The UTMB Web Blog Tips, tech and news for the UTMB web community

  • New map, provider search tool being introduced today

    New map, provider search tool being introduced today

    February 1, 2016, 17:33 PM by Pep Valdes

    We’re soliciting feedback on a new physician/provider search tool and new interactive campus map. Versions of both are now live and available for your review. Here are details:

    New physician and provider search

    A beta version of a new UTMB Health provider search website is being introduced. The directory current includes nearly 400 providers and features locations, photos, patient ratings and more (additional providers—eventually including residents—will be added).

    • The tool is integrated with a tool already used by faculty, managed by the Provost’s Office. Provider’s data for the search is tied to and will be updated in POWER.
    • The provider ratings are sourced from patient feedback via Press-Ganey surveys; results are published to the provider search site only if the provider has received at least 30 patient reviews in the past 12 months.
    • An extensive keyword list is being refined with input from administrators and faculty. These keywords will allow very granular and targeted searches.
    • The site is mobile device-compatible and compatible with all PC and Mac browsers.
    • This is phase 1 of the project; additional features and capabilities are in development.

    We need and welcome feedback. Send comments or questions about the new search tool to POWER Support.

    New campus map

    A new interactive map featuring all three UTMB campuses and all UTMB locations is also being introduced. It is mobile friendly, searchable, and can be edited in real time by project administrators. The map is built over the very familiar Google Maps platform. Some features users may wish to explore:

    • Use the search to find various UTMB locations.
    • Panoramas and Google Street View are enabled for numerous locations.
    • The map supports interior floorplans and plans exist to add to the ones currently available.
    • Users can get directions or share a view/link to any specific site.
    • The map supports virtual tours; additional tours are being developed.
    • The map can be embedded in existing web sites.

    Please preview the map and send your questions or feedback to

    The new map and directory are part of a web suite of tool and updates that were introduced in May 2015. Called the “Web Reboot,” the larger project includes mobile site templates, web link and spelling validation, a digital image library, new guidelines and page requirements, social media changes, and training and tutorials to support the web development community and those they serve. To learn more about UTMB’s Web Reboot, visit

  • Social media site registration coming to UTMB

    December 18, 2015, 17:25 PM by Pep Valdes

    One of the big components of the Web Reboot that we’ve not talked much about in this forum is an overhaul of our social media program. The work’s been running on a parallel track for more than a year; a lot of it is driven by some recommendations that came out of an internal audit done in August of 2014 (summarized here).

    One of the requirements dovetails with a process familiar to web developers: the registration of sites and site owners. We’re going to enhance and put more structure around an existing catalog of the social sites associated with UTMB (You can read moreabout that here, and see the link to register or request a new UTMB-associated social site).

    We’re also going to be working in 2016 to fold/incorporate UTMB’s social media work more cleanly and formally into the Reboot and what we’re doing with “traditional” digital and web projects. The lines blur, and a lot of the same people are involved and share the same objectives. It makes sense.

  • “Next Steps”

    October 29, 2015, 17:10 PM by Pep Valdes

    When we were planning the agenda for the Oct. 27 ITC meeting, there was one really clear theme: what are the “next steps.”

    The Sitefinity CMS is up and running smoothly and efficiently. Many of our top-level edu pages are now in the system, and we’ve been adding a few additional projects to the mix. There has been some major work since the last blog update, including a redesign and simplification of the server structure for the content system (more on some technical stuff in a future post). We’ve also been making improvements and refinements to the templates and core tool, and pushing those updates out after hours.

    We’ve also completed work on the registration form; this form is important as it will do several things: a) it will be the way you request any new site, including one to be hosted in Sitefinity; 2) we’ll use the info collected in the form—including things like site owners and assigned roles—to populate our site inventory; 3) it will provide the framework for the annual follow up/review required for all sites. We built “tips and guides” into the form, but one thing that came out of the ITC meeting was the need for an introduction or explanatory cover page for the process. We are developing that now and plan to have it ready for people next week.

    The same team in Information Services that currently sets up web sites will be getting the registration form requests; a meeting among them to go over Sitefinity took place this week, so that’s in place.

    We are planning a pilot Sitefinity training/demo class for the second week in November; once we have details we will push it out to the developer group. The class will target midlevel users, the role we are calling “designers” (planning a post soon w/ details on roles). These are people who are setting up/building sites and populating the initial content. We’re going to cap this first group at about 25 people, but we do plan to record the session and it should be a handy complement to the online documentation that we’ll be introducing.

    One final issue we discussed was adjusting our timetable, which originally had us all branded, in the new template and/or in Sitefinity by the end of this calendar year (you know, like now). That’s going to be rolled back and we’re going to propose the end of the fiscal year (next summer) as our new deadline. We think that’s very realistic and will give even the busiest people and areas time to work this in among other priorities.

  • More news and info coming on heels of ITC meeting

    October 29, 2015, 17:09 PM by Pep Valdes

    The Internet Technology Committee met this past Tuesday, and we’re working on an update to share with our web developer community now. Stay tuned, it should be posted here before the end of this week.

    We also welcomed a new member to the group, Barbara Petit. Barb serves as the administrator for the departments of Surgery and Othopaedics, and brings a valuable departmental perspective to the group.

  • It’s a game changer, and it’s done

    October 8, 2015, 17:07 PM by Pep Valdes

    Today at about 12:27 pm, the new www pages in the Sitefinity content management system went live. Our home pages are now responsive, and we took a major step forward in our project to re-think and re-engineer web development at UTMB. A short while later, I edited my first live page in Sitefinity, and it was a breeze. The performance issues we discussed a month ago have all been addressed, the system blazes.

    We’re still tweaking and still discovering things that need changing (and outdated content is always an issue). However, we made a huge step forward today thanks to the herculean efforts of a small but dedicated multi-departmental team that I am proud to count as colleagues.

    We are looking forward now to expanding our ranks, to working with more developers around campus as we roll out this tool. In the meantime, if you encounter any problems, contact the IS help desk or send us a message.

  • Pushing past “middle of September”: A quick Sitefinity CMS update

    September 22, 2015, 16:50 PM by Pep Valdes

    For the past month, our mantra has been “the middle of September.” This was the timeslot when we anticipated opening up the Sitefinity content management system, a key element of the Web Reboot, to campus users. So today is September 22, effectively the end of that squishy period that could be called “the middle.” Here’s how we feel about it.  

    In about the simplest of terms, about ten days ago we started running tests of Sitefinity in a live environment, living alongside non-Sitefinity sites. We’d tested extensively in a development environment, were assured it would “play well with others,” the software hadn’t created any issues when we beta-tested in a protected live area. But late one evening a bit more than a week ago, we pulled the trigger, and our website derailed. 

    Every big technology project runs into speed bumps—there are always issues to work through. Sitefinity has been no different. What was heartbreaking about that evening is that we were so close, there had been so much work and planning, and the outcome was a blow. The original web site was restored. It was a rough night, a gloomy morning, and then we started working on solutions. And the team found several.

    Last week was spent putting the most promising of those solutions in place: the Information Services server team helped create a new virtual hosting environment for Sitefinity, those boxes have now been configured, and we are planning to resume our testing this week, starting with iUTMB and the intranet. We’ll follow up with the public home page, and when that goes well, we’ll be back on track to open up to users.

    In spite of the battle scars and mental trauma, we’re still really excited about Sitefinity, think users will embrace it, and expect it to be very successful. We’ll continue to post updates, including an anticipated schedule and our progress on the upcoming tests.

  • Marking an important milestone in our web evolution

    August 2, 2015, 16:54 PM by Pep Valdes

    Monday we’ll launch the new iUTMB page, and it signals reaching an important point for all of us involved in web development (and even web use) at UTMB. We’ll push the first of the new pages using the Sitefinity framework into production, and from there, there is no turning back. The conversion of the external home page will follow; we’ll have the timetable ready to share once we see how iUTMB goes and start to process the mapping and redirects to some 400 affected sites. (It’ll be roughly in the 10-15 days range.) In the meantime, we’ll finish up our site request form and start pushing out more information to developers and site owners.

