Foris news

This page lists all (older) pieces of news.

4 November 2011

Recently the Foris team, in close collaboration with colleagues from CIO, deployed Foris CMS on a new server set-up. Previously, Foris CMS was running on a server hosting a large number of other systems, which caused performance and reliability issues. Foris CMS is now running on a cluster with two dedicated servers. Having the system deployed on more than one server greatly increases the system availability. End users will not notice if one server becomes unavailable, as pages still can be served by another server. The system can even be upgraded without any downtime. This is the first time (as far as we know) a clustered system is deployed for a publicly available system in FAO. As an end user, you will hardly notice the difference, apart from a more responsive and stable system.

23 September 2011

Some Foris generated pages have been loading somewhat slowly. For the most part, this has been due to a single piece of the page, which has been slow gathering its information.

We have now changed our page rendering engine, so pages are shown much faster, possibly incomplete, within a strict time-limit (currently less than a second), while the slower pieces appear as soon as they are ready on the already shown page. If a piece is missing, a “spinner” appears on the page, notifying a reader there is yet more content in the making. Hopefully this will contribute to a more pleasant visitor’s experience. See the FO intranet for an example. Here we have a complex page, with many types of content. This page used to take around ten seconds or more to show up before.

Logging into Foris: a how-to video 21 June 2011

Watch this short video to find out how to login in to Foris.

23 March 2011

Static components of the web site, such as style sheets, site templates, java script snippets and others, are now not any more handled as part of the CMS as such. Rather, these pieces are kept outside the CMS served through Apache directly. There is no immediate difference for end-users (web site visitors and site/page authors). However, this approach makes maintenance and handling of styles much easier. It is expected that changes in styles and the creation of new ones will be easier and more straight forward. Moreover, there is no need for re-starting the Web delivery engine when a style has been changed.

23 March 2011

We have introduced and option of tagging page items as “internal only”. The idea is to have the possibility of restricting certain content on an otherwise publicly published web page to be shown only to internal (within FAO) users. Internal to FAO users are at present interpreted as any accessing a Foris backed site from a computer on the HQ network , in a region, or in a sub-region. Due to technical complexity we have not yet included FAO-rep offices in this. An example of its uses can be seen at the FAO Forestry home page, where the link at the top of the page is available in the office, but not at home (unless you log in at

14 February 2011

The Foris CMS Web page delivery module has been re-built behind the scenes. The only visible traces of this, is indeed, quicker page delivery. When “clicking around” in a web site, the quicker response is noticeable.

In order to achieve this result, CMS code has been re-engineered, moving from sequential to parallel processing of all the different components of the page. Moreover, client-side (browser) caching has been enabled. This way the browser will keep visited pages valid for 10 minutes, time in which they can be shown again without making a new request to the server. This allow for much quicker navigation across already visited pages and also for lower server load, contributing to make other pages more responsive too.

The down-side of this is that changes in a page are not always immediately picked up, as it could take up to 10 minutes for expiring.

On the other hand, when previewing pages from WebDev this mechanism is bypassed, causing immediate refresh of page contents.

28 April 2010 A neat collaboration has been established between the FAO corporate mapping system GeoNetwork and Foris (GeoNetwork is an OpenSource product - initiated and run by FAO-NR - allowing easy sharing of geographically referenced thematic information between different organizations). FRA remote sensing processing base information is kept in GeoNetwork. Results are also (as they are becoming available) uploaded to GeoNetwork, while progress and supporting information is shown on a Foris backed web site. Progress metadata by country (how many sampling units in all, started and finalized) is also shown on this Foris site, drawn dynamically from GeoNetwork. [more]
21 April 2010 Foris supports the possibility of uploading of files (documents etc). Only files not applicable for storage in CDR should be uploaded. These files had previously a URL along the lines of For non forestry users this was annoying. From today this is history. The link to this announcement shows an example (nrc). [more]
7 October 2009 Foris now offers the possibility of creating human readable page addresses for all pages produced by the system, using the well known method of “section/sub-section”. By applying this, it is also much easier to monitor all visits to a sub site with a domain, as all pages belonging to this sub-site have a common URL. [more]
14 July 2009 WebDev now offers a new piece of content – Google maps. The maps can be shown in a number of different ways using back-end settings. The overall size of the box can be set, making the map suitable both for display in the main section of a page, or in the right hand bar (FAO sites). The display can chose as dynamic or static. if dynamic, the usual Google controls can optionally be turned on; zoom controls, scale, etc. Finally, a map can be set to display a given country, or to automatically display the country shown by the page. [more]
9 June 2009 Following the recent memory procurement, Foris has now been split on many “instances”. This is a technical term, but in practise it means Foris now is quicker. It also means Foris can be upgraded “piece by piece” without having to close the entire system. [more]
Foris facility module - new interface 2 June 2009 Last Friday a version 2 of the Foris Nfp-Facility module was released. The new version includes many features not available previously. It is even easier to navigate, has a slicker interface and in-line with other recently developed modules in terms of colours and other look and feel elements.
22 May 2009

