February 2024 Product Update

February 12, 2024

Here are the highlights of what our development team has been working on in the past month.

What’s new or currently rolling out

Callout Banner widgets

Many users have asked if there is an easier way to highlight important content with a large, attractive visual. And now we have it: the Callout Banner widget. You can add a large background image with headline, text, and call to action link on your homepage, or even on other site pages. No code snippets or HTML knowledge required. Visit our help page about the Callout Banner widget to learn more about this new feature.

We’ll be incorporating the widget into our preset content templates soon, to make it even easier to jump start a site with a beautiful homepage.

Callout Banner

Research dashboard foundations

We released some of the initial components for research dashboards, including a new Institutional site type, a backend integration with Google Analytics reports, and a prototype Activity snapshot widget. If you are interested in learning what a research dashboard could look like for your organization, please reach out to support@theopenscholar.com.

Maintenance and security updates

As usual, our development team updated numerous Drupal modules and server packages (Drupal is the content management system underlying OpenScholar). We take care of the hosting and software, so you can focus on managing your content. We are working on the final steps of the Drupal 10 core update and will deploy that soon.

Minor bug fixes and enhancements

We fixed some small bugs and tweaked some settings to make the platform even more user-friendly. We appreciate our users asking questions and reporting problems to help us identify these areas for improvement.

What’s coming soon

Search improvements

The research dashboard will act as a portal to provide insights to organization leaders and connect outsiders with the people and resources available at the institution. Since it will drive visitors to search across all of an institution’s OpenScholar sites, it’s imperative that our searches return relevant and accurate results. In the next few sprints we will be assessing our search system and working to improve the quality of the searches.

Site list for organization administrators

The Organization Administrator role can be assigned to key staff at your organization who would like to view information about the sites being created on your install and who are authorized to manage the research portal. We will soon be releasing the first version of a new site listing page designed to give these administrators a quick overview of their OpenScholar sites. The listing will include key details like the site name, site owner, theme name, and date any content on the site was last updated.

Content automation

Last month we mentioned that our team will be exploring ways to expedite the process of adding content, including incorporating AI to assist with tagging and generating content. As a first step toward AI adoption, we’re internally discussing and defining principles to guide how our company will use AI. We will share those principles when they become available.

What’s being retired

We made some changes to the Custom Domain settings form to prevent users from breaking their sites by adding a custom domain before completing the preliminary setup. This has happened on more than one occasion - oops! We still support custom domains. You’ll just need to contact support@theopenscholar.com to initiate the process of adding one.

We are continuing to develop a plan to retire legacy themes as described in our January 2024 Product Update and will share details when they are available.

Thanks for reading

Keep an eye out next month for more product updates. Questions or comments? Please reach out to our product team at support@theopenscholar.com.


See also: Product Update