Mosaic: The Next Generation

Article update August 2023: The Mosaic 2 project is now known as the ‘New CMS Platform’ project.  For up-to-date information on the project, please visit the New CMS Project intranet page and Project FAQs.

The Mosaic 2 project was initiated to identify and implement a new content management platform which will eventually replace the existing Drupal 7 implementation. This ‘future proofing’ will ensure we have ongoing support and ease future upgrades. The project is also an opportunity for us to focus on improvements to both the Mosaic product and the supporting service. 

The project is currently in the scoping phase, during which we have been assessing the technical options for building the new platform. 

This page gives you more information about the project and provides answers to frequently asked questions. 

For more information on the project, and our approach, you may wish to watch a recording of the update presentations we gave in December 2022. At those presentations, we received helpful feedback on a number of themes. Our responses to this feedback are shared under Frequently Asked Questions below. 

Frequently asked questions

What is Mosaic?

Mosaic is the University’s central web publishing platform. Across the University’s divisions, departments, and colleges, there are currently over 800 web sites on Mosaic, and this number is growing all the time. 

Is the project just about an upgrade?

Although it is the primary driver, the project is not just about a technical upgrade. Our intention is to focus on improvements to both the Mosaic product and the supporting service. 

Why is an upgrade needed?

The version of the technology that underpins Mosaic (Drupal 7) is going out of support in 2025. This project will ensure ongoing support and explore alternative technology solutions to ensure the University has the most appropriate infrastructure for its future needs. 

Who will be affected by the project?

With 800+ web sites, Mosaic has a large community of users – from site owners to the end users of the web page. Whilst there will be changes as a result of the project, we don’t yet know what those changes will be, and therefore the impact it will have on users. As the project progresses, we will understand more about this and engage further with those affected. 

What is the vision and mission for Mosaic? 

We shared the following proposed vision and mission for the Mosaic platform at our update presentations in December 2022: 

  • Vision: High quality, easy-to-build websites without the hassle 
  • Mission: To create a web publishing toolkit that delights the owners of university websites 

We received some great feedback and feel these remain relevant. We will continue to review these in light of all the requirements once they are all collated. 

What will change as a result of the project?

The short answer is that, for the most part, we don’t yet know exactly what will change and, therefore, how users will be affected. This is dependent on what we learn during the next two phases of the project. We will discuss the impact of changes with our stakeholders throughout the project.

What platform will the new Mosaic be on? 

We are investigating several options through a Request for Information (RFI) process with potential suppliers. If Drupal remains the optimal software to use on the preferred platform, we aim to upgrade to version 10. 

How will sites be migrated from the existing to the new Mosaic platform? 

We want to manage expectations on this. We are committed to investigating the feasibility of using some automation for migration; however, at this stage, we believe it is extremely unlikely that we will be able to migrate websites to look identical or that we will be able to migrate all our sites so that they could go live without intervention to fix issues. We expect that some manual effort will be needed from Mosaic site owners and their teams. This is because Drupal made significant changes between versions 7 and 8 which make an upgrade of the current platform unfeasible. 

We are keenly aware that migration will be a concern for Mosaic users. Understanding the migration effort required, what resources will be needed, and how we can support you is high on our list of priorities. We recognise that you will need as much notice as possible in advance of migration — as soon as we know more about how migration will be managed, and when it might affect you, we will communicate further. 

On a positive note, avoiding this situation again is critical and future sustainability is a key requirement of the new platform. 

Is there anything we can do in advance of migration to make the process simpler? 

We have produced some guidelines on future-proofing your Mosaic site, but a good rule of thumb is that the simpler the site is, the simpler the migration process will be.

How will sites for closed/closing research sites be treated? 

There are several potential options for these sites including, for example, creating non-editable flat file sites or using the SDS service to save, store, and present extracted research data. We will consider all migration options and work with you to find the most appropriate solution when we know more about the migration implications of the new platform. 

Should I create my new site on Mosaic given it is 'end of life'? 

The Mosaic service is not 'end of life'; the platform needs an upgrade before 2025 which we are working on now. For those who are considering using Mosaic to host a new website at this point, we are preparing some specific guidance on how to make a future transition to the new platform as painless as possible.

There are still many benefits of building your site on Mosaic, including information security, cost-effectiveness, service support, accessibility, DPIA compliance, and in-built support of Oxford integrations such as Symplectic. 

How can I build my Mosaic site in a way that will make the migration simpler? 

We recommend you use a single-column page layout and avoid tabs and accordions. 

What's the Digital Transformation External Communications Investigative and how does it affect the Mosaic project? 

The Digital Transformation External Communications Investigative is looking at the requirements of external communications professionals across the organisation, and specifically what they require from a web publishing platform. 

The Mosaic project is still moving through the scoping phase, and we are coming to the end of assessing the different technical options we have for building the new platform. As well as the technical side of the platform we will be looking at options for how the service could be provided; this involves assessing various operating models. 

What will happen to the feedback given by Mosaic users at the December 2022 update presentations? 

We received a number of helpful questions and comments during our presentations (thank you!). We’ve tried to address them in these FAQs. But if you have further comments/questions, please do contact us by email to: 

At what stage is the project? 

The project is coming to the end of its scoping phase. During scoping we have been ‘horizon scanning’, that is, looking at potential providers of the underpinning technology. This will help us understand our technology options and how they might impact the way we can build, and users can make use of, Mosaic. 

What happens after project scoping has completed? 

Once the project has funding approval, we will move to the definition phase which is when we will start to shape the implementation.  During this phase we will engage with the wider user community, in particular the site owners and web end-users, to understand how the upgrade can enable users' functional needs to be met, and to manage any business changes that may result from the upgrade. We will be in touch in the Spring to let you know more and how you can be involved. 

How will I be involved? 

So far, we have been operating in the early stages of the project using part-time resource while we develop the Project business case. At the moment, there is no action for you to take. We have undertaken some very early research to get feedback from users on the existing Mosaic service.  This has been a helpful starting point and, once we have moved on from the scoping phase, we will consult more widely with our stakeholders to ensure we take into account the various wants and needs across the University. We have a more detailed engagement and communications plan which will ensure all our key stakeholders are kept informed and involved at the right times.