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Ag CMS Upgrade Starts April 9

For the past several months, we have been talking about upgrading the Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS) and updating the Ag CMS theme to align with the new NDSU TYPO 3 theme launched at the start of the academic year.

We are finally ready to begin the process of upgrading the Ag CMS and updating the theme. We will be upgrading one "instance" at a time. The Ag CMS is organized in four instances: County Extension Sites, REC Sites, Academic Sites, and Topic & Other Sites. We will be upgrading the smallest instance, Academic Sites, first. The Academic Sites upgrade will begin April 9 and should be complete by April 30.

We will be following the same process for all of the Ag CMS instances:

  • Notify site managers on that instance one week prior to starting upgrade.
  • Copy all sites on that instance to the upgraded Ag CMS server.
  • Once the instance has been copied to the new server, site managers will have two Ag CMS sites: their current site and their new site on the upgraded server.
  • Site managers will have three weeks after the instance has been copied to review their new site and see how it looks in the upgraded Ag CMS and new theme. They can login to their new site and make adjustments to correct any problems with how the site looks and get the new site ready to “go live.”  Important: If content is added or edited on heir current site after the instance has been copied, those changes WILL NOT appear on the new site. If they add or edit content on their new site, those changes WILL NOT appear on their current site.
  • Once site managers have made any necessary changes to their new site, they can make a “go live” request. When we receive the request, we will make the new site live to the public and remove the current site from public view.

Once the Academic Sites instance has been successfully upgraded, we will move on to the other instances. If you are the site manager for any site on the Ag CMS, you will receive an email at least one week in advance of the date your instance will begin the upgrade process.

The upgrade and the theme update are really two separate processes. The Ag CMS upgrade will change the software the Ag CMS is built on (Plone) from one version to another. The update to the Ag CMS theme only affects how content in the Ag CMS looks, not how it is created or maintained. 

The Ag CMS upgrade should result in faster performance of the Ag CMS. Web content will be delivered more quickly to the end users, and Ag CMS content creators will be able to edit, save and publish content more quickly.

The upgrade also will improve the handling of large files. Storage of large files is something we have struggled with in Ag CMS. This upgrade will help us to quickly deliver large files to the end user and to use fewer server resources in the storage of these files.

The upgrade's most noticeable change will be to the visual editor. Ag CMS content creators use the visual editor to create and format Web content on their sites. The upgrade includes a new visual editor that promises to be more intuitive and boasts additional features (like more robust table editing) that are not part of our current visual editor.

At the same time we upgrade the Ag CMS, we will be changing the Ag CMS theme to be consistent with the theme used on other NDSU websites. For an example of the new NDSU theme, go to

If you have questions about the Ag CMS upgrade and theme update, please let me know.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Use Firefox for Ag CMS

A recent update to Internet Explorer has caused problems for some Ag CMS users trying to edit their pages using Internet Explorer.

Although some versions of Internet Explorer may work for editing Ag CMS pages, our recommended browser for Ag CMS users has always been and continues to be Firefox.

If you are having trouble adding or editing your Ag CMS site using Internet Explorer, please download and install  Firefox at and use it for editing your Ag CMS site.

- Bob Bertsch, 701-231-7381

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Using Facebook As a Page Administrator

If you have a Facebook Page for your office, department or project, you probably know that you can log on to Facebook as yourself, go to your page and create a post that appears to come from your page instead of from you personally. You may not have known that you can actually use Facebook as your page.

Using Facebook as your page, instead of as an individual allows you to engage other pages, re-post from other pages, tag other pages in a post and more. This can be great for developing relationships with other offices and/or departments and with partner organizations.

Check out this video "How to use Facebook as an administrator vs. as a person" created by John Haydon of Socialbrite to learn how to do it.

- Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist

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Connect With Colleagues Using Communicator

Do you thrive on interaction? I do. I will often interrupt my suite-mate Roger with no pressing work-related task, but with an open-ended question that I hope will lead to an exchange of ideas. Expressing my thoughts and getting someone's feedback on my ideas is critical to my ability to stay engaged in and excited about my work.

At NDSU, we don't have to wait for the next brainstorming meeting or send mass invites to the latest social network to connect with our co-workers. Office Communicator is a tool available to us through Microsoft Online Services. Communicator is an instant communication tool, a chat. It's a great way to increase and enhance the informal interaction that is now relegated to the hall or the office doorway.

NDSU employees can download and install Office Communicator by following these instructions. You can learn more about using Communicator here. Try it out and encourage others in your department or on your team to do the same. Use Communicator to ask a question, share an idea or just say, "Hi." Let the information flow.

- Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist

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Web Services All Over the Web

There are a number of ways to stay up-to-date with what's happening with Ag Comm Web Services. We post information in a variety of formats and on a variety platforms, so you can choose how you want to get your info. Here's a list, in case you missed any.

