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Web Communication Spine 1.4.0 Release Notes

Spine 1.4.0 Release Notes

As promised a week and a half ago, a new version of the Spine is pending release. We were originally hoping to get it out the door last Wednesday, but decided to let it soak a bit longer. We’re now looking at deploying the new version in the morning on Wednesday, March 30th.

In the meantime, check out the changes included with that new release below. We’ll send out another notification when the release is actually deployed.


This release refactors how the Spine is handled on mobile devices. Previously, we shared the logic used on larger views for calculating the heights of and resizing #glue and main as the browser resized or the document scrolled. Not using aposition: fixed header had a tendency to cause issues when scrolling through the menu on both iOS and Android devices. Android devices had troubles scrolling at all.

We now move elements in the DOM around a bit when a mobile view is detected. The Spine’s header becomes a fixed element at the top of the screen. The #glue is moved into its own #scroll element that is allowed to scroll separately from the document as a whole. The navigation appears and disappears smoothly and is much more useable on iOS and Android devices.

This is all handled in JavaScript, yet significantly reduces the amount of Spine JavaScript necessary on mobile devices. No change in markup is necessary on individual pages, it will just work.

See #314, #318, #332, #333, #334, and #337 for the majority of mobile related changes.

Framework Fixes

  • Treat mobile navigation the same in Fluid, Hybrid, and Fixed grid layouts. 990px is the mark at which we show mobile navigation. See #338.
  • Refactor how #glue positioning is handled on scroll. This fixes a bug where the navigation could appear jumpy at certain spots depending on the size of the document and the size of the window. See #342.
  • Along with that, simplify how min-height is calculated for main. See #343.
  • Calculate the height of the area exposed by the Spine action links based on window, not main so that things don’t disappear in a strange way. See #341.
  • Improve the focus state of Spine action items. Previously they would get lost if navigated through by keyboard. See#340.
  • Provide explicit button types for button elements added to the DOM by the Spine. See #347.
  • Remove a line-height: 1em rule applied to figcaption that squashed text in captions.
  • Simplify and document scripting to add active, dogeared to nav. See #328.


  • Remove unused implementation of Spine analytics in favor of jTrack. See #326.
  • Remove the dump function that was provided to aid in code debugging. This was not in use anywhere in the Spine. See #327.
  • Remove a series of unused SVG assets. See #325.
  • Remove our custom Open Sans fonts. This font should be loaded via Google’s CDN instead. See #309.

Development Changes

  • Apply an initial JSCS configuration based on the jQuery style guide. All JavaScript code must now conform to these standards. See #348.
  • Introduce CSS linting. The configuration file explains this best.
  • Use PostCSS to apply vendor prefixes. See the configuration file.
  • Replace the Ruby based grunt-contrib-sass with the much faster grunt-sass. See #322.
  • Revisit and clarify JSHint rules. See #335.

Open Lab Recap, Spokane Edition – March 23rd

Today was our first open labs session at WSU Spokane! We had 2 sessions, the morning in PBS and the afternoon in Academic Services. We had a nice turn out at both and are looking forward to our next at the end of April.

Spine Theme Updates

We briefly touched on a few of the updates from yesterday’s Spine Parent Theme release. Most of them are tweaks to existing behavior and styles to provide incremental improvements. A couple are new – specifically background images on columns.

Join the WSU Web community

A Slack team is available for questions, discussion, and general collaboration. Anyone with a email address can join without an invite. We also have a GitHub organization available where all of our work is published as open source.

Background images on sections and columns

In the page builder interface, images can be added as backgrounds to both sections and columns. Click on the gear icon to add each. At the moment, you’ll need the full URL to the image. We have issue #292 open in the Spine Parent Theme repository to track improvements to this interface in the future.

Content Syndicate

We walked through the ins and outs of the WSUWP Content Syndicate plugin, which is enabled on all sites by default. We even updated the documentation to link to a better document for how dates can be formatted.

Managing Menus

We walked through the interface for managing offsite and site menus, including the process it takes to remove or rename “Overview” links in the menu. This is something we should document and we now have issue #296 open in the Spine Parent Theme repository to do so. The BU Navigation plugin is also available for a different way of managing pages in menus in a more hierarchical way.


