Cascade Server Roadmap

Come see what's in store for Cascade in 2015. We'll discuss how the CMS landscape is changing and how Cascade is evolving to continue to meet the challenges that organizations face with managing their web presence. This session opens the conference and is a must-see for all attendees.

Welcome to the 9th Annual Cascade Server User Conference!

Welcome to the 9th Annual Cascade Server User Conference!

Accessibility in Practice: Integrating web accessibility into CMS training

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Over the past few years, the importance of Section 508, ADA and web accessibility has notably increased. By addressing these issues head-on as part of Cascade Server training, attention and awareness can be increased. Through the creation of an accessibility task-force, the University of Central Oklahoma has developed the “Accessibility Checklist for Digital Media” and made this an essential part of several training programs, including Cascade Server. Darren Denham, Web Content Manager for the University of Central Oklahoma will detail the process involved in adopting this guide into the structure of CMS training, key points where accessibility instruction can be integrated and re-create a live training segment focusing on accessibility and Cascade Server.

Crowdsource Maps: From Google Forms to Fusion Tables

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The session would walk users through the process of creating a Google Form and Spreadsheet, then using a Google Apps Script to glue that data with a Google Fusion Table. When a user submits new data, the content is geolocated by Google and placemarked on an embeddable map. It's a really easy way to allow users to crowdsource their locations.

Web Services 101

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This session will cover Web Services basics and some methods for calling and using Web Services. Examples of uses for Web Services will be shown.

Creating Custom Widgets in Cascade Server

Join Mike Strauch, Lead Software Engineer and Ryan Griffith, Support Engineer, as they guide you through creating your own custom dashboard widget.

Sandbox updates

  • The "created" and "modified" metadata fields, mentioned in our issue tracker locator tool search api documentation, are actually called "createdOn" and "lastModifiedOn" in the sandbox instance.  Sandbox is running a slightly older version of the locator tool search.  This will not apply to anyone who upgrades to 7.12.2, the fields will be called "created" and "modified".
  • We've added a new variable to the velocity context called $currentUsername that will contain the currently logged in user's name.

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Modernizing Internal Communications with Cascade Server, WordPress and MailChimp

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During this session, David Shipley and Trevor Thomas from UNB will explore the business case behind replacing UNB's aging e-newletter system and demonstrate how the combination of Cascade Server APIs, Cascade Server CMS features, the WordPress Connector and MailChimp resulted in a single e-news system that published important notices to the university's internal portal, a series of public blogs, the UNB mobile app and a daily, automated custom e-mail blast powered by MailChimp's RSS reader.

Data Modeling with Cascade Server and HighCharts JS

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Blocks, Data Definitions, and XSLT Formats will be provided which create a Cost of Attendance Calculator for prospective students. An interactive data model composed of javascript and html5 charts and graphs will render in a sleek responsive interface for prospective students and their parents. Students can apply potential scholarships and grants to the tuition total and watch as the Cost of Attendance drops before their eyes, making the numbers real and the decision to attend easier.

In Pursuit of the Grand Unified Template

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Take your existing skills with XSLT and Velocity and apply them at the template and configuration set levels. Design, development, and debugging of page level formats will be covered. A demonstration of generating multiple page types that use Bootstrap from a single template will be shown; instead of an empty sidebar, have it removed from the page and repurpose the space.

Optimizing MySQL for Cascade Server

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MySQl is the preferred choice for many installations of Cascade Server. It’s open source, available on all platforms (Windows, Linux, OSX, etc.) and relatively easy to setup and configure. However, running it with default settings may not be the best way to run it. I’ll help you understand how you can optimize the storage, memory, cache, etc. of your MySQL instance to operate best with Cacsade Server.

Superautomatic! Data Feeds, Bricks, and Blocks, with Server-side Transformations

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We recently launched a new, ground-up, redesign for the Scheller College of Business. Since we basically started from scratch, we took this opportunity to re-imagine and maximize the automation options available to us in Cascade. It was also important to maintain the ease of use our users were accustomed to, so we standardize how assets such as news articles, events, and statics, were created, tagged and dropped into a page. We wanted more flexibility with how and where assets could be placed, didn't want dynamic content to be limited to a predefined region, so brinks and shortcodes are used throughout. They are simple enough for novice users, but gives advanced users flexibility in customizing rendered outputs. We can’t do it all in the CMS. We'll cover how we take our single source XML feeds and transform them into dynamic content, at the server level.

