July 19, 2017

As part of the university's web content strategy, two key improvements will be made to vt.edu and vtnews.vt.edu next week, and to other Ensemble websites beginning August 4, 2017. The first will be to deliver sites exclusively via https. The second is to make the non "www" version of sites the canonical domain.

We will be redirecting http requests to https. For content built within and served by Ensemble, https is already fully supported. Ensemble users need to only update external links that use http. For example, external media from YouTube and Vimeo, embedded social media links, any custom JavaScript, and any hard coded images should only use https links or network relative links which start with // (without a specific protocol). Depending on browser settings, using non-https links may prevent the resource from running or displaying.

Before August 4th, when https becomes the only supported protocol, you should review your site, adding https:// in front of page URLs to diagnose any problems. If non-https links are found, they can be corrected by linking to the https version or by obtaining newer versions of external content.

For example, if you’re using the generic recaptcha mailer to collect data from a website and send it to email, you’ll need to change your POST event to use https as explained at https://ensemble.cms.vt.edu/help/how-to/how_to_forms.html

Note that this change only applies to websites delivering from the Ensemble Content Management System (CMS); Web Hosting and other environments are not affected.

The second change, making the non "www" version of sites the canonical domain, will result in addresses that are simpler and more modern. In most cases, the domain names of sites in Ensemble are already registered with and without 'www', and servers are configured to redirect the user to the non-www name. For example, if you type www.ensemble.cms.vt.edu into a browser, it will automatically redirect to ensemble.cms.vt.edu. This is done with a “301 Moved Permanently” status code. While the majority of sites already do this, for those that currently don’t but could, the Ensemble web team will make those changes on August 4.

In some cases, it will not be possible to redirect to the non-www name. The most common scenario for this case is that of a department that runs a mail server at the address <domain>.vt.edu — this precludes Ensemble registration or use of that domain name. In this case, we recommend that the department enable a web service on the machine at that address which redirects the web traffic to www.<domain>.vt.edu (the Ensemble servers). This way users who type or link to either name will get to the right place.

If you have questions, please feel free to use ensemble.cms.vt.edu to open an Ensemble web support ticket (see tiny button on lower right portion of screen). We will not be making changes to DNS as part of this upgrade: department-operated mail servers running at <domain>.vt.edu will not be affected by the www redirect rules.

These changes will make it possible to present web addresses that are simpler and more modern, further our content strategy, and enable end-to-end encryption of data in transit.

Sincerely,
The Ensemble Web Team

Ensemble is the enterprise content management system (CMS) owned by University Relations in the Division of Advancement and developed and operated by Enterprise Systems in the Division of Information Technology.