Handbuilt Jug, Throwing issues…

Today I spent about 5 hours or so in the studio – how time flies!

First I finished up a couple of pieces that I had made last weekend, trimming scrappy edges and generally finessing the surface. They’re bone dry so I used a brush and a little water just to smooth out imperfections. I’m fairly pleased with these, they’re a nice weight and shape – they’re ready to be fired.

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Small jug and vase with indentation

Today was a productive day in the studio. I made a vase I’m fairly pleased with, and a jug that has potential. I experimented with throwing 3-3.5kg of clay, but that wasn’t very successful.

Small jug

This jug was thrown off the hump. I managed to belly out the body and collar in the next without too much trouble, though the neck became quite delicate as I got towards the end. I made the spout with 2 fingers on my left hand supporting the rim, and 1 wet finger on my right stroking against the inside. I probably overdid this and made a small nick on the spout that I’ll clean up later. I pulled a handle which I’ll attach tomorrow.

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Deleting content in CTC after creation

On Friday I gave a presentation to an internal audience about CTC using some of the material already posted on this blog (here and here). In the slides, there’s a comment about how you have to manually clean up content left behind after you delete web content pages. Let me explain the scenario:

  1. In your portal site, you create a page using a page template
  2. The rendering portlets on that page are configured to create content when they’re instantiated, so new content is created in WCM
  3. The content library used is the one configured as default for the parent of the page you’re creating. If you follow the Infocenter instructions, you’ll have set up a dedicated library to hold this content
  4. Now, when you delete the page, the content in that dedicated library isn’t deleted. You have to manually clear it up. This is what I highlighted on the call.

In the chat during and afterwards, my colleague Thomas Hurek pointed out that if you in fact opt NOT to create a dedicated library for your content but instead let Portal continue to use the Portal Site library, this problem does not arise.

I need to try this out to fully appreciate the pros and cons, but haven’t had time yet. Definitely worth a look, at least.

Getting ready for IBM Exceptional Web Experience 2013

With about 10 days to go until the Berlin leg of the Exceptional Web Experience conference, it’s time to turn my mind to the talks I’m giving. This conference is one of my favourites because it’s not too big and not too small – large enough to have a varied audience and interesting things going in, small enough that you’re not swamped and access to technical people isn’t too hard. I think there are still places, not too late to register.

This year I’m giving four talks on various topics related to WCM and Portal – the full session guide is here.

  • BUS-G09 The Secret Alchemy for a Truly Exceptional Web Experience
  • TECH-P05 Out-of-the-Box Web Content Manager Templates (CTC 4) – What’s New?
  • TECH-B11 What to Expect When You’re Expecting…a PORTAL! – Best Practices for a Successful Delivery
  • TECH-B19 Happily Cohabiting: Achieving a Multi-Tenant Web Experience Platform

The abstracts for all four sessions are reproduced below. I’ll post links to the slides here (if possible) after the conference.

BUS-G09 The Secret Alchemy for a Truly Exceptional Web Experience

Speakers: Tony Higham, Distinguished Engineer, IBM; David Strachan, Senior. IT Architect, IBM

Your customers have heightened expectations when it comes to their web experiences. Sites such as Google, YouTube and Facebook have raised the bar for user experience. The capabilities people expect for functions, content and an overall pleasurable online experience are achieved in considerably different ways than approaches that were taken even three years ago. Satisfying these demands is increasingly difficult and disappointment comes at a tangible cost. With a marketplace that is more competitive than ever before, a compelling and successful user experience remains one of the last remaining sources of sustainable competitive advantage. Come to this session to learn the proven method to designing exceptional web experiences, developing a roadmap to deploy functions quickly and iteratively. You will hear about real-world engagements where IBM used our highly collaborative expertise driven engagement methodologies to help organizations in this world of heightened expectations. (Level: Introductory)

TECH-P05 Out-of-the-Box Web Content Manager Templates (CTC 4) – What’s New?

Speaker: Eric Morentin Software Architect, IBM Web Content Manager, David Strachan, Senior. IT Architect, IBM

Attend this session to understand the latest capabilities of the Web Content Manager Template Catalog offerings, which deliver out-of-the-box support for a broad set of reusable content types. See how the latest innovations, “CTC 4”, add new capability with built -in responsive web site design support, to rapidly develop feature-rich sites in minutes, using prebuilt content, page and site templates that incorporate proven best practice designs. Through technical explanations and demonstrations, we’ll share how website designers can use the palette of preconfigured portlets, drop reusable components on web pages for navigation, teasers, slideshows, carousels, and more. Use the content samples as is, or copy, customize, and combine with existing assets. In addition, attendees will see how to monitor content effectiveness, and track promotional campaigns using the out-of-the-box analytics features in CTC4 when integrated with web analytics packages. See how to best apply these components to quickly deliver content rich, interactive websites that will attract and engage your audiences. (Level: Introductory)

TECH-B11 What to Expect When You’re Expecting…a PORTAL! – Best Practices for a Successful Delivery