Cascade Server: The Past, Present and Future!

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Hannon Hill’s Director of Client Services, Penny Kronz, will be demoing the major features of Cascade Server’s past year of releases. Penny will demo how some of the new features have been put to work in recent services projects. Penny will also give a sneak peek at some of the exciting features in the pipeline.

Cusestarter or How We Built Our Own Crowdfunding Platform

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Crowdfunding is a great way to call attention to small projects going on in your University or College. It is also a great way to get Alumni involved and thinking about giving. They can direct their gifts and see tangible results. We decided to build our own crowdfunding site using Cascade Server as the backend and connecting it to our payment processing system.

We will cover the marketing aspects and how we rolled out our initial projects. Crowdfunding requires that you choose specific types of projects with specific money goals. We will go over some of the thinking behind the projects on the site and show what the result was.

We built out a system that connects to our current payment processing for gifts. We will show how we used Cascade Server and other technologies such as Angualr.js and Node.js to connect to different services to show live donation data.

Web Content Personalization Focus Group

You want to deliver the best possible experience to different segments of your target audience, which may include serving up different content to different visitors on the same page. For instance, you could tailor your web content based on a visitor’s location. As personalization of content based on data and on a visitor’s digital body language is becoming increasingly important, we would like to discuss what you’re currently doing in this area and how Cascade Server might be able to help, both now and in the near future, as we continue our product development. 

2 Men 1 Site

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In this session, learn how a web team of two works with limited resources and staff to produce and maintain the entire Jacksonville State University web presence. We will explain how we (1) conduct usability testing and marketing research by visiting local high schools and meeting with student organizations; (2) conduct user training for 150+ users; and (3) design and develop a competitive web presence.

Don't Trip on Your Laces: Tying Cascade and Spectate Together

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By tying Spectate in with Cascade Server, we are better able to see what is effective on our site, and what we need to do to boost other areas. We can see if people are visiting our redirects, so we can tell if advertising is working. What are people looking at and for how long? Where are the visitors coming from? This is helping us to allot resources more efficiently. This session is to show you how to tie Spectate in with Cascade Server and make your marketing strategy work.

Outputting Their Full Potential: Using Outputs for Site Redesigns and Development Code Repositories

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Outputs are a wonderful concept. They let you take a single source of content, and publish it out in multiple ways (desktop, mobile-friendly, print-friendly, PDF, etc.). Did you know that they have even more benefits to make your developers’ lives easier? Use them for your upcoming site redesign, and for creating a separate repository of code for development!

It's happened to all of us: you make a change to a template or format (say, your site's header), and before you can have your peers review it, someone in your organization published the homepage, thus releasing your changes before you're ready. In some cases (gasp), that innocent publish breaks your site. Or, you make a change to a CSS file that only you have access to publish, but that file gets published out when someone publishes a page.

Preventing Cascade and web file code under development from being accidentally published to your live site is tough. What do you do to stop this? Set up a sandbox of pages that only give you a small sampling of your site? Work in a test instance with outdated content, and then copying code from your test to production instance? Turn off all publishing while you're developing, infuriating your user base?

There's a better way that will allow you to see your entire site with all of your coding changes. Using the concept of creating a "Redesign" Output for redesign projects, we came up with a way to prevent these problems before they occur by setting up separate code repositories in your site, following a "Development-to-Test-to-Production" code release methodology within Cascade Server.

We'll first highlight the "Redesign" Output concept. Then, we'll discuss the benefits of this multi-Output methodology, the how-to on setup, and see live examples of this being executed in real life.

Our hope is that you can set this up in your own Cascade instances in order to perform a flawless redesign, improve quality on your published site, and prevent those fires that only Cascade developers can put out.

Fun with Cascade Server!

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Creating the same kind of website can be boring. Get out of the slump and use Cascade Server to create something interactive and entertaining for your users! Sarah will discuss how Rollins College built a new website and an exciting surprise for Fox Day, the college’s most beloved tradition. The project included a complex Data Definition for the diverse content and “phases” of Fox Day, a script (updated with Cascade Server) to control the content on an external website, and a secret rollins.edu takeover! Sarah will also share how the team is approaching other projects to keep things fun and easy to use!

