System Features

The School of Medicine Web System is built on top of Plone, a powerful open source content management system. The list below shows a sample of the features that come standard in the current version of the SOM Web System.


Accessibility compliant
Plone has been designed to be completely accessible and usable, working in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG v1.0).  Using the efforts of the community ensures better accessibility compliance.

Do you have content on your site that should be restricted to a group of users?  With Plone you can add a custom workflow to a folder on your site that will restrict it to a group of users with a valid login.

Need more than one online calendar?  Maybe one calendar for residents, another for Grand Rounds?  Now you can have as many calendars as you need! Within one calendar, you can choose to exclude event types (say, Grand Rounds) by clicking on a check box.  Calendar feeds from Google calendars are also supported with the system.

Editing through the web
There is no software to buy and no applications to install.  All you need to edit a site in the School of Medicine’s web system is a web browser.  In short, a site can be edited from anywhere at any time.  The system also uses a familiar graphical interface (similar to Microsoft Word) to edit content through the web. 

Review List
Site managers may choose to limit a site contributor's ability to make content publicly available. They can require site contributors to submit their content for review.  Then, anyone with the ‘can review’ permission (such as the site manager) can either publish the content or send it back.  This optional workflow process can help a site manager maintain control of their site’s content.

Formerly known as Smart Folders, Collections display a list of results from a predefined search.  Perhaps one of the most powerful, and under-used, features in the Web System, Collections are a great way to display a list of items scattered throughout your site.

An improved collection editing interface provides dropdown lists for multiple criteria, including search term, content type, date, etc. Sorting options and a live preview of the results makes it possible to see what existing content will match the saved criteria.

RSS feed support
Folder and collection content can be digested as an RSS feed.

Web Statistics
Our system automatically collects information on site usage.  Evaluating these easy to read reports will help you design and engage your web users.  Analytics also integrates with email and off-line campaigns to help you monitor the popularity of your printed material.

Comment capabilities on any content
Anonymous or logged in users can discuss content in a blog fashion. Comments can be moderated by authorized users and will not be shown until approval is granted.

Cut/copy/paste operations on content
The web system is very forgiving.  Did you put a page in the wrong folder?  No problem!  Simply cut and paste it from one location to the other.  You can move one page or multiple pages at a time.  You can even upload or create multiple files and then publish them all at one time (rather than individually).  Do you have recurring events that you will need to post on your site (e.g. grand rounds)?  No problem.  Create the first event then duplicate it using the copy and paste feature.  Now all you have to do is make a few edits to the new events rather than re-create each one.

Collaboration and sharing
Multiple users can collaborate on content with the system tracking each version change. Content can be shared with different permissions to different users.

Automatic Locking and Unlocking
There’s no need to worry about two people editing the same page and over-writing each other’s work.  As soon as one person edits a page (or any other piece of content), the system locks it and prevents others from editing it.  Anyone else attempting to edit the page will see an alert box stating that the page is locked (being edited), by whom and how long ago.  As soon as the person editing the page saves their changes, the system automatically unlocks the page.

Versioning, History and Reverting Content
Each piece of content (pages, folders, news items, etc.) in the web system maintains its own history.  This history shows you when changes have been made and by whom.  It allows you to compare different versions of a file and even revert to an earlier version.

Check Out/In (Working Copy Support)
Ever need to make an extensive update to a page on your site that could take a few days?  Now with the built-in Working Copy Support feature, you can check out a copy of your page, leaving the old one intact, and work on the new one.  When you're ready to publish the new page, simply check the working copy in and your new page will replace the existing one.  Combine this with the version history, and you retain an archive of the old version.

Automatic image scaling and thumbnail generation
Images uploaded to the system are automatically stored in several sizes, from thumbnail to full size, to best fit the editor’s need.  This avoids having very large images used in pages, causing very slow load times.

Link and reference integrity checking
The system prevents users from creating 404 (document not found) errors when deleting content.  It ensures that links established between documents are valid by notifying the user that another piece of content within the system has a link to the content they are about to delete.  The system even provides links to the content containing the links making it easy for users to find and edit referring pages. The system also automatically keeps track of content that has been renamed or moved within the system.  If visitors come to your site via an old url/link/bookmark, the system will automatically redirect them to the new location of the content they are looking for, as long as the old url/shortname is not reused.

Enhanced Portlet Management
Portlets are containers for content items that can appear to the left or right of (and with Content Well Portlets, above and below) the main content area. The latest version of the web system offers enhanced portlet management screens for controlling where these portlets appear throughout your site.