Speakers: David Strachan, Senior . IT Architect, IBM, Pradeep Behl, Managing Consultant, IBM Software Services for Collaboration

The news is out…you’re having a PORTAL! Whether this is your first Portal or you’re having another Portal, you may be wondering about ways to identify, mitigate, or even avoid issues that could complicate your Delivery. In this session, we will share with you essential organizational and technical considerations along with Best Practices, and Lessons Learned from the field to help you plan and execute a successful Portal Delivery. Topics include:

  • First and Second Trimesters – Understand Approaches to building realistic plans and effective Project Teams.
  • Third Trimester – Learn the lessons and avoid the pitfalls we’ve seen in the field.
  • Delivery Room – Understand Governance, why it’s important to Portal Projects, and the key aspects of creating a governance model.
  • Raising Your Portal – Know the Maintenance Expectations after Deployment (Level: Introductory)

TECH-B19 Happily Cohabiting: Achieving a Multi-Tenant Web Experience Platform

Speakers: David Strachan, IBM Solution Architect, Social and Web Experience Software, David Eyerman, IBM Executive I/T Architect, Software Services for Collaboration

In your organization, are lines of business competing to have “their” portal or dedicated infrastructure? Many organizations are deploying dedicated environments to support each line of business Portal. This increases the cost of running WebSphere Portal & IBM Web Content Manager and reduces their ability to deliver exceptional user focused web experiences. In this presentation, four patterns will be presented all down from real customer engagements for achieving a multi-tenant web experience architecture. This session will cover each pattern and their hardware and software configurations. This session will cover how to operate, govern, and maintain the systems. If you are considering operating multiple portals, then come to this session! (Level: Intermediate)

Hiding the toolbar in a v8 theme

One thing I often do in a portal theme is to hide the upper navigation bar, so that it is only visible when you mouseover.

This is the content spot that renders the navigation in question:

<a rel="dynamic-content" href="dyn-cs:id:80theme_topNav"></a>

The classes below work for an upper navigation bar that’s wrapped in a div with a class called “wpThemeHeader”.

This selector is the main toolbar class:

.wpThemeHeader {
background-color: #333; <<– the border appears as a thin line of this colour in normal rendering.
border-bottom: 1px solid #111111;  <<– this is optional, it appears when the border is minimized.
    height: 44px;
    margin-top: -41px; <<– Better to do this than to set the height to 3px, because of the transition; if you do the height then the button bar doesn’t slide in smoothly.
overflow: hidden;
text-align: left;
transition: margin-top 0.3s ease 0s; <<–The transition controls how long it takes for the bar to appear
padding: 5px 0;
font: 75%/1.5 Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;

This selector makes the header appear when you mouse over in view mode.

.wpThemeHeader:hover {
    margin-top: 0;

This selector makes the header appear as normal when you put the Portal in Edit mode. This is needed because otherwise modal dialogs for editing parameters etc are displaced.

.edit-mode .wpThemeHeader { 
margin-top: 0;

Portal 8 – Refreshing page layout in the v8 theme

The portal v8 theme uses HTML layout templates to describe the structure of rows and columns on the page. The portal caches these layouts for each page and provides a button in the GUI to refresh the page layout on an individual page.

Clearly, though, this would be tedious and time consuming to do for a whole portal and, luckily, there is a config engine task to refresh page layout more globally:

WebSphere Portal Family wiki : IBM WebSphere Portal 8 Product Documentation : Task refresh-page-layout.

Creating a custom page template in CTC

The slideshow that I published on Thursday is perhaps a little hard to follow without the verbal part of the presentation. So here’s a walk-through of the process for cloning one of the CTC page templates to make your own. In this example I’m going to copy the “Topics” template as a “Products” template.

The process is as follows, and the slideshows show the process in more detail (further information is given in the image captions – just click on a thumbnail to start the slideshow)

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CTC Customization Walkthrough


Last week I gave a session at an internal IBM enablement event about the Content Template Catalog v4 (CTC), which is a great resource for quickly producing websites with IBM WCM. This previous post describes my exploration of the CTC as preparation for that.

I made a screenshot walkthrough of my demo in case my virtual machine failed me (it did), which I’ve uploaded here. It’s my intention in the coming days to break this up into several posts with more explanatory notes but for now here are the slides.

CTC Anatomy Walkthrough

Configuring MIME types in WCM

I recently received a request from a WCM v7 customer who wanted to store KML files in WCM and render them via the WCM content servlet. When they did this, the Content-Type in the HTTP header was set to "unknown/unknown" and they wanted it to show "application/vnd.google-earth.kml+xml" so that the clients dealt with the KML file appropriately.

This can be done by specifying the mime type in the WCM Config Service properties file, along the lines described here


Another approach would have been to do this from the HTTP Server but I advised that they use the WCM configuration since then all mime types are configured in once for the whole cluster and not once on each HTTP server, with the attendant possibility of error.