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The tools we use to build websites

An overview of Cascade and Limestone, two major tools our campus uses to deliver useful content through a consistent visual language

Hi, I’m Joel. As a Programmer on the Web and Collaborations Systems team, I help develop and maintain a set of tools that help groups and individuals on campus achieve their web goals.

Managing a set of websites at a large organization is not an easy task. Meaningful information needs to be offered on many sites through consistent visual language. We’ve accomplished this by treating presentation of content and content management as separate obstacles.

Limestone

The university's front-end web framework

The problem of presenting consistent websites is solved by using a front-end framework. A front-end web framework can be thought of as a package of standardized code (HTML, CSS, and Javascript) that allows an organization to maintain a consistent visual identity in their websites. Since most websites share a set of common components, this saves time and resources as it provides a reusable structure that is common to most of the organization's sites.

The U of S has its own front-end web framework called Limestone that provides this type of structure. Typography, layout, and styling of the interface are all determined by the Limestone framework. Having a centrally maintained framework allows web designers and developers to continually roll out improvements, new features, and bug fixes without disturbing existing sites.

Cascade

The university's web content management system

A Content Management System (CMS) is a tool that helps solve the problem of organizing and offering meaningful web content to users. Using a CMS allows an organization to manage the images, text, articles, and other content that appears in sites. Many different Content Management Systems exist, and they can be simple or quite sophisticated.

U of S web content is organized through a sophisticated CMS called Cascade that allows management of content, as well as content contributors. Contributors from different departments and colleges on campus use Cascade to create, edit, and publish web content that is meaningful to their users. Cascade then transforms this content into web pages that conform to the visual identity specified in Limestone templates.

Hopefully this quick overview has helped you understand how the campus web community delivers meaningful content to users through a consistent visual language.

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