Maintaining the Course Webpage

General Tips

  • Pick the best way to present information. Just because previous ISAs used a particular form of presentation doesn't mean you have to. Be creative and think, "How can I present the information so that it's most accessible and useful?". You can use tables, charts, bullets, etc.
  • After you make major changes to a web page, revalidate it. You can use the W3C validator: If your page does not pass (and you get errors), then there is something wrong with your code. Your page may still look OK, but you should really make sure it validates.
  • If you get the 404 Not Found error, then that means you typed the URL wrong, or the page doesn't exist.
  • If you get the 403 Forbidden error, that usually means the permissions of your file is wrong. For most types of files (shtml, pdf, ss), the file should be at least owner, group, and world readable. For php files, group and others do not need read permissions, although your .htaccess file must be set up correctly (see this and this) and the php files must have user execute permissions.
  • The main parts of the webpage are modified on the course account's ~/public_html folder

PDF Files not Updating Properly

Clear your web cache and access it again.

Unautorized Access to Page or Page Formatting becomes Weird

Check the file permissions of the page for the former, and check the file permissions of style.css for the latter.

Using .htaccess files

See the page AllAboutHtaccess

Using PHP

The use of PHP allows many things to be done on websites with a small amount of scripting, while leaving most of the content specified in plain HTML so it's easy to edit.

There's a special page dealing with PHPOnCourseWebsites that discusses many different uses of PHP.

Marks and Testing

Marks may be displayed to students via the script described in OnlineMarkUpload.

To allow a web front-end for public tests in submit/rst-based courses, see WebPublicTestFrontEnd.

You may also want to allow WebSolutionsAccess for students enrolled in the course.

Server Side Includes

Server-side includes tells the web server to include other documents in an shtml page.

For instance,

<!--#include virtual="menu.html"-->

will verbosely out put the contents of menu.html. If you see the error [an error occurred while processing this directive], check to make sure that the included file has world read permissions and that the file name is exists.

Academic Integrity Include

It is a requirement that standard information be made available to students. For CS courses, this is typically done via the website, and it is frequently part of the Assignments page of the site.

For instructions on how to include this standard statement, see

About the announcements

  • the 'announce' command in the course account writes to course announcement and the newsgroups. So you don't really have to write to the website itself.
  • Students are expected to check the announcement at least daily.
  • To use the announce command:
    • First, create a .txt file. The first line in the file should be the title of the announcement. Then, two lines below, type the contents of the announcement.
    • In the command line window, type: announce -n locationof.txt. Only use the -n command if your course does not use a Newsgroup.
    • If you need to edit the announcement, look in the public_html/announce folder for the .html file with the correct timestamp, and edit it there.
    • To delete an announcement, open announce.shtml and delete the line referring to the announcement you no longer want.
Your announcement will appear in the announce folder. See the manual page for announce for more information.

Website Template for CS 115, CS 116, CS 135, CS 136

See WebTemplate

Web mirror

In the event that www.student.cs is not accessible, the course web pages are also partially mirrored on www.cs. So, for example the cs135 site would be reachable at While this would allow basic information retrieval, CGI scripts would not run, as those run on hosts in the student.cs environment instead of general.cs.

Office Hours

You may consider presenting the office hours in a calendar like this, or in a table like this. The latter is most useful when you have many office hours. The office hours should also be listed in the Personnel page.

During the exam period, the regular office hours end, and you can use a calendar like this (it uses PHP to generate the table). Make sure you update the hours on the Personnel page, also.

Note that the .ph file must be used because the Wiki will try to render php files and return a server error instead of file contents; this .php file in the table below should be deleted if anyone can figure out how.

Assignment Rotation

During the exam period, the assignment solutions will be posted on a rotating basis. You can use a table like this to tell students when the solutions will be posted.

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Unknown file formatph manage 5.8 K 2010-01-13 - 14:23 TerryVaskor  
Texttxt examofficehours.php.txt manage 5.8 K 2010-01-13 - 14:22 TerryVaskor  
HTMLshtml needhelp.shtml manage 4.9 K 2010-01-13 - 14:19 TerryVaskor  
HTMLshtml solns.shtml manage 2.2 K 2010-01-13 - 14:28 TerryVaskor  
HTMLshtml tutorofficehours.shtml manage 4.4 K 2010-01-13 - 14:19 TerryVaskor  
Topic revision: r17 - 2015-09-09 - HowardZeng
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