TerminalFour (T4), the company responsible for providing our content management system (also called T4), held a meet-up in Edinburgh on Thursday 24 November 2016. In previous years T4 held a two-day T44U conference in Dublin, Ireland. The new format was designed to make it easier for more local groups to get involved.
There were about 30 participants (not including representatives from T4) from the Universities of St Andrews, Abertay, Dundee, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Highlands and Islands, Newcastle, Strathclyde, York, and even the University of St Mark and St John, Plymouth – it was easier for Ian St John to fly from Plymouth to Edinburgh than travel to the alternative meet-up in Manchester!
The aim of the morning session was to give T4 an opportunity to give an update on the product, while in the afternoon to allow customers to share their experiences of the product and to give feedback.
Next 12 months
The focus for T4 over the next 12 months is to:
- Move more clients to v8. There are currently 36 clients using v8 with another 31 testing it.
- Refine existing product, particularly the way it integrates with other systems such as customer relation management.
- Improve documentation with more tooltips.
- Achieve ISO27001 international information security standard.
- Help more clients with data-driven results and improvements.
- Events calendar – samplesite.terminalfour.com now has an updated events calendar that is driven by Ajax; the calendar allows recurring events.
- Direct edit – all new customers are using direct edit for content editing. Direct edit has been improved in v8.1.9 with a simplified display and changed terminology (‘add page’ not ‘add section’). However, direct edit still doesn’t work with related content, but this is on the road map for the product.
- Integration with Google analytics – you can link Google analytics to pages so you can see data for individual pages within T4.
- Content migration – improvement in content migration by using ‘packages’. This allows parts of a site to be packaged and deployed else where.
- Import XML data – the external content syncer can now connect to web services so they can connect to an XML feed. It sees XML data like a database table.
- Form builder improvements – form builder can send emails. In the future, the form builder can be used to create standalone HTML code.
- Enhanced reporting e.g. who has been logging in, what was changed etc.
Beyond that they want to improve the way web pages can be personalised depending on factors such as geographical location. They also want to allow clients to vote on improvements to the product.
We are particularly looking forward to seeing how direct edit works as we have never used this feature. It could make updating web pages a lot simpler and make it easier to train content editors.
The afternoon session was an opportunity for T4 clients to share their experiences of using the product and to give views on how it might be improved. Some of the issues discussed were:
- If a grammar checker were added to the editor, could it be configurable so the language could be controlled?
- Screenshots of page layouts so you can easily select the appropriate one are coming in the future.
- Can comments be added to content types? This would be useful for giving instructions on how to use a content type.
- Where a content type is used for importing external content, could some fields be read-only?
- An Excel file and bespoke PHP code can be used to bulk upload files to the media library with names of media, structure, etc. This is not in production.
- Ability to bulk mirror e.g. select multiple sections, would be useful.
- Custom rights and roles to be reviewed and voted on as a future development. For example, to be a contributor in one group and a moderator in another.
- The API for programmable layouts will not change in future releases of the product.
Migrating content between two separate servers, one running v7, the other v8, is currently a manual process. A few ideas were discussed on how this might be automated. One option might be to take snapshot of v7 system, upgrade to v8 and then use packages to move into a v8 production server. Or, use v7 to export content as XML and the import into a content type using the new external content syncer.
This is just a brief summary of the meet-up. As well as getting an insight into T4 developments it was invaluable to share experiences of the product with others. It is this networking and sharing that is the real strength of such a meet-up. We can’t wait until the next one!