Customizing PS 101

Overview

PowerSchool is basically a database and a series of web pages that allow you to enter data into the database or view the data in the database.   Prior to PowerSchool 4, one could only add custom screens to the students and staff areas in the admin portal.  In PowerSchool 4, the custom web root was introduced, which allows users to add new pages to PowerSchool or customize existing ones.  With PowerSchool 6, the Custom Page Manager (aka CPM) was introduced, mainly to allow hosted customers the ability to manager their customizations.  Since PowerSchool 7, plugins and page fragments have been added.

 

General Information

- PowerSchool has different folders for different portals - admin, teachers, subs, guardian - and pages in one of those folders cannot be used by any other portal.  You cannot link to a page in the admin portal from a page in the teacher portal, so if there's data on an admin page that you want teachers to see in their portal as well, you'll need to add it to a custom page in the teachers folder.

- There are a couple folders shared by all portals - images and wildcards.  If you see a reference to wc: on a page, that means it's pulling in a file located in the wildcards folder.

- To determine which folder a page is located in, look at the url for the page in the browser (you may have to open some links in a new browser window to see the full url, such as the individual student screens).  The folder structure will start after the domain name or ip address of the PowerSchool server.  For example, /admin/functions.html is a reference to the functions.html page located in the /admin folder.  If there is not html page in the url, the default page is home.html and look for that page in the folder.

- Once you know which page is involved with a customization, it's important to understand the page may or may not be customized.  Wildcards and page fragments can cause changes to a page and may need to be checked instead.

- If all you want to do is change text on a core page, then you don't need to customize.  Use the Localize PowerSchool link on the Page and Data Management page to change text.  If you're not familiar with it, look for information on the Language Translation Toolkit on PowerSource.

- Once you make a change, it's good practice to clear your browser cache before viewing the change.  Doing so makes sure a new version of the page is being viewed versus a cached version.  This is especially true if you're making changes to css or scripts.


In Use

- If you feel that a customization could be causing an issue, uncheck the Customization Enabled box and see if the problem goes away.  This is the same thing support will do if you contact them about an issue.  If the problem goes away, then you need to fix the customization.

- PowerSchool will check the Custom Page Manager first for customizations and then the custom web root.  If you migrated all of your custom pages from the custom web root to CPM and only use CPM, be sure to clear out your custom web root.  If you're hosted, contact the hosting team about clearing out the custom web root for you.  If pages exist in the custom web root, one could delete a custom page from CPM, but have it still used by PowerSchool because it still exists in the custom web root.

- CPM is part of the database and is backed up nightly, however, custom pages in the custom web root area are not stored in the database, so you should back up a copy of your entire custom web root folder to another location on a regular basis.

 

Commands

- You can view the "true" HTML coding of a page within the browser itself by adding a t after the word html in the url and then press enter.  Almost all browsers will display the html coding for the page - one major exception is Internet Explorer and with it you must choose to view page source to see the html coding.

- Customizations will only be in effect when Customization Enabled is checked (System, System Settings, Customization).  The Synchronize Web Root link on that page in versions of PS prior to PS 11 should never be clicked.  That is a legacy command that was tied to the custom web root and it duplicated the file structure in the custom web root.  Otherwise it does nothing and should be ignored.

- the Rebuild Custom Page Links command is only used if you add or remove pages to the admin/students/studentpages or teachers/studentpages folders.  It does nothing else.

- Customization changes should take effect right away, but if you're using the custom web root approach, you may need to use the Reset Customizations command (System, System Settings, Customization) to force an immediate update.   You must uncheck the Customization Enabled box, click Submit, then return to the page, check the box, and click Submit again.   Otherwise, it may take 5 minutes or more for changes to take effect.

 

 

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