Weekly Web Development Round-up June 12-17, 2011

To give our colleagues a better idea of what’s changed in our web applications each week, we’ll be preparing this quick list for publication each Friday. Not all of the details of each change are included below, but we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments.

Campus Map

  • Since last week’s post, we’ve added:
    • custom marker icons
    • course listings for locations
    • custom location categories like “parking lots”
    • autozoom and autocenter the map on available markers
  • You can read more about the Campus Map project in this earlier post on the LIS blog.

Course Hub

  • The Add Resource button now works in IE 7.

Drupal

  • We’re testing out a new spam prevention module on the Ask a Librarian form that block spam bots without annoying actual humans. It does this by adding some hidden fields to the form that trip up automated spammers. If you’d like to have this added to your form, just let us know.

Library Systems

  • Work continues on Summon.  Latest links into the Drupal platform include the search widget on the LIS main page (go/lis) where there was previously only a text link, and a proliferation of simple sidebar widgets on the Library pages.
  • SubjectsPlus interface alterations to reflects the change from WebBridge to 360 as our OpenURL link resolver in the Summon implementation.

Search

When we launched the new version of our website, we put in place a search strategy that would automatically forward you to a page if we were reasonably sure that the page was where you wanted to end up. For example, if you searched for “academic calendar”, you’d end up on the page with the current year’s academic calendar instead of a search results page. The way we made this work is to automatically forward you to the GO shortcut if your search matched an existing GO shortcut. So, if go/dining exists and you search for “dining” you go to the site that go/dining points at.

At the time we set this up, the GO database contained around 1,000 entries, mostly redirects to academic departments, offices, programs, or local government or non-profit organizations. GO was a self-service application at that time, but wasn’t often used by students, faculty and staff to create shortcuts.

There are now 4321 GO shortcuts in the database, including aliases. People use it to get the word out about their events (go/justice, go/bachfest), faculty create shortcuts to their course sites (go/chns0475), staff create quick links to advertise new services (go/getoffice), and many other great uses that make us glad this is a self-service application.

At the same time, there are now many GO shortcuts that are links to YouTube videos, other colleges, personal websites, and some that are just jokes. These are, generally, fine to have in the GO database. Even the first version of GO (at the time called the External Redirection Application) in 2005 had a few “easter eggs” that are still there. But because of how our search application interacted with GO, people’s ability to quickly and easily find information on our site was getting hampered by these “un-official” shortcuts.

We’ve now changed the search programming on our site so that it will only forward you automatically for a small subset of search terms. You’ll still go right to WebMail when you search for “webmail”, and similarly for “bannerweb” or “cso”, or “ccal”. But if you search for “chicago” you’ll now see search results instead of the Chicago Manual of Style. We used these criteria to select which search terms would continue to automatically forward you:

  1. It is something someone might search for (i.e. bannerweb, but not bannerweb?ugapp).
  2. It goes to a page on our site (i.e. capp, but not campusstorage).
  3. There’s really only one page that the person means by that search (i.e. chaplain, but not chicago).

New GO shortcuts will initially be excluded from being used in search, but we’ll continue to review the list and change it as needed. We’ll also review statistics from searches on our site to see if new shortcuts need to be created or if we need to make an existing shortcut searchable again.

A few additional notes:

  • We haven’t deleted any GO shortcuts today. go/bacon, go/engage, and go/oooooal still exist, but if you search for “bacon” you’ll now see more information about Sir Francis than images of meat.
  • You can send a note to go@middlebury.edu if you feel that a code that currently isn’t being used as a search result redirect ought to be. You can also flag GO shortcuts as inappropriate.
  • We’ve added a filter for “GO” to the search results page just below “www.middlebury.edu” on the right. Click on that box to filter your search results to only show pages from go.middlebury.edu.

And lastly, a reminder that when you (as a person with a Middlebury account) create shortcuts in GO, or comment on blogs on this site, or edit our wiki, you are bound by the College Handbook policies on Responsible Use of Computing Network Service and Facilities, Anti-Harassment Policy, and any other applicable policies from our Handbook. Though we’ve deleted a couple GO shortcuts in the past for being inappropriate, none have yet been referred to HR, Commons Administration or the Dean of Faculty, but logs are kept on the service and that option is always available.

WordPress

  • The embedded Flash audio player that you see in IE 7, IE 8, Firefox and Opera now renders correctly and allows you to play the audio file.
  • Many CSS fixes were made to the Translucence theme.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>