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Newsagent Logo.png
Author Chris Page
Contact Support
Repository github
Issue tracker github
OS Neutral (web based)
Will not work with IE8 or older
URL Newsagent
Compose page
Newsagent implements a powerful and flexible roles-based access control system. Not all users will be able to access all the features discussed on this page. If you can not see a feature and think you should be able to, please create a ticket requesting access.

Page layout

The Newsagent compose page consists of a grey "user bar" across the top of the page, and below that is the main area of the page containing the form elements you fill in to create your article and control its settings. The user bar contains the current page title at the left side, and several navigation and control options at the right side:

Newsagent Compose Btns.png

Clicking the Article List button will take you to the article list page, where you can view the list of articles you have access to edit. Moving your mouse over your username at the far right of the user bar will open a popup from which you can click Log out to... well, log out.

Articles are created and added to feeds by setting the form elements in the various boxes in the body of the page. This form may look a little daunting at first, but once you become familiar with the layout it becomes easier to use. The Compose page is split into three major areas:

  • The Article box is where you enter your article's content.
  • The Images and files box contains options that allow you to associate uploaded images and files with your article
  • The Settings box contains the options that let you control where the article will be published, who can see it, when it will be published, and whether copies will be sent out automatically.


The article box contains three fields, two of which are optional.

This is the title of your article, and if you enable any Notification options, this will be used as the subject in any emails or Moodle posts. If you do not set this the date and time at which the article is published will be used instead. In general, you will want to set this.
A short (maximum 240 characters) summary of your article. This is optional - if you do not explicitly set a summary, it will be automatically generated from your article Full text.
Full text
This is your article's full text, and it forms the body of any notification messages sent. The provided rich text editor permits basic formatting of your article text. Please note that images may not be directly included: if you want to include an image in your article, use the Article Image option in the Images and files section. If you do not specify anything in the Full text for your article, the Summary is copied into it automatically. If both the Summary and Full text fields are empty, the system will respond with an error when you try to create your article.
The article full text box does not currently support the inclusion of embedded content (videos, etc). While support for embedded content is planned, it will need to be done in a way that doesn't inadvertently make Newsagent feeds and notifications into potential malware vectors.

Images and Files


A notification email

There is no way to embed images directly in articles - this is a design decision made during development to reduce the possibility of clutter and to help with uniformity and styling. Instead, all articles may have two images associated with them:

Lead image
This is an image that should can be shown in feeds (although, to date, none of the feeds on the School website display this image), and it appears the top right of notification emails as shown to the right. If you do not specify a lead image for an article, anywhere that requires one (like notification emails) will fall back on a default "Kilburn building" image.
Article image
This is the image that is shown in the body of the article. Its location depends on the styles applied to the content, but in general it will be positioned at the right side of the article with the article text flowing down its left side, as shown in the example notification message to the right and here. If you do not specify an article image, there is no default and your article text will appear without an image in the body text.

Each image option has several settings:

No image
You do not want to specify an image. If a default is defined, that will be used instead, otherwise no image will be used.
Image URL
With this option you can enter the URL of an image to show. If possible, use https: urls rather than http: when specifying the location of the image; using http: may cause problems if the feed is shown on a secure page.
Use existing or upload new image
This option will display a button below the image option. If no image has been selected yet the button will contain the text Click to select image, otherwise a thumbnail of the selected image will be shown. If you click the button the Image Library popup will open. Please see the Image Library page for more information about this feature.


The Files tab allows users with upload permission to attach multiple files to articles. Please see the Files page for more information about file attachments.


The settings box is by far the most complex part of the Compose page. This is an unfortunate consequence of the flexibility of the system and the range of options it supports. The settings box itself is subdivided into two tabs of options, and the tab you select determines which sort of article is created:

  • Normal Article This tab lets you designate the article as a 'normal' article; one that will be released into a selected feed (either immediately or at a definable time), and may be sent to students and staff via email or Moodle, posted to Twitter, or distributed via other mechanisms.
  • Newsletter This tab marks the article as being part of a newsletter. It lets you select which newsletter, and which section of that newsletter, your article should appear in.

You can not designate a single article as both a normal article and a newsletter article simultaneously; an article must be one or the other. If you need to have the same content in a normal article and a newsletter article, create the normal article first and then clone it, changing the clone's settings box from Normal Article to Newsletter in the process.

Normal Article

The normal article tab contains two major sections, although the Notification options section will only be visible to users who have been given permission to send notifications.

Publication options

Publication options

These are options that control how your article will be published in a Newsagent feed. The first two options are the most important, and will be the only ones that most people will need to change in most situations:

Show in feed
This option allows you to select which feeds your article should go into; try to select the feeds that are most appropriate for the audience you are writing the article for. As discussed in Feeds and Visibility levels, every article must go into one or more feeds with at one or more visibility levels set.
Visibility levels
These checkboxes allow you to specify which visibility levels your article should be added to the feed at. As noted in Feeds and Visibility levels, you should tick the checkbox for every visibility level you want your article to appear at. Feeds and Visibility levels contains some guidance about which levels might be appropriate for your article.
Note that, when adding an article to multiple feeds, the visibility levels available to you may be constrained to a subset of the possible levels based on your combined permissions for the selected feeds. Please see Multiple Feeds for more information about this.

