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The Backend

All this is stored in a FileMaker database. Emily can use this interface to oversee, override or edit entries.

What the Evaluator Sees

This is what the evaluator in the Office of Admissions sees:

What The Submitter Sees

Here are a series of screen shots showing what a student who submits a course for approval will see:


I installed the Hyper Cache plugin on the Satellite and measured improvements on WebWait.

  1. Before activating Hyper Cache
  2. After activating Hyper Cache
  3. After placing define('WP_CACHE', true); in the wp-config.php file
  4. After clearing cache in Hyper Cache settings.

Intranet: Close-Out

Sure there's more to do but I'm closing out the Intranet project and opening a new project as Phase II.


I spent a whopping 350 hours since April of 2010. Uffda. But look at the result.


Grubstake for Stakeholders

These are ingredients of a successful project. We tend to follow a process that blends Project Management phases with the Software Development Life Cycle lightly seasoned with User Experience protocols.

As a consequence, the following are not pure examples of the form. They too are hybrids — our process flows look kind of wireframey — but they work for us because we're small, we fill multiple roles, and urgency trumps formality.

Statements of Work (SOWs)

Process Flows


System Maps


Close-Out Meetings

User Access

Here are the areas within the WordPress administration and which roles can access them.

Area Editor Author Contributor
Posts Yes    
Categories Yes    
Tags Yes    
Conference Rooms Yes    
Documents Yes    
Knowledge Base Yes    
Media Yes    
Comments Yes    
Users Yes    
Polls Yes    
Analytics Yes    

User Roles

These are the stock WordPress roles and how we're using them.

Administrator - Full access to everything. Dean's Office communications staff and IT will share the credentials to the sole administrator account.

Editor - Can create and publish their own posts plus edit and publish other people's posts. Can view analytics data plus work with Conference Rooms, Documents and the Knowledge Base. This role is assigned to Dean's Office communications staff.

Author - Can create and publish their own posts plus edit and publish other people's posts. These are key contributors in the various units.

Contributor - Can create their own posts and submit them for publishing. This is the majority of GPS staff.

Subscriber - Can read posts and make comments. We're not using this role but it may come in handy if we want to grant access to someone outside GPS (Robert Jones office? General Counsel's office?)

WordPress Brown Bag

I shared my progress on our intranet at a brown bag session on WordPress yesterday. Essential to our site is the Less Framework adaptive CSS grid system which skins our content to the users device. I added the Starbucks nomenclature to identify the proportions within. Observe how the bricks reassemble themselves as the screen size changes.

The Satellite and Your Mobile Device

On Your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch

Wordpress (free): Good for adding posts because you login only once and you can work offline. Install the app and I'll configure it. You do not need to create an account.

Twitter (free): Twitter is fully integrated with the iOS so you can tweet from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube and Maps. Get a Twitter account if you do not already have one. Install the app and configure it with your account. Tweets tagged with our designated hashtag will appear on The Satellite.

FlickStackr for Flickr ($1.99): Tag and upload photos to our Flickr stream. Create a photo gallery in a post using the short code:

[slickr-flickr tag="thetagyouused"]

Instagram (free): Take photos, add filters, tag and upload. Install the app and use it to create your Instagram account. Photos tagged with our designated hashtag will appear on The Satellite.

System Map

I took the content inventory (did you have a chance to review that list?), and organized it into this system map. In the process I puzzled out how the data will be managed in WordPress and what rules govern how it appears on the page.


Why WordPress?

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I watched much of a Lynda tutorial on choosing the right content management system (CMS). I rated the following features on how important they are to our project. 1 = not important, 3 = very important.

Multisite support1
Easy for content providers3
Easy to set up2
Good documentation3
Support community3
Page management2
SEO-friendly URLs2
ECommerce capability1
Robust search features2
Lean and compliant code3

Other Things To Look for in a CMS

  • Content editor - Can it elegantly handle text, images, pdfs an other assets?
  • Template and Theme Use - Is it easy to implement your desired look and easy to change?
  • User Controls - Can you build roles and access that benefit both users and administrators?
  • Security - Can you regulate access to content and controls when necessary?
  • Search - Can you search all kinds of content quickly?

What Do We Need Out of a CMS?

  • Allow for several content providers across multiple units.
  • Manage different types of content (text, rss feeds, photos, tabular data, calendars).

What's Our Skill Set?

HTML, PHP, CSS. Have experience with WordPress including building a theme from scratch.


Here's what another University staff member says about Contao:

During the past year we began using Contao Content Management System for managing Disability Services websites. It is a great CMS and it just got even better. We now have a module for University web authentication with Shibboleth. This module allows authentication with the University Internet ID and password for website editors as well as for users allowed to see protected content (often used for Intranets). Permissions for authenticated users are configured within Contao user groups. Please get in touch if you are interested in this module.
  • ModX - Seems too much for our little intranet.
  • Drupal - Too complex and no expertise with.
  • Concrete 5 - Patrick H says it's still good but recommends WordPress for us.
  • Contao - Very tempting given the testimony above.
  • Other Free and Open Source - There are many but none stand out.


  • I have experience with it.
  • It meets our requirements.
  • LAC already uses it and it works well for them.
  • Patrick H, who has a lot of experience in web systems, endorses it.
  • There's a huge online community including users here on campus.
  • We should be able to make it work with Shibboleth.

Kick-Off: CARLA Contact Database

Met with Liz yesterday and sketched out a rough timeline for this project:
October to Mid November: I work on database based on dissections of the current database.
Mid November to Mid December: Work with Liz, incorporating her feedback.
Mid December to Late December: Complete database.
Early January: Import data and implement.

Getting Media Queries To Work

I'm using WordPress for our intranet and incorporating the Less Framework template so our pages respond to the device. I learned that I need to add the following line to the header.php file. I added it after the stylesheet call.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, 

Also, I changed the tablet dimensions to the following:

@media only screen and (min-width: 768px) and (max-width: 1024px) { }

Way Forward

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It's decided: WorkflowGen will be the new platform for CARLA's Conference Database. To review, the Conference Database is a web-based system built by Marlene using FileMaker 6 and CDML. It gathers conference proposals for review and approval by committees. People like it. It works. Each year Marlene prepares a new iteration of the core application — a task she's gotten very good at.

Why change?

  • We need to decommission the FileMaker 6 server and no modern server can run FileMaker 6.
  • We want to move away from decentralized bespoke systems to more widely-used platforms that can be understood and supported by Dean's Office IT.

Why WorkflowGen?

  • We're already migrating GPS systems to it (Judd Fellowship, Travel Grants).
  • Patrick has been trained on it.
  • There is a growing community of users here on campus.
  • It's supported centrally; though that's more emotional support. We need to cultivate our own expertise in building systems. It's thought that after initial setup in .net, people like Marlene can take command of the solution to set up processes and access levels.

Some concerns

  • Can we set it up so it's flexible in the right places? Can we repurpose our initial solution and reuse year after year? Can it be genericized? A word we invented for this notion.
  • Does Marlene need to learn .net to fully "own" the solution or can her work be accomplished in the GUI?
  • Can it elegantly accommodate multiple tracks of submissions based on a theme?

Next Steps

  • Marlene checks into RegOnline - a platform others in the department are exploring.
  • Marlene works her magic one last time and prepares a solution in FileMaker 6 and CDML for the upcoming conference.
  • Christopher plots the CARLA Conference system on the WorkflowGen work-plan. We should start in the Spring of 2012 in order to have it ready by this time next year.
  • Soni backs away. Since this is neither FileMaker or PHP or WordPress or OBI, she's no longer involved.