Tag Archives: Vassar

Yay! It launched!

At the 11th hour we got the go-ahead to launch the new site for:

This is just the boost I needed to redeem the week. I can’t describe how huge this is, but it is. It’s down right fantastic.

I plan to ignore work all weekend. If I feel like doing anything work-related I’ll spend that energy on my thesis proposal (less intensive than it sounds.) But I think a better use of my time will be continuing to research the music on my iPod.

New site close to launch at work

I may actually FINISH SOMETHING today — we’ve been working on a redesign of a site that has been a thorn in my side for 6 years. It’s been “almost done” since November. I *just* sent off the link to the folks who need to give the OK before we can launch this puppy and I can’t contain my excitement (fingers crossed that they don’t come back with 1000 things that need adjustment before we can finish.)


I think every email about this site for the past two weeks has the subject “soooooooo close.”

Of course, this is the kind of project I’d *like* to pop champagne for, but the meetings I have from 12-4pm will sweep that away as we move on to other things.

This site had to be done. The office spent so much effort on publicity for the art center — from meeting with publicity folks in NY to develop new press kits, to building relationships with the press, etc. But nothing was done about the website — it was an afterthought. We keep getting articles in the NYTimes, but the site for the art center is old and cranky, and not what you expect. The new site reflects what we want folks to see when they go to the site after hearing about a show on the radio or reading about it in the NYTimes.

There’s this idea around here of publicizing Poughkeepsie, mentioning shows and performances as a day-trip from the city. Well, if I live in NY and want to visit something upstate, and the website looks like our art center’s did, I wouldn’t go out of my way to check it out. And if I saw the site after reading a glowing write-up in the NYTimes I’d be disappointed (and wonder what the NYTimes doing covering this place.) Now we can back up the work others have been doing to publicize this place.

Media use of Virginia Tech website

I was catching up on newspapers and saw the NYTimes had Graphics Director Steve Duenes answering questions in its “Talk to the Newsroom” section last week. As he answered a question on “Getting the Details Right” he included an example of reporting on the Virginia Tech tragedy:

As the story was breaking, Amanda Cox, our statistics maven, did a quick computer “scrape” of the Virginia Tech Web site for faculty and student telephone numbers. Then she wrote another script to narrow the list of numbers, so we could try calling people who had classes in the building.

Not sure what my thoughts are about this.

  • It’s not surprising.
  • I have done that kind of phishing.
  • Media Office overwhelmed + Media seeking info = creative solutions not involving the Media Office.
  • Would we want to provide our own diagram in response? Should we have diagrams on hand—include 3D diagrams as part of an outsourced campus map project?
  • Yes, all that information from the Schedule of Classes and the online employee directory.
  • Would the idea of adding a list of what a professor is currently teach on their bio be a good thing? How much information should be included (building, room, times, or just class title and section number?)

Bikes and Card Office sites launched

The Shared Bike Program and the Card Office sites have launched via the CMS. That brings the total number of CMS sites to 8. More coming soon!
Here’s the list of sites we have in the CMS:

Library, Main (most of the site)
Library, Music
Purchasing, Accounts Payable and Stores
Buildings and Grounds
Card Office
Shared Bike Program

Coming soon….

German Studies
Institutional Research
Blegen House
Media Studies

Hannon Hill User Conference Notes: Eric Palmer

Outline of “Cascade Server Site Migrations – Lessons from the front” by Eric Palmer, Director of Web Services, University of Richmond. Hannon Hill is sending me a DVD of this so we can view it at a later date. Also see his blog post at http://keillor.richmond.edu/blogs/webace/ which includes a link to the web version.

