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Web Communication Jeremy Felt

Upcoming WSU Spine 2.0.0 release

As part of our ongoing effort to make the web at Washington State University accessible, the default template provided by the WSU Spine is being updated to meet WCAG 2.0 AA.

This 2.0.0 release will be a breaking change and will not be pushed automatically to sites that are using Development is in progress on the WSU Spine GitHub repository and we expect to release 2.0.0 on Monday, February 26.

Testing on custom sites can begin immediately with the following assets:


The WSU Spine Parent theme in WordPress will be updated to support version 2.0.0 shortly after release.

Highlights from WSU Spine 2.0.0:

  • Add screen reader shortcuts for main content and navigation to example HTML.
  • Add global styles for screen reader shortcuts.
  • Apply the default Spine color to #glue to help avoid false positives when automatically scanning for accessibility issues.
  • Remove handling of a transparent Spine.
  • Darken default body color to #2a3033.
  • Set body text to the root element font size, effectively increasing the default font size from 14px to 16px.
  • Remove em fallbacks for header font size.
  • Set line-height to 1.1 instead of 100% on small
  • Fix input styles so that font size matches root by default.
  • Set the default input color slightly darker – #717171 on #ffffff.
  • Re-introduce default browser :focus handling (outline).
  • Show default underline on anchors in main.
  • Restore :focus outline on Spine action tab buttons.
  • Improve the experience of the Spine search input field.
  • Avoid trapping a keyboard user in the Spine search input.
  • Fix and accurately describe the social media directory link.
  • Hide Spine navigation from screen readers when focus is on an open action tab.
  • Add more descriptive link text for share options in Spine.
  • Append Spine action sections to li rather than parent section to make screen reader behavior and keyboard navigation more natural.
  • Fix contrast issue with social sharing anchors.

If you have any questions or find any issues, please leave feedback on the WSU Spine GitHub repository, in the WSU Web Slack, or via our contact form.

Share your feedback on the WSU Spine

Hello! WSU Web Communication is working on the next generation of a web framework for use as a base throughout the University. This framework will be made up of several different pieces, including the WSU identity, WSU web identity, and a general toolkit for working on the web at WSU.

In many ways this will be similar to what is now the WSU Spine, which has been the central framework for University sites since June of 2014. The Spine provides the vertical navigation, WSU identity, and mobile friendly framework that is behind much of the web at WSU.

We have a lot of great ideas for where we want to take the new WSU Web Framework, and we’ll be sharing and developing those in the open. First, we want to take a look back and apply the lessons we’ve learned from the WSU Spine project over the last several years.

It would be extremely helpful to have your feedback. If you’re a WSU web reader, editor, developer, or have any interest at all in the future of the web at WSU, please consider completing the WSU Spine Feedback form.

WSUWP Platform analytics now tracked with Google Tag Manager

The plugin managing analytics on the WSUWP platform has been updated to use Google Tag Manager (GTM) as its method for tracking site, application and global analytics. This change affects sites hosted on the central WordPress platform and is not yet a suggested change for other WSU sites.

Managing these Google Analytics tracking IDs through GTM allows us to make changes to how events are tracked in a central area without requiring code level changes across all WSU sites. Our hope is that experimenting with GTM on WSUWP Platform sites now will allow us to have a more robust tracking system deployed in 2017.

No actual changes have been made to how the data is being collected. When these changes are made, we’ll communicate them here so that you’re familiar with the reporting possibilities for your site.

The Google Tag Manager interface only affects how the data is collected. To see a site’s analytics, you will still use the standard Google Analytics interface.

If you notice any issues with analytics tracking on your site, please reach out via Slack, Open Lab, or email to Bob Frank and we can work with you to make any required changes.

“Skip to” links for screen readers added to the Spine Parent Theme

The 109th release of the WSUWP Spine Parent Theme, version 0.27.1, was deployed earlier today. It finally adds helper links for screen readers that make skipping straight to the main content or the primary navigation much more pleasant.

Hit “Tab” on your keyboard once when a page first loads to see a Skip to main content link. Hit “Tab” a second time to see Skip to navigation. Hitting “Enter” on either of these will focus your keyboard on that area of the page, making it easier to navigate through other portions from there. Note that if you’re logged in, you’ll get a Skip to toolbar link first to help with WordPress navigation.

The concept of bypassing blocks of content is described as part of WCAG 2.0 2.4.1.

If you notice any issues related to this implementation, please let us know via a new issue on the Spine Parent Theme repository. And drop in on open labs every Friday morning to discuss!

Edit CSS updated with new features on WSUWP

Version 2.2.0 of WSUWP Custom CSS has been released and deployed to the WordPress platform at WSU.

This release contains a handful of things that may be interesting to anyone spending time editing CSS on their site.

