Friday, December 14, 2012

Librarians Need Sandboxes Too

As the Web Experience Librarian, I'd been itching to edit our interlibrary loan pages. Just this week I found time to get started on the interface that everyone uses to submit their interlibrary loan requests. Since this is the first time I've tinkered with the back end of ILLiad, our interlibrary loan program, I was curious to hear of an ILLiad "test web." It got me wondering and hoping that it was a kind of web sandbox, that is, a space where I could test changes to the website before these changes went live. It is! With the ILLiad manual giving only a brief mention of this and with my many unanswered questions, I jumped in and figured out how to make it work. So if you're a web librarian yourself and are interested in learning more, here's how I did it.

Create a Test Web in ILLiad

Create a sandbox where you can experiment with and test customizations to your ILLiad web interface.
  1. Identify your base URL for all of your ILLiad pages. (E.g. The base URL for and is What this base URL basically says is that on the Redlands ILLiad server, the web pages reside within a folder called “illiad.”
  2. Find this folder on your ILLiad server. Within the folder called “illiad,” create a subfolder called “testweb.”
  3. Within the folder called “testweb,” create a .txt file called webpath.txt. You may use Notepad or some other program to create a .txt file. If you already have a webpath.txt file, move it here.
  4. I’m not sure why this works, but within the webpath.txt file, you need to give computers directions to this file. Your directions will basically say, “Computer, this file is located inside the ‘testweb’ folder which is inside the ‘illiad’ folder which is inside my base URL. For example, webpath.txt could look like this:

  5. Now that computers know where to look, you need to give it things to look at. Copy and paste your web pages, CSS files, etc. to your “testweb” folder.
  6. Test that you’ve done everything right by looking for these files in your browser. For example, visit Test Web pages should closely mimic live ILLiad web pages, but may not be appear identical.