April 4, 2004

Extended Review of UThink

After using the system for a day or so, let me be the first to say that the integration with the x500 authentication is well done and convenient. On the whole, the project is very well done--I'm impressed with how smooth the whole process (of creating a new blog) went.

My greatest fear for this project is adoption--how many people will use it? Certainly, a first step would be to announce the project in a very public fashion (system-wide email?). I'll have to admit that I stumbled upon it only as I was looking over some system logs for referrers to my blog.

I'd like to clarify a few points--setting up a blog was much slicker than I had ever imagined (orders of magnitude easier than trying to install it by hand, or sign up for one of the other free blog hosts, ie: LiveJournal, Xanga, etc).

I understand the U's rational for adding the generic disclaimer to the bottom of all of the pages, but really they are one of the few schools that do this (as far as I've noticed).

The ability to allow multiple people to post to one blog is a really smart idea--something I noticed, but disregarded the first time around. Removing an author from a blog isn't the most trivial thing to do. However, it's not something that'll ever be used on a regular enough basis to make changing it worthwhile.

They smartly disabled the blog location fields in the "Weblog Config", preventing an unknowing (or malicious) user from changing the location of the blog to something that would either keep it from working or overwrite somebody else's files.

As for plugins, the only one I'd really recommend would be MT Textile. I used a number of other ones on my installation of MT on the ITLabs servers--namely SmartyPants, MTIfEmpty, and PerlScript. However, the majority of those satisfied only a small portion of the community that's looking to do something out of the ordinary. Beyond that, they might introduce a security risk. My suggestion would be to establish some sort of procedure for requesting the addition of plugins--maybe a suggestion form or email address.

On the whole, the project is well conceived and executed. Only time will tell if it is as successful as I hope it will.

Posted by froe0071 at April 4, 2004 11:12 PM