Nov 14, 2023

BUGFIX: DOI with BibTeX import

An Owlstown user reported that the BibTeX publications importer has a bug where DOI URLs are not being imported. I fixed it, so that DOI URLs in BibTeX files are automatically imported. I also added a new feature what allows you to update your existi...

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Nov 7, 2023

Changelog: Bluesky in Social Links

An Owlstown user notified me that many of her colleagues from her research area has moved from Twitter (X) to Bluesky. She requested the ability to add Bluesky links to the Social Links section. Now, you can add Bluesky links in the Social Links edito...

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Nov 6, 2023

Changelog: Toggle CV link in Contact

You can now toggle the CV link that appears in the Contact section/sidebar.

Nov 4, 2023

Bugfix: Use textarea for project description

An Owlstown user reported that the project description field is hard to edit and re-read because it's a text field with only one line. Using an auto-resizing textarea with multiple rows would improve readability and editing.  It will allow for the w...

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Oct 1, 2023

Changelog: Speed up site access

Accessing sites is now several milliseconds faster now because I added indexing to subdomain values in sites. I can't believe that I didn't have this indexed for a long time. I didn't notice it initially because there were only a few sites in Owlstown...

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Sep 26, 2023

Changelog: BibTeX brackets in publication titles

Owlstown will now properly render publication titles that have BibTeX brackets. For example, if your publication title has the BibTeX string "Hello {World}!", it will appear in your Owlstown website as "Hello World!" Also, some people use \emph{} to...

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Sep 23, 2023

Changelog: Custom social links

You can now add custom links to your list of social links. Custom links are displayed with a letter icon of the first letter of the link.

Sep 15, 2023

Changelog: Reduce Ruby memory usage with jemalloc

I just reduced the amount of server memory used by Owlstown. This means that Owlstown websites can respond to more requests. It also means that webpages will load faster. I learned about using jemalloc to reduce memory usage from this blog post by Dha...

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Nov 30, 2022

Owlstown Link Pages is now Academic Link

Several months ago, I asked Twitter whether it would be useful to have a LinkTree for academics. Responses to this question inspired me to create Owlstown Link Pages, which made it easy to create a page that links to all of your academic profiles (T...

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Nov 28, 2022

Creating Custom Pages

You can now add custom pages using the Custom Pages section under Collections. I hope this makes it clearer how to create custom pages. As always, you can also add new custom pages using the Navlinks section. The Navlinks section is also how you wou...

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Nov 26, 2022

Mastodon in Social Links

Many of you have been moving from Twitter to Mastodon. If you have made the move, you can add a link to your Mastodon profile in your list of social links.  Special feature Mastodon links in Owlstown have a special feature. When you add a Mastodon ...

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Sep 30, 2022

🦉 Owlstown Newsletter #45

Hello Owlstown Friends! Here’s your update of what’s happening in Owlstown. For feedback, questions, and bugs, email me at [email protected] or message me on Twitter. Cheers, Ian 🦉 What's new Introducing The Academic Gallery. It’s a website where ...

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Sep 27, 2022

Create an academic website in 10 slides

Making an academic website doesn't have to be hard. You can start an academic website in just a few minutes. Here's a slide deck that shows you how to create an academic website in 10 slides. Once you've started your website, you can grow it over time.

Aug 19, 2022

Sharing webpages on social media

Your website visitors can now share your webpages on social media websites with the new Sharer widget feature. The Sharer widget appears at the end of your webpage content. Your visitors can choose to share your webpage via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,...

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Jul 28, 2022

5 free tools to check the quality of your academic website

Check the quality of your academic website and make it better with these 5 free tools. 1. Measure the speed of your academic website with PageSpeed Insights. You’ll get a PageSpeed score and useful suggestions to make you...

