The T44U user group meeting in Glasgow on the 6 February was a great opportunity to meet up with others who are using the T4 content managements system and to find out the latest developments from TerminalFour.
There were about 30 attendees from the Universities of Stirling, Strathclyde, Glasgow, Highlands and Islands, St Andrews, Newcastle, Caledonian, Abertay and Lancaster all keen to find out about the latest developments.
T4 powers over 16000 websites, with over 350 clients worldwide in 13 countries, of which 206 are higher education clients. In 2017 there were 24 new clients.
TerminalFour have two new offices, one in San Diego for support and another in Poland for quality assurance testing. This means TerminalFour now have 11 members of staff providing support in Boston, San Diego and Dublin. The office in San Diego means that TerminalFour can offer 24/7 support to clients.
80% of customers are using the cloud hosting service provided by Amazon Web Services. This includes options to have content mirrored across the globe using a content delivery network (CDN), which means that users have the minimum of delay when accessing websites. The CDN also offers the potential to automatically manipulate images so they are optimised for mobile devices.
71 clients are using v8 – 32 of these have been from upgrades from v7. There are another 60 clients testing v8.
The company focus for the next 12 to 24 months is to help move more clients from v7 to v8, provide a faster release cycle, continue refining the product, create a new community site and improve the online documentation.
Future updates will focus on providing captcha in forms, rights and roles and improved reporting. For example, enhanced publish information will show duration, start time and 10 most recent publishes and who started it.
TerminalFour are also looking at how Sitemorse could be integrated into reports. The report shows the number of times the error occurs and users to the incorrectly configured asset in T4. They also demoed how Google Analytics data could be viewed within a section of the site structure.
At the University of St Andrews we are currently using v184.108.40.206. Improvements we have to look forward to when we upgrade to the latest version (8.2.7) are:
- Adding tables via the user interface is easier.
- Enhancements to forms.
- Better performance when using the system and publishing content. For example, it took 21.9 seconds to edit a section with 2000 content items with version 8.2.3. It now takes about 0.5 seconds.
Users and roles
There was a lengthy discussion on how users and roles might be improved in future versions of the product. For example, do we allow custom user types, do we allow existing roles to be renamed, do we extend Power User group function to the control access rights in their group?
There was no consensus on how user rights might be improved as there was a risk of making the system a lot more complex and therefore harder to use. TerminalFour are going to continue getting feedback from other user groups before proposing improvements.
This development is particularly exciting for St Andrews as it means we could potentially integrate our digital pattern library with T4. At the moment, changes to the HTML of a pattern have to be manually updated in T4. Having syncronisation between the two would make maintenance a lot simpler.
Dave also gave an example of how an Excel file can be used to define the structure and associated content types and then use this to configure T4. This offers the potential for reducing the time it takes to create new sites in T4.
The community extranet is going to be redesigned to improve the quality of documentation and make it more task orientated. This, along with using Funnelback for search will make the extranet easier to use.
The day meet-up for local groups is a great format. The opportunity to share experiences and exchange ideas with colleagues facing similar problems is invaluable. Many thanks to TerminalFour for organising this great event!