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You'll need to install a few dependencies to build the website; the following command will install all dependencies if you're using a Debian-based system:

sudo aptitude install python python-libxslt1 python-libxml2 python-tz git-core python-ldap

Checking out the website

The website is managed in a git repository.

Any member can checkout the website using git clone:

git clone /users/www/www

This creates a directory called "www" that contains the entire website and its history. If you want to make changes to the website, you'll need to ask someone on the Systems Committee to add you to the "www" group. You should also subscribe to our git mailing list.

Testing your changes

You should test any changes you make before pushing them out for all the world to see. The easiest way to see your changes without committing them is to create a symlink into your public "www/build" directory. For example, say your local copy of the website lives in "/users/$USER/csc/www". You could symlink "/users/$USER/csc/www/build" to "/users/$USER/www/csc". Do this by typing:

ln -s /users/$USER/csc/www/build /users/$USER/www/csc

Type make in the directory. Now you can see your copy of the website at this URL:

Committing changes to the website

If you add a new file to the website, you can add it to git:

git add file

To delete a file type:

git rm file

And to rename or move a file type:

git mv old-file new-file

Once you're done modifying the website you can commit your changes:

git commit -a

The above command only commits the change to your local repository; you need to push the changes out to the master repository:

git push

The above command will also automatically rebuild the website and send out an email to the git mailing list with the details of your change, as long as you are on caffeine when you push.

Building the website

Once you've checked out the website, you can build the website by running:


This will build the website into the build directory. When git-pushing, the website will be built into /srv/www-csc.

You can remove the generated files by running:

make clean

Modifying the website


The website's data is contained in a series of XML files. A series of XSLT files are used to transform the XML data into HTML files. If you want to add new information to the website you'll want to modify the XML files.

Some notable XML files:

  • events.xml - past and upcoming events
  • news.xml - past and upcoming items
  • media/index.xml - media items (e.g. talks)

XML should be fairly easy to work with. Some important things to remember:

  • All opening tags must be closed.
  • All tags should be in lowercase.
  • Tag and attribute names are case-sensitive.

If you want more information on XML, the following are good resources:


If you want to change the HTML layout you'll want to modify the XSLT files. Almost all XSLT files are located in the 'xsl' directory. We are using XSLT 1.0 and a python front-end ( to libxslt.


If you want to change the style of the HTML you'll want to modify default.css. We primarily target Firefox 2.0 but every effort should be made to use CSS that renders correctly in Internet Explorer 6.0 and other browsers. You can test various Internet Explorer versions from Linux by installing ies4linux. There's also, which will take screenshots of a page in various browsers.

Data files

Data files, such as PDF's, should be copied to /srv/www-csc-misc. These files are accessible via


To change media files, you need to update the /media/index.xml file. The format of new entries should be fairly self evident based on the pre-existing entries.

Once you have a bunch of MTS data from a talk, you need to run it through the scripts in ~git/public/csc-media to compress it and generate thumbnails (check them out, and read the readme). The scripts generate a fairly large amount of output. If you happen to be near the member quota you will want to create symlinks for encodes and timings into /scratch.

The scripts should get run on a beefy machine (ie, high-fructose-corn-syrup).

Once the video files have been encoded, the encoded files need to get uploaded to mirror. The website automagically links the <*file /> tags to "mirror.csclub.../csclub/TALK_FILE". Contact syscom to do this.

Website vs Wiki

In order to keep things organized, the following guidelines should be followed.


  • Information not likely to change frequently (e.g. services, general information)
  • Information that should only be modifiable by the exec
  • Official documents (e.g. constitution, policies)
  • Current and past executive
  • User and club lists
  • News, events, and media items
  • Anything we want non-members to see when they first encounter our site


  • Information that changes frequently
  • Information that any club member should be able to add to or modify
  • Exec and office staff guides/manuals
  • System and hardware documentation
  • Past funding opportunities and advice (assuming this can be publicly posted)
  • Contacts (e.g. CSCF, SCS) (assuming this can be publicly posted)

Also note that we can protect various pages if they shouldn't be edited in general.


Email Addresses

Note: this convention is not currently used and is not recommended for now.

Email addresses should be wrapped in <email> tags. For example, if you want to include the email you should include the following xml snippet:


Leading and trailing whitespace will be stripped so it is safe to do this:


Currently this just generates an standard mailto link. In order to prevent spammers from harvesting address, I want to generate an image that contains the address.

My current plan is to generate the email images while running make. This would be accomplished by creating a csc:email function that generates and saves the image to The image name would be generated from HMAC(email, key), where key is some secret key/phrase.

Feature Requests and Ideas

  • Possibly move club list onto wiki.
  • Convert cellspacing and cellpadding to CSS equivalents.
  • Make RSS and ICS feeds more prominent.
  • Replace or compliment /events with a web-based calendar?
  • Replace all email addresses with generated graphics or javascript obfuscation?
  • Replace <br>'s with <p>'s wherever it makes sense.
  • Replace <strong>, <b>, <i>, etc... tags with CSS.
  • Highlight (e.g. make left bar green) current page in directory header