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TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters


WordPress CAS Authentication Issues

So apparently several of us around campus simultaneously experienced a similar issue recently with the CAS authentication plugin many of us use. The basic issue was that we were getting “Application Not Authorized” when trying to log into an HTTPS protected WordPress site using the CAS Maestro plugin. Our friend Donald St. Martin over in Engineering wrote up this great walk through of the problem and how to fix it.

HTTPS and the CAS Maestro WordPress plugin


Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 CMS, Systems, Uncategorized, Web Security No Comments

WPEngine Update

So we have been using WPEngine for several months now and been able to go through a major site launch.  Sometimes making a move like this can take a while to fully evaluate, so I thought I would just give another update after having used the service for a while.

Honestly, we’ve been very happy with the experience.

WPEngine’s staging feature has been an invaluable tool in getting sites prepped and tested before being easily pushed into production. Another massively helpful use of this is in testing plugin and theme updates before applying them. Simply copy your site to the staging area, apply the updates, and then verify the results. This gives you a nearly sure-fire way of knowing if an update will break your site or not.

Also, we have found their tech support to be great. It is easy to get a hold of someone knowledgeable, and their employees are very empowered to do a lot without having to go through an escalation process. The few times we have had an issue, they were able to quickly find and fix them with one phone call. When we launched Lead By Example, we called to let them know we had an important site coming online. They went out of their way to check out everything for us from their end to make sure it all went smoothly.

They also have a pretty good status page at You can subscribe to the service and get email alerts for any issues that might affect you. Thankfully it is usually pretty quiet, but it is nice to have the additional notifications.

That’s about it for now. As always, let us know if you have any questions. We’d be happy to talk further with anyone about WPEngine or anything else on your mind.


Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 CMS, Systems No Comments

We’ve Moved!

Recently, we completed our move to WPengine to host all of our WordPress sites, including this blog.  It involved some untangling of multi-site installs, as well as the normal bumps that come with moving to a new way of doing things, but overall the process was fairly smooth. We feel like this move will help us in the future, not only with keeping everything updated and current, but also speeding up our process of getting out new sites as the need arises.

I love running my own machines, but in this instance it just made too much sense for us to move to a hosting service. WPengine was very helpful on the few occasions when we needed it and were very knowledgeable. There are also a number of features that will be very useful in the future that were not easily done on our end.  In all, we have been happy with the results so far and are looking forward to being a little more flexible and agile in the future.

There have been a number of groups around campus that have moved to WPengine. If you are considering a move to a hosted service, or have other questions, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to discuss it with you.

Thursday, May 19th, 2016 CMS, Systems No Comments

Choice of CMS – Your Replies

A few weeks ago I asked for a count of which Content Management Systems are being used across campus. The list below is what was submitted. Many of us use a mixture of more than one system. I tried to list each user only with their primary system and then make notes of other systems they use there.

This is a far from complete list of university web sites, but I suspect it is pretty representative. If you haven’t replied and still want to, either add a comment here or send me an email and I will update the list.

The results are:

Hannon Hill Cascade

  • Texas A&M IT – both for their own sites and for those they build for customers
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Texas A&M Foundation – possibly transitioning to iModules
  • Health Science Center – also WordPress on a few sites
  • Libraries


  • Texas A&M at Qatar
  • Agrilife – also some on legacy Percussion CMS
  • Entomology
  • Performance Studies
  • Biological & Agricultural Engineering
  • System Offices – currently many other systems including Silverstripe, SiteFinity, and Graffiti.
  • TTI Communications


  • College of Education – and others, but trying to standardize on Drupal
  • Student Affairs
  • Student Organizations
  • Chemistry (for calendaring)


  • Division of Finance
  • College of Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
  • Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas
  • Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Temple
  • Texas Water Resources Institute / Institute of Renewable Natural Resources


  • Corps of Cadets – plus custom code


  • College of Architecture


  • Provost IT – currently running on a host of CMS, working to migrate everything to Kentico. This will ultimately be a fairly long list of sites from several large offices on campus who they support.


  • Agricultural & Food Policy Center

Custom Built

  • Biochemistry – hoping to migrate to WordPress


  • College of Science
  • Chemistry – looking to migrate, probably to Drupal
  • Transportation Services

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Thursday, July 12th, 2012 CMS No Comments

Choice of Content Management Systems

For those of you who might not be on the uweb listsev, we are looking at some trends of how the web is used across campus. One of these is which content management system your office is using. If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment and let us know what your COllege/Department/Division/Office/whatever is using. If you are not using anything we want to know that too!

Once we have gotten the information we will repost it here and on the uweb web site to give everyone an idea of what is being used.