We went down the list of available plugins on the platform and walked through examples of Duplicate and Merge Pages, Gravity Forms, MailChimp, and TablePress.


At this point, we took lunch and moved to a different location on campus to continue open labs. ūüĆģ

Afternoon session

Some of the stuff we covered in the afternoon session is repeat or very specific to individual sites. I’m going to break things down into some bullet points here.

  • Basics and the future of the People Directory.
  • Using the WSUWP Content Syndicate plugin.
  • How events can be submitted through the Community Events plugin or managed without the plugin.
  • How to access the Edit CSS screen.
  • How to manage ticket numbers associated with work orders in Gravity Forms and possible conditional logic associated with that.

Spine Parent Theme 0.26.0 Released

Version 0.26.0 of the Spine Parent Theme has been released and deployed to the WSUWP Platform. This is actually the 22nd release since the announcement of 0.22.0. ūüėÖ

As mentioned then, we’re still working on the workflow for release posts. Often the changes are very small and incremental, though it’s best to get the info out there.

Here are all the notable changes since that last announcement.

  • New:¬†Apply improved default styling for content on top of slideshow and banner sections added with the page builder.
  • New:¬†Apply improved default styling for galleries. Specifically, these now respect the¬†columns setting.
  • New:¬†Remove an extra space when generating a page’s HTML title.
  • New:¬†Consolidate a large amount of admin CSS and clean up the page builder interface styles.
  • Add a default print stylesheet. We hid the print action from the Spine on the platform a while ago, disabling the JavaScript previously used to print. This default print stylesheet makes the experience nicer for those who choose to print with their browser. (0.25.3)
  • Provide the option to assign background images to columns in the page builder interface. (0.25.2)
  • Use the site’s configured Twitter handle when sharing through the article’s header or footer area. Previously this was set to @wsupullman. (0.25.2)
  • Include a¬†parts/share-tool.php template for use when overriding the share tool area on individual articles in child themes. (0.25.2)
  • The default secondary color when using the Bookmark styles is now Criimson. (0.25.1)
  • Merge the default WordPress “Site Identity” and Spine “Main Header” sections in the Customizer. This may be confusing for a bit as we figure out the best way to show this information. (0.25.0)
  • Set Open Sans as the default font family for new sites. (0.25.0)
  • Set the default Spine grid style to fluid for new sites. (0.25.0)
  • Set the default page template to Builder Template for new sites. (0.25.0)
  • Allow author pages to be disabled through Advanced in the Customizer. (0.24.2)
  • Remove the print icon from the Spine header and style remaining icons to fit. (0.24.0)
  • Provide social sharing icons on single post content, controllable via the Customizer. (0.24.0)
  • Clear floating elements above¬†.article-footer. (0.24.0)
  • Deprecate the “light” and “vellum” color variants for the Spine in the Customizer. (0.23.4)
  • Fix an issue where the “Bleed left” option was set true by default. (0.23.3)
  • Add support for slide titles in the page builder. (0.23.2)
  • Allow for the positioning of featured images when used as backgrounds. (0.23.0)
  • Apply a default style to dd and dt elements in Events Calendar Pro. (0.22.6)
  • Allow for custom post types to support the page builder interface. (0.22.4)
  • Provide the¬†X-UA-Compatible meta tag with a value of¬†IE=EDGE in HTML to try and force new versions of IE out of compatibility mode.

Well then. Here’s to a shorter release list next time! ūüĎč

March 18 – Open Lab Recap

Hi there! Here’s a brief recap of the topics we discussed in open lab this week.

Spine Updates

Jeremy demonstrated the recent enhancements and bug fixes he has made on the Spine. Check out his post to read about the changes that have been made. They are slated to be released next Wednesday.

Menu Item Highlighting

Sheilah mentioned that if a page being visited is not in the site navigation, but is a child of a page that is in the navigation, that parent page should be highlighted as current. This issue has already been tracked on the Spine Theme repo (#228), but we bumped it up to high priority.

