Archive for the 'silva' Category

Delay between edit and what user can see

By Sonja M Van Praag, on 3 April 2014

WAMS is employing a web-cache which means that when people make changes to their website in Silva, it can take up to 30 minutes before this can be seen by users.
This is not new, we’ve been doing this for a long time, but it may not have filtered through to all Editors.

Please pass it on to other Editors in your team.


Using add-ons in Firefox

By Sonja M Van Praag, on 11 March 2014

Broken links on a web page can put people off re-visiting your website.

But …

You can quickly check all page links on a web page by adding the link-checker add-on in Firefox.
Go to Tools | Add-ons
In the search all add-ons box – at the top on the right – type ‘link checker’ and choose one of the suggested add-ons.
You will need to install this and restart Firefox.
From then on, when you click on Tools, you will see Check Page Links as one of the choices.
If there is a link in red, you’ll know it’s broken.
If not broken, they’ll be green.

Chief Editors, Editors and Authors in Silva

By Sonja M Van Praag, on 5 March 2014

Quite a few of you received Silva training more than 1 or 2 years ago.
Since then quite a few things have changed.
You may want to look at the Silva Support pages for updated information.
For example, we now recommend not to open external links in a new window on recommendation from Search Engines (since Jan 2013).
We also have a page dedicated to the most important things to remember when editing / building web pages.
And there is information for people who have just started using Silva.

I’ll be posting regularly on our Blog to ensure you are kept up-to-date with Silva.

Silva training courses

By Sonja M Van Praag, on 2 January 2014

New year, new resolutions… .

Not really, but for a while we’ve been thinking about making changes to the current Silva training on offer.
From January 30th, I’m introducing a one-day course, called Silva Plus, which will combine the current Silva Intermediate and Advanced Features.
We will also be introducing an online presentation on ‘The Web at UCL’ which will inform interested users in topics that any web editor will need to familiarise themselves with, such as:

  • the Web at UCL
  • Accessibility on the web
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Usability
  • and more… !

It will be a pre-requisite for anyone using UCL’s CMS to complete the online presentation.
The web is constantly changing and it’s changing fast. Whether you are an Editor or building a website, it is vital that you are at least familiar with these topics or your website will not attract people, rendering the effort you put into building it useless.
There will be an announcement through the Week @ UCL about this.
A happy 2014!


Not as soon as we’d hoped!

By , on 25 April 2012

I’m reliably informed nobody reads this blog but no matter, if you read my last blog you’d have noticed something about an upgrade. You may have been wondering what happened to it! It did indeed all go quiet. However we have been beavering away on it and we’re happy to say our hard work is starting to pay off. It’ll be a while before you guys will see the results though unfortunately. It is a massive upgrade.

There’s a shiny new interface which you’ll be glad to know loads a lot faster and is far more responsive than it is presently. Kupu is being killed off and a nicer editor (ckeditor), that will render external sources in place, will be in. No more of these yellow boxes you love so much….. There will be whole new ways of creating content too that will give you added flexibility in designing your pages. We’ll be better too! The upgrades will make it easier to manage and develop new functionality for the service which means we’ll be able to deliver projects faster and be more responsive to your needs. On top of that, the man with the plan, Andy in IS has got some brilliant ideas on rebuilding our production set up to make it all go much faster so we’re dreaming of actually providing the quality of service that we hope you’ll actually enjoy using!

I can imagine some of you won’t be thrilled to hear about changes to the user interface and will be concerned about having to get familiar with yet another new interface…. We know what a pain it can be. You’ll be glad to know that your sites will continue to work in the new setup and you won’t need to do any work to fix it!….. but there will be a little requirement to get familiar with things… Sorry! We’ve had the same interface for the last 8 years and it desperately needs modernising so there had to be some changes. We hope you’ll think of them as improvements :)
and not just an attempt by us to wind you up! :(

I’ll be back to give you more details on the upgrade and the features that we’ll be bringing in, til then…

Why did we choose Silva!?

By , on 23 September 2011

A question often asked of us here in Web Services!  The choice was ultimately made by me and Neil Martin, we were the two Web Support Officers at the time but our choice was severely limited.

The Content Management System Project Group (CMSPG) was set up in April 2002 to look into the options available for a CMS.  Very early on in the process that group settled on Zope as the framework for the future development of the CMS.  I was initially unimpressed by Zope on my first dealings with it.