    No one ever thought this job would be small or easy. But it’s worth taking a brief minute to celebrate where we are and share some of the technical accomplishments that were necessary to get us here. A lot of planning and hard work are coming together. The framework for UTMB web’s presence has been rebuilt anew, looking strategically to the future. Kudos to our colleagues on the ITC, the many others that have supported the effort, and especially Mike Cooper and Toby Smith, who teamed up to grunt this work into existence. Just focusing on the technical tasks, here’s a partial rundown of what’s been done: 

    Web Infrastructure

    • New Web Servers & IIS Configurations
      •     File/folder/site clean-up on all web server
    • New Databases
    • Multi-tenant web content management system (CMS)
    • CDN (Content Delivery Network)
    • Nuget Package Manager
    • UTMB WebNav API (Web API Service)
    • TFS (Team Foundation Server) version control / project management
    • Site Inventory Tool
    • Sitefinity AD (Active Directory) group

    Professional Modern Web Applications

    •  One frontend framework (presentation layer) for all UTMB web applications
      •     Sitefinity, WordPress, Web Apps/Sites
    •  Semantic, accessible, standards-based web architecture
    •  Adaptive approach to UI content delivery
      •     Mobile-First, responsive design (RWD) for modern browsers
      •     Static (adaptive) delivery for old IE
    •   Accessibility / SEO focused
      •     Content-first rendering
      •     HTML5 semantic elements – meaningful, targetted presentation for modern and future technologies
      •     WAI ARIA Roles for assistive technologies
    • Bootstrap-based frontend design and component framework
    • Lightweight, mobile-focused content strategy

    Web App Asset Management

    •  One code base / source, versioned for all UTMB web templates – UTMB Web 2.0*
      •     UTMB Sitefinity
      •     UTMB Web Apps – C#.NET, VB.NET, C# MVC, Classic ASP
      •     UTMB WordPress
      •     UTMB Mail (work in progress)
    •  Sass / Grunt workflow – all templates / frameworks
      •     Leveraging automated tasks for speed, accuracy and versioning
      •     CSS and JavaScript linting for debugging / validation
    •  CDN delivered web assets (CSS, JavaScripts,fonts, images, etc.)
      •     Everything over SSL
      •     Caching (speed)
      •     Parallel download (speed)
    •   Nuget Package Management – all apps (except Classic ASP or HTML)
      •     Automated project version updates inside of Visual Studio
    •  TFS source / version control – all core web projects (work in progress
    •  UTMB WebNav API – single (web service) source for all institutional menus
      •     Institutional
      •     Academic
      •     Business & Finance
    •  Site Inventory Tool (work in progress)
      •     Extend to incorporate content sign-off

    The UTMB Sitefinity CMS

    •  The UTMB Sitefinity Framework
      •     UTMB SF frontend templates (presentation layer)
      •     UTMB widget integration
      •     UTMB Site Settings module for managing site templates
      •     UTMB Dashboard – welcome messages, notifications, etc.
    •  UTMB Sitefinity CMS: Four core multi-tenant instances
      •     Intranet – (dev, stage, prod)
      •     WWW – (dev, stage)
      •     Academic – (dev, stage)
      • – (dev, stage)
    •  Custom configurations
      •     Ldap Integration (SF AD Group)
      •     Disabled modules not in use
      •     MVC Feather
      •     Mail/Forms integration
        •         UTMB Mail (forms/newsletter) templates (work in progress)
    •  UTMB Alert Bar capability across sites
    •  UTMB Sitefinity Documentation (work in progress)
    •  UTMB Sitefinity Training (work in progress)

    UTMB Web Root

    •  New SF hosted responsive home pages
      •     iUTMB and Public Home

  • Web Reboot video stream now online

    May 13, 2015, 16:15 PM by Pep Valdes

    We were thrilled to welcome and engage about 100 colleagues in Levin Hall on May 12 for the introduction of the 2015 Web Reboot. We had some great questions and discussion, and are looking forward to hosting additional topic- and tool-specific sessions in the future. If you missed the meeting, materials are below, and you can watch the webcast now:

    We’ve placed the meeting materials online for your review:

    Our thanks to videographer Raymond Curran and Classroom & Technical Services for their support, and to all who were able to brave the looming rain to attend.