Friday, February 29, 2008

CMS feedback

Here it is, your chance to heap praise or scorn upon our CMS. This is open for anonymous posts. All I ask is that we please keep this thread civil, and our criticism constructive, and our praise qualified. If you want to tell us "I love the CMS" then let us know a few reasons why. If you want to tell us "The CMS sucks" please elaborate- we can't fix it unless you tell us what's broken. Okay, I'm ready- hit me!

CMS updates, Web Tech survey in the works

It’s been incredibly busy over in the "office" of Web Technology and Content Coordination (main library room 316, so not exactly a sprawling office complex ;) and in library IT/ISD. Camilla has been making significant headway in getting together instructional materials and packets for both mediated and un-mediated training in the CMS. Aaron has been hard at work converting some of the administrative content from our old web server. Camilla and I both have been working on developing CMS templates for some of the more prevalent unit level home page designs (in pure CSS). John and Alex in ISD have been constantly applying custom tweaks to the CMS as I’ve been gathering and funneling your requests for changes to the system (and some significant version upgrades are in the pipes as scheduled updates, see the ISD CMS blog for more information on this). Anna (Scott’s GA who he’s been nice enough to “loan” to the us) has been working her way through all the committee pages, minutes, etc (so if you see Anna and she look bleary-eyed, you’ll know why ;) . I’ve also been gathering information on web technologies in use around campus, which will be posted to the new uiucwebtech wiki (I know it’s plain vanilla right now, I’ll tweak the templates as soon as I get the content in there) and linked from our WTCC home page. In conjunction with this, I’d like to start an open discussion with everyone about our new CMS. To that end, I am going to post (right after this) another thread called CMS feedback (for all you <3s>

You’ll also be getting an email from me soon (hopefully today) asking what cool web tech your library is using, is preparing to use, or has used in the past, so keep an eye out.

By the way, we are still looking for a few students who’d like to help us with the conversion process to the CMS. Pay starts at $10/hour (sorry, this isn’t a GA position), you can email Robert ( if you are interested in finding out more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

RSS feeds from CMS news module up and running

The news module IT has developed for use within the library CMS is available now. If you take a look at my personal page on UIUC netfiles (Robert Slater's Personal Page), you can see that, as promised, I'm now able to pull in both my blogger feed as well as the UIUC Library IT News Feed, which is running on the CMS. For those of you already using the CMS, we'll be updating the documentation on the news module in general over the next few weeks, since they're are still other exciting enhancements being rolled into this service by IT (as you read this).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Undergraduate Library moving forward with facebook application development

The undergraduate library is moving forward with their initiative to begin developing new UIUC Library Apps for facebook, building on the excellent groundwork laid by David Ward and Lisa Hinchliffe already started, both by taking a leadership role on moving the UIUC library prominently into facebook, and then rolling out our first UIUC Library facebook application for connecting to easy search. David will soon be posting an hourly position for those of you interested in developing facebook applications, and the new developer will work on integrating library information and resource directly in to facebook. What facebook apps might you want to see the library work on?

Google's feed has the same problem...

Turns out google's AJAX feed tool has the same 1 hour(ish) delay on how often it will refresh its cache of your blog(s). The only reasonable solution I've found so far is to locally install a script like feed2js and then tweak the settings for how often the cache is updated. Let me know if anyone has found a tool that will let you pull live from the actual feed source.

Experimenting with AJAX tools to include RSS feeds in web pages...

So far I've experimented with feed2JS and the google AJAX feed API. The downside to using the (hosted) version of feed2js is that all feeds are cached for 1 hour, so your posts won't be immediately available on your web page(s). It _looks_ like google updates quite a lot more frequently, but I am testing that now. More later, off to an 11am meeting about UGL development of facebook applications. Exciting!

Friday, February 8, 2008

So busy I haven't had a chance to post until now...

What has the CL been so busy with that there have been no blog updates? For one, I’ve been learning to use the library’s openCMS system and implementation (including tinyMCE). Then there are meetings (so many meetings ;) to start continue getting in touch with all the disparate librarians, staff, and students who contribute to our wonderful (but massive) library web site(s). I’ve been working on getting both a new web site (just a few pages so far, I know) for the Office of Web Technologies and Content Coordination (and its closely associated groups, the Web Content Working Group and the CMS Divisional Liaisons) as well as a personal page/profile up on netfiles (Robert Slater’s personal page). That’s what been going on in brief. Over the next few weeks, Camilla Fulton and I will be working on beefing up documentation of the CMS, as well as preparing training materials for divisional and unit training sessions for the CMS (stay posted for updates on this, we hope to begin offering sessions within a few weeks). While we are working on that, I’ll also be working with John Weible and Alex Waite to tweak the rules that govern what is allowed content in the CMS to reach the right balance between control, usability, and accessibility on the one hand, and providing those users with a solid understanding of XHTML and CSS to use a subset of CSS to position more complex pages. This means experimenting with the tinyMCE filtering rules to open up some of the most common CSS positioning elements (float, clear, width) on divs so that some of our more advanced users can correctly lay out complex pages using CSS. Following that, John and I are working together to implement an RSS aggregator feature (different from the RSS syndication/News Module they already have developed) that many of the more tech-savvy units have already been asking for. After that, we’ll be tackling the IT Word Press blogs to make a template for it that matches the new site design. Finally (because that’s not enough ;) we’ll be working on making schemas to represent the heavily used Eric Kraft layouts (and descendants), so people can easily use the same look they are used to, but have it done in pure CSS (without having to know anything about the CSS), similar to the work that Barry Bailey is doing with Bill Mischo for the faculty bios/CVs. I’ve identified a promising GSLIS student to hire, Aaron Fleisher, who should be starting next week. If you know of any hard-working students, with a solid understanding of HTML and CSS, have them drop me an email or IM. I could still use one or two more students this semester.