Several other universities had already started using Zope but with different CMS built on top of it.  In November 2003 I organised a Zope users meeting at the UCL and we had visitors from Bristol, Birkbeck, Oxford Brookes, ICH and others.  They were using different CMSs including Zope’s Content Management Framework (CMF), Plone and EasyPublisher.  In February 2004 I demoed some of the options for Zope to Information Systems (IS).  To say they weren’t impressed is an understatement!  Just after that meeting Neil discovered that his former employers, Luton University were using a Zope based CMS that we hadn’t heard off, Silva.  I quickly installed it and we arranged to go visit them.

Compared to other CMS on offer Silva provided out-of-the-box organisational workflow which compared favourably to the community based alternatives where we would have had to develop the workflows separately which was something that would have been difficult to achieve quickly given our, then, limited Zope, Python skills.  The templating system was also very simple compared to the others and Neil and I could reproduce UCL templating very quickly.  It was also easier to build simple tools into it for template menuing etc.  It was the obvious choice for us.

IS signed up Debs Pollard in late May 2004 to give us sysadmin support for the CMS and we finally started up the live service in early 2005.  Jon Bowlas joined up shortly after as our Silva Developer and we made great progress after that.

There are now around 540 sites in Silva and we have some promising new developments on the way for 2012!  More on that in an bit.

Silva updates

By Nick Dawe, on 6 September 2010

Here are a few Silva CMS updates we’ve made in the last month. We’ll endeavour to post similar updates as we continue to develop, fix bugs, etc. for the system over time.

New code sources


  • Horizontal menu: It is now possible to display a single level horizontal menu based on the root items of your site using the UCL branding layout. This will display throughout your publication.
  • Mobile view: The custom mobile view of the UCL branding layout now displays in Android devices.

Amended code sources

  • Accordion: it is now possible to add multiple accordions into a page.
  • Accordion: a bug that caused the code source to show incorrectly in IE6 has also been fixed.
  • Caption an image: browser compatibility bug fixed
  • Tabbed box and accordion: a bug that was generated when these two code sources appeared on the same page has been fixed

Silva at 400

By Nick Dawe, on 2 September 2010

Just a short post to say that there are now nearly 400 websites using Silva at UCL (we expect the 400th to come in the next few days!). These don’t include test sites, or sites within sites (such as the many subsites in e.g. www.ucl.ac.uk/isd).

As the service grows, we’ll continue to develop and improve its various facets as well.

Silva updates

By Nick Dawe, on 24 May 2010

We always work to develop our Silva content management system over time, although many of these updates are ‘behind the bonnet’ and not noticeable to the average user. However, since February’s Silva upgrade, there have been a few more discernible improvements, which may be of interest to some users.

New external sources

General bug fixes/minor improvements


Coming soon

Because of various technical issues, we’re aiming to deprecate ‘external content includers’ (that is, external sources that pull content from e.g. the Apache webserver). However, we do intend to build external sources that provide the same kind of facilities as these ‘external content includers’. For instance, we’ll soon be ‘launching’ a new ‘webforms’ external source which will offer far more functionality for setting up generic forms. We’ll also be developing the events calendar code source further, giving users more options for how they’d like the calendar to be displayed. More on these things later…

[Test link]

Silva upgraded!

By Nick Dawe, on 18 February 2010

Yesterday we completed a major upgrade of Silva to version 2.1.7. While this upgrade features bug-fixes, and lots of improvements to performance and stability, etc. on the back-end, there are a number of new features that may be of interest to users.

New Corporate Identity Layout

We’ll post more about this shortly, but a new layout is available to Silva users which is based on the UCL home page design. It’s also got viewing options for the iPhone/iPod, and a large range of new code sources (ie ‘widgets’) that can easily be set up. More on that later…

Other improvements

Here are a few other improvements that may be of particular interest to Silva editors…

(Slightly) Improved Editing interface

There are a few small changes to the main Silva editing interface, which should help to improve its overall usability. For details of these, see:

Google Analytics tracking codes

Currently we track all UCL Silva websites using our own Google Analytics account. However you can now add your own Google Analytics account tracking code to your publication, and track all statistics yourself as well.

To do this, go to the ‘UCL Attributes’ object of your publication. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see the ‘Google Analytics Tracker Code’ field. Simply put your account’s code here, then ensure that your Google Analytics account profile is set to track this site.

Very important: Please check that your Google Analytics account is successfully tracking your website’s user statistics one day after setting this up. If your account hasn’t been set to track your website properly, there’s no way to get the stats back!


It’s now possible to inherit other ‘local-styles.css’ objects from higher positions in your publication.

For a list of all improvements, see: