Customizing the BIRCH Home Page

The BIRCH Home page $BIRCH/public_html/index.html is overwritten each time BIRCH is updated. If you were to directly edit this file, all changes would be lost the next time BIRCH is updated. However, there are numerous provisions for locally customizing this page.

Automated localization of hypertext links

When you update a BIRCH site, the script substitutes URLs in BIRCH documentation to point to local copies of documentation. The procedure is described on the page BIRCH - Customize Documentation. Some of the BIRCH web pages contain pseudocomments: legitimite HTML comments (ie. beginning with <!-- and ending with -->, which also contain command tags recognized by the script. As described on this page, URLs specific to the master BIRCH site at the University of Manitoba are replaced with local URLs.  URLs that are required to be unchanged contain the HTML pseudocomment

<!-- DON'T CHANGE -->
which causes to ignore the line.

Blocks of text that should only be present on the master BIRCH site at the U. of M. are enclosed in the pseudocomment tags

<!-- BEGIN DELETE -->       
text to be deleted

<!-- END DELETE -->

The Announcements Window

The Announcements window is an HTML IFRAME (inline frame) that views the contents of the file $BIRCH/local/doc/WHATSNEW.html. The generic BIRCH installation includes a sample file that you can add to to maintain a running log of changes at your site. It can actually contain any HTML that you wish to use, so feel free to be creative.

Replaceable sections of the home page

Several sections of the BIRCH home page are designed to be replaceable.  In $BIRCH/public_html/index.html, these sections are enclosed in pseudocomment tags such as

<!-- BEGIN REPLACE name="localident.html" -->
<td><a href=""><img src="UMlogo.gif" alt="UM">
<!-- END REPLACE -->

This HTML code places the local logo and web site location onto the upper left hand corner of the BIRCH HOME page. In the example shown above, replaces this code with the contents of the file $BIRCH/local/public_html/localident.html. If that file does not exist, the space between the BEGIN REPLACE and the END REPLACE  tags would be left blank.

You can change localident.html as many times as you wish, and each time you re-run, the new HTML will be inserted.

Other sections of the BIRCH home page can be replaced as well. In all cases, the files for local HTML code are found in $BIRCH/local/public_html. In the BIRCH distribution, most of these files contain the original HTML, but commented out. This gives you something to start with when trying to figure out how to modify them for your local system.


This file contains HTML code for any special announcement you wish to place above the BIRCH ANNOUNCEMENTS window.


This section is for links to documentation for desktops that are installed on your system.


This section is for links to documention for application software installed as part of the local system.


The DATABASES box contains information on locally-installed databases, which will differ greatly from site to site.


The lower right hand corner of the BIRCH home page is the location for putting acknowledgements for support, infrastructure etc.

Making the changes take effect

To get your changes incorporated into the BIRCH web documentation, run birchadmin, and run Documentation -->

You can do this manually by going to the $BIRCH/install-scripts directory and typing

python oldstr.param newstr.param htmldir.param

You can run this script as many times as you wish. It is automatically used to incorporate your localizations whenever you update to a new version of BIRCH.

Please send suggestions of comments regarding this page to