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CONTENTdm release notes, August 2018

Release Date: August 20, 2018


This release brings some much anticipated improvements to the CONTENTdm® responsive website, including viewer support for hierarchical documents and easier ways to navigate between pages. There are also some improved customization options and several other fixes.

The Advanced Website Customization help portal continues to grow. We added many new articles and several functioning recipes to the customization cookbook in recent weeks. All customizations now link to a live implementation on a demonstration site.

If you are using the responsive CONTENTdm website with your institution domain name, we can support HTTPS for your custom domain. You will need to contact OCLC Support to arrange the transfer and installation of your institution's SSL certificate to activate this functionality.

The CONTENTdm responsive website is now the default end-user website for nearly 150 active users.

Release overview recording

 View a recording of the CONTENTdm release overview, August 2018.

Features and enhancements

This release continues to add features and refinements to the new CONTENTdm responsive website. 

  • View and search structured hierarchical documents to support complex content, like medieval manuscripts, newspapers, or books.
  • Move between pages of compound objects more easily and with fewer clicks.
  • Offer an improved compound object viewer to make it easier for end users to find what they are looking for.
  • Customize the look of your site with simpler control of paginator button colors using the Website Configuration Tool.
  • Specify whether menu links open in the same window or a new window to create a seamless end-user experience.
  • Offer improved overall accessibility and compliance with WCAG guidelines due to color and contrast changes.
  • Support web developers with additional technical information about creating advanced customizations.
  • Several miscellaneous fixes.

These enhancements are described in more detail below.

View and search structured hierarchical documents, like medieval manuscripts, newspapers, or books

Support for the CONTENTdm “monograph” compound object has come to the responsive website. The monograph data type gives you a way to display structure in multi-page documents and to separate pages into sections or chapters. If your collections already have monograph compound objects, the page navigation panel will now show the hierarchy.


The new monograph viewer shows the entire hierarchy in a scrollable window and gives your end users the ability to open and close the sections and subsections. This provides a way to see the overall outline of the document and to drill down to an individual page.

This structure window also highlights the individual pages or items that contain search results with a color bar on the left side. When search results are found within a given section, that section will automatically be expanded so all of the search hits can be skimmed easily by scrolling.

If you want to start using monographs in your collections, see the Support website for more details.

Move between pages of compound objects more easily and with fewer clicks

All multi-page documents (including monographs) have improved methods for moving between pages. There are now two places in the compound object viewer pages where a “previous item” and “next item” button appear. The initial view of a compound object typically shows a preview image (for images or PDFs), which now has previous/next buttons on either side as shown below.


The buttons are the full height of the preview so that they can be clicked whether you are at the top or the bottom of the page. This solves the previous problem of scrolling down to reach the previous/next buttons.

The second improvement can be seen when you click on the “expand” button for images or PDFs. The window that pops up now contains previous/next buttons in the upper right corner. This makes moving through a multi-page document much easier. Before, you had to close the popup window, navigate to the next page, and then reopen the popup.


Offer an improved compound object viewer to make it easier for end users to find what they are looking for

There are several usability refinements in the compound object viewer page based on recent user feedback and testing.

Image preview placement. To make room for the new previous/next buttons, the image/PDF preview has been center-aligned. This allows some space for the tall previous/next buttons and also visually fills out the page better for previews with a portrait orientation.

More prominent expand button. Several users noted that it was difficult to see the “expand” button that brings up the zoom-and-pan image viewer or the PDF document viewer. This button has been made slightly larger and now adheres to the color scheme of the other buttons on the page. This also means that you can now control the color of the button using the settings in the Website Configuration Tool (under Appearance > Buttons).


Search this record. The compound object viewer page has a second search box to make it easy to search only within the metadata and transcripts of the current object. There is now a label above the search box that reads “Search this record” to make it clearer that this is not a general search across the collection or across the repository as a whole.


More efficient use of space. The navigation panel showing the individual items of the compound object is large and requires the end user to scroll the window. To fit more items in the window, the size of the thumbnails has been reduced and the whitespace has been tightened up. End users will have an easier time browsing because they can see more items at one time.

