Amherst Website Overview

[needs to be completely redone]

The Amherst College website is evolving from a traditional web publishing system (html pages created with Dreamweaver) to a content management system (CMS). There are two primary reasons for the change. The first is to make it easy for anyone to publish and share articles, pictures, and other content on the web. The second is generate web content such as course descriptions and departmental directories directly and automatically from Datatel, the College's administrative database system, and to control access to such content, where necessary, based on registration in a particular course or membership in a particular department.

No special program is needed to create and edit content--you simply use your web browser. The recommended browser for creating content is Mozilla FireFox, available at or, for on-campus users, at Winsoft (a.k.a. the "K: drive") or MacSoft. The website is readable with any up-to-date browser.

The CMS doesn't have a special name; it is the technology that underlies an ever-expanding portion of the Amherst College website.

The website consists of two parts; a hierarchical set of web pages that makes up the College website and a User area that contains the personal websites of all registered users. In addition, the website creates a personalized and customizable portal for every person with an Amherst account, editable profile information about every user, and a professional/academic information page for every faculty and staff member. For an overview of the personalized links and functions in the website, see My Amherst.

Pages and Content

A page on the website contains content such as articles, uploaded files (images or documents files such as PDFs), and RSS feeds. Pages are accessible through the left-hand navigation (LeftNav) menu or via direct links. When you create a new page you automatically create the menu navigation that points to the page. Each page has a web address (a URL) so that you can link to it from anywhere on the Internet. Articles and other content items within a page do not have unique URLs.

You create a new page by attaching it to an existing page. The new page is a "child" or "sub-page" of the existing or "parent" page. To keep the Navigation menu from become unreasonably long you can create sub-sections within the website. To do so you simply designate a page as being the top page of a new section. When you later click on the menu item pointing to this page, the menu item becomes the new top item in the Navigation menu. Note that you can still use the path links below the banner to navigate back to other sections in the website.

Pages are repositories for the articles and other types of content that you want to publish. You can tag the content you create, giving people the ability to automatically aggregate content that interests them. For example, say you're reading an article on someone's homepage about rock climbing which is tagged with "rock climbing." When you click the tag, you get an aggregate page that contains all the articles on the website that are also tagged with "rock climbing." You can even subscribe to a tag so that whenever someone publishes something new about rock climbing, you will be automatically hooked into the new content.

Content that appears in one part of the website can be reused anywhere else in the website--without having to copy pages or create links.

A rich permissions structure lets you quickly and easily allow or deny access to content you are responsible for.