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May 26, 2022

🦉 Owlstown Newsletter #41

Hello Owlstowners! Here’s your update of what’s happening in Owlstown. For feedback, questions, and bugs, email me at [email protected] or message me on Twitter. Cheers, Ian 🦉 What’s new The editor sidebar is now resizable. Many of you requested th...

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Jan 24, 2022

Privacy Policy for Owlstown websites

Every Owlstown website finally has a Privacy Policy statement. Many of you have asked for this feature in the past several months, so I'm glad I finally got around to it.  You can see yours by visiting your Owlstown website, then look for the "Privacy...

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Jan 23, 2022

Find & Import with OpenAlex API

This weekend, I used the OpenAlex API to bring back the "Find & Import" feature in Owlstown. The API was easy-to-use and well-documented, which sped up development. If you have an Owlstown website, you can try it by going to Lists > Publications > Imp...

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Jan 16, 2022

Re-organized the Owlstown Editor

I re-organized the Owlstown editor. The new design introduces a bunch of improvements: Editing screens are organized in sections A special section for "Essentials", information that every academic website should have. More intuitive way of editing n...

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Nov 23, 2021

A profile page of one's own

When you make an academic website in Owlstown, you also get an Owlstown profile page. Your profile page is like a business card, an all-in-one-page with your name and links to your website, online profiles, and recently updated webpages. The URL of ...

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Nov 22, 2021

Filter websites in the directory

The Directory of Academic Websites has a bunch of new features to filter websites by location, type, and theme. Where they were made Made in Owlstown Outside Owlstown Types of academic websites: Personal Lab Topic Workshop By...

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Nov 21, 2021

Owlstown Hub

So I’ve been working on a feature in Owlstown to increase the visibility of academic websites. I think academics are sharing a lot of great research on their websites and there should be a way to find that research easily. The feature is called Owlsto...

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Oct 29, 2021

Favicon and footer credit

If you have an Owlstown subscription, there are two new features for you. First, you can customize your website's favicon. The favicon is the icon associated with your website. It appears in the address bar or browser tab. To edit, go to the Meta sect...

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Oct 18, 2021

Upgrade to Rails 6 and more

I upgraded the many libraries and frameworks that Owlstown is built on. I will list them below and leave some notes about them. This will be a boring post, but I want to document the upgrades. Upgrading is often an invisible task, but necessary because...

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Oct 13, 2021

Twitter threads about academic websites

Here are some Twitter threads about academic websites. You might find these threads useful if you're still on-the-fence about having an academic website.

Sep 18, 2021

Pro domains

I'm happy to announce that Owlstown now offers Pro domains. 🙌 What are Pro domains? Pro domains are domain names with academic suffixes. Owlstown currently offers two: <your-name> - academic website <your-name> - PhD site home Fo...

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Sep 14, 2021

Price comparison of platforms for your academic website

This is a price comparison of 5 website building platforms: Owlstown, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Wordpress. I'm comparing these platforms because they all meet the following criteria: You can edit your academic website on a browser. Hosting is includ...

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Sep 13, 2021

Fix PDF viewer bug

TL;DR: The PDF viewer in the CV page is now fixed by using Mozilla's PDF.js Viewer. Problem So the PDF viewer in the CV page has this bug where the PDF would not appear depending on how you visited the CV page. If you navigated to the CV page from a ...

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Sep 12, 2021

Align your pictures

Notice anything to the picture above? If you're viewing this page on a wide screen, the picture above is aligned to the right. Picture alignment is a new feature in the Owlstown editor. You can align your pictures to the left, center, or right. Note ...

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Sep 6, 2021

Multiple button links

If your publication page has a PDF, your publication page will show a "View PDF" button. For a while, that is the only button that can appear on publication pages. However, sometimes you want to show other buttons that link to other content related to...

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Aug 23, 2021

The importance of being emailable

Email is the primary method of long-distance communication in academia. Universities provide email addresses, so any student and faculty is guaranteed to have access to email. As an academic, it is important to be emailable. Being emailable means pe...