Edit CSS now supports easy saving via AJAX. Rather than click “Save Stylesheet” every time you have a change to save, you can use CMD-s or CTRL-s on your keyboard. A message will briefly show at the top of the screen showing the progress of the save and then you’ll be able to continue working.

Support for full screen editing is also available. Hit ESC on the keyboard whenever the cursor is focused on the Edit CSS window and the code editor will fill the browser window. AJAX saving with CMD-s and CTRL-s works in this view as well.

Thanks to Nate Owen for both of those changes!

Also of note:

  • The CSS preprocessor settings have been removed. These never actually worked in our implementation, so now the clutter is gone. 🙂
  • The font-feature-settings property is now supported.
  • Multiple display properties are supported in a single CSS rule.

Enjoy the changes. If you have any requests for missing properties or new features, please open an issue on GitHub, stop by a weekly open lab, or leave a note in the WSU Web Slack.

Managing editorial access for pages on WordPress at WSU

In a default WordPress installation, users with a role of Author, Contributor, or Subscriber have varying levels of access to posts, but do not have access to create or edit pages. Users with a role of Editor or Administrator have full access to both.

At WSU, pages are frequently more useful than posts for managing large amounts of content on a site. We have made a few adjustments to the Author and Contributor roles so that more users have access to pages without having the full set of capabilities associated with the Editor or Administrator roles.

New Pages

Authors and Contributors can create new pages by default, but must submit them for review before they are published. An Editor or Administrator can review the content and then publish when ready. As long as the page has not been published, the creating Author or Contributor can continue to edit the page and resubmit for review.

Editors and Administrators can always create and publish new pages.

Existing Pages

Authors and Contributors are not able to edit existing pages by default, even if they are assigned as the page author.

If the administrator for the site enables the Editorial Access Manager plugin, which is available for all sites on the WSU platform, Authors and Contributors can be assigned as editors for the page by either role or user. Once assigned as an editor for a page, Authors and Contributors are able to edit all parts of the page and publish their changes at will.

If you have any questions about access to pages and posts by any of the user roles, please feel free to stop by open lab on Friday mornings or in the WSU Web Slack team at any time.

WSU Spine 1.4.3 Released

The latest version of the WSU Spine framework has been released as 1.4.3.

As always, if you are using a manual build of the WSU Spine, we recommend updating as soon as possible.

To automatically receive the benefits of bug fixes like this, we recommend using the latest version of the Spine from the centrally hosted server. A full explanation of the hosted repository is in the project’s readme file.

Here’s a recap of the changes from this release.


  • Adjust Spine colors for various themes and nav elements. See #353 for the discussion and #381
  • Allow multiple nav sections to be open at the same time in the Spine. See #367
  • Allow the current nav section to be toggled closed. See #386
  • Several adjustments to test HTML markup to help better describe expected conditions of the Spine.

Bug Fixes

  • Only apply box shadow to #glue on .spine-mobile-open. See #374
  • Remove spine-mobile-open from html on resize to full screen. See #375
  • Apply a max width of 100% to figure. See #382
  • Allow other HTML tags inside anchor elements in the Spine navigation. See #385

If you run into any issues with the Spine or have suggestions, please feel free to open a new issue on the GitHub repository, stop by Open Labs on Friday morning, or bring it up on the WSU Web Slack.

New WordPress Plugin: WSUWP Content Visibility

Management of page visibility has long been on the list of features in progress for WordPress at WSU. Today, the WSUWP Content Visibility plugin is available for activation on your site!

WSUWP Content Visibility is a WordPress plugin used to control the visibility of content for groups of authenticated visitors. The interface for managing the visibility of content is built into the Publish area of a page or post.

Four groups are provided by default:

  • Members of this site include anyone that appears in your site’s list of users. They can be subscribers, authors, editors, or administrators.
  • WSU Network ID (NID) includes anyone that has a valid WSU NID. They do not have to be members of the specific site.
  • WSU Students includes anyone that has a WSU NID and is a student.
  • WSU Employees includes anyone that has a WSU NID and is an employee.

If a non-authenticated user arrives on a page restricted by WSUWP Content Visibility, the user will be redirected to a login screen. If an authenticated user arrives on a page and is not a member of an assigned group, that user will be redirected to the home page.

For more details, check out the plugin documentation. If you have any questions or run into issues, please stop by open lab, join our Slack team, or open an issue on the GitHub repository.

Open Lab in Spokane on May 4

The web team will be making a trip up to Spokane on Wednesday, May 4th for another open labs session. Stop by PBS 118 from 10am to 12pm or SAC 313 from 1:30pm to 3:30pm and join the fun. Bring any web related questions, we’ll bring a thing or two to talk about as well.

See you there!