Eric Palmer
Director of Web Services
New to Higher Ed (10 months)
9+/20+ years of Web/IT Experience
Skilled in process design, agile/scrum/lean and building high performing teams
Evangelist for Agile/Scrum – Inspect and Adapt
The University of Richmond
Private, highly selective liberal arts university
Ranked one of the best liberal arts universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report
Founded in 1830 – second-oldest private university in Virginia
5 Schools
Arts and Sciences
Robins School of Business
Jepson School of Leadership Studies
Richmond School of Law
School of Continuing Studies
Students 2006-2007
2,857 undergraduate students
697 master’s and professional students (excluding the School of Continuing Studies)
617 part-time and 238 full-time continuing studies students
Undergraduates from 48 states and over 70 foreign countries
347 full-time faculty members
10:1 student-faculty ratio in full-time undergraduate divisions
Zero classes taught by teaching assistants or graduate students
Emphasis on hands-on, collaborative research and discovery-based learning
Web Services
Part of Information Services
UR IS is Centralized
We are a MISO Organization – Merged with Library
Organized by
Systems and Networks
Help Desk
Digital Scholarship
Center for Teaching & Learning Technologies
Web Services
Problem statement
Excessive Pent-Up Demand for site modernization, Web Applications and More
85+ sites to migrate into Cascade
15+ new sites to build in Cascade
20+ Old Frontpage/Dreamweaver sites to migrate off of very old Solaris Servers
~4000 user web accounts and 50+ student organization web accounts to support and migrate to Linux
Small Team
4 – Director, Developer, Senior Developer, Trainer/Consultant/BAS
New to Cascade
Uneven technical skills
No Former Project Managers
Satisfied Customers & Satisfied Team
Excellent Quality
Migrate to a Standard Architecture
Linux, Apache Oracle + MYSQL, PHP
Standard tools
Eliminate Plethora of Old Systems and Tools
Front Page
Cold Fusion, PERL, Other CGI
Unsupported PERL, PHP, JAVA and other open source widgets
Home grown CMS System – ISPIN
Build Robust Applications
Campus Web Crawler
News Article Server
Forms Poster
Undergraduate School Catalog in Cascade
Improve Web Security
Become a Site Factory!
Collaborate within and outside of the University
HiEdCascade List
Internal Wiki – Confluence
Cascade Forum
Form strong partnership with Marketing Communications and Campus Units
Ensure site migration and other major work is prioritized
learn to say “no”
Drive for standard tools, techniques, processes
Go Agile/Scrum – Inspect and Adapt
Crawl, walk, run
Have fun
System Environments
Isolated and Scalable Systems
Separate Production DB / Cascade and Web Servers
2 x Dual Core Zeon 3GHZ / 4 GB RAM
Linux Redhat OS
Apache 2.x Web Server
PHP 5.x
Robust Load Balanced Web Servers
Flexible Development and Test Environments
Extensive use of VMware
Web Servers
Test and Training cascade Envs
DB Servers
Plethora of Apache Virtual Hosts
Why Traditional Development Stages Don’t Work for CMS
Development/Test/QA/Production Staging
New migrations/sites under development
Changes are not isolated to developers code
Production Sites
Changes are not isolated to developers code
For Significant /Radical Development
Copy production to test facility
Develop there
Coordinate with content publishers/managers
Migrate back into production
They still work for CGI programs
devsitename.richmond.edu or developerX.richmond.edu
Best Practices
Early and Often
Inspect and Adapt
Learn XSLT and XML
Good Tools – See appendix
O’REILLY XSLT cookbook
XSLT 2.0 Programmer’s Reference (Programmer to Programmer)
Web Sites
Get Intimate with Content Reuse and Use it
Review Examples
Ask Others
Some of Our Examples
Faculty Staff Bios
Course Descriptions
Photo Slide Show
Event listings
Experiment and Play
Keep Cascade Examples – Make Copies to Modify
Collaborate with HiEdCascade and Cascade Forum
Did I mention collaborate
Read the HH Docs and Practice Creating Sites
Mind Meld Needed for Cascade Be Patient
Become One with It
Study / Set Up
Configuration and Configuration Sets
Transports and Destinations
Document what works and does not
Establish a consistent Cascade and Web Server Folder Structure
Mirror structure on web (somewhat)
Define your processes and Deliverables
e.g., Site Package
Nav Structure
CSS files
XHTML Templates
Content Reuse
Domain Name(s)
Old URLS that need redirects
Location of Content
Collaboration Tools
Establish Milestone Dates
Deployment Plan
By role (AS, Network, Web Services, etc.)
Account for new and migrated sites
Down time
Roll back plan
On Going
Leverage Others
Cascade User Forum
JIRA Tickets
HiEdCascade.org list server lists.hiedcascade.org—listserv
Test Cascade Version upgrades before production rollout
Know when “good enough is good enough”
Validate your HTML templates
Achieve common item usage
HTML Templates
Export Production CAS Data and Import to Test Env for Big Changes to Production Sites
Provide User Training
Introduction to Cascade
Hands on Interactive
3 Hours Long
Every user has a practice account and mini-site
Users have access to their mini-site for up to 60 days
<=10 People/class
Cascade Overview
What is a CMS
Blocks & Reuse
Workflow and Permissions
Practice Exercises
Editing and Adding Content
Creating New Assets
Wrap Up
Lunch and Learn Brown Bags
Being developed now
Focus on 1 to 3 special topics
UR User Community Support
Being Developed Now
One-on-One when needed
Wiki content