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Aug 6, 2021

Domain Name Search

If you are building an academic website, one of the decisions you need to make is your domain name. Sometimes finding a domain name is hard, especially if you have a common name. Here is a tool to help you find domain name options for your academic w...

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Jul 30, 2021

Click to edit elements

A user emailed me that it was hard to find where to edit certain parts of their website. For example, how do you edit the text under the site avatar? Is it in Headers and Footers? Site avatar? Contact?  Answer: depends on the theme. Result: hair-pull...

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Jul 22, 2021

Owlstown Newsletter #31: Special Domains?

Hello Owlstowners! No new features this month :( I was working on a few features, but I didn’t finish any of them in time for this newsletter. I did clean up a bunch of code and made changes to speed up the server, so enjoy some speedier loading times...

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Jun 24, 2021

Owlstown Newsletter #30: Summertime

Hello Owlstowners! In grad school, I spent all of my summers in Pittsburgh. It was hot and humid, but I have fond memories of 4th of July fireworks, the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, sunsets at Schenley Park, and fireflies. I spent part of those sum... (Link)

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Jun 22, 2021

Better control of pictures on your page

It used to be the case that the thumbnail of your project is also the primary picture that appears on the project page. This meant three things: You can’t choose different pictures for your thumbnail and the primary picture. The primary picture alway...

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Jun 1, 2021

Add source code to pages

You can now add source code to your pages. Source code highlighting is done automatically to make your code easier to read. It looks like this: To add source code to your page, edit the content of your page. Add a block and select "Source code" in t... (Link)

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May 23, 2021

Old documents as resources for PhD students?

The responses to this Twitter thread by @DanikaPfeiffer has been super insightful. Danika asked if old documents from time as a PhD student would be a useful resource for other PhD students. So many ideas on what to include in your academic website. ...

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May 19, 2021

Content checklist for your personal academic website

This is a checklist of content that for your personal academic website. You might find this checklist useful if you are: Planning to create a personal academic and don’t know where to start Thinking about content to add to your existing academic webs... (Link)

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May 18, 2021

Owlstown Newsletter #29: May flowers

Hello Owlstowners! The saying “April showers bring May flowers” proved true in Boston this year. It was quite rainy in April. Now, it’s May and we’re seeing a lot of flowers on our neighborhood walks. In April, I also started a bunch of improvements ... (Link)

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May 15, 2021

Picture block

Picture block allows you to have more control over the pictures that you add in your page content. You can edit the following: The maximum width of the picture. The caption that appears under the picture. Below is an example of a picture block. The ...

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May 7, 2021

Icons for social links

Finally, I've added icons next to social links. Many Owlstowners have requested for this feature. I'm grateful for their patience. The icons are determined automatically based on the URL of the social link. If the icon doesn't exist in the list below,...

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May 3, 2021

Fix link dialog

I love getting feedback from users. They help improve Owlstown for everyone.   In this case, an Owlstown user alerted me that they couldn't add links to their academic website. I found that the dialog for adding links was broken (see Old version). The ...

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Apr 25, 2021

Owlstown Community

Owlstown Community is a feature that lists the latest pages and blog posts from academic websites made in Owlstown. It's one way for academic content from you and fellow Owlstowners to reach a wider audience. Each listing links to a page and has: The... (Link)

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Apr 20, 2021

Owlstown Newsletter #28

Hello Owlstowners! I have lots of updates in store for you in this newsletter. I wrote blog posts for each of the updates, so I’ll just link to them below with a short description. Visit each post for more details. The Owlstown Editor has a new desig...

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Apr 7, 2021

Less clicking on the Editor

I changed the Owlstown Editor to be easier to use. The old editor separated the editing screens into sections: Profile, Content, Design, and Config. This required clicking on a section before reaching an editing screen. In the new editor, editing scre...