Leveraging Administrative Tasks with Webservices

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How many assets did your Cascade Server instance publish last month? Compared to other months, was that typical? What are the top 5 slowest-loading pages that end-users have worked on in the past 6 hours? How about for the last 6 days or 6 weeks? Can you please tell me all the folders to which a given group has access and the type of access it is? There is no doubt that being able to answer these type of questions gives CS administrators valuable information that empowers them to do a better job with their own daily tasks. This session demonstrates a set of tools developed at Indiana University that takes advantage of CS's webservices and addresses these particular topics.

Making the grade without Clippy – Use of automatic readability scoring

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During the discovery process preceding a major website redesign, Emory University School of Law identified accessibility and readability as two core values in content management.  Standardized ease of reading across a website impacts multiple strategic needs, including visual and editorial style consistency, facilitated reading through the effective use of text and typography, and clarity of message for all website users, including those using special reading devices for the visually impaired.  The Emory Law website provides a Readability Score with six separate indicators for each individual page that provides both an overview of performance and benchmarks for edits. The included measures are automated readability index, SMOG index, Columan Laiu index, Gunning Fog Score, Flesch Kincaid grade level, and Flesh Kincard reading ease. These measures are calculated from the serialized content and can be directly embed or displayed on the content page. 

Each readability test provides a different context for assessment, including grade level, context, both character and syllabic analysis for density, comprehension difficulty, and estimated education required to understand content. By utilizing and understanding each of the readability score different types of content can be objectively and uniformly evaluated with measures sensitive to different facets of the linguistic structure. Content managers utilize these scores to identify problem content such as overly dense or too simplistic text and confusing semantic page layout. In addition to direct evaluation of the content, the tool can be expanded to be integrated into page level analytics and behavior analysis from other tools such as Google Analytics.

A Groovy Way to Interface With Cascade Server

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Tri-C in the process of moving the course descriptions for its Workforce Training program over to Cascade Server, along with the rest of its public website. They selected Cascade Server since it is a push CMS, and one of their goals is to have only static pages on the web servers for their public site. They also needed a searchable phone directory on the site. Their web developers had some difficulty using C# and .NET in the Cascade Server environment, but Groovy came to the rescue. In this presentation, Tom will show you how they used Groovy to create an XML feed from Active Directory and JavaScript to allow searching with a static web page.

Building Org Charts Using Cascade Server

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Discover how Indiana University is using Cascade Server to generate and maintain organizational charts with velocity, web services, nested data structures and external data sources.

Climbing Migration Mountain: 200+ Sites from the Ground Up

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Southern Illinois University began their website migration to Cascade Server with 200+ websites on their servers. At the time, they had 2 full-time staff and were beginning a complete University rebrand with a major marketing agency. Prior to the adoption of Cascade Server and the rebranding, there were very few standards set for website design and development. Most sites were static sites, built by staff, faculty, or student employees. Some were using open source Content Management Systems. 

This session will overview the methods they used to migrate the sites, including gaining buy-in from departments, setting deadlines and goals, and keeping organized in order to stay on track internally. They will share some important methods they used for organizing the projects and how they stayed on track, even with obstacles. They will display visual timelines of dates and deadlines and discuss changes they made to the process along the way.

Using Cascade Server to Facilitate Communication During a Crisis

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The University of Victoria, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island on Canada's Pacific coast, faces some unique life & limb hazards to its students, staff and infrastructure. It faces many of the same hazards that your campus communities do too.

After attending inspirational presentations by representatives from Virginia Tech and the University of Canterbury (NZ), UVic has put new efforts into preparing Cascade Server infrastructure for communicating to its community during a crisis.

This presentation will describe communications and technical principles that guided use of Cascade Server for: 
• a website redesign; 
• an emergency notification system; and 
• developing a website technical infrastructure 

This presentation will describe the challenges faced, technical tools employed and the Cascade Server partnership and collaboration that UVic has built with the University of Western Ontario to enable resilient, effective communications channels based on principles and lessons-learned by other universities’ communications staff who have lived through real-life disasters.

Custom Widget Showdown

Join us as we present some of the best customized widget submissions from yesterday's session with Mike Strauch and Ryan Griffith from the Hannon Hill staff. There will be some great ideas, but there will only be one winner. So come see your peers' work and help us celebrate who takes home the trophy!