“Quarters” Layout Behavior at Smaller Widths

Sheilah bought up that four column layouts¬†collapse down to two rows of two columns at smaller screen widths. We don’t want to suddenly change this behavior as¬†it¬†has been the default since (presumably) the release of the Spine, but since it is inconsistent with the other layouts –¬†the columns should stack and all be 100% wide on smaller screens – we may add a utility class that can be added to four-column rows to make them behave in a¬†more expected manner.

Content Visibility

Sheilah asked about the possibility of restricting¬†a section of a site to be available to only a few specific¬†users.¬†Leveraging the¬†WSU Content Visibility plugin is probably¬†best way to handle¬†such a task, but it would need to be able to support adding individual NIDs and apply a page’s settings to its children.¬†These features were tracked as issues on the plugins Github repo.

University Taxonomies on Events

Phil bought up that it would be valuable to have the University Taxonomies attached to Events. This should be easy enough to do!

Email Services

We had a good discussion about the pros and cons of different email sending services and options. Many colleges and departments are handling their own sending, and those present today related their experiences with using MailChimp and phpList, and the merits of using UComm’s¬†Crimson Communiqu√©¬†distribution service.

Content Overflow

Javier pointed out that¬†horizontal scrolling isn’t available¬†when a page has content that is wider than the browser window.¬†In such cases, the overflowing content is simply cut off with no way to access it. We weren’t able to find a fix at the time but will continue to troubleshoot the issue until we do!

Google Calendar Embeds

Joyce asked about adding support for Google Calendar embeds for one of her site users. We added this as a high priority enhancement (issue #31) to the WSU Embeds plugin.

Thanks to everyone who attended. Until next time!

Pending Spine release available for testing

A¬†new version of the Spine (1.4.0) is being prepped for release on¬†Wednesday, March 23d. This is a release for enhancements and bug fixes only. We do not expect anything to break backward compatibility. ūüôā

It would be great if you could spend a few minutes testing things out over the next several days. If you are an admin on the WSUWP Platform, you can change the version of the Spine that your site uses through the Customizer.

We’re still working on a full changelog to share, and will post a preliminary one soon. In the meantime, here are the primary areas to focus on:

  • Mobile navigation has been completely refactored. All modern smartphones and tablets are now expected to work. The interaction in general should be much smoother and reliable.
  • Several bugs in the Spine navigation area on all sizes have been addressed.
  • Open Sans font files are no longer being hosted as part of the Spine on Instead, please load Open Sans from Google Fonts in your templates. If you’re running WordPress outside of our WSUWP Platform, please make sure you’re using the latest version of the Spine Parent Theme. If your site is in the platform, you’re already good.

If you notice any bugs, please reach out through our community Slack or by filing an issue on GitHub. Thanks!

Upcoming Open Labs Schedule (Including Spokane!)

We have a change of venue for our normal, weekly open labs next Friday. On March 18th, we’ll be in the CUB, room 208 from 9:30am to 11:30am.

Same format, same everything else, just a slightly different location. And who knows, if we like it we might try to keep it. ūüôā

We’re also making a trip up to Spokane on Wednesday, March 23rd to hold 2 open labs sessions. One from 10:00am to 12:00pm in PBS 118 and another from 1:30pm to 3:30pm in SAC 313.¬†If you’re in Spokane, stop on by!

March 11 – Open Lab Recap

Howdy! Here’s a recap of the topics we discussed during open labs this week. We’ll turn comments on at some point in the near future. For now, if you have any questions or suggestions, check out the WSU Web Slack team.

Background images on columns

Background images can now be assigned to columns in the page builder interface. Use the gear icon on a column to bring up the interface to enter the image URL. This is similar to how background images can be added to sections.

The background image itself will only take up the size of the content in that column. The equalize class can be assigned to a section to make all column heights equal in that section.

TablePress DataTables Row Grouping

We’re not entirely sure how to use this feature yet, but we’re looking into it. ūüôā

Gradient backgrounds

While Marsha¬†was showing off the work she’s been doing on, we explored CSS gradients vs image gradients. ColorZilla provides a gradient editor, which is a good resource for generating CSS gradients.

Are testimonials worth it?