Customize the look of your site with simpler control of paginator button colors using the Website Configuration Tool

The paginator buttons on the CONTENTdm homepage, the browse/search page, and the compound object navigation panel were not previously connected to the settings in the Website Configuration Tool. This meant the only way to change the paginator colors was to use custom CSS. With this release, the paginator now adheres to the colors specified under Appearance > Buttons in the Website Configuration Tool.


If you have already applied custom CSS to your website, you might not be able to use the settings from the Website Configuration Tool to control the paginator until you remove those CSS rules.

Specify whether menu links open in the same window or a new window to create a seamless end-user experience

If you have links in your main menu that point to internal custom pages and links that point to external websites, you can now specify whether you want those pages to open in the same window or a new window. The Website Configuration Tool now has options under Navigation > Menu for each menu item. These options are helpful if you want to create a seamless experience within the current window or if you want to make it clear to end users that they are leaving your CONTENTdm pages.


Note that if you choose to open specific menu links in a new window/tab, CONTENTdm will automatically insert the “external link” icon in the UI of the menu dropdown list.


Offer improved overall accessibility and compliance with WCAG guidelines due to color and contrast changes

Some of the colors used in CONTENTdm have been changed so that the pages comply with accessibility guidelines for contrast and visibility to support users with low vision. These changes are generally very subtle. The default blue used for button colors was changed very slightly so that it contrasts better with the gray background in some areas of the UI. The reds and oranges used to highlight search terms were changed to contrast better with each other and with the text that they are highlighting. 

Note that the color changes described above pertain to the out-of-the-box version of CONTENTdm. If you have opted to modify your color scheme using the Website Configuration Tool, then you may need to do your own color contrast assessment (using this tool or another) to make sure that your colors choices are compliant with the WCAG specifications.

A much more obvious color change was made to the accordion sections that appear on the search results page and the CONTENTdm record pages. This includes the field headings on the search facets and the Transcript, Object Description, and Item Description on the record pages. This change was made to make it more obvious that these accordions are action buttons (expand/contract) and to bring CONTENTdm in line with the style guidelines used in other OCLC services, such as WorldCat Discovery. These section label accordions are HTML <H2> tags, so the color is controlled by how you have configured “Level 2 Headers” in the Website Configuration Tool under Appearance > Text


Support web developers with additional technical information about creating advanced customizations

Earlier this year, we launched the Advanced Website Customization support portal. The portal contains reference articles about using CSS and JavaScript (JS) in your customizations, the event lifecycle for triggering JS customizations, and a cookbook of CSS and JS examples gathered from CONTENTdm users. We recently added new articles about how to create custom pages and using the Website Configuration Tool file manager. We also added several new customization recipes to the cookbook and added links to live demonstrations of each customization recipe. We will be adding more help content in the coming weeks, including several more user recipes and a gallery of customized homepages.

The customization cookbook has continued to grow as CONTENTdm users have contributed their customizations. If you have customizations or UI improvements that you would like to share with other CONTENTdm users, please contact OCLC Support and let us know.

Several miscellaneous fixes

  • Custom maps now show all map pins
  • Very large file downloads no longer time out
  • Certain PDF documents now show valid preview images on item pages
  • "Back to results" returns you to appropriate page of results
  • Legacy search queries (CQRs) now redirect to the correct search results.

Looking ahead

This list provides a summary of what is being frequently requested by current CONTENTdm users and what has been flagged as high priority for upcoming releases. 

  • Improved file manager in the Website Configuration Tool
  • Support for integration of the Mirador viewer into your CONTENTdm website
  • Support for IIIF collection manifests
  • Support for text annotations and transcripts in the IIIF Presentation API
  • Accessibility improvements noted in the VPAT document
  • Print functionality that includes record metadata

We are always looking to you to help us determine the priority of new features, improvements, and fixes. If one of the above issues is urgent for your site, or if another issue not listed above is more important, please contact OCLC Support with that information. You are also invited to post your ideas to the CONTENTdm Community as a discussion thread or an enhancement suggestion. 

The next release of CONTENTdm is expected to be in October 2018, though not all of the above items are expected to be complete in that timeframe.