Ingesting Banner output Schedule Classes into Cascade Server (In Java - Web Services)

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Currently we fully manage and maintain the University of Richmond Course Catalog and most Schedules in Cascade Server as a single source delivery system that channels into multiple outputs. I would like to share how we develop and maintain the schedule importer written in Java. We use this tool for importing the schedule into Cascade Server. Also, I would like to share some of the Cascade lessons learned, and our best practices. 

In this presentation I will cover: 

  • How we handle and manage the technical design, testing and coding for the University of Richmond Catalog and Scheduling business process start to end by:
    • Creating data definition in Cascade Server (courses, and schedule)
    • Preparing the banner class schedules data for ingestion into Cascade Server (this requires the least amount of massaging in preparation for ingestions)
    • Handling regular (class schedules which repeat week to week) and irregular class schedules (classes not held on a regular schedule)
    • How to ingest external data using web services
    • General rules and workflows we follow in our business process and lessons learned
    • Merging class schedule data with other content type like course catalog
    • Generating different output (print xml for InDesign, html, xml, etc) 

In this presentation if time permits, I will share how we handle versioning between semesters for a particular schedule class and continual maintenance of course and schedule classes.

Just Because Your Relationship has Lasted Doesn't Mean You Shouldn't Spice it Up: Redesign in Cascade Server

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Lisa and Kelly from the Hannon Hill Services Team will be presenting on redesigning in Cascade Server. They will give recent examples of clients who did a redesign, outline the steps you would go through in the redesign process and give tips on how to ensure your redesign goes smoothly.

Web Forms, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Web Services

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The demand for interactive web forms had been increasing at Reed College, but the methods for creating them and collecting data had been a balancing act between too basic versus too heavy handed. While end users found Google Forms easy to make, they did not fit very well in our site's look and feel, nor did they provide all the functionality desired. Alternatively we tried web application frameworks but they involve not just the creation of the form but of the database to hold the data and the interfaces for interacting with it. Even simple web forms required considerable infrastructure to maintain.

Since most of the users asking for these forms already used Cascade Server to manage their content, we decided to leverage the system and embrace web services to create lightweight PHP programs to import the data as assets that are easily accessed by end users and use standard Cascade Server indexes and formats to provide complex reporting.

This allowed us to create basic web applications that fit well within our website without the overhead required of other frameworks, as well as use the data in Cascade Server to create web pages or provide data feeds for yet other web applications.

I would like to share examples of the small web applications we've created in Cascade Server, explain the process we went through to create them, and what we learned from the experience.

Connecting Ecommerce & Centralized Analytics to Cascade Server

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Every website owner wants to showcase cool features and stand apart from competitors. Nowadays, customization and/or integration is expected. Out-of-the-box functionality just doesn’t cut it anymore. Lately, there is heightened demand for ecommerce capabilities and analytics support within Cascade Server. As a long-term development partner that is committed to Cascade Server CMS as a foundation for its client websites, Beacon Technologies is constantly developing common add-ons to streamline the development process. During this session, Beacon will highlight a couple of add-on products that are wrapped within Cascade Server to address these common needs. Attendees will learn how BeCommerce extends Cascade Server to deliver ecommerce functionality without bouncing out to a standalone ecommerce platform. In addition, attendees will learn how Cascade Server can integrate GAFUSION so you can finally see how specific marketing efforts are directly impacting admissions applications, enrollment and/or in-store purchases.

This is really just a high-level, informative session about some of the things that Beacon is doing around the CS product as a partner. Attendees are encouraged to share their unique ecommerce needs during this session as well.

Oh No You Di'int - Modular CSS with Sass

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CSS is great--except when it's not. Sass (SCSS) makes writing stylesheets much easier. We'll look at how to use Sass, creating SCSS modules, and how to set up Cascade Server with a central SCSS store that compiles SCSS and pushes CSS files out to all your sites. Code will be made available at the User Conference.