Sheilah brought up an interesting resource that seems to claim that social testimonials are better than talking about yourself. The UI of is a little strange though, so it’s hard to tell if it really is bad. We seemed to have some group agreement that fake testimonials are bad, authenticity goes a long way. (And talking about the work you’re doing isn’t bad at all.)

More flexible roles

There are several roles and capabilities that need work throughout the platform. Joyce brought up an issue where some folks may only need access to add calendar events, but should not be able to publish posts and pages without review. We’re tracking our wishlist of future roles and capabilities on GitHub in WSUWP Platform issue #274.

People Directory discussion

We talked through some of the current status of the people directory, including the possibility of mass importing users by WSU NID. If you have examples for how you would like people records to appear when syndicated on your site, please chime in on Slack. We’ll be looking to add a couple other HTML templates soon to cover some basic cases.

Thanks everyone!

March 4 – Open Lab Recap

The session started off with Jeremy giving an overview on setting up and developing locally in a virtual environment. He also pointed out the Spine Child Theme Skeleton and the Plugin Skeleton as bases for people to work off of.

Topics discussed and bugs found

WSUWP Platform: Colorbox Рa lightbox plugin for jQuery Рis available on the platform via the Custom JavaScript Editor. Jeremy gave a brief demonstration on how to set up a basic implementation.

The Social & Economic Sciences Research Center offers a survey design clinic.

WSUWP Platform: The DataTables Row Grouping extension for TablePress has been added to the platform.

WSUWP Platform: The people directory, People Display and Content Syndicate plugins were briefly discussed. The people component of the Content Syndicate plugin will be broken out as a standalone plugin.

Spine Parent Theme: The templates aren’t set up to show authorship data from the Coauthors Plus plugin.




Analytics properties linked to Search Console


Over the next few weeks, Web Communications will be “associating” Google Analytics properties (within the * family)¬†with their corresponding Webmaster Tools / Search Console accounts. About 40 associations have been completed so far.

The natural response: ‘So what? What is that¬†going to do for me?’

The Search Console allows website/GA owners to better see:

  • What¬†pages have been indexed on your site
  • What domains link to your site
  • Errors encountered by web crawlers
  • The crawl rate of your site
  • Your website‚Äôs performance in Google organic searches
  • More data regarding keywords, landing pages, devices, etc.

Please note: This step, to associate GA properties with their Webmaster Tools/Search Console, is being performed only on Google Analytics accounts over which the site owners have granted Web Communication access and permission to help. Site owners who maintain their own GA accounts, without Web Communications assistance, might want to take this step on their own, in order to benefit from the additional analytics data.

For additional information, see

Protect your Web analytics from spambots/ghosts

google analytics logoWebsite traffic from referral spambots/ghosts has been invading many WSU websites and corrupting the reliability of Google Analytics data ‚Äď at both the site and universitywide level. As a result, spambot/ghost filters need to be deployed on all * websites.

To combat spambot/ghost data corruption, WSU Web Communication has developed, tested and monitored several spam filters over the past several months.

Like email spam, the sources of this traffic mutate regularly and eventually get around the newest filters, at which point filters need to be reconfigured.

Spam in Google Analytics can be categorized by two types: ghosts and crawlers. Ghosts comprise the vast majority of referral spam. They are called ghosts because they never access your site, but they do corrupt site data and university’s global data.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the newest referral spam filter was deployed/updated to about 50 Google Analytics accounts and their properties. These are Google Analytics accounts which the site owner has granted Web Communication access and permission to help oversee.

However, there are a number of websites and corresponding Google Analytics accounts in the * family with which Web Communication does not assist. Because the Google Analytics data from those websites negatively affects/corrupts universitywide global analytics, it is requested that those sites install an effective, current referral spam/ghost filter as soon as possible.

If you would like Web Communication to assist you with setting up and maintaining your Google Analytics, please contact Robert Frank,, 335-7727. (Note: Ownership of GA accounts/properties always remain that of the site manager/owner. Web Communication is only there to help to the degree desired.)

Thanks in advance for your time and prompt help.

(Special thanks to Jeremy Bass, who has written the code for the spam/ghost filters.)

** FYI, don’t forget to check out universitywide analytics at