January 2010 Archives


We held a close-out meeting for two Confucius Institute projects — the PHP Calendar and the Online Catalog. A few things are worth calling out and applying to future projects.


Managing timelines is still difficult for us in IT. While we did deliver a demo in time for a teacher conference, after that the deadline got loosey goosey. We pledge to renew our efforts to:

  • set realistic deadlines
  • work backward from those deadlines; and
  • observe a fake deadline for ourselves set for two weeks earlier


We still fall short in giving regular progress reports, especially when there's no progress to report. This week Christopher and I shifted our Monday status meeting from 3:00 pm to 2:00 pm. This way I'll have time immediately following our status to prepare progress reports for all my stakeholders.

Expectation Gap

Christopher and I had an ah-ha moment listening to Emily describe her understanding of the relationship between the FileMaker database and the searchable online catalog. She assumed they were developed in tandem and would be delivered at the same time. This happened on another project where the stakeholder believed the web interface to be some sort of by-product of the FileMaker solution. We resolve to:

  • Be very clear what the deliverables are; make sure it's spelled out in the Statement of Work and review it with the stakeholder.
  • Make sure we understand the long-term, big-picture goals of the project so we don't waste time on intermediate solutions that will be soon retired.
  • Make sure the stakeholder understands that a FileMaker-only solution doesn't get us any closer to a web solution. I believe we've been asked to develop the former when they really want the latter.

Good Things

Let's congratulate ourselves for what we did right:

  • Delivered solid solutions that meet their needs
  • Responded to changes in scope and absorbed them into the project
  • Provided good documentation beyond what was expected

External Funding Kick-off Redux


We met Jan 15, 2010, to reinvigorate the project begun with Thuy and combine it with a similar project for Meaka. Next, I will:

  1. Update the statement of work to reflect the addition of Meaka's funding database. Done. Download the Statement of Work.
  2. Compare both databases and determine similarities and how differences can be reconciled.
  3. Ask Christopher where University-wide scholarship application is. Done. The University initiative does not bear on this project. Ours is a curated list of scholarships of particular interest to our audience. It will not have all the information the user needs but rather directs them to the various websites where they can learn more and apply.

We discussed the potential of interfacing with the travel warning list generated by the State department and the ability for users to search by keywords.

Online Databases

Eventually we'll have everything running FileMaker 10 and PHP on our main servers. For now:

  • CARLA's stuff uses FMP 5 and CDML on some server
  • ISSS's stuff uses FMP 5.5 and LASSO on some server
  • LAC stuff uses FMP 6 Unlimited and Instant Web Publishing on the Backup Server

WIV Tracking: Progress Report


I mocked up a web form. Big thanks to Kim in ASR who got me started with Javascript. The page shows and hides fields as the user needs them. If Brook and the others approve of the direction, I'll get the page working. Time to brush up on file uploads.


The FileMaker database should be real simple. Here's a screen shot:

Screenshot of WIV Tracking database<

These are the communications that seem silly on the face of it but are important to good project management — something I resolve to be better at in 2010. The progress report on the Orientation Registration project is there there has been no progress on the Orientation Registration project. However, this is not bad news.

  • The deadline is unchanged at March 1, 2010.
  • We taught ourselves how to leverage the Central Authentication Hub for the Support Ticket project which is something we need for this project.
  • A while back I spent time developing the back-end FileMaker database.

LCTL: Progress Report


The database is taking shape. It's divided into three tables - Languages, Revisions to those languages and Searches. Searches will give you the data you formerly got from web server stats. It will record what searches were performed and how many results were returned. Here in IT we're testing FileMaker Server 10's ability to generate reports and e-mail them automatically. Image getting your search statistics in your e-mail inbox every morning!

To Do This Week:

  1. Arrange fields on the layout and other cosmetics.
  2. Program the ability to review, accept or deny new languages or revisions to existing languages.
  3. Data cleanup - In your current database, is there a way to tell what is the "real" language entry and what is a previous revision? I'll need to sort that out in order to populate the new database. We/I didn't budget time for data cleanup so I hope this won't be an enormous task.

Web Front End

It's very spare but it works so far. You can search languages and when you do a record is created in the Search table. I won't fuss with making it look pretty because that will happen when we nest it within your site.

To Do This Week:

  1. Build a form to submit a new language.
  2. Build a form to revise an existing language.
  3. Add the ability to select a language from a dynamically-generated list of languages in a pop-up window.