Using Cascade technology to increase SEO/Landing Page Optimization

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Search Engine Optimization and Landing Page Optimization are a very important part of your web design and marketing process. Understanding and optimizing a large college or university website can be an overwhelming undertaking, but with the Cascade Server backbone, many actions can be automated or set up in common shared blocks. 
Over the last year, Rollins College has incorporated the following actions to increase our SEO/ Landing Page Optimization: 
1. Responsive design 
2. Calls to Action on every page 
3. Keywords/Title/Description automatically generated in Cascade Server
4. Headline 
5. Layout of page elements 
6. Forms 
7. Hero shot images/video 
8. Navigation links which are event tracked 
9. Graphics and meta data 
10. Trust indicators (testimonials) 
11. Subheads 
12. Tracking it all in Google Analytics and using the data to improve landing pages

Information Architecture and User Experience: The Journey, The Destination, The Return Trip

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“Our site needs to be easier to use.”

“We organize our website like an org chart.”

“I just want to be able to get to the things that are most important to me.”

“What’s a bursar, anyway?”

“I just search for everything.”

“I know the file is there, I put it there, but I can’t find it.”

“It’s so hard to find anything on our site, and I’ve worked here for 15 years.”

Sound familiar? These types of comments are a sampling of some of the common reactions to one of the first questions I ask a client when we first meet: “Tell me about your website. What are some of the pain points?”

These statements highlight some of the common problems related to a website’s information architecture (IA) and user experience (UX). The way you organize, label, sequence, and group elements on your site — from the smallest files and paragraphs to pages and entire microsites — that's information architecture.

You may be sitting there thinking it really isn’t that complicated. After all, we’ve largely figured out the IA for higher education. You go to any higher education home page and you are likely to encounter a primary, informational navigation that looks close to this:

- About 
- Academics 
- Admission 
- Athletics 
- Student Life 
- Library 
- News & Events

and an audience navigation that looks like this:

- Future Students 
- Current Students 
- Faculty & Staff 
- Parents 
- Alumni

But that’s the easy part. That’s the tip of the iceberg. The hard stuff starts when you dip below the surface of that placid, top-level lake and into the depths of the other 99 percent of your website. It’s a dark, scary place where pages haven’t been touched since 1995, and the beautiful consistency you worked so hard to implement during your last redesign turns into a hodgepodge of link farms, competing navigation spaces, and borderline chaos. Everyone has a deepest, darkest corner of their site that they are glad nobody knows about.

Join me to learn about how to tame the information on your site in the service of stronger user experiences.

Web Services: Encapsulation, Reusability, and Simplicity

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When writing Cascade Server web service code, it is a common practice to start with the username and password. And then raw data is fed into arrays or stdClass objects, which are then passed into function calls. Raw data, including usernames and passwords, are passed around between functions. It is easy to show how dangerous this practice can be. By generating some phantom entities in Cascade Server, using simple web service code, it can be shown that this can cause huge problems for back-end users and developers. It is desirable to build a reusable code library—classes representing various asset types—to encapsulate data and complicated logic, and provide a consistent class API to manipulate assets in Cascade Server. Classes can support each other, and inheritance offers the possibility of considerably reducing the repetition of code. By using this code library, it can be shown with a few examples that it is relatively simple to write single statements that can perform a lot of complicated tasks. Cascade Server web service code development can be made easier.

How to build a simple map using the Cascade Server Exchange + Google Maps

Penny and Kelly from Hannon Hill's Professional Services Team will show you how to leverage our free Cascade Exchange modules to build out maps for your website.

COPE with JavaScript/JSON distribution

Cascade Factory has developed a method of COPE that uses JavaScript/JSON to easily distribute list content throughout a website. The presentation will use events and news as the primary type of distributed content. One of the main unique benefits of this method is that it runs in Cascade Server the same as on the web server. It also greatly reduces the number of files necessary to manage data of this type, and increases flexibility in how list data is distributed and rendered. We will present how the approach works and show real-world examples, but not go deep into complex code.

Introducing DRY in your Velocity Templates

In programming, DRY stands for "don't repeat yourself" -- meaning never write the same code twice. It’s easy to follow this in the beginning but as you get deeper into your site, it’s easy to sway. At first it's only a few places -- you'll copy your scripts region to add custom Javascript for a certain page. But then a requirement changes (they always do) and you end up copying an entire template and only change a few lines. Before long, you have to edit 5+ template files to make a simple change. Inconsistent code and a website full of bugs = a web developer’s nightmare. Learn how to slice your templates at the beginning to prevent this mess and how to build a folder structure that keeps you sane. If you are already in this mess, I'll cover strategies for combating it and getting back control of your code