Several years ago CSU University Web Management launched a new campus wide aggregate news platform called SOURCE. At the same time the College of Liberal Arts had been transitioning its department and center websites to a new WordPress platform that allowed for news to be created and displayed locally on their site. The local news functionality provided Site Managers and department communicators full control over their news and what was displayed on their sites. However, the audience reach was limited to just that of the department website. In order to reach a much larger audience news needed to be posted to SOURCE. However, not all news needed to be, or even should have been, posted to SOURCE, and thus the department news functionality was still needed. The problem was that SOURCE and department websites were on two different platforms and there was no automated method of combining relevant news from SOURCE with the local news from a department website to display it on a department website. So, this meant that some news was available on SOURCE while other news was available on a department website, and meant that visitors to a department website may be missing out on some of its biggest news. The solution, for the time being, was to double post SOURCE articles, first on SOURCE as the original and then second on the department website. This is tedious and time consuming and thus the reason for the need for a SOURCE integration with CLA websites.
On April 19, 2022 CLA Web Services launched a method of syncing news from SOURCE to CLA websites. This process, being called “SOURCE Integration”, is installed and will be available for use on all CLA websites. This syncing process utilizes the WordPress REST API available on SOURCE to fetch news and make copies of it on CLA websites, much like the manual process of double posting except that it’s now automated. The automated sync process runs once every 24 hours and will fetch new news and update any news articles that have been modified since the last time they were synced. In order to maintain complete compatibility with the local department or center website the sync process will fetch news articles, featured images (and add them to the local media library), categories, and tags. This allows for full compatibility with existing themes and plugins (such as Beaver Builder) that are available on department and center websites. This also allows for news to be funneled to specific areas of a department or center website based on the categories or tags of a SOURCE news article. Also worth noting is that when a visitor to a department or center website clicks a link for a synced SOURCE news article they will automatically be redirected back to the original SOURCE URL rather than seeing the local copy. This ensures that we boost SEO ranking of SOURCE new articles by linking to them from sites other than SOURCE rather than diluting the ranking because of search engines seeing duplicate content on multiple websites.
Setting up a new SOURCE integration on a department or center website can only be performed by CLA Web Services, so opening a ticket is the best way to start the process. Note that multiple SOURCE integrations can be setup per department or center website; for instance, if some news articles are needed from SOURCE and some are needed from CLA SOURCE. Once the SOURCE integration is setup there are several features available to Site Managers to help manage the content coming from SOURCE. First, each news article that has been synced from SOURCE will have a new “Sync” link added to the actions row under the title in the Posts/News list. Clicking this link will immediately force that news article to be synced from SOURCE by fetching the most recent version and overriding the existing news article on the local department or center website. This may be useful if there is an update to a SOURCE news article that needs to be corrected sooner than the next time the automated sync process will run. Another feature is the ability to “Disable Syncing” of an individual news article that has been synced from SOURCE. This will allow for modifications to be made to the local news article without concern that the syncing process will override the modifications next time it runs. Once syncing has been disabled for a news article, this can even be used to delete a synced article (if that particular article isn’t wanted on the department or center website) and ensure that the article doesn’t show up again the next time the syncing process runs.
The plan is to setup a SOURCE integration on the Libarts website, which is already in place, and wait a week or two to ensure that everything is working properly. After that initial trial period we will begin rolling out SOURCE integrations to all department websites to bring the most recent SOURCE news articles tagged for that department. We will notify each department as their SOURCE integration is setup.
Though this SOURCE integration syncing process is stable and well tested we also realize this project is in its infancy and we will likely need to add new features in the near future. We will be relying on all Site Managers to provide feedback on any features they feel are missing or improvements that could be made.