The Directorate of Digital & Information Services (DDIS) offers a range of web publishing services to the University. For all services, staff and researchers are encouraged to contact the DDIS Web Team (servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk) in the first instance to discuss their requirements.

Overview of Services

The following services are available to all staff and researchers. Further detail on these services is appended in section 6.0.

StaffPages

An easy-to-edit secure service that allows staff to create a staff profile, add work-related responsibilities and (if relevant) integrate research publications from Pure.

StaffPages is available automatically to all staff with an IT account and may be accessed via any modern web browser at www.abdn.ac.uk/staffpages/update Personal profiles are accessible at www.abdn.ac.uk/staffnet/profiles/user.name where user.name is the staff member’s email name.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

Two services are available:

  1. OpenText: Content Management System supporting the main University website at www.abdn.ac.uk. This service is primarily used to showcase the University to applicants, students and businesses and to provide broad information on research activity and public engagement. Editorial access is approved by the Digital Communications team, in concert with heads of school/section. Content may also be added or amended via request to nominated editors located within schools/sections.
  2. WordPress: Content Management System for use by groups and individuals whose content may have a niche audience, who require a standalone web presence or who require specific functionality not supported by other systems such as a bespoke theme. WordPress sites are hosted on subdomains of abdn.ac.uk (eg mysite.abdn.ac.uk) or through third party domains (eg studyaberdeen.com). Access is approved by Heads of School/Section.

Hosting Service

A hosting service allowing staff and researchers to securely author and publish material; for example software applications, websites for academic societies and research collaboration. Access is available by staff request to the Service Desk via servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk. Staff requesting web hosting should inform their Heads of School/Section or their nominated approvers, prior to the request to the Service Desk.

Teaching Service

‘TeachSpace’ is a secure, on-campus web publishing environment for students and staff who require access to PHP and MySQL for teaching and learning purposes. Access is available by staff request to the Service Desk via servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk. Requests should include the relevant course code and account names of any tutors/lecturers.

Level of Service

Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, with the exception of scheduled downtime for maintenance and upgrades.

Standard service requests may be made via servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk. The Team is available during core business hours (09:00-17:00, Monday-Friday).

Services other than StaffPages and OpenText require setup time, so users are advised to provide notice of at least three weeks.

Servers and data are backed up daily per DDIS policy [1], with restoration available via servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk.

DDIS undertakes to ensure services are regularly patched and free from known vulnerabilities.

Support and Documentation

Support for all services is provided by the Web Team via servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk.

  • StaffPages provides in-line help via the admin interface. There is also a downloadable user guide in the Digital Resources Hub.
  • OpenText users are required to undertake training sessions on both the system and ‘Writing for the Web’. Upcoming courses are listed on, and booked via, the Digital Resources Hub. Bespoke training may also be available on request. Documentation for OpenText is made available during the training.
  • WordPress documentation is available at https://codex.wordpress.org/. Additional documentation can be provided by the Web Team on a request basis.
  • Information on using the Virtual Host service is available via the Learners’ Toolkit.
  • TeachSpace tuition will be provided by staff to students as part of their formal teaching.

User Responsibilities

Users of the services must comply with all relevant policies which form part of their contractual terms and conditions. A full list of policies is available in the StaffNet Policy Zone

Staff should particularly be aware of the following in regard to web publishing:

Users are required to change computing passwords once a year using our password changing utility.

Users publishing in JavaScript/JQuery/PHP/MySQL are responsible for ensuring that that their code is regularly patched and free from known vulnerabilities. DDIS may disable or remove sites that pose a risk to the institution if issues cannot be resolved in a timely fashion. DDIS will regularly scan sites for such issues and this is a condition of publishing.

Costs

Most services are provided free of charge (subject to appropriate approvals) with the following exceptions:

  • Hosting Service: Use of the hosting service may require the purchase of additional third party services. In such instances, charges will apply to recover the cost of these services.  Examples include recurring charges for domain names and SSL certificates. There is no charge for the use of the hosting service infrastructure. Similarly, there is no charge for staff time required to administer the service.
  • Developments undertaken on the basis of a research grant: Where work is undertaken on the basis of a research grant, both cost recovery charges as per the hosting service and staff costs for development normally apply. Details of the applicable charges can be found in the Research Costings Tool.
  • Exceptional circumstances: There is a potential to charge for any work that is not part of the routine support of administration, teaching and research; eg: spin-out companies.

Detailed Service Information

OpenText

OpenText is a commercial CMS used for updating content under the corporate identity of the University. OpenText websites are managed by the Digital Communications team and content is administered through nominated individuals located in the schools and administrative departments. A variety of layouts and features (including Accordion, Background Image, Call to Action Buttons, Content, Embedded Content [2], Featured Content, Gallery, Map, Slideshow and Tabbed Content) are available and requests for new functionality can be made to DIS via nominated administrators.

6.2 WordPress

WordPress is available in either a standalone or multisite environment, with access to a suite of themes, plugins and custom modules. The themes, plugins and modules available are either third-party which have been identified as suitable for use within the University, or which have been developed by DDIS to address specific requirements from the University community.

Where use of a particular plugin and/or functionality is required and is not available through the existing suite, the viability of this will be assessed in relation to institutional requirements.

6.3 Hosting Service

The Hosting service provides following features:

  • Apache Web Server
  • PHP (CGI)
  • Access to MySQL service
  • Unique domain name (DNS) (if required) [3]
  • SSL certificate (HTTPS) [3]

Users of this service should be aware that minor upgrades to the servers will be undertaken automatically and code may require modification to remain functional. The responsibility for code updates remains with the code author. DIS reserves the right to test code on this service for vulnerabilities and disable any applications which are considered to present a risk to the University. In such instances, content editors will be consulted and advice provided where required.

Notice will be provided in advance of major upgrades to provide sufficient time for users to update their code.

6.4 TeachSpace

TeachSpace provides the following features:

  • Apache Web Server
  • PHP 5 (CGI)
  • Access to MySQL service

Content published via TeachSpace is visible on campus desktops or elsewhere via our remote access solution, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

Contact

Email: servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk
Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Old Aberdeen
AB24 3QY


  1. See https://www.abdn.ac.uk/staffnet/working-here/it-datastorage.php
  2.  Embedded content must comply with University policies and not introduce data or security vulnerabilities to the site. Please contact servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk for guidance when embedding content.
  3. Cost recovery will apply