we apologise for this inconvenience - we will be working to re-enable commenting as soon as possible.

Once again, we would like to apologise for any distress or inconvenience these comments have caused. 

UPDATE (24/09) - Comments have now been re-enabled


January 12, 2007

BlogBuilder Update

Follow-up to New Features from Blogbuilder news

Hot on the heels of our previous release, we've released another new version of BlogBuilder this morning with some improvements and new features:

File Uploads 

BlogBuilder now allows you to upload any file to your blog and link to it from your entries. This means you can, for example, upload your CV, or a Word Document for a group, or even an MP3 of you and your band playing directly into your blog entries.

The easiest way to do this is when you are creating an entry; in the Textile2 editor click the image next to "To insert a file" - Insert a file (Textile), or from the WYSIWYG editor click the File Picker button - File Picker (TinyMCE)and follow the instructions to either pick a file already uploaded to your blog or to upload one directly into the entry. You can also upload files from the Admin screen for your blog if you go to the Manage Your Files Admin files and click "Upload a file" at the top.

For the moment, we're allowing 10MB of upload space per blog to use as you wish (under the Terms and Conditions of Warwick Blogs). Should you require more than this, email us with a request and we can increase your quota.

Improvements to WYSIWYG Editor

There've been a couple of improvements to the WYSIWYG editor:

  • The style of the editor should now more closely match what your blog looks like (apart from the colours)
  • We've added buttons for Blockquote, Indent and Outdent to the toolbar that were missing before
  • It's now possible to easily create an image as a thumbnail to a larger image from the image picker
  • You can now switch between the Textile and WYSIWYG editors directly from the "Create entry" screen. Please note, you will lose any content changes since the last edit
  • The Preview button should now work correctly
As always, any comments or suggestions can be made below

January 09, 2007

New Features

There has been a major new release of BlogBuilder this morning with a few new important features that users may be interested in.

Rich Text Editing


Users of SiteBuilder2 may be familiar with the JScript editor that is used to edit SiteBuilder pages, called TinyMCE. This editor has now been implemented into Warwick Blogs to allow users to create entries in a much more user friendly way than the current Textile2 editor.

As this is a new feature and has been generally untested, this is turned off by default. To turn it on, click "Admin" in the top right hand corner of your blog's homepage, then click "Settings", and finally change the setting of "Default editor for creating new entries" to WYSIWYG Editor. All new entries that you create will then use the new editor (entries created in the WYSIWYG Editor can only be edited in the WYSIWYG editor, and the same goes for the Textile2 editor).

Editing with TinyMCE

Notable advantages of using the WYSIWYG Editor:

  • You can use keyboard shortcuts and formatting buttons similar to most word processors
  • There is a spell-check button that allows you to check the spelling on your entry
  • There are easy buttons to allow you to embed images (both in your gallery or from your hard drive) and videos
Google Analytics

One of our most requested features is to provide statistics for users' blogs - how many people are reading the blog, where are they coming from, which entries are most popular. Rather than create a fully featured stats package from scratch, we decided to make it easy to use Google Analytics to monitor your blog.

For information on how to use this, please refer to this FAQ.

Other updates

There have been a number of other minor bug fixes and improvements, including:

  • The photo editor has been upgraded to the latest version, with improved red-eye reduction and other improvements to features
  • Bugs related to posting trackbacks have been resolved
  • The "Create entry" page should now load faster than before (we realise it took a very long time sometimes)
As always, any comments, bug reports or notes can be posted on this blog entry or on the Blogs Forum.

November 16, 2006

New release

A new release of BlogBuilder today has added a few new features and fixed some bugs that may be of interest to users:

  • We have tweaked the CSS in blogs slightly and as part of this have added two new styles to pick from, Simplicity and Floral, with a variety of colours. You can use these on your blog by going to “Admin” and then to “Appearance”
  • It is now much easier to use the Textile function to do tables, as we have provided some global CSS classes to style them with:

outline:

table(outline).
|_. Header1|_. Header2|_. Header3|
|Cell1|Cell2|Cell3|
|Cell4|Cell5|Cell6|
Header1 Header2 Header3
Cell1 Cell2 Cell3
Cell4 Cell5 Cell6

border:

table(border).
|_. Header1|_. Header2|_. Header3|
|Cell1|Cell2|Cell3|
|Cell4|Cell5|Cell6|
Header1 Header2 Header3
Cell1 Cell2 Cell3
Cell4 Cell5 Cell6

divider:

table(divider).
|_. Header1|_. Header2|_. Header3|
|Cell1|Cell2|Cell3|
|Cell4|Cell5|Cell6|
Header1 Header2 Header3
Cell1 Cell2 Cell3
Cell4 Cell5 Cell6

You can also combine these classes by putting a space in between the class names:

table(outline divider).
|_. Header1|_. Header2|_. Header3|
|Cell1|Cell2|Cell3|
|Cell4|Cell5|Cell6|
Header1 Header2 Header3
Cell1 Cell2 Cell3
Cell4 Cell5 Cell6
  • You can now choose how many entries to display on your blog’s home page by going to “Admin” then “Settings”
  • We now allow per-blog and global aggregation by author with the user’s usercode, for example http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/news/author/cuscav

For the more technical amongst you, we also now support Microsummaries, allowing users to get live titles in bookmarks in certain browsers.


