The Common Web Platform utilises the Open Source Content Management System (CMS), SilverStripe CMS. Alongside the standard features of SilverStripe CMS (external link) , CWP provides an additional set of commonly used features for the public sector assembled from CWP specific website code and SilverStripe commercially supported modules (external link) (referred to collectively as the 'Basic Recipe' codebase).
Many features of the Basic Recipe work with little to no website development effort. Where configuration or more complex development or integration is required these are indicated with the developer effort indicator below.
|Works out of the box, no developer required, may require entering configuration in the CMS.|
|Setup required, developer required to enable and/or configure the feature.|
|Development required, developer needs to use technical documentation to write code to set up the feature. There may be a dependency on other custom features.|
|System integration required, relies on third party systems, your developers will need external support to set up the feature.|
SilverStripe CMS allows you to create new pages and update your website's content in seconds, any time using the rich text editor. You can apply styles to content, links to content and files, upload images and embed videos from popular media hosting services like YouTube. Draft versions of content can be shared with your team and previewed for desktop, tablet and mobile views before publishing. The editor also includes spell checking and macrons for te reo Māori and other foreign language content.
SilverStripe CMS's user management allows you to create permission groups and roles allowing your content editors access to manage content for different areas of your website. The access control is flexible enough to cater for web content teams large or small and can be tailored to fit your organisation's structure. You can also create CMS administrator accounts to manage website configuration while granting lesser access to those only needed to update and publish content.
The SIlverStripe CMS File and image library allows you to upload images in many standard formats such as gif, jpg and png which can be embedded in page content. For all images and files, updated versions can be uploaded to replace existing images and replace the image or file anywhere it has been used or linked to on the website. Each version is kept and can be restored or referenced if required to help with compliance with the New Zealand Public Records Act (external link) . Files can also be placed within secure folders that are only accessible by authenticated users (based on user permissions).
Content structure is represented in a tree structure allowing content editors to visualise the information architecture for your organisation's website. This also defines the navigation seen by your visitors and publishes content on search engine friendly URLs. Published content in the site tree is instantly available on the website for visitors to access. Reorganising your content is as easy as drag and dropping the structure and then publishing the content in it's new home (that can be actioned through bulk publish tools).
Taxonomies are important for good information structure and ease of navigation through websites. SilverStripe CMS for CWP includes a taxonomy tool to define nested categories and tag any content pages in your website appropriately. Tags can be later renamed without having to be reapplied to all your pages. You can also import existing organisation or standardised taxonomies as a CSV file. Content pages can also be interlinked as related pages, improving discoverability and navigation for visitors.
Content can be created and managed for different languages. Simply create content in a base language and begin adding translations. Each language can have it's own unique page URL and navigation structure. The default CWP templates also provide an out of the box language switcher for visitors to easily read content in their native language. The CMS user interface itself has also been translated into 60 languages (including te reo Māori) and can be set on a per content editor basis.
Every page comes with an 'embargo' and 'expire' setting for each page of content. You can draft your content and have it automatically publish on a set day, at a set time. You can also set content to expire on a particular date. Visitors can’t view unpublished content, but you can access it in the CMS. For both settings you simply select a date from a calendar date picker and enter the time you need.
Content publishing in SilverStripe CMS includes a draft and published state, however for larger organisations that require sub-editing or approvals before content is published workflow functionality is included. After mapping out your desired workflow, it can be applied to sections of the website or even individual pages. You can also create multiple different workflows to be applied throughout your site or for particular groups of content editors. The feature can be set up to provide email notifications when content requires approvals. This gives you a full content lifecycle pipeline.
Every change to page content in the CMS is versioned. Versions of content can be compared. All previous versions can be restored and republished, as content is never destroyed in the CMS. This supports compliance with the NZ Public Records Act and ensures auditability. Important system events are also logged into a separate audit log including which content editor published or unpublished information and any failed login attempts, user authentication access.
Integration with Google Analytics tracking for all pages is as simple as signing up for an account and copying the Google Analytics Tracking ID into the CMS settings. The required integration code will automatically be included on all pages allowing you to measure the performance and impact of your website.
Serving up static content instead of dynamic requests helps websites serve more visitors and often a lot of content on a website does not change all that often (making it a great candidate to cache). CWP offers several levels of caching ranging from application implemented caching of template fragments (e.g. menu blocks) to an externally provided Content Delivery Network (CDN) via the Incapsula Web Application Firewall service (standard on all instances). While caching requires development and testing to implement, the performance benefits can often be significant.