The remaining options can usually be left at the default values, but they can be useful for important messages or timed release:

This dropdown allows you to control when the article will be released, with four possible options:
  • Immediately means that your article is published and is visible on the selected feed as soon as you click "Create article".
  • At the specified time allows you to do delayed/timed release: your article will not appear in the feed until after the time you set in the "Publish time" option. If the time you set for the "Publish time" is set in the past, your article will appear in the feed at the time you set (ie: you can make articles appear to have been published at some point in the past, as well as set them to be released at some point in the future)
  • Never (save as draft) is useful if you're working on an article, but it either isn't finished yet, or you don't know when you want to release it. You can store it in the system with this setting, and come back and edit it through your article list at any time.
  • Template (not published) means that the article will be created as a special template article. Please see Template Articles for more about this feature. When this option is selected, a "Template Name" box will appear that allows you to specify a name to use for the template.
Publish time
This option is only visible when the "Publish" dropdown is set to At the specified time. When you click in this box, a calendar will appear from which you may select the day on which you want your article to be released. When you select the day, you will be given the option to set the time of the release on that day. The default settings for the calendar popup will result in your article being published in 24 hours, but you are free to set any time or day needed[1]
Template name
This option is only available when the "Publish" dropdown is set to Template (not published). The value you enter in this box will be used to identify the template in the "Templates" menu.
If you have an important announcement that must stay at the start of a feed for some time, even if other people come along and add other articles to the feed, select one of the "Sticky for N days" options available in this dropdown. The sticky period is relative to the time at which your article is published, so if you set a publication date in the future, and make the article sticky for 3 days, it will remain at the front of the feed for three days after the publication date.
Summary display
If you tick the Show summary in full article view option, the contents of the article's Summary will appear at the start of the article when users are looking at the article through a viewer or one of the feeds. Unticking the option will suppress the summary, so the full article view will only show the article Full text.

Notification options

Notification options
Example of open tree

When your create an article, you may have the option of sending a copy of it to groups of users ("Recipients"), and these copies are referred to within Newsagent and this documentation as "Notifications". The system has a number of recipients defined, covering the student cohorts and staff, and it supports sending copies of your article to them via email, Moodle posts, Twitter, and possibly other notification methods.

Some recipients in the system will only support one notification method or another (in general, only the UG recipients support notification via Moodle for example). In addition, the recipients you can send notifications to, and the methods available to you to do so, may be modified by your permissions in the system.

In general you should never need to modify the "Academic Year" dropdown: this is provided for very rare situations where contacting previous years of students may be necessary.

Below the year dropdown you will see a list of recipients, each of which has a "Select methods..." dropdown to the right of it. You select the recipients you want to send copies of your article to by clicking on the "Select methods..." dropdown and then ticking the checkbox for the notification method you want to use. Some recipients may only list one method, others may list two or more: how many appear for any given recipient depends on their configuration in the system and your permissions. Enabling a notification method for a given recipient may open boxes containing additional options below the Article box. For a full description of the options each method provides, please see the Notification Method Options documentation.

Any recipients that are left on the default "Select methods..." value will not receive notifications[2]

Some recipients have a grey arrow (Newsagent Tree closed.png) to the left of the recipient name. If you click on the arrow (or the recipient name) it will open a subtree of recipients containing subgroups of the larger recipient. For example, clicking on "All UGs" will open a tree containing "Y1", "Y2", "Y3, "Y4", and "All MEng". Sometimes recipients inside such a subtree can themselves be opened to reveal even more specific groups.

If you select a notification method for any recipient that has a subtree of recipients inside it, the article will be sent to all of the recipients in the subtree. For example, if you enable the "Email" notification method for "All UGs" then every student in "Y1", "Y2", "Y3, "Y4", and "All MEng" will receive the notification message, regardless of any settings you may have made for the individual groups.


The Newsletter options

The Newsletter tab contains options to publish your article as a story in a newsletter. For full information about the newsletter system, please refer to the Newsletter documentation.

If you select the Newsletter tab, and you have permission to add articles to one or more newsletters, you will be shown a number of options that allow you to select which newsletter to add your article to, which section of the newsletter the article should appear in, and control when your article can be published:

This option allows you to select which newsletter you want to add your article to. You may only publish a given article in a single newsletter - if an article needs to appear in multiple newsletters, you will need to add it to one, and then clone it into the others. Immediately below the newsletter dropdown the next two issue dates for the newsletter are shown: for newsletters that have no scheduled release cycle, this will show "Manual release" to indicate that the newsletter must be published by a user, otherwise this will show the next two publication dates for the newsletter.
Here you select the section of the newsletter you want to add your article to. Your article will be added to the end of the selected section, although users with layout permission may move it later. Note that, depending on your permissions in the system, you may not have access to all the sections of the selected newsletter; only sections you have access to will be listed.
This option allows you to control when your article will be published. The possible options are:
  • In next publication. If this option is selected, the article will be included in the next published issue of the newsletter.
  • At or after allows you to delay the release of your article. When you select this option, a "Publish at or after" date picker option will appear, clicking in it will allow you to select the date and time after which your article will become available to be included in a newsletter. Your article will not appear in any newsletters published before the date you pick - it will be included in the next published issue after the selected date.
  • Never (save as draft) lets you save your article as a draft newsletter article. Draft articles are never included in published newsletters, they are stored in the system and can be edited later, at which point you may change the Publish mode to one of the above options to add your article to a newsletter.
  1. Dates before 1970 and after 2106 may not work as expected - while this is not even remotely going to be a problem in reality, there is an open issue for this.
  2. Unless they are contained within a larger group that has a notification method selected. eg: if "All UGs" has the Email notification method set but "Y1" is left on "Select methods...", students in "Y1" will recieve notifications by email despite the fact that they have no explicit notification method set, as they are inside a larger group that does have a method set.


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