You can reply with a comment here, or emailing me directly at or If you don’t want your office mentioned please let me know and I can anonymously include you in the aggregated numbers.


Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 CMS 2 Comments

Content Management Within Site

Sorry for the extended absence, we’ve had a lot of behind-the-scenes projects going on and not much for public consumption.

One of those is the handling of content management. As I’ve detailed previously, the Percussion CMS project is now pretty much dead. We never had the staffing support to host a system for the entire university. We do still need something to manage sites, though, so we will be partnering with CIS after their purchase of the Hannon Hill Cascade Server content management system.

We had training for it last week and we’re anxious to start moving sites onto it once the production server is ready. I don’t think we’ll start with – it will make more sense to tackle some of our smaller sites and use them to learn the system before putting the university system into it. At least we’ll have a real answer now when peers ask which CMS we use here at TAMU.

Hannon Hill is also used by several of the other system schools and agencies, so we should be able to get a nice users group going in order to help one another.

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Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 CMS, No Comments

Content Management, Cont.

As I mentioned last week, things are starting to move again on the Content Management front, even if not exactly in the direction we had originally planned.  Jason Cook briefed all of the college communicators about the details, and they in turn should have briefed their IT staff.  So if this is the first time you are hearing about new plans for the CMS please contact them, read our previous blog post, and/or give us a call and we’ll be happy to fill you in.

We have already talked briefly with those few who have let us know that they are interested in some form of collaboration, and feel that the best next step is to invite representatives from each group that has an interest in participating to a demonstration of the product.  We’ll be sending information on this demo to folks who have expressed interest in CMS in the past.  If we miss you though, and you have an interest in joining and have resources that can be devoted to a collaborative effort, please let us know so we can include you as well.

If all goes as planned, we will have the demo sometime mid- to late- next week.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 CMS No Comments

Content Management System Update

Many of you have been asking about the status of the Content Management System, and after a discussion with Jason Cook, our Vice President of Marketing and Communications, we are now finally allowed to share the details.  Jason shared this information with college level communicators a few weeks ago, so we wanted to be sure to let you know as well.

In short, the concept of a campus-wide rollout of the CMS was a priority of the previous administration, but is now seen as being less important.  Under the original plan we would have begun ramping up on staff to support the CMS shortly after purchasing it, but we are now unable to hire anyone for that purpose.  This leaves us with the software but no one to support and administer it.

Jason proposed a compromise solution to the communicators group, which outlines the only way I think we’ll get the CMS project rolling. This solution calls for tackling the CMS as a collaborative project, with each office interested in using the system contributing something — manpower, dollars toward the service contract, servers to run the system, etc.

We have a few groups in mind that we want to talk to about joining this effort so that the project doesn’t simply get thrown away.  If any of you are also interested in working together on this, please contact us so that we can include you in the discussions.

Thursday, April 9th, 2009 CMS 1 Comment

Decoupling the CMS

Decoupled sounds like a technical term for the end of a romantic relationship: no more candy or flowers. But one of the most common misunderstandings about the CMS (I know I misunderstood until Erick explained it to me during my job interview) is that it is decoupled (in a happier sense).

What does decoupled mean? It means that our content management system produces real HTML Web pages that you upload to your Web servers. Other systems are database-driven: every time you want to view a page, you have to ask the server to assemble it and display it for you. But not our CMS. Once it has created the page, it’s done, until you want to update the content.

What does that mean for Texas A&M?

  • If the CMS server goes down, your site doesn’t go down.
  • The CMS can produce pages in any flavor – HTML, PHP, ASP, RSS – depending only on your template.
  • And of course, you can let anyone you want update the website. They won’t have to come to you for every change.

In preparation for our beta-testers, we’re codifying our terms of service, fleshing out the documentation, and testing the production server.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 CMS No Comments

CMS consultant visit

Last week, Percussion, our CMS software vendor, sent a consultant to provide some higher-level consulting for the Web team at the Division of Marketing and Communications as well as at Agricultural Communications. This filled in some blanks that were missed during training, especially since the needs of a major university can be quite different from those of a typical CMS customer. Needless to say, the Texas A&M Web presence is a little more decentralized than eight marketing people sitting around in the same corporate office suite! We asked him to explain more about how to best use managed navigation (menus that automatically rearrange themselves when pages are added or removed) and encapsulated code (such as PHP, ASP, or Javascript). Most significantly, he gave some advice on how to set up and manage multiple sites more quickly, since hundreds of sites could potentially benefit from the CMS. Some of his answers were, “No, that isn’t possible,” but all in all, it was a valuable experience.

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008 CMS No Comments