'Subsites' allow you to run multiple cloned variations of your main website from a single CWP instance. They can be run on subdomains or their own unique domain name. Individual templates can be developed and applied to each subsite to customise the look and feel. These websites share the same functionality, users, files and images and database as your central website and all websites are administered from one central CMS control panel. These are great for situations where sites for multiple offices of one organisation are required, you have a number of websites with similar needs, or when running short term campaign informational websites alongside your main website.
If you release regular articles, press releases and editorial content then the blogging functionality will be useful. Blog posts can be written by different roles allowing external contributors to submit content that can be approved. Multiple authors can be attributed to blog posts. The content can we prepared and scheduled for release. Posts can be tagged using a predetermined taxonomy or you can add keywords as you go.
The SIlverStripe CMS blogging platform allows for feedback and commenting from the public. It has been preconfigured to comply with NZ Public Records Act and keeps copies of all citizen submitted comments whether or not they have been moderated to show up publicly. When new comments are submitted these enter a moderation queue and can be approved by CMS editors managing the blog.
To protect from spam comments the blogging on SilverStripe CMS integrates with a service called Akismet well known for it's excellent spam fighting abilities. When comments are submitted this content is sent to the Akismet service to be scanned and a message is returned to your website to classify the submission as legitimate or spam. Spam comments are retained and not published in case of false positives and a simple approval process can be worked through by content editors. The Akismet service is hosted outside of New Zealand and sends user submitted content to this service.
The default CWP website includes a fully responsive (mobile friendly) set of templates for the features provided. These have been tested with NZ government web content and accessibility standards in mind. You can opt to use these templates as is and simply upload a logo via the CMS. SilverStripe has a flexible template framework and can be modified, or a complete new theme created by web developers should you require something more custom to your brand.
This allows you to list events on your website including the date and time, location and details of the event. Events are summarised on an event listing page with upcoming events listed first. The events section includes responsive templates, detail views of the events, calendar of upcoming and past events archive and the ability to filter events by date ranges and tags.
If your website doesn't need a full blogging and comments and you still want to publish regular news releases, this is included out of the box for SilverStripe CMS on CWP. Each news article includes an author, feature images, abstract and publish date and are conveniently summarised on a news listing page that includes a responsive template. News items can be filtered by date range and tags, and are included in a news archive.
Iframe pages allow you to embed content from other websites and systems into a page on your organisation's website. It's particularly useful for including content without having to duplicate it from other websites. For intranets running on CWP, this is useful for including calculators and other system application in one place for your staff to find easily. Using them is as simple as providing a URL to the desired content to be displayed.
A sitemap is a useful page to help visitors get a holistic overview of your website's content and structure. They also aid Search Engines in indexing your content to ensure your information if found by interested parties when searching relevant keywords. The SilverStripe CMS sitemap page includes a collapsible, nested listing of all pages in your navigation and is displayed in a responsive template.
During code deployments to roll out enhancements and improvements to your organisation's website, a maintenance page is displayed to visitors to ensure they are kept informed about the process. This maintenance page can be customised from within the SilverStripe CMS and provide useful links to the users that visit during this time (directing them to alternative digital channels). Other error pages can also be customised in the event of any common server errors and page not found (404) to keep the visitor informated and provide alternative digital channels they may use.
The default CWP recipe of SIlverStripe CMS includes a drag and drop form builder feature consisting of many common form input components. Simple contact form pages to complex, multi page information gathering surveys can be created through an easy to user interface. Fields can be grouped and nested, split across pages and conditional logic can be included (for example showing a field based on the value of a previous one). Once visitors complete forms they can be displayed a custom completion page and the submissions are stored within the website database and exported as a CSV for later analysis. Optionally, any number of email addresses can be specified to receive copies of the form submission data as they occur.
The drag and drop form builder simply collects user submitted data and alternatively sends it via email. However, if more tightly integrated forms with internal systems are required these can produced by SilverStripe CMS web developers. The SilverStripe Framework includes a full form API and can push and pull data through REST interfaces into internal systems via an optional VPN connection between the CWP datacentre and your own. While additional effort is required to get these custom requirements up and running, it allows you to tailor your project to work with your existing internal processes, not against them.
The CMS has been preconfigured to use the Apache Solr search service on CWP. This is a highly configurable and powerful search system. For simple page content we have done the heavy lifting and preconfigured it to "just work" for standard SilverStripe CMS page types. All text fields are fed into the Solr index for the site and will return results when content is found matching. Solr also offers spelling suggestions for common misspellings for your content terms. Search indexing can be server intensive to address this search runs on a separate dedicated server, and search indexing runs as a background-task.