The RSS rendering has become more capable. Basic HTML formatting is now possible as seen in this very piece of text, appearing in a few sections. Note, the Feed builder component dos not yet have a HTML editor (planned), so HTML will have to be entered by hand.

Allowing RSS formatting to appear on a page, is a setting in WebDev, default “off”.

The font size, when showing a feed entry, has been increased as well as the amount of white space surrounding an image. Finally, also “plain view” display now support image display.

19 May 2009 Foris was recently thoroughly upgraded, mainly, behind the scenes. Improvements set afloat will increase stability, speed, and secure an easier future expansion. Simultaneously module icons where harmonized in size and colours. A new contact address has been set up for Foris issues: This is done in order to increase user responsiveness. The mail-box is going to be monitored by the whole Foris-team, so users will not have to know who to call for a given issue. [more]
6 May 2009 UNDP have chosen Foris feed builder as the tool to create RSS feeds for the joint UN (FAO, UNDP,UNEP), UNREDD program. It is a nice example of UN collaboration using modern web based tools. The responsible UNDP staff and FAO staff have never met in person, but are using the very same tool. [more]
17 February 2009 The Feed builder module recently got updated. Feed back suggests the module is easier to work with. Nevertheless, documentation should be available and up to date. Relevant pages have therefore been updated and amended as applicable. [more]
New NRC intranet - made using Foris 17 February 2009 NRC has launched a new intranet. It is much more dynamic than before and has a long list of new features; recent back to office reports, upcoming duty travel, news staff, etc. It has been put together by Hideki Kanamaru, Claudia Hiepe, Christina Seeberg-Elverfeldt and Antonio Martucci. The verdict is: well done!
New foris portal 16 February 2009 Foris has been visually upgraded with a new portal page. Also a new permission system has been installed along with the new look.
29 January 2009 Foris feed builder, used for easily creating and maintaining RSS 2.0 compatible feeds, has got a and much improved user interface, making it yet easier to create and maintain feeds and entries. Apart from being easier, the new interface also makes it possible to upload images to a feed entry. A first example of this can be seen (when this is written), on the Forestry home page. The COFO banner is an image uploaded with the entry. [more]
23 January 2009 The Foris RSS output has been improved. Earlier, a feed could become “invalid” if the same piece of news was brought in form many sources. This has been fixed. It is now also possible to publish on the RSS icon without any visible entries at all. This is very useful when listing many different feeds onto a page (as a Newsroom page). As usual various for the user invisible improvements are included as well. [more]
7 January 2009 Foris now allows FIGIS search results to be displayed on web pages. [more]
10 December 2008 Foris now shows when a page has been last updated. The link for this article links to COFO/WFW. At the bottom of this page it is shown the page was updated (by Maria I presume) 28th of November. Bear in mind that we have turned this feature “off” on a few sites. The reason being, pieces showing dynamic content (for instance meetings drawn from our meetings data base, contacts, case studies, etc.) cannot yet communicate with the web display module. For page with much dynamic content the last updated can therefore be misleading. It shows when we worked on the page itself – but not the individual pieces drawn from the DB (meetings for instance). This weakness will be addressed in due course. We believe this feature to be useful already now. [more]
9 December 2008 We have released a new enhanced person list display. The link accompanying this article, links to an example of the new person list (NFMA participants). The person list can be shown in a number of different ways, with/without photo, with details on the person shown or not, and so on. At the time of writing this we have not yet had time to publish more examples of its use. Kindly consult with Daniel Wiell or Magnus Grylle for tips and tricks using it. Typical and expected usages are for displaying “focal points”, “new staff”, among many other uses. [more]
9 December 2008 We have now introduced a new feature which automatically creates a small section at the bottom of a page. This section lists other sites linking to the page being shown and read by the user. This offers yet another way of navigating the web site. The link for this message links to the climate change home page. At the bottom we see that the climate change news-letter links to this page. [more]

last updated:  Friday, December 5, 2008