Tag Archives: middcms

Update from Database Applications & Systems

This will be my last post as the workgroup leader for the DAS workgroup, as we move into the new organizational structure announced by Mike Roy at the last all-LIS staff meeting.  Here are some of the projects and tasks that DAS staff members have been working on during the past month…

Mike Schuster
– Several Revisions to Room Draw SSB forms and lots of testing
– Added new student search dropdown box and removed boxes used by students to enter group member IDs.
– Modified procedures so as each student is selected, several eligibility checks are made.
– Modified message text displayed when students are ineligible.
– Modified WebTailor Infotext for links.
– Added logic to allow the group representative to remove group members when they’ve accidentally selected one.
– Created a database view of instructors to be used by new online catalog web page.
– Modified web directory script to correctly select on leave graduate students during winter term.
– Created database tables that will be used by custom Monterey web admissions applications forms.
– Assisted the registrar’s office with running the Term Student Type Update program(SHRTYPE) and the Learner Curriculum Conversion Program(SOPLCCV).
– After the registrar’s office runs SHRTYPE for a particular term, I create a population selection in Banner and run SOPLCCV with that popsel.
– Reviewed Clearinghouse Self-Service Authentication documentation and sample code.

Liz Whitaker-Freitas
– Supporting Hyperion BI+ for functional & technical users

Ian McBride (Full list at: https://www.yammer.com/users/imcbride)
– Completed MiddMedia plugin for WordPress
– Assisted with completion of RFP for Web Makeover
– Created conference registration form for VCC
– Developed payment form for Print Management
– Modified Athletics Recruiting application to remove Primary Sport
– Designed database sync script for the Course Catalog
– Launched CSO and Judicial Boards sites
– Upgraded Key Survey to version 7.1

Travis Stafford
– Troubleshooting cForms issue
– Testing cForms 10.3
– Two cforms trainings (Chemistry Department, Institutional Planning and Diversity)
– Finished first wave of BLM implementation (is now live) as well as fixed various bugs
– List Manager Configuration for newsletters / MiddCMS Newsletter support
– General support and Heat tickets

Rob Pekor
– Re-aligned parent Donor codes for “Feb” students.
– Removed obsolete region codes related to “CA Mailing”.
– Enhanced existing “pledge installment” view.
– Investigate poor query execution between databases (production and non-production).
– Created table to hold local data for the Harris Online Community project.
– Sent sample dataset to Harris thus enabling them to begin on data mapping on their side of the implementation project.
– Continued to fine tune the web pages for Phonathon segment creation
– Created new indicator for “young Alumni” (alumni for only 1-10 years) for the Banner List Manager project.
– Create stewardship project codes for Athletics (ATHSTW) and the Axinn Center (AXNSTW)
– Rewrote of slow performing fiscal data view for CA

Chris Norris
– Transition planning for organizational re-structuring with DAS staff, Area Directors, and workgroup leaders
Project Work
– Reviewed Phoenix BIA summary presentation
– Drafted spec for remote DR web presence
– Revised Banner-ListManager project requirements with DAS staff
– Revised Broadcast Email Newsletter request document
– Configured four new Broadcast Email Newsletter editions with DAS staff
– Completed work on 2008 Summary Web Statistics for Web Makeover project
– Completed work on Stakeholder Reports for Web Makeover project
– Completed work on GSA (Google Search) for MIIS sites
– Began configuration and setup of Google Apps for Education (alpha instance)
– Participated in Web Makeover project team meetings
– Met with HR staff regarding OpenHire “internal job site” project
– Met with Brett Wilhelm regarding departure considerations
– Met with members of the web subcommittee of the Sexual Assault Oversight Committee regarding a new web presence
– Participated in College Advancement Operations team meetings
– Participated in Harris online community project team meetings
– Participated in Pay for Print project team meetings
– Participated in MIIS technology team meeting
– Participated in College Data Workshop with IR, Faculty, and other LIS staff
– Conducted final DAS staff check-in meetings
Systems Administration
– Ongoing monitoring and problem resolution of online services
– Configured new GO rewrite rules
– Ongoing tuning of GSA to improve search results
– Renewals of College-owned domain names
– Transferred UWAC domains to College-managed account
Help, Support, Training, Workshops
– Updated Middlebury’s United Way web presence (campaign stats)
– Provided support for Broadcast Email Newsletters, CMS editing, BLWC Submission Manager, HEAT tix, and various ad-hoc help calls
– Conducted a Broadcast Email Newsletter training with Young Alumni staff
– Conducted a Broadcast Email (advanced) workshop for CA staff
Vendor Related Activities
– Participated in Sun-Guard/SCT Banner DBA weekly status calls
– Participated in Velaris Hyperion SysAdmin weekly status calls
– Participated in Google Apps for Education project team call with Google
– Transitioned Hyperion SysAdmin vendor (Velaris) relationship managment to Jeff Rehbach
– Provided IMA (eCommerce) details for Harris online community project

2D Design in the CMS

New 2D design for interactive search

One of the things you’ll doubtless notice about the current design of Middlebury College’s website is that it’s always the same width, about 780 pixels. This design decision was made in 2002-2003 when many people were browsing the web with monitors configured to 800 x 600 pixel resolutions. While it gives our site a very professional and contained look-and-feel, it does make several tasks difficult.

The biggest of these issue is what to do about tabular data. In the screenshot above you can see a search interface for a small database of undergraduate research opportunities. The results of this form will be displayed in a table with sortable columns. Around 15 sortable columns. That just won’t fit in the roughly 450 pixels we have to work with in the official site design.

