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Draft Document

This doc has been updated to link to the PBS Product Documentation and Producer Exchange where applicable.

  • The server software version have now also been moved to the Docs area
  • The DB compatibility section has also been moved.
  • The MovableType supported version list has also been updated.
  • A new load-testing and performance testing section has been added.
  • UUA is now a requirement for any site that requires registration and login

Compatible Web Server Software

Site developers are required to develop sites that are compatible with PBS's existing Web server software and architecture, as outlined at 
[ . The linked policy includes the latest versions of key technical applications.


Site developers must be technically proficient and cannot rely solely on WYSIWYG — or "What You See Is What You Get" — development tools. Many WYSIWYG tools introduce proprietary code (code that will only work on some browsers) and can result in heavy and poorly constructed pages. If you are using a WYSIWYG tool, you must be able to "go under the hood" and fix improper scripting and coding as directed by PBS staff.

HTML Specifications

Sites must be developed using HTML specification 4.0 and cascading style sheet specification CSS1. Compliance with The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines and recommendations is required. HTML standards must be compliant for the doc-type it is declaring. If it is not, PBS will not publish them.

Supported Web Browsers

Sites must be developed to support PBS-approved Web browsers across platforms. Although it is not assumed that all users will have the identical experiences when using different browsers, it is vital that every user be able to experience the same content and as much visual richness and interactivity as possible. PBS currently supports all "A-Grade" Browsers (, as defined by Yahoo!

Google Analytics Tagging

PBS uses Google Analytics as a preferred method of generating detailed statistics about visits to Web sites. It is the producer's responsibility to request a Google Analytics account from their content manger during site production; metrics will be unavailable to the producer otherwise. To function properly, every page of a Web site on must include the Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) through a Server Side Include. For more information and implementation techniques, visit [|]

PBS Code Widgets

Standard interactive features must be created using tried-and-true code available in the PBS code widget library. If a relevant code widget exists, PBS code must be used. The PBS Product Documentation area ( ) lists the current products and applications for you to use.

Registration and Authentication

Any project wishing to provide registration or authentication services to its viewers must utilize the PBS Universal Authentication Service. Further information can be found at:

Blog Publishing Platforms

PBS supports blogs developed with MovableType 4.3.4 publishing platform with Pro Pack, Perl version 5.6.1 as well as legacy versions 4.1 and 3.2.

  • If a project requires extensive customization, 3rd party producers may elect to install their own instance of Movable Type in their operational environment, or they may elect to select another blogging platform such as WordPress, Drupal, et. al.
  • Installation, customization, debugging, and support of any such blogging platform is the exclusive responsiblity of the 3rd party developer.
  • It is the developers responsibility to select a blogging platform that meets their product requirements as well as that will run using the technology stack and operational environment provided by PBS.

More information is available at:

Database Compatibility Requirements

All databases developed for sites must be compatible with PBS's current web server software and follow PBS database requirements which are detailed in the PBS Product Documentation area: .

Plug-in Introductory Text

When a plug-in is required to view site content, the teaser must be accompanied by introduction text that:

  • Explains what the feature is
  • Lists the file size of the feature
  • Provides a link to the plug-in download page.


Use of any cookies is subject to the oversight of the PBS technical staff and cookies that extend beyond a user session must be developed in partnership with PBS technical staff.

As a rule, always scope your cookies with the most specific path component you can. This will reduce the overhead of the number of cookies that need to be sent by the client on each browser request. Where possible, cookies must be set in JavaScript instead of CGI script. Always prefix your cookies with a unique tag (such as programname.nameofcookie) that can identify your application in order help to avoid conflict on the server.


Use your show's unique NOLA code to access broadcast information from the TV Schedules database. This is a 4 character code, all in CAPS, which identifies your show within the TV Schedules database. NOLA codes are unique for each program or series, e.g. AMFA for American Family, or AMMS for American Masters. Your PBS Interactive Content manager will provide the code, usually assigned by PBS Program Management, about 3 months before the broadcast premiere.

Airdate Code on

When providing broadcast information, you must use PBS's airdates code. PBS's airdates code is a simple server-side include which can be customized by CSS. It automatically displays the correct broadcast dates and times for local stations, using data provided by TV Guide and cross-referenced with the episode titles and descriptions the producer provides to PBS Traffic and Operations.

For more information, read the detailed implementation steps on the PBS Product Documentation site at

Content Distribution Network (CDN)

All 3rd party developers and producers are expected to utilize the PBS Content Delivery Network which is currently hosted by Limelight.

Full use of the CDN is a launch requirement for the following media types:

  • All media files, including but not limited to Flash, video, GIF, JPEG, etc.
  • All javascript files greater than 10k (except those which are hosted by 3rd parties such as Google or Yahoo).
  • All CSS files greater than 10k.
    More information is available at:

Performance and Load Testing

In order to maintain the highest level of user experience, PBS requires that all applications and sites developed by 3rd party developers undergo (and pass) performance and load testing.

Performing this testing is the sole responsibility of the 3rd party producer or developer. The purpose of this load testing is to demonstrate that the application has been engineered to handle the high levels of traffic that the site may see at launch.

  • Using the small Amazon instance (LAMP stack) that has been provided by PBS, sites and applications must demonstrate that they are capable of achieving 50 requests per second from 10 simulated users. All performance testing must be performed with the copy of ApacheBench that is included on the instance provided.
  • Upon completion of load testing, producers will be required to submit a copy of the load testing results to PBS for review.
  • The maximum allowable latency for the loading of any single page is 5 seconds.

Documentation on how to perform load testing may be found at