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May 26, 2009

Testing: Problems that have surfaced

Hello everyone! First of all, thanks to everyone that has tested the system so far. A number of problems have been found thanks to your diligence. Please let me know ASAP if you find anymore problems!

Overall, testing has gone well. I think the bulk of the new functionality has been working as expected. There has just been a few things that have, again, surfaced as true bugs.

  • Guest Internet IDs don’t seem to be working
  • System Overview -> Select a new Blog – shows all blogs, should only show user’s blogs
  • Add users screen – Choices for user permissions are being cut off.
  • Conversion problems
    • Blogs that use the comments popup need to be automatically switched to point at the Individual Archive Template. The popup will no longer work in MT 4.2.
    • Page creation on existing blogs is buggy. In fact, the system doesn't seem to publish a new page at all. On new MT 4.2 blogs pages publish fine.
    • Removal of the old captcha plugin script is problematic in some blogs. It removes the captcha javascript, and also most of the comment form, including the submit button.
  • There seems to be a problem with the "Action Stream" blog type. What this blog type is supposed to do is show a record of all the user's activity on the system. So, if you have three blogs and post in all them, the Action Stream should show all the activity on these three blogs. Right now, the Action Stream is flat out buggy. We'll look into it, but we may need to drop this blog type for now.
  • On "Community Blogs" commenting seems to be broken. Brings up the error: "Text was entered wrong"
  • Lots of bugs and confusion regarding the Privacy Plugin feature (this plugin should help make blogs private to only listed U of M Internet IDs). We will definitely try to fix these issues.

Finally, there are three plugins I'd also like to have installed before we launch:

  • Template Exporter (
  • Image Gallery ( … I’ve also asked about pricing for BlogShow --
  • Custom Field Search (

Those should make the new UThink even better. Let me know if any other plugins look worth while.

Finally, as you might have noticed, we have pushed back our date to officially make the upgrade. I am hopeful we can make the switch in the next two weeks, depending on how quickly we can fix all these problems.

Thanks again to everyone that is testing the new system! Let me know if you find any more issues!

May 15, 2009

Testers needed

Hello everyone! As many of you probably know, we are planning on upgrading the wonder that is UThink at the end of this month (May). Exciting times! Anyway, the system is "good enough" that I would greatly appreciate if some of you would test it out.

I have already contacted a bunch of people to test existing blogs in the system to make sure that they transfer properly when we finally go live. However, I really need people to test the creation of new blogs, new entries, and to try all the new blog/site types we have (Classic blog, Community blog, Professional website, Forum).

So, would you be willing to test this beast out? If so, contact me at

There are some known issues so far:

  1. Creating "Pages" within existing blogs does not seem to work. "Pages" in new blogs seems to work great.
  2. Guest Internet IDs do not seem to work.
  3. Creating private blogs is a little (actually a lot) buggy. In fact, you may just want to ignore that for now.

Also, due to new functionality within Movable Type (the software that runs UThink) we will now be publishing all blogs through SSL (https). There are pros and cons with this, but it is what it is. Most systems at the U that require x.500 (U of M Internet ID) integration are published through SSL. Unfortunately, UThink can no longer be an exception.

So, again, let me know if you'd like to be a tester. We hope to upgrade at the end of May, so there isn't much time left to get this right! Thanks!

May 11, 2009

Custom Fields are going to be interesting

Hello everyone! The UThink upgrade is still progressing nicely and is on schedule for the end of the month. We will soon be contacting some pre-selected testers to give the new interface a whirl and try to identify problems that need to be fixed. Exciting times!

Speaking of exciting, there is a new feature in UThink/Movable Type that deserves some further investigation: Custom Fields. Custom Fields will allow users to create their own input fields for their blogs and web sites. There are some fields that come standard in any new UThink site: Entry Title, Entry Body, Extended Entry, etc. But a lot of times you are creating a blog or web site with a very specific need in mind. For example, what if you wanted to create a site for music reviews? Well, you would probably like some fields for "Album Cover" or "Album review" or any other kind of fields around the idea of reviewing music. With Custom Fields you will be able to create new fields to match your data needs.

Here is another example. Being a librarian, I read a fair number of books and I almost always check those books out from a library (As a side note, did you know that the U of M Libraries is the 17th largest library in the country? You've got access to a lot of good books! I'm just sayin' ...). What I would like to do is create a site to review the books I read. As part of that site I'd like to document the Library Location and Call Number of the book I've read so I can keep track of where I am getting most of my books from. So, using Custom Fields I could create a field to do that. Check out the image below (click on it to make it bigger):


Not too shabby, heh? In fact, I am under the impression that a person could use Custom Fields to completely change how data is entered into Movable Type. A person could probably use Custom Fields to create all sorts of unique data types, and then alter the entry creation form to show only those new fields. That way, instead of a blog you could conceivably create an online database.

That is my impression. As I say above, this new functionality will need some further investigation. But the potential is certainly there. For more information about Custom Fields please see:

Custom Fields documentation
Custom Field Use-Cases

As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments!