Proposed Policy on Custom Templates for the Library CMS

Background and Issue:

Library IT plans to survey current Content Management Systems with an eye towards possibly replacing our current CMS (OpenCMS). Transitioning from one platform to another will likely require converting any server side code and platform specific templates to another server side language and template markup. Every new custom template library IT develops will add to the complexity and time requirements if we do choose to convert to a new CMS. Even under our existing OpenCMS implementation, upgrading to the latest version (if we choose to remain with OpenCMS) requires significant modifications to all library templates, due to significant changes between OpenCMS 7 (our production version) and OpenCMS 8 (the latest build).

We are requesting a policy that library units work within the existing library-wide template until Library IT has been able to either transition to a new CMS or upgrade openCMS to the latest version. The timeline for this is currently not fixed, as it hinges largely upon the acquisition of additional staff in Library IT (a proposal for a new position is currently under review) to facilitate the process of evaluating new systems, selecting one, developing a transfer workflow, and then transitioning content to the new system. At most (if additional staff resources are unavailable) we anticipate this may take as long as two years.

In the interim, this does not mean that units can’t develop their own look and feel within the existing templates. Several units have been able to develop a custom look within the exiting templates (like the Scholarly Commons and the Learn site). These customization can be done within existing templates, utilizing unit level CSS.

Customization at the level undertaken for the Rare Book and Manuscript Library requires custom server side code and new templates, a substantial investment in either external contracting or IT staff time. This custom work will also need to be ported, along with the library wide templates, into any new system, complicating the conversion process to a new CMS.

Proposed Policy:

Library employees will work within the available library-wide templates (resource types, as they are labeled in OpenCMS). A moratorium on custom templates and site design will remain in place until the new (or upgraded) CMS is in place.