November 09, 2006

Slow posting of entries

Many users may have noticed over the past week or so that the posting of entries has occasionally (with no real correlation to time of day or what is being posted) been extremely slow, and this has led to a few cases where people have accidentally posted two of the same entry by clicking the “Publish Now” button twice.

We have made improvements to two areas which we believe may have been contributing to the problem, and have released these changes this morning onto BlogBuilder.

If you experience any issues with publishing an entry, for example where the entry takes more than 15 or 20 seconds to publish, then it would be extremely helpful if you could email us at blogs@warwick.ac.uk with the time of day, the content of your entry and all the settings on the “Create entry” screen (Who can see the entry, who can comment on the entry, whether the entry is show in collections, whether the entry has “Show trackbacks” and “Send Technorati ping?” checked).


August 30, 2006

New features

A new version of BlogBuilder has been released today with some new features:

Textile 2

In order to provide better editing capabilities for entries and comments, we have upgraded the markup library that we use to Textile2, which supports new features such as tables and footnotes. The full list of Textile2 features are available for viewing here

Obviously with such a large change there may be minor errors that occur. Any problems can be reported here or on the Blogs Feedback Forum

“Watch this entry for new comments”

You can now “watch” or subscribe to entries in order to be notified by email when there are new comments on them. You can stop watching them at any time by clicking the link in the notification email. To watch an entry, check the checkbox underneath the comment form when you make a comment or click the link at the top of the list of comments for an entry.

Requesting Deletion of a comment

If you make a comment and wish for it to be deleted by the author of the entry, you can now click a link at the bottom right of your comment and send an email directly to the author of the entry.

Scheduled Entries

It is now possible to schedule entries to appear at a time in the future, for example if you wish to maintain a regular posting schedule on your blog or if you wish for it to appear, for example, after a lecture or assignment deadline.

Collaborative Draft Editing

When you save an entry as a draft, you can now allow other people to view it before it is published by giving them the link to the draft entry. To get this link, click on the title of the entry from the Admin Entries screen.

As always, if there are any problems, feel free to comment on this entry.


August 21, 2006

New version

There was a new release of BlogBuilder today with some new features and improvements:

In–Browser Photo Editing

Edit images

You can now edit photos to touch them up and make them more blog–friendly after uploading them by clicking the Edit image icon in the gallery (or the "Edit image" link on the Admin Your Images page). This will allow you to use a number of tools to perform minor modifications to your image (resizing, cropping, rotating, enhancing, even adding a lomo filter or snow) and save the changes to your blog.

Other Changes

There have been a few other minor changes, mainly in that any problems that users have experienced in writing single–line comments or entries and the end being cut off (particularly after using an acronym such as WGA) should not appear any more.

There have also been some minor changes to the way that blogs send RSS feeds to help speed up requests if information has not changed, and users can access ATOM feeds of pages by appending /atom or ?atom=atom to the URL.


August 14, 2006

Blogbuilder update

There has been a new release of Blogbuilder today with a few improvements and new features:

Alumni Permissions

Alumni Permissions

As well as writing entries that can only be seen by staff and students, users can now write entries that can be seen by all Alumni users who log in with their WGA users. This will not work retroactively and Alumni users will not be able to see "University–only" entries (only "University & Alumni" entries). If you find that the Alumni permissions do not work for you, then you may well have one of the old Alumni accounts we created before we had a proper authentication system that points to the WGA. If you are having trouble, let us know and we'll check out your account.

If you have joined the WGA and wish to maintain access to your blog after your ITS usercode expires, see this entry

[media] Tag

The Warwick Blogs syntax (Textile) has been extended in order to allow users to post sound or video files on their blog that are hosted externally, such as MP3 files that are uploaded to a hosting account or video files from YouTube or Google Video.

You can put these onto your blog by taking the URL of the MP3 or video (or the URL of the YouTube/Google Video page where it is located) and wrapping them in a [media] tag as follows:

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_YMigZmUuk[/media]

Which will produce the desired result:


August 02, 2006

Downtime 4/5/6 Aug

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/insite/newsandevents/intnews2/NE100000021421/

Just a quick reminder: Warwick Blogs, like most other IT systems, will be unavailable for at least part of the coming weekend, Sat 5th and Sun 6th Aug. Depending on the exact order in which the maintenance work is done, Blogs may be gone from as early as Friday evening at 6pm, and may not reappear until Monday morning.