February Meeting Overview
We covered a lot of new projects, services, and news in today’s meeting. Here’s the powerpoint along with a summary of everything we covered.
Movable Type 4.1
We will be upgrading to MovableType 4.1 during the spring semester. This new version of MovableType has a brand new interface and sports quite a few useful new features including the following:
- Asset management system – manage uploaded files and images and see where they’ve been used
- Inline text formatting – See a live version of your blog post as you type and format it. The entry editor now displays images and text formatting directly in the textarea.
- Handier template editing – The template editor has built-in syntax highlighting and checking, suggests template tags based on the template you are currently editing, and has immediate access to help documentation on template tags.
See more details on the new features of MovableType.
We are continuing to work on implementing departmental wikis. We have the system working with LDAP for authenticated and have set up a few test wikis. The system, when fully implemented, will allow for
– view access options: public or eID-authenticated only
– edit access options: any eID-authenticated address or only specific eID-authenticated groups (there will be no publicly accessible editable wikis)
Once the wiki is fully tested and ready for production, we will have user documentation and a signup form to request a wiki for your department.
RedDot Web CMS
Apache Frontpage Extensions
We are eliminating support for Apache Frontpage extensions on all of our Apache servers this year. Support on JupiterOld (www3 and some virtual hosts) and the People server (www.people.vcu.edu) will be eliminated in June 2008. Support on the CVCO non-profit hosting server will be eliminated by December 2008.
The following sites are still located on one of the above servers and may still use Apache frontpage extensions:
If your site is one of these, please contact us about updating or moving your site (if you no longer use Frontpage extensions, for example).
PHP and MySQL support
We are working on adding PHP support for websites hosted at VCU. Currently we have a PHP server running in test mode with several accounts set up for an initial trial. For the time being, it will host non-secure departmental sites. Before we make it production-ready, we are waiting for the University Computer Center to support a MySQL database server (they have announced plans to have one up and running within 6 weeks). Once the UCC has their MySQL database in production, we will open the box up for anyone to request an account.
We’ve recently redesigned the VCU training site to be easier to use and add in some of the more frequently requested features. We are still working on the site and would like your feedback. Originally developed in 2000, it has hosted 4793 training courses for 11 departments and has processed a total of 39,926 students. The system is built to handle registration, evaluation, and reporting for non-credit training courses offered by various departments at the university.
Services: VCU Central Authentication Service
We have set up a Central Authentication Service using JA-SIG CAS. The central authentication service (at login.vcu.edu) can be used to provide eID authentication for any web application that supports CAS and is an easy way to provide a single sign-on location for multiple applications at VCU. Future uses of the CAS include Apache-level support for creating eID-authenticated areas within departmental websites and using the CAS for external applications that will support it, such as WeaveOnline version 4.
For more information about the CAS, see the product information site.
Services: Web Search
We are in the process of acquiring a Google Search Appliance. Several other Virginia schools have one including VMI, George Mason, and University of Virginia.
Benefits of hosting our own Google Search Appliance include:
- the ability to determine when sites are indexed (and reindexing as often as necessary),
- the option to index authenticated sites, including Blackboard,
- a consistent site-wide search engine for all VCU sites,
- the ability to highlight and emphasize websites based on keyword searches, and
- the ability to more fully customize the search templates to match the VCU look and feel.
Similar to the TinyURL service, go.vcu.edu is a URL redirection service for simplifying complex URLs and providing a persistent, easy-to-remember link to commonly used websites. Better than TinyURL, you can choose the keyword defined for your link. We are currently rebuilding the interface for the service to provide a list of the public keywords we’ve accumulated so far (along with any that you would like to add). In addition, we are building in the option of authenticated and private keywords so that you can protect URLs from accidental discovery. Authenticated keywords will be available on the public listing to anyone who authenticates with a VCU eID and password. Private keywords will never be listed on the public listing.
Some example links:
Services: Planned System Changes
The new Technology Services Change Management System is going into full production soon. With it, we hope to track all of the changes that are planned to Technology Services’ resources and systems throughout the university. You can track what changes are planned through the public interface and sign up to be notified about changes to specific systems via listservs. View the Planned System Changes public site.
VCU Home Page Redesign
You may now provide input to the upcoming redesign of the VCU
website by participating in the survey at:http://www.homepagesurvey.vcu.edu
and take the survey to help provide useful feedback. There is also an opportunity to participate further in a focus group. In addition to the main VCU site, we are looking at redesigning the Events Calendar interface and working with Creative Services to make the campus maps more useful.
Technology Services Website Redesign
Since last fall, we have held 6 focus groups (2 each for faculty, staff, and students) to help us define user needs and hone our content down to the most important and useful features. As a result of these focus groups, we’ve redesigned our homepage and are in the planning stages for a full site redesign. We welcome any feedback you can provide on both the current website and the newly redesigned homepage to help us improve our presence on the web. Visit our site at http://www.ts.vcu.edu.