Blogs – web trainer and web ace
List Server
Spiderbytes Emails
Copy Mini-Site over and over again
Mini-site changes – Requires Lots of Work
Changes to Cascade
Audience Attendance!
Have Content Parties
Purpose: Migrate old content and insert new and revised content
Training usually immediately before content party to reinforce learning
Attended by
Site Owners and their staff
Web Services Trainer and 1 Developer
Others as available and as needed
Computer lab area
Food and Drink
Cut paste Content
Eliminate Formats
Cut from Page
Paste in text only Editor
Cut again and paste into default region
Add attachments (PDFs, images, etc.)
Fix Links
Initial QA
Approximate Metrics
~ 5 mins / page / person
Includes everything except initial QA
Support Your Users
30 users = 1 hr / week support needed
Anticipate 100+ users
Building local community of practice
Quality Assurance
Before Cascade Site Construction
Define project processes/workflow
Roles and Responsibilities
Know your site audience
Have an information architecture
Navigation prototype
Establish project sub-team expectations
Validate HTML Templates and CSS
include dtd specification
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN” “www.w3.org—xhtml1-strict.dtd“>
<html lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” xmlns=”www.w3.org—xhtml“>
For Cascade XHTML/HTML must be well formed XML
use one of the validation services or software
Define browser compatibility targets
Know your audience
Know the trends
During Site Construction
Use test driven development
Test, test often, test again
test cgi programs outside and inside of Cascade pages
visual inspection of pages
Macro – Web Services
Micro Look and Feel – Marketing Communications
Content – Site Owner Team
Consider refactoring XSLT
Iterate through navigation
Test with All target Browsers – Especially IE Versions
announce changes to testers
announce publish events
Know when “good enough is good enough”
Publish to test site often
Check for broken links
Post Construction and Post Deployment
Check for Broken Links
Test cgi programs
Visual inspection of pages
Iterate through navigation
Publish often
Did I say collaborate?
Inspect and Adapt – How Can We do This Faster / Better / Cheaper?
Reduce “LINK ROT”
Inventory inbound Campus Links
Inventory published Links (print, applications, etc.)
Devise Rewrites and Redirects to minimize 404’s
Redirect permanent /accounting business.richmond.edu—accounting
Redirect permanent /admin.html business.richmond.edu—admin.html
Redirect permanent /future president.richmond.edu
Add WWW prefixes if desired
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.studentjobs\.richmond\.edu [NC] RewriteRule ^/(.*) studentjobs.richmond.edu—$1 [L,R]
What we like about Cascade
Ease and Speed of Content Entry
Content Reuse
WYSIWYG Content Entry
Folder driven Nav
Publishing Sites
Repeatability of Our Work
Improvements We Would Like
Copy a Site
Form builder (the php form builder has never been clear)
Concept Based Cascade Documentation
One template for many targets
Better Version Testing & Reliability
Smart Publishing
RSS generation
Improved Workflow
Progress to Date
Migrated 7 sites w/1000 pages
Replaced formmail and frontpage form system
Migrated/Detangled 90 percent of tangled Solaris sites to Linux
Built Campus Web Crawler and other applications
Established WordPress MU as blogging platform – October go live month
Established Agile/Scrum team with 2 CSMs
On track for ~50 cascade sites by end of 2007 w/3500 pages
A Work In Process
Continuously improving processes
Building Undergraduate Catalog in Cascade and Java
ExportCatalog to inDesign CS3 for Print
Include catalog sections in Academic sites
DB driven course search tool students and prospects
Export course description to Banner ERP system
Building News article publishing components in Cascade and PHP
Building & Deploying 42 Arts and Sciences Sites by December
33 Academic department sites
A&S Home & 7 special sites
Contact Info
Eric F. Palmer
(804)-287-6591 Office
(804)-405-7404 Cell
AOL IM: DaddyOh234
Twitter: DaddyOh
Presentation in Blog Post
Personal Blog vitaljourney.org
Campus Web Crawler
Campus Overview
Development/Test Sites Excluded
Site Overview
Site Broken Link Overview
Site Broken Link Details
Campus Inbound Links to a Site
Example sites
WWW Home Pg
Financial Aid
Student Jobs
UR History
Images / Process Worflow Diagrams / Wireframes
Photoshop CS – $$$ www.adobe.com
Dreamweaver – $$$ www.adobe.com
Cooktop – Free www.xmlcooktop.com
oXygen XML Editor – $ www.oxygenxml.com
Link Checking
Fast Link Checker $ www.fastlinkchecker.com
Campus Web Crawler – Free
Can answer the question – who on campus links to a site or part of a site
Open Source
Developed by Web Services Team
Oracle/PHP Based
Send e-mail for more info
Collaboration / Blogging
Wiki – Confluence – $$$ www.atlassian.com—confluence
Brainstorming – Mind Manager – $$ www.mindjet.com—us
Blogging – WordPress MU – Free
Training Material Development
Adobe Captivate – $$ www.adobe.com
Snag-It – $ www.techsmith.com
Apache Web Server – Free www.apache.org
PHP 5.x – Free www.php.net
Zend Core PHP5 + Oracle Web Drivers – Free www.zend.com
NUsphere PHPed – $$ www.nusphere.com
My SQL 5.x – Free www.mysql.com
Oracle 10g – $$$$ www.oracle.com—index.html
Web Stats
AWSTATS – Free awstats.sourceforge.net
Google Analytics – Free www.google.com—analytics
Google Webmaster Tools – Free www.google.com—about.html
Linux RedHat www.redhat.com
Text Editors
Ultraedit/UEStudio – $$ www.ultraedit.com