Web Publishers’ Community – March Update
A highlight from this month’s Web Publishers’ Community Session was our guest speaker, Damon Querry, who presented on his experience with the EdGEL. The session also included our monthly EdWeb Project Update, a talk about the decommissioning of Polopoly, a presentation on Agile Content and a more technical overview concerning the use of the Web Application content type.
New usability testing service
The Website Programme is launching a new usability testing service to help user insight inform on the development process. Read Neil’s blog to learn more about this service.
Bruce returned to give us our monthly update on the EdWeb project. There has been significant progress since the start of the year with a host of homepage enhancements having been deployed into the system in February.
Our recent deployment on 10th March has also seen the introduction of two new features.
- Scheduling publication
- Embargoing content
Still awaited is the reusable external content asset. This asset will enable users to drop external content into pages. It was not completed in time to be included with the recent updates but will be included in the next deployment.
The EdWeb migration project is nearing completion and is on target to end on the 19th April with only 17 sites left to migrate.
With EdWeb now taking the reigns Bruce returned to talk about Polopoly and what happens next. Polopoly is reaching the end of its life. It is a complex database and has been heavily customised to fulfil the University business needs. This means it is hard to upgrade and without upgrading vendors cease to provide support. Therefore, the decision has been made to turn off Polopoly.
However, we must now solve the problem of retaining important web content. The options for archiving Polopoly were reviewed and it was decided that it would have to be a manual process.
This was for two reasons:
- As Polopoly is so complex it would be too complicated to store all the data. Moreover, we would need the Polopoly database and infrastructure to access page versions.
- Taking a snapshot of Polopoly would only keep the raw data and it would be difficult to reconstruct this should the need arise.
However, don’t panic. A lot of content has already been migrated and not all content needs to or should be retained. Lead Publishers have been notified and given details on the process and the criteria for auditing their content. The archiving deadline is the 1st June.
Getting Agile with Content Creation
After attending the Agile Content Conference last month Rachel presented on her experience and what she learned. The conference ran from the 1st -2nd February and explored practices that help teams work together to create content that meets user needs.
It covered techniques such as pair writing – where colleagues sit together and write in turns at the same monitor in order to achieve more effective and immediate collaboration. The conference also discussed user stories as a method of gaining a shared understanding and explored the benefits of user research.
This is a really interesting method of thinking and working which champions flexible collaboration. Agile writing especially is a concept which has the potential to really streamline the content creation process. Working face-to-face with others is less necessary now, when colleagues are an email away, but may be more crucial than ever for creating the best user-focused content.
EdWeb Web Application Case Studies
Our own Billy Wardrop then took the stand to take us through the various uses of the web application content type in EdWeb. This content type allows you to introduce content from an external source into Edweb. To do this you must have:
- an external source (website, RSS or XML)
- optional custom CSS, JS or XSLT in order to format the external content
You must also be a tech user in EdWeb to use Web Applications. Tech users have access to more technical functionality in EdWeb and can also create custom HTML assets. To become a tech user, read the guidance around this role and complete the online form.
Since its implementation the Web Application has been made more responsive and can now process anchor links. It has been used to great effect in EdWeb, some of the best examples being the Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree finders. We have also used the web application to create pagination for long lists of items in sections such as News and Events.
Making this GEL: Retooling Polopoly Proxied Articles
Guest speaker Damon Querry followed this presentation on web applications with his own experiences using this content type alongside the EdGEL resource. EdGEL provides styling which is consistent with EdWeb and the University brand. After the Veterinary Studies site migration into EdWeb Damon was tasked with rebuilding the web applications to work in the new CMS. He decided to take a fresh approach and rewrote the code from scratch in order to create a good interface within the new EdWeb site. Thanks to the EdGEL Damon did not need to worry about applying styling. He simply used the components and styling the EdGEL supplied to shape his content and achieve a look and feel which was in harmony with the rest of the site.
See you next month!
Our next Web Publishers’ Community session will be on the 27th April following the completion of the EdWeb migration project. Please see our wiki for slides from this month and any details about future sessions.