  • Web Services website - this is an easy one. It's part of the Agriculture Communication site.
  • Working Differently website - this is an area of the Web Services website where we explain the need to work differently in today's knowledge landscape and offer a way for educators to move forward in a networked environment. 
  • Working Differently in Extension podcast - since we are on the subject of working differently, here's another platform, the podcast, where we offer information, tips and perspectives on mobile and online technology.
  • Working Differently in Extension page - we think content curation is going to be key in helping people deal with the overwhelming amount of digital information they can access. This is our curation page built on the platform.
  • NDSU Ag Comm Web Services Facebook page - "like" our Facebook page to get updates on technology in and out NDSU Agriculture & University Extension.
  • NDSU Ag IT group on Diigo - we share interesting online and mobile technology links on our social bookmarking group in Diigo. You can subscribe to a feed of the group to receive all the latest updates.
  • ndbob on Twitter - we don't have a Web Services Twitter account, but please follow my account, ndbob, on Twitter. I use this account to share information on mobile and online technology, network literacy, open content, education and more.

Catch you on the interwebs! :)

- Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist

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Live Meeting Web Conference Available

Live Meeting is a new option for web conferencing that's part of the NDUS Microsoft Online Services package. When you turn your computer on, you probably get a vertical rectangular box titled Microsoft Online Services that has E-mail and Calendaring as the top option. The second option says Web Conferencing: Microsoft Office Live Meeting.

Live Meeting is similar to Wimba but simpler and cleaner. Go to the Ag Communication Training and Tutorials website for a link Microsoft's Live Meeting Training for an introduction, written information, video tutorials, live training options and more. ITS and Ag Communication staff will not be training on Live Meeting, so this is an opportunity for faculty and staff to take advantage of the online resources and play with the system to see how it might meet their needs.

Becky Koch, Director, (701) 231-7875

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Technology Tidbits

Think about your email subject line from the receiver's point of view. The more specific the better. For example, our account tech had a slew of messages titled "Bill," and it took her forever to find specific bills until the senders started putting more detail about each bill in the subject line. I receive quite a few emails that are just say "Fall Conference." I have to dig through multiple emails when I go to that folder to find a message about a specific fall conference issue. Also, generic subject lines such as "Question" and "Need Your Help" are more apt to get thrown out by the spam filters.

Since many email messages now also are Microsoft Outlook calendar events, include a subject line that concisely makes sense on people's calendars.

If you send an email message that goes into a junk mail folder, don't bother to resend because it will probably just end up in the junk mail folder again. We all need to be responsible for checking our junk mail folders regularly.

Just because you delete a message doesn't mean it's really deleted. Click on "Deleted Items" in Microsoft Outlook and permanently delete them to save space and possibly improve speed.


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Online Networks and Social Tools Survey

The use of online networks and social tools for gathering and sharing information, for learning and for teaching is critical in an increasingly networked society. As Web Services continues with efforts to get you and others involved in online networks, social tools and new media, we need to get an idea of how we have been doing.

You can help. Just complete this survey  ( on your use of online networks and social tools for workplace learning.

The survey should take about 5 minutes. Thanks in advance for your time.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Web Services "Office Hours" Each Tuesday

You are welcome to call or email me any time with your Web technology questions, but I thought it might be helpful to provide a time when you knew you could reach me and get help.

In November, we started holding regular Web Services "Office Hours," a time when you could drop in to get a quick question answered or to get help with a more complicated problem.

Originally scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays, Web Services "Office Hours" will now be held Tuesdays 9-11 a.m. (Central). If you have questions about your website, social media or any other technology-related topic, join me in the virtual meeting room (Wimba) using your webcam, computer microphone or telephone.

Holding "Office Hours" in a virtual meeting room will allow you to see demonstrations, ask questions, make comments and even share your computer screen. Because multiple people can be in the room at the same time, the answer to one person's question could help someone else.

To join "Office Hours," go to: and click on "Participant Login."


Room ID: NDSU_Ag  (case sensitive)
Name: your name

Once you are logged in you should be sent to the “lobby” where you select "Office Hours" and you will enter the virtual meeting room.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Ag CMS Training & Workshop

NDSU Agriculture Communication Web Services will offer an Ag CMS Training & Workshop on Monday, December 19, 2011, on the NDSU campus.

The event will take place in 2 parts:

Introduction to Ag CMS Training will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. (CT). The training will cover the basics of creating, editing and maintaining web content in the Ag CMS. The training is intended for those new to Ag CMS and those in need of a refresher on the system.

An Ag CMS Workshop will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. (CT). The workshop will allow Ag CMS users at any level of experience to work on their Ag CMS content with help from Web Services staff.

The Ag CMS Training & Workshop will be held Monday, December 19, 2011, in Morrill Hall, Room 109, on the NDSU campus.

To register, go to Space is limited.

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