So we have a secondary design (pictured above), which has the approved logo, the title of the page and a blue bar, which is the approved shade of blue, or as close we can get to it and still have it look the same across all browsers. Below the dotted line we’ve been given semi-free reign over what can be done in the design. Chief among our restrictions is that it shouldn’t look much like the official site design.

This CMS “rendering script” uses the same header, left navigation, and right navigation controls as the rest of the CMS, meaning that we can modularly update the way those scripts work and have it work across both site designs (as well as another new site design that’s coming up). It took a little bit of mucking with our current scripts for me to pull this off because they were designed with only having a single site to support. For instance, the header pulled in two CSS files that I didn’t want showing up on the new design. We now have a special ASP.NET User Control called “Head”, which has a placeholder for adding new CSS files and some code for handling RSS feed, meta tags, and search robots. There are then two other user controls called “HeadTags” which both inherit “Head” and override a method that lets them add in custom CSS files, depending on what part of the CMS we’re in. Athletics, Language Schools, Breadloaf, etc. all have the same basic CSS files, but each add a couple extra to complement the site design.

Similarly, I created instances of the left and right navigation columns that only include the links to content, leaving out the extra images that frame the columns on the official design and some of the extra functionality included in those columns, like the links to Gateways. These will again be useful when we implement a new site design for another area of the College that isn’t going to have these elements. Or, at least, it won’t have them in quite the same way.

I’ll have more on this search page: what it is for, what it does, and a little on how it works in my next post which will be after I get the search functionality working.

Updates for MiddCMS

I want to get back in the swing of actually posting on this thing and fortunately, I have a reason to do so. There are two major changes to the CMS that will go in place, hopefully early next week. These are to accomodate plans for an Emergency Response web site, but are also things that we’ve wanted to do on the CMS for some time. Now that we actually have a reason in the form of a project, it’s easier to sit down and write them out.

Last Modified By

The first change will affect almost every page on the CMS. Anywhere that’s publicly viewable and has editable content, except for the front page, will have a tagline at the bottom that says “Last Modified by Person on Date“. The person and date information are drawn automatically from the metadata that the CMS keeps about page revisions.

This feature will let users know who to contact if there’s content on the page that’s inaccurate, needs to be updated, or that they have more questions about. Prior to this update, you had to notice that there was a link named “Contact Us” on the bottom left of most pages, click on it and try to decipher who to direct your request to. Now you’ll know exactly who is responsible for maintaining the information on the page, making it easier to track them down.

There are a few exceptions, of course. Many pages are edited by LIS staff during support calls about the CMS. Others are automatically re-approved by a nightly batch script (HR Job Descriptions fall into this category). These will always appear to be edited by the “Middlebury College Web Master”, rather than by me or the backup script user account. Also, much of the content on the CMS is actually edited by students and then approved for publication by a staff member. When you’re viewing this content in published mode (always unless you’re a CMS editor) you’ll see the staff member’s name. If you’re trying to edit the content, you’ll see the person who last edited it, which might be that student worker.

It’s my hope that this change will raise awareness on campus and off as to how many people manage content on our website. It’s well over 200 active accounts spread out throughout the CMS. Many of those, like the Academic Coordinators, manage the entire site for their department, including the profiles of the Faculty. It takes considerable work to keep all of the content (somewhere on the order of 30,000 postings with even more documents and pictures) up to date.

Contacts Lists

Even though we’ve updated how “Last Modified” information is posted on the CMS, there’s still a need for up-to-date lists of contact personnel. In the past, we’ve used these exclusively for Contact Us sections on the CMS to identify persons responsible for content. Well, the LIS staff directory also. For that purpose, all that was required was the person’s name, email address, office telephone, and office location. However, with the prospect of an Emergency Response site, more information is required. Everything from home phone numbers (which we have), to cell phones (which we might have), to radio numbers for Facilities staff (which we don’t have).

Information like this begins its life in Banner, updated by HR for Faculty and Staff accounts or by the Dean of Student Affairs office for students. There are also all kinds of other accounts: Emeriti professors, High School students, contractors, some Alumni, Spouse/Partner accounts, and now the account information for MIIS, which is stored separate of Middlebury records. Some of this information is then moved into the Active Directory by scripts that run at least nightly. The Active Directory is like a phone book for computers and contains all of the Windows and Exchange user accounts. If you have an email account at Middlebury, you’re in the AD.

These contacts lists have been modified so that they can display any number of attributes from the Active Directory. By default, they still show the name, email, office location, and office phone number. There are several attributes, like ID Number that we don’t want all people with access to edit Contact postings to be able to add to the list. These are reserved for a select set of CMS administrators. Additionally, the Contacts posting will maintain the display permissions you set up in the Directory’s Change Information screen. You can go there to set it up so that your email address doesn’t appear to people off campus. There is an override option available to administrators to force the Contacts posting to show the information, regardless of what the user specified. This is a necessary addition for the Emergency Response site. We need to be able to see your Cell Phone number to call in the event of an emergency, even if it’s not shown to folks outside of that site.

Coming Changes for the CMS

That nearly wraps up changes we will be making to the current code base for the CMS, which is running on Microsoft Content Management Server 2002. That product has been sunsetted and we’re examining replacements with the idea of being fully off MCMS by Summer 2009.

The final major revision to the MCMS code prior to then will be the migration of the current Events at Middlebury calendar from custom PHP. This will allow us to have a more stable Events calendar and also have site-specific events listings in the navigation controls. Imagine going to the Math Department’s site and seeing their Seminars listed automatically from the Events Calendar. That’s the general idea here as well.