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Apr 2, 2021

Elbowpatch theme

I just released a new theme called Elbowpatch (demo). It's the eighth theme in the list of Owlstown themes. Elbowpatch is a simple theme. The header has a small title and subtitle on the top-left corner, and a small avatar on the top-right corner. Whe...

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Mar 29, 2021


Ever wonder how many views your academic website is getting? Owlstown has a new feature called Pageviews that can help. Pageviews displays the number of pageviews your website receives everyday. Pageviews is a simple feature that preserves your visito...

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Feb 22, 2021

Unsplash pictures

You can now add beautiful pictures from Unsplash to your Owlstown website. Here’s an example: Not familiar with Unsplash? Unsplash is a free service where you can find awesome pictures to use on your website. It has millions of pictures that talente...

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Jul 30, 2020

Your academic website needs a sitemap

One way that people find your academic website is to use a search engine. They do a search with your name or your research topic, and your website appears as one of the search results. Of course, this depends on how well your website ranks among other ...

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Dec 31, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Owlstowners! I hope you’re enjoying your much-deserved break. Or if you’re busy, I hope you're making good progress. Hello, you’re awesome! I started Owlstown a few years ago with the mission of helping academics share their research ...

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Nov 7, 2019

Markdown support

I’ve added support for Markdown for content fields in Owlstown. You can use Markdown with any of these content types: about, courses, custom pages, posts, projects, and publications. Just select Markdown editor on the content field. If you have edited ...

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Oct 30, 2019

Member Highlight: Melody K. Waring

This week’s member highlight is Melody K. Waring. She has been using Owlstown since June 2019. You can find her academic website at Melody is in her fifth year of doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s S...

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Sep 26, 2019

Your academic website should have your contact info

Okay, so you have an academic website. That’s great! Now, make sure that you have your contact info is on that website. And make it easy to find. You’d be surprised how many academic websites don’t have this information or make it difficult to find. ...

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Sep 19, 2019

Support for blog posts

Hi Owlstowners! I just added support for writing posts on Owlstown, which means you can use Owlstown like a blog for your academic work. You can also post short snippets if you prefer posting short updates. This same feature is the same blogging plat...

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Sep 18, 2019

Share project pages, not just publications

TLDR: Share pages that describe your projects. It will help introduce new readers to your work. The internet is full of places to list/share your publications: Google Scholar,, ResearchGate. They are super useful because they help dissemi...

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Sep 14, 2019

The smallest academic website you can make

TLDR: When creating an academic website, start small. And finish small. Then grow from there. So you want an academic website, but you don’t have the time. That’s okay. You’re an academic. You’re busy. Creating an academic website feels like a daunti...

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Sep 6, 2019

Using a .com domain name for your academic website

TLDR: A domain name ending in .com is fine for an academic website. I’ve seen many people ask on blogs or on Twitter whether it’s okay to use a domain name ending in .com for an academic website. The main concern from askers is that a domain ending in...

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Aug 26, 2019

Should you use your university’s domain or your own domain name for your academic website?

TLDR: Get your own domain name for your academic website. First of all, what is a domain name? A domain name is the address where Internet users can access your website. For Owlstown, the domain name is For a university, it probably ends...

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Aug 10, 2019

Custom pages in Owlstown

You can now add custom pages to your Owlstown site. For example, you can add pages such as your teaching statement, your list of achievements, an FAQ, or any page you may need to share more of your academic work. User interface to add your custom page...

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Jul 11, 2019

Prettier websites with banner images

Hi Owlstowners! I just added a new feature to Owlstown to make prettier websites. You can now add banner images to pages. Here's an example: I added the feature to all themes, so you should be able to add banner images to your pages. To use, go to ...

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Jun 29, 2019

Course pages

Happy summer, Owlstowners! I hope you're enjoying the sunshine. Owlstown now supports adding courses to your website. You can add courses that you're teaching or have taught. Each course has its own page where you can describe it and add links to its ...

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