Recent Site Builder Changes: Update
New security measures are now in place for the U3A Site Builder, including an extended password mechanism and a firewall. A firewall is a piece of software which intercepts the standard 'request-response' messages between a web browser and a web server, checking for potentially harmful transactions in either direction and blocking or otherwise rendering them ineffective. Site editors have reported some unexpected consequences:
- File formats
- The content of some uploaded files may be delivered as an unusable sequence of bytes, without the accompanying data which allows it to be displayed correctly. The problem applies to 'Word' files with a .docx extension and to files created by more recent versions of other Microsoft software. That is because the later formats potentially include executable code, which is now explicitly blocked by the firewall. Whether or not you see this problem will depend upon which browser you use to view the site and possibly which Office software you have installed on your machine. The best current advice is to save and reload such files as PDFs (which can be read on any platform), or using an earlier format like .doc. Further checks on the file extensions and mime-types of uploaded documents are in the pipeline.
- File cacheing
- For efficiency the firewall software keeps a 'cached' copy of recently delivered pages and documents and sends them instead of requesting them from the web server. As a result the practice of uploading a new document with the same name as an existing one in order to overwrite it is no longer effective, as visitors continue to receive the earlier version from the cache. So the software now prevents uploads of duplicate file names for both image and document files. If you wish to show an additional link to an uploaded document from another page, please use the Change link option, select the new page in the usual way, then click the button captioned Make a Copy.
- Password registration
- Some site administrators have been concerned that they received no positive confirmation after changing an editor password entry - that confirmation is now being shown. But for security actual passwords are never displayed on screen in the editor list, and are stored only in encrypted form in our database. Members of the support team will not be able to remind editors of their passwords once they have been changed from their initial value. If a password has been forgotten, it will need to be changed to a known value by the site administrator before the editor concerned can log in again.
- Web forwarding
- Visitors following a domain name link which has been 'web forwarded' (e.g. from someu3a.org.uk to https://u3asites.org.uk/someu3a) may be presented with a blank screen. Some domain name registrars implement web forwarding by displaying your site content in a 'frame' forming part of a page on their own site, and our firewall now blocks attempts to display 'framed' content. We have not received many reported problems of this kind, but if your U3A site is affected please try logging-in to the domain registration account to see if it supports web forwarding directly to a new URL instead. Some domain registrars certainly do provide that option although some may charge extra.
More explanations about ongoing problems with the new system will be included here when available.