Department of Engineering

IT Services

CUED Talk: More advanced WWW file production

A talk for young and old alike about some of the features you may want to add to your WWW pages, showing what they offer and how difficult they are to use. The locally available options for development/software support will be mentioned too.

General Issues

Where we are now

On the WWW, possibilities and expectations are ever-changing. Not so long ago only nerds produced web material. Now there are allegedly over 500 million active Facebook users and over 150 million public blogs. Over half of our students use Facebook at least once a day. And let's not forget Twitter.

The gap between student and student expectations may be huge. If staff want to engage students they may need to use the [social] media that students use even if they don't speak their lingo. But even if web-authors don't want to undergo a culture shock of creating a blog, they can introduce more colourful or interactive features into their pages, and use non-University software to run surveys, arrange meetings, etc.

The Law

  • Once you use colour and animation you need to be even more aware of the university's Validation and accessibility Technical guidelines - see their accessibility checklist.
  • Be aware of copyright issues, especially with graphics
  • Be carefully to distinguish official branded pages from your own pages

Our servers

We have several. They vary regarding who can use them and what facilities they provide.
  • - official pages
  • - help system
  • - available to all
  • - managed group servers
  • Others!

University Servers

The University Computing Service now offer

  • Managed Web Servers (free. PHP and MySQL available on request). General advanced usage.
  • Falcon (£100 per year - a CMS based on Plone). Aimed at admin
  • CamTools is a facility run by CARET that lets groups have WWW bulletin-boards, diaries, documents, Wikis, live discussions, etc. Aimed at teaching.


Falcon and CamTools offer menu-driven ways to create and manage Web sites. If you want to (or have to) edit HTML code you'll need to know above many interlocking features. First, there's basic HTML and ways to enhance it - CSS and JavaScript.


Cascading Style Sheets. See our HTML4: Stylesheets page (or the css test page for some quirkier options - layers, HTML5 video, etc). You need to know a little about these if you're going to use the University house style. Even if you're only blogging it can help.

Scripting Languages

2 main types.

  • Server-side scripting requires a special server that interprets the webpage that uses non-HTML fragments and converts them to HTML before transmission. One example - PHP - is available on www-g but not www2. Any Browser can cope with such pages because all the browser gets is HTML.
  • Client-side scripting requires a browser that understands the extra commands on the web page. Javascript is an example. Our browsers nowadays support it by default but you shouldn't assume that all users have it enabled. See our DHTML page for JavaScript examples, or see my example.

You can also embed Java Applets

Page Counters and logging

We have a local facility but is it any use (caches, cheating)? See our documentation for details. We update monthly logs of most of our servers (visible only from within CUED). Other options include

  • is used by some people here. It's a hit counter facility that also offers real-time detailed web statistics.
  • Google Analytics is a popular method for gathering statistics about access to your web pages.


Has always been a problem. Options include

  • PDFs (not very web-friendly)
  • HTML with embedded bitmaps (not very pretty)
  • MathML (a sort of HTML extension for maths) has been around for a while and the main Teaching System browsers cope pretty well with it. Try the W3 MathML test suite. Producing it may not be easy, and the use may have to install extra fonts.
  • If you just want to add a few greek characters, etc, HTML might be enough. See Matlab and 1B dynamics for CUED students


The range of formats and browsers complicates the issue. See our Movie page. We have no general support for streaming, though the university has a facility - Streaming Media Service - that lets you submit movies and have them converted into a range of formats.


Local PIN/passwd protection is available for some of our servers - see our Access Control page. Alternatively, you might be able to protect some pages using the university-wide Raven facility. Shibboleth (an international facility) is gradually taking over.


RDF Site Summary? Rich Site Summary? Really Simple Syndication? A way for a site to broadcast a message (headlines, etc) so that other sites can embed it on-the-fly. You've seen the logo even if you've not explicitly used the facility

Web 2.0 - back to the future

The above facilities provide features that can be put together to produce pages familiar to social networkers. Initially they required technical expertise. Now the facilities have been made easier to use and combine. The resulting paradigm is often called "Web 2.0". Software like Wordpress that once just let people produce blogs has been developed so that non-programmers can create pages using many of the above features. We don't offer a way to do this for general users within CUED, though the University's CamTools facility comes close. If that's not enough