Page URL Changes in Blackbaud NetCommunity 6.45

By now you may have already seen that 6.45 will introduce a more human-friendly URL structure.  (check out the Interactive User Guide, if not).  I’m going to elaborate a bit further on this topic

How does it work?
With the upgrade to 6.45, we have introduced a new Page Property value: Page URL.  This field will allow you to view and edit the URL used to access the page.  The system will suggest a Page URL for newly created pages,  based  on the Page Name and Folder in which the page is stored.  For example, a new page named “Earthquake Relief” stored in the “Disaster Response” folder would have a suggested Page URL of: – Response/Earthquake-Relief/

You are free to change the Page URL as desired, so long as the Page URL is unique to the Site.  There’s an icon right by the Page URL field, which will show a Checkmark if the URL is valid for the Site and will show an ‘X’ if the URL is not valid.

Experienced users may also note that the Page Properties no longer contains a Friendly URL tab, since the Page URL can be set with human-friendly Page URLs.  You should still be able to access any page’s Friendly URL through the Site Explorer > Friendly URL s area.

What does this mean for your existing URLs?
This is always an important question to ask, when new functionality will impact existing elements of the site.  The new Page URL system will convert all existing Page URLs to the new system. (rather than just run as an additional layer, on top of the old system)  Existing pages will convert so that the existing “page.aspx?pid=1235″ structure is the initial Page URL.   Menu links, as well as any links configured with the WYSIWYG’s link picker tool (excluding the ‘other’ option) will update to the new system automatically.

You will be able to change Page URLs, but it is important to conceptualize this as creating a new Page (as opposed to changing the URL of an existing page).  As such, the best practice when changing a Page URL (for both converted Page URLs and those for newly-created pages ), would be to use the Administration  >  Redirects option to point the old URL to the new Page.  In the web world, this is called a 301 Redirect and is considered a best practice for maintaining Search Engine results.

What does this mean, moving forward with new pages?
We encourage considering your Page URL carefully from the beginning.   Because changing the Page URL results in a new page being created, any search engine result keyed into the existing Page will now point to a broken link.  (non-existent pages will still direct to your Site Home page, of course).  You can offset this with 301 Redirects as described above, but it is still prudent to carefully determine the Page URL when the page is initially created.  We wanted to add some flexibility, but still encourage preserving page names as a best practice.

You can keep up with us on Twitter by following @bbsupport; we use the hashtag #bbnc when we discuss Blackbaud NetCommunity. Take a look at our Twitter Guide for more information.

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