Built-in jquery
jQuery, a standardized javascript library, is built into the system, for quick feature development (image overlays, tabbed content, slider transitions, etc).


Automatic creation of navigation
Navigation is created automatically when content is created and reordered.  No need to maintain it separately.

Drag and drop reordering of content
In the folder contents view, the content author can drag and drop to modify the order of the content in the folder, thus changing the order of the navigation.

Auto-generated table of contents
The system can auto generate and auto update a table of contents based on the headers that are assigned on a page.  This makes it easier for site visitors to find the content they are looking for.

Automatic previous/next navigation
Folder content can have ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ navigation applied automatically, helping users navigate a series of related documents.

Presentation Mode for content
Folders can be viewed as a presentation mode, where content is displayed in series, in full screen format, similar to a powerpoint presentation.


Designed to be 'responsive' and ‘adaptive’; the website adapts the sites content to many screen sizes, including mobile.

With, the look and feel of the system can be controlled by one HTML page, with supporting CSS and Javascript.  This allows for a design to be integrated more quickly into a Plone site, improving the turnaround time for design enhancements and entirely new designs. 

Greater Syndication provides syndication solutions to share content between different sites.  Syndication in this sense means making the contents of a folder into an RSS feed. 

New content types can be custom built within the system to client specification.  For example, custom news items and event types on, which allows anyone to add news and event content, which is then reviewed by the staff.  TEACCH also has custom content types, built to their workflow requirements, streamlining the registration of their trainings.  Best of all, because Plone development enforces security, it is built into these custom content types automatically.

Custom Workflows
Workflows can be designed to fit the needs of the business unit.  Content can be transitioned through access states (private, draft, public).  One example of using workflows might be when a news item is set to pending review, it appears in a Reviewer’s queue, who then decides if it is ready for the public (publishing) or needs further work (send back).

Rules engine for content
Rules for content can be created through a control panel to respond to system events. For example, a content rule can send email when content is created or modified.

Quick form builder
Plone’s PloneFormGen allows users to quickly build their own online forms with a point and click interface.  This allows content creators and site owners the ability to create online forms without the need of website programmers.

Integration with Sharepoint
PloneFormGen can be used as a gateway to send client data from online forms to a MSSQL database, which can then be processed via a simple CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) forms in Sharepoint.

Collection of sensitive data (HIPAA)
PloneFormGen can be used as a gateway to send client data from online forms to MSSQL’s Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) tables for approved secure data.

Localized workflow configuration
Folders can have different workflows than parent folders.  Folders can be  ‘One State - Publish Only’ next to an ‘Intranet’, next to 3 stage workflow (private, pending review, published).  The versatility of the system is adaptable to many workflow scenarios.


Security control lists (or Access Control Lists - ACLs)
Users can control access to content and folders in custom or granular ways.  Access can be defined by role (viewer, editor, adder, publisher, manager) at a site level, a folder level and a content item level.  Access Control Lists can also manage who has access to intranet or private content.

LDAP/ActiveDirectory capable; User authentication via LDAP/AD
To access the system, users can log into Plone with their Onyen.  Roles can be defined by groups in LDAP for advanced identity management, defining access to folders, sites and intranets.

Sharing of content
With sharing, you can allow specific users or groups to have maintenance access to content you own (have created), or content that has been shared with you. You can share individual items (pages, news items, events, etc.), or an entire folder, the contents of which being inherited by default.

NoSQL database
Plone stores its content and configuration settings in an object database, which does not use SQL. This substantially enhances security by not allowing SQL injection attacks.


The current global search, powered by Google, searches over 14 million documents across all School and Health Care systems. Google custom search can also filter down to per-site search (SOM, HCS, Newsroom) and per-type (.doc, .pdf, image) search.

Expanded Search Options
In addition to the system search provided by Google, there is now a built-in site search that allows you search your site only and includes content in all states based on your user access.  This feature is also available in a portlet for easy access.

Live Search
Type ahead search results to help refine the user’s search terms.

Support for the search engine Sitemap protocol
The system provides search engines (Google, Bing, etc) a feed of the site content to assist Search Engine Optimization and collection freshness.


Personnel Gallery and Profile views
New personnel gallery and profile views will allow you to display people in your sites in a more consistent way, both individually and in groups.

Credit Card Payment
Our integration of uPay’s gateway to TouchNet, will allow us to accept credit card payment for content and services within the SOM.