February Updates

Hello again and happy new year! Remember last year when I posted about how we lost our part-timer, David? And then the monthly updates stopped? I know, you say that coming. But good news, fair web fans: we’re back! We have had a really busy couple of months but for very good reasons and we have lots of fun updates to share with you now.

Staff

We hired someone! We actually hired two people, but sadly our new part-timer left shortly after starting for a really outstanding opportunity with Notre Dame. Rather than being bummed I’m going to choose to believe this indicates that we are excellent at hiring. But either way we are back to looking for a part-time Web Support Staff member, shortly to be posted to the NCSU Jobs site.

And we have Lauren! Lauren Etheridge is our new designer/developer who started with us January 22nd. She’s jumped right into the chaos so don’t be surprised if you see her name more in the near future. She’ll be following up with a blog post about herself very soon so stay tuned! YAY LAUREN!!

cPanel and www4 Hosting

You may or may not have noticed a bunch of web-related emails hitting your inbox over the past few months. OIT is always looking at next steps for services – new services, updates, and of course, the less popular end-of-life for services. This year (among other things) OIT Web Services is tackling cPanel upgrades and the end of www4.

Those of you with your sites hosted in a cPanel web hosting account (the majority of you) have, or very shortly will, see a message regarding the migration of your cPanel account and sites to a new, upgraded server. Thus far we have completed about half of the migrations but we are working on a stepped-up timeline going forward so all migrations should be completed by early March.
The upgraded web servers have a number of improvements, most notable to you guys will probably be improved performance of your sites on the front and backend. Newer versions of Apache and PHP should yield significant improvements. For those of you who get your hands dirty you’ll see a number of extra options in cPanel, including multiple versions of PHP, more error log information, and some extra configuration access.
Migration communications include information for how to test your site(s) on the new server. Fear not, we are doing that for our web clients as their migrations occur. Those of you reading this with a Hosted WordPress or Blogs site, those are not on cPanel and will not be migrated at this time. Let us know if you have questions!

The end of www4 is another big project for the year. For those of you who don’t know, campus has long offered personal web space to students, faculty, and staff in their individual “Unity” accounts. Users with a ‘www’ folder that was made web-visible could host webpages, files, etc. at a www4 URL. This service is very limited: only HTML will work in this environment. But there are still more than 5,000 campus users taking advantage of this service, many looking for a new home for their web content.
We’re still a long way from the official December deadline so the panic has yet. At this point we’re mostly trying to communicate the options and provide basic WordPress information for those looking for the right solution for their sites. That said we do expect more people to come forward needing help as the year wears on.

Gutenlightenment

If you are following our blog – and really, who doesn’t? – then you’ve started to get the impression that Gutenberg might be a big deal. If you don’t follow our blog, jump on the joy train and get a little background on Gutenberg for WordPress here and here.

The gist is that this is a big change for WordPress and we’re anticipating that a lot of our users will have questions. We’re doing our best to anticipate that by making training available and pre-building some tools that should hopefully make GutenBlocks more palatable and functional for campus users. To sum up, our roadmap looks a little something like this…

FEBRUARY: Work on campus GutenBlocks development; prepare for teaching Gutenberg to campus WP users and admins.

MARCH: Collaborate with other groups on campus to take GutenBlocks to the next level and do more testing. Start teaching classes. Collect more feedback about user experience with Gutenberg in general and NCSU GutenBlock specifically.

APRIL: Try to be ready for WP5.0 and the arrival of Gutenberg (currently scheduled for sometime in April; might get pushed some). Keep time set aside for general support of campus users regarding this change.

We are planning to communicate with our clients individually about when Gutenberg should be activated for each site; there is some flexibility to this. So keep an eye out for that email or – as always – feel free to email us to initiate the conversation for your site: oitdesign@ncsu.edu.

 

So that’s the (mid-)February recap! As I mentioned, we’re keeping busy but I hope you’ll always reach out to us if you have questions or concerns. Thanks so much for checking in!