Known issue: Using HTML pages in Sakai

Published on: Author: Mathieu Plourde

As an instructor, if you create HTML pages and you have tried to host them in Resources, you’ve probably noticed that those pages do not show up the same way as pages hosted somewhere else — like on copland, for instance. As a security measure, by default, IT doesn’t allow HTML pages to be executed directly from the Sakai server.

Screenshot of the browser prompt.

When trying to access an HTML page in Sakai, your browser will prompt you to open it or save it. This is an example from Firefox 8 on Windows 7.

What this means is that pages get the same treatment as documents (Excel, Word, etc.) and so your browser will prompt you to open or download them. In either case, the page will actually be downloaded to your computer before you can open it to view it locally, on your own machine. If the page uses images and links to other pages you created, those will most likely be broken or not work for others.

So what can an instructor do to publish web pages to be used in Sakai? Well, let’s think about this for a minute and answer the following questions:

  1. Does the content need to be in an HTML format?
  2. Can the content be hosted somewhere outside of Sakai, publicly or privately?
  3. If the content needs to remain in Sakai, what can be done?

1. Does the content need to be in HTML?

HTML is ideal for situations when you have a lot of interlinked content, like a Web site or a glossary, for instance. If your content is linear (such as articles or slides), you might be better served by hosting it as PDF files in Resources.

Your naming convention in Resources is important. Give proper names to your files, and list them sequentially, as they would need to be accessed by the students throughout the semester. Organizing the content chronologically in folders and subfolders is the most sensible thing to do in most scenarios, but other types of organization might also make sense.

2. Can the content be hosted somewhere outside of Sakai, publicly or privately?

If your content definitely needs the interactivity that HTML offers, can it be hosted somewhere outside of Sakai? UD supports other modern Web publishing environments, such as WordPress and Google Sites, that offer many more options and are easier to manage than an HTML site created in a tool such as Dreamweaver. The copland Web server can also host HTML files.

Hosting outside of Sakai has advantages. If you always reuse the same content, you only have one web space to manage, instead of multiple copies of the same content in multiple Sakai sites.

If your content needs to be restricted in access (for copyright or FERPA reasons, for instance), Google Sites allows you to manage the users allowed to access and edit the site. You can also set restrictions on a copland site using an .htaccess file. WordPress, on the other hand, is always public by default. The following table presents a summary of those three options.

Feature/Tool Google Sites WordPress copland hosting
Easy rich-text environment Yes Yes Third-party tool (Dreamweaver)
Public access Optional Always Optional
Restricted access Optional No Optional

3. If the content needs to remain in Sakai, what can be done?

If, for any reason, it is preferable to keep the HTML files in Sakai, faculty can ask for their site to be “white-listed” for HTML use (i.e., for a particular site to be given an exception allowing its content to be executed on the Sakai server). To request for a site to be white-listed, contact the IT Support Center indicating the following:

  • Name of the site (exactly as shown in the tab on top of the page in Sakai);
  • Semester (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer 201X);
  • Rosters associated with this site (AAAA111-010).
A Sakai support staff will contact you for the next steps.