Tags » Enterprise Applications


Website Improvements #8: JavaScript and the Editor

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Summary for those who aren’t interested in the details:

  • The site should load faster
  • Menu reordering is easier
  • You can now copy and paste directly from Microsoft Word

JavaScript is a programming language used by your web browser that allows it to manipulate the web page after the server is done creating it. For example, we can use JavaScript to tell the web browser to open a box with a story in it on our site’s home page when you click on one of the bars. This gives web developers and designers a lot of flexibility when creating the site.

However, the historical problem with JavaScript is that different browsers implement the language in different ways. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Apple’s Safari each have slightly different versions. To solve this problem, we use a JavaScript library, called jQuery, that provides a unified interface to all these different versions of the language. Of course, it’s not that simple. Drupal uses one version of jQuery, but the version it uses can’t do cool things like our homepage waveform. So for the last ten months our site has been running two versions of jQuery simultaneously.

If that sounds like a lot of added, unnecessary overhead, it is. We’ve now updated the site to work with just the newest version of jQuery running. What this means is that there are no longer odd conflicts between the two versions. Anyone who has tried to reorder a menu on their site knows that these conflicts can sometimes be painful. Now when you reorder the menu the item slides as expected, rather than jumping all over the place. Additionally, you don’t need to download both versions (which your browser does in the background when you visit the site), so our pages will load faster for new visitors.

This change also allowed us to update the WYSIWYG editor that you use when composing updates on the site from TinyMCE version to (here’s a complete list of the changes). The big change is that the editor now does a significantly better job of formatting and will automatically clean up formatted text that you paste in – such as text you’ve composed in Microsoft Word or in an email – without you needing to use the Paste from Word or Paste as Plain Text buttons. We left the buttons in just in case.

We think we’ve worked out most of the issues with these changes at this time, but be sure to let us know if something else isn’t working.

Website Improvements #7: HTML5 Video

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Videos on our website, like the new chapter in the Aunt Des story that was put up yesterday, are now available on more devices. We’re using the new <video> and <audio> tags that are part of HTML5, to enable site visitors to watch videos from MiddMedia (our local, streaming media server gives all Middlebury users space to host videos of any quality and length) and YouTube without needing to have the Adobe Flash plugin installed.

This feature has been rolled out for MiddMedia videos on Drupal and WordPress and YouTube videos on Drupal.

Don’t worry if you’re not using one of these browsers or devices. You’ll see the same Flash video player that was there yesterday.

You will now see your browser’s built-in HTML5 video player for MiddMedia videos if you are using one of these browsers or devices:

  • Safari
  • an iPad or iPhone

The HTML5 audio player for MiddMedia videos appears if you are using one of these browsers or devices:

  • Safari
  • Chrome
  • an iPad or iPhone

To see a list of the supported browsers for video in YouTube, visit their HTML5 Video Player site. You can sign up there to opt-in to their HTML5 video player trial, if you like. Note: the site lists several browsers currently in their “beta” development phase. We recommend that you do not install these browsers as features of our site may not yet work in them.

Some restrictions may apply

The technology to support these features is very new and constantly changing. We’ll keep rolling out support to new browsers and devices as it becomes available and the experience is at least as good as what you get from the Flash player. For instance, Chrome currently supports HTML5 video, but we decided not to enable it for that browser because the fullscreen button doesn’t work. Firefox also supports HTML5 video, but in a different video format that we don’t currently produce for videos uploaded to MiddMedia (WebM or OGG).

Lastly, you might notice that some of the MiddMedia videos on our site cannot be played on devices like your iPad or iPhone. The method used to encode these videos didn’t produce a video in a format that these devices recognize. However, the majority of MiddMedia videos do work and we wanted to give you the opportunity to watch some of them, rather than none of them.

Marcy moving to Enterprise Applications

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Danna Gianforte and I (Area Directors for Enterprise Applications and Central Systems & Network Services, respectively) recently agreed to a staffing change.  Marcy Smith is now a member of the Enterprise Applications area.  We believe that having the soon-to-be-hired Database Administrator (DBA) and the Enterprise Systems Administrator (aka Marcy) reporting to the same Area Director will:

  • streamline communications
  • remove roadblocks in the workflow
  • improve service to the functional areas

Central Systems & Network Services will continue to work closely with Marcy, as we do with all of Enterprise Applications staff.  Marcy will be moving to the Davis Family Library at some point, but the details of that move have not been finalized.

I enjoyed having Marcy in my area and certainly learned a lot about Banner and just how complicated it all is from her!  All of us in CS & NS look forward to continuing to work with Marcy.  In fact, the looming upgrade to Oracle 11G will give us plenty of opportunity.  But that’s a subject for another post…

Segue from Segue Updates

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

The Curricular Technology Team is pleased to announce that its primary recommendations for how to segue from Segue has been approved by the Library and Information Services (LIS) Area Directors Team. In essence, the team recommended the development of a “course hub” architecture that would enable faculty to create collections of resources for a given course using a variety of platforms that would be aggregated in a single location referred to as a “hub.” For more information, see:
Segue from Segue > Course Hub

The team is now researching which platforms to include within the course hub. WordPress and MediaWiki are obvious choices since many faculty are already using these for course sites. The team also recognizes that some sort of learning management system (LMS) should also be an integral part of hub sites and is reviewing a number of LMS to present to the community as possible  candidates.

Website Improvements #6: Webform

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

For the sixth in this weekly series of posts we started in March, I’m going to talk about our recent upgrade of the Webform module and the addition of some new modules to help you manage your forms. Here are the new things you can do with Webforms:

The interface to interact with the Webform has also been simplified by moving most form settings into their own tabs in the Edit Console, especially the addition of the E-mails tab that gives you a quick look at who receives E-mails when the form is submitted. The interface for adding options to select list components is also easier to use with an interface to quickly add and remove options. Lastly, if you have a sidebar on the page, it is now hidden when you’re trying to edit the form components so that you can view the full form.

New Print Theme for MIDD/MIIS sites & Additional GO Revisions

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We recently updated the GO application with a new editing interface including more verbose, color coded, messages as well as additional input validation. We are looking for feedback as to the ease of use, etc. so please share any suggestions or feedback with us.

Also a comment/reason is now required when flagging go links to give admins a clearer idea of why a link was flagged. Thanks to all who have helped us by flagging links so far.

Do you need to get a hold of someone about changing a GO shortcut or becoming an admin of the shortcut? Try contacting the shortcut administrator. We’ve made a 1min 30sec screencast on how to determine the administrator(s) of a GO shortcut.

NOTE: It is no longer possible to “hide” GO links. GO by its nature is a public application with publicly searchable and publicly usable links. “Hiding” a GO link is more or less a misnomer and is no longer supported. If you have hidden GO links they may be unhidden. If you feel you have a legitimate reason to hide GO links and you are concerned about this please feel free to contact go@middlebury.edu.

Also, the main Middlebury and Monterey Institute of International Studies sites now have print themes. Please enjoy the new printer friendly pages that are generated on print/print preview.


Categories: Midd Blogosphere

The Digital Media Tutors, students who support the Wilson Media Lab in the Davis Family Library, have just launched their new web site. On this site, you will find the answers to the most commonly asked questions (FAQs), as well as links to resources and tutorials for the most common activities in the lab. Included is a video on how to connect a Mac to BigCat -

Please visit the site at go/dmt ( http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/technology/web/support/dmt ) and share your thoughts here or via email at DigitalMediaTutors@middlebury.edu