Sometimes your web application will store more than just pages of content. SilverStripe CMS is great for managing data driven content to build out more complex applications and services for users. These data sets can be added to the Solr search system through configuration in the website code base by a developer. If these data sets relate to pages the results are able to return relevant links to direct visitors to the correct information.
Documents are a key element of many public sector websites. Visitors being able to find the right document is important and as such, documents such as PDF and Word content can be indexed by Solr search and appear alongside the rest of your website's search results. This ensures that a visitor searching with specific keywords is directed to the most relevant content regardless of whether it's on a page or in a document.
Onsite search is all about providing the most relevant results to a visitors search terms. SilverStripe CMS on CWP can be configured by developers to use result boosting (giving certain results a greater weighting when a particular keyword is used) and synonyms (returning results for similar and related terms). Once enabled, CMS editors can manage the boost keywords through a simple user interface on a per page basis. Synonyms can be defined sitewide based on your existing organisational terminology and insights into what visitors are searching for.
By default, all pages contain RSS feeds of the publicly published content changes using the Atom RSS feed standard. This allows users (or other systems) to monitor content on both a site-wide and per page basis for updates and changes. Additionally, there are RSS feeds available for blog posts, comments, news and event features. Content editors can also disable this RSS feature for each page if needed.
Reusing Open Data is a big part of the Open Government movement. Your organisation's website contains pages of information delivered as html however this is not such a useable format when it comes to open data reuse. This is where SIlverStripe CMS on CWP provides a useful REST API access to your page content as raw data in both XML and JSON standards. This is enabled by default on page content and can be further configured by developers to expose any other data held within your CWP website as required.
SilverStripe CMS as well as managing page based content is great is handling data driven content. The CWP default website provides a data management interface for exposing data sets stored in your website database to visitors. It allows them to search, drill down into information and download a CSV copy of the data for reuse. Once a developer has enabled this feature on one of the websites data models and crafted a set of templates to display, content editors can simply add a data set to the website structure. As easy as selecting the set of data to expose from a dropdown.
If you have pages of information that users often print for reference, you can have a developer enable PDF page export for your SilverStripe CMS website on CWP (this is off by default). This service generates a PDF copy of a page on the fly when a visitor clicks a "download PDF" link. The file is then cached and served up statically the next time a visitor requests the same page PDF to improve performance. Each night a task is run to clean up old generated PDF files.
You can easily publish Microsoft Word documents to your website using the import feature part of the default SilverStripe CMS on CWP. It can auto-convert the document into pages of content, and provides an efficient way to migration long documents into more useful web pages of content. Inline items like tables, images, headings, and links are migrated, while fonts and visual styles are transformed to the relevant visual styles of your website template.
SilverStripe CMS is powered by a web development framework under the hood, giving you all the power of an Object-oriented PHP framework and access to many modules from the PHP and SilverStripe CMS communities. Developers can utilise these to build custom integrations with internal and other third party software as a service (SaaS) offerings. You can use virtual private networking (VPN) where you wish to ensure a highly encrypted link between CWP and a third party systems. There are even many pre-built integrations available in the SilverStripe CMS addons catalogue (addons.silverstripe.org) and any newly developed integrations can be shared using open source licenses for inter agency collaborations and reduced costs.
The CWP RealMe module (external link) enables agencies to use RealMe, government's preferred approach for website log-ons, to deliver online services or restrict information to specific people. The module facilitates the log-on process; agencies need to work with the RealMe team to conduct the integration, and will need to work with web developers to build whatever the system performs after you have logged in (e.g. a form that initiates a service from government). The module supports different strength logons (username/password only, or with SMS/Token as second factor) and only RealMe logon accounts. (Support for RealMe verified accounts is something that an interested agency could commission SilverStripe to add.)
Single Sign-on is provided by an optional SilverStripe CMS module for Microsoft Active Directory (AD) integration. This allows users of a CWP intranet site to be seamlessly logged in without being prompted to login again. Your staff access rights are stored in your AD and are exposed to your SilverStripe CMS intranet on CWP via the Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) add-on to the AD. This regularly imports your users into SilverStripe CMS users accounts and groups. This controls access to the CMS for content editors and allows you to create collaborative services such as staff directory pages and commenting.
SilverStripe CMS on CWP provides a scheduled task framework for SilverStripe developers to define long running processes to run as background tasks. For example, reindexing search or importing a large dataset from another integrated system. Asynchronous processing allows users to continue using the CMS and tasks proceed when time permits. It also lets developers set tasks to be executed in the future. A log of currently running and scheduled tasks is available in the SilverStripe CMS and custom tasks can be created for any automated processes your website may require.