Sometimes we get asked if a university is able to change the URL they use for Talis Aspire. The reasons for doing this might be that the project team have chosen to rebrand the service to fit in with other services provided by the university, and want to have a URL which can be used in marketing materials to reflect that branding.
This article explains why the domain name which is used cannot be changed, and what options there are to provide a slightly different mechanism for using a different URL in marketing materials.
Talis Aspire is a multi-tenant system whereby each university's data is partitioned.
When a University first starts out with Talis Aspire, they are asked to choose a URL for their tenancy. This might take one of two forms which we will refer to as the Talis Subdomain URL, or the Vanity URL.
Talis Subdomain URL
The Talis Subdomain URL is of the form
http://<tenant>.rl.talis.com where tenant is a code which is used to uniquely identify the university. This is hosted by Talis and the university will not have needed to setup or host anything.
Customer Subdomain URL
Important: This part only applies if you already have a tenancy which is using a CNAME. New Talis Aspire tenants do not need to worry about this as there have been changes to our set up which mean that CNAMEs are not used.
The Customer Subdomain URL might look something like this
http://readinglists.someuniveristy.ac.uk. This will have been set up by the university as a CNAME record hosted in their Domain Name Service (DNS) records.
There will be NO certificate matching the CNAME domain as Talis does not support use of custom certificates. If your browser attempts to load the CNAME on port 443 as HTTPS, then you will get a certificate error and will not be able to navigate to that page.
HTTP vs HTTPS
In either case above the HTTP url will be used by Talis as the 'tenancy base url' which is used to uniquely identify data related to the university's tenancy. The 'tenancy base url' is deeply embedded in URIs as part of the semantic graph which manages your data. This http URL cannot be changed as it would mean setting up a whole new tenancy with an entirely different 'tenancy base url'.
Talis Aspire is generally configured to redirect these HTTP urls to a HTTPS url. This is described in more detail in another article but the HTTPS url will always be
https://<tenant>.rl.talis.com so that we can make sure that Certificates are appropriately configured for all the Talis services provided via talis.com.
So what does all this mean?
The top line is that we cannot change these URLs once they have been configured for a university. However, a university may choose to refer to their reading list service using another name. In this case it is within the university's power to setup a local redirect from a domain of your choice to Talis Aspire.
How would this work technically?
Let's setup an example where the university originally used the domain
readinglists.someuniversity.ac.uk and want to now refer to this service as
The University would need to setup a server that they could control and maintain themselves which would host a redirect from
https://<tenant>.rl.talis.com. This would typically be a HTTP 301 Redirect. Note that this is a redirect to the HTTPS URL for your tenancy.
A service such as this would be setup and hosted by the university and is not part of the Talis Aspire service and would not be maintained by Talis.
It is vital that the CNAME is NOT changed or removed even if the university chooses to refer to the reading list service using a different name.