Week(s) Notes: 4 April 2014

Okay, so I lied and we’ve been awful at keeping on top of the week notes but here goes with an overview of what we’ve been up to since last time.

  • Dozens of updates to our digital signage across campus.
  • One of the screens in the GeoSciences building now has Department of Geography specific content to welcome visitors through the door.
  • The Creative Edge video wall has featured a tribute to Stuart Hall plus hosted content
  • Set up an environment to internally host a web service from the Department of Computing, complete with git hooks for easy deployment.
  • Supporting promotion of the National Student Survey – if you’re a final year student it’s not too late to have your say!
  • A few maintenance updates to our PC Availability service and looking at some of the reporting work done last summer.
  • Discussions about the English & History website and how it will fit into our new WordPress theme.
  • Student (and some staff profiles) are now hosted in WordPress. While not actively linked to you can explore them all on the profile wall.
  • Profiles are also available via oEmbed allowing really easy reuse of content across sites. See how they look on the Law and Criminology student profiles page.
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate subject pages are now in WordPress incorporating embedded videos (as a slider for Teacher Training and Health) and a profiles slider.
  • Completed the upgrade to FontAwesome 4.0.3 – a painful process when most references to the old icon- classes are trapped in serialized WordPress tables. Only made possible by the fantastic Search-Replace-DB by Interconnect/IT.
  • Added a widget area to our content page templates. These will allow the easy creation of sub homepages comprising rows of 1-4 widgets at the top of any given page.
  • The above designs are a prerequisite for moving large sites such as the Faculties of Education and Health & Social Care over to the new theme. This work has now begun in earnest!
  • Website updates and migrations for Admission, External Examiners, Inclusive Services and probably others I’ve forgotten.
  • Spring cleaning some of our older sites with a purge of old code that’s no longer used and tracking down the cause of various 500 errors that trigger alerts each time their URL is hit.
  • Learning Services moved to new theme (it’s a big, high traffic site so deserves a mention on its own).
  • The annual cloning and publishing of new course “presentations” has been completed with colleagues from Corporate Comms. 2015 is now live!
  • The homepage now features full width slides allowing us to better highlight Edge Hill’s stunning campus.
  • Improved the print stylesheet for our site.

Finally the raw stats:

  • JIRA – Created: 199; Resolved: 192
  • RMS – Created: 154; Cleared: 159

That’s all for this week term- we’ll try to be back next Friday with a regular amount of updates.

Week Notes: 7 February 2014

We’ve been slacking with the Week Notes during January but now we’re back! Here’s what we’ve been up to in the last week.

  • Following its launch before Christmas, the University Homepage is getting further updates to increase the impact of the feature stories and allow better discovery of content in the “cards”.
  • Over the last month we’ve been frantically upgrading departmental sites – a fairly straightforward job for those on our old “Child of Twenty Twelve” theme but requiring more work for sites moving from our older Twenty Ten based theme. Hold tight if we’ve not got around to your site yet!
  • Profiles are dangerously close to being served up from WordPress – demonstration to colleagues next week will finalise what more needs to be done.
  • The video wall in Creative Edge won an award for our supplier PureAV. We now have a number of video sources hooked up to the screen and will be working with colleagues across the university to push even great content out through it.
  • JIRA – Created: 18; Resolved: 23
  • RMS – Created: 27; Cleared: 36

I’ll leave you with the latest game from UsVsTh3mWhich 8-bit computer are you?

I grew up in a BBC Model B house and the quiz got close saying I was a BBC Master – I think it was my Dad “organising Scout jumble sales” which gave it away!

Bonus Week Notes: 23 December

It might be the last working day of the year for Web Services but we’ve pushed a few things live:

  • New mega menu navigation now contains a “social media” link.
  • Scroll indicator on the homepage to encourage discovery of all our great content.
  • The Study homepage is now powered by WordPress as is every page linked directly from it – we’ll be rolling out across Undergraduate and Postgraduate sites over the coming months ahead of a full review of our online prospectus.
  • We’ve made some minor improvements to the responsive site navigation. This is the main prerequisite for us switching other sites into the new theme which we’ll be doing early in the new year.

We’re now going to step away from the svn commit to avoid breaking anything else!

Have a great Christmas and a fantastic New Year!

Week Notes: 20 December 2013

This week we have mostly been launching this:

New Edge Hill University homepage
New Edge Hill University homepage

We’ll blog more about it after the Christmas break but a few interesting points below:

  • New server build to support the new WordPress powered homepage.
  • Varnish caching layer to make page serve times fly!
  • New Faculty of Arts and Sciences website.
  • Lots of support to departments updating their staff profiles.
  • Discussions about promotion of the National Student Survey.
  • Meeting with Learning Services to look at moving their site to new WordPress theme.
  • Meeting with Media about their website.
  • Meeting with Performing Arts about their website. (Can you see a pattern yet?!)
  • Probably some other things I’ve forgotten about following the IT Services meal out yesterday.
  • JIRA – Created: 29; Resolved: 32
  • RMS – Created: 15; Cleared: 18

This will be the last Friday week notes of 2013 – please let us know in the comments if you’ve found them useful.

I’ll leave you with a look at where we’ve come from:

Week Notes: 13 December

  • WordPress 3.8 is now running on both blogs.edgehill.ac.uk and the Corporate Website. There are lots of new features covered in the video below but if you’re an editor and want the old colour scheme back then get choose light from the edit profile page.
  • Updated the Web Services blog to the latest Twenty Fourteen theme – hope you like reading our posts!
  • Testing JS Hacks on Blackboard to more closely integrate with other staff- and student-facing services under the GO banner.
  • Sport website now in the new WordPress theme.
  • YouTube Live streaming of the December Graduation ceremonies went very well. There’s a short write up about it.
  • Updated the spam sales calls page for Corporate Communications. Four years ago I attempted a similar thing but it’s not always been successful – I get as many sales emails and calls as ever and I’m sorry to say I’m no better at telling companies when we’re not interested.
  • New homepage and theme developments ahead of a lunch before the end of term:
    • Reviewed and updated the contents of the mega menus.
    • Updated slide designs
    • Steve Johnson has done some great work on new Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Study homepages in the new design – these will launch alongside the new homepage.
    • Upgraded to the latest version of FontAwesome. This is incredibly painful when the use of many icons are stored in (serialized) database rows.
    • Lots of optimisation to attempt to improve the page load time.
  • JIRA – Created: 49; Resolved: 42
  • RMS – Created: 27; Closed: 31

That’s all for this week but check out a couple of festive microsites that other Universities have released:

Maybe we’ll join them next year when we’re not trying to launch a new homepage!

Week Notes: 6 December

  • Discussions between ourselves and Infrastructure Solutions about how we can get contact information about staff out of Outlook and Active Directory for use in staff profile pages.
  • Demonstrated some ideas for how research case studies that form part of Edge Hill’s REF submission can be showcased online. This will make use of our story functionality to show updates over time about each topic.
  • One of these topics covers research by The Other Jenny Barrett who I met on Monday to talk about options for hosting a website for some events next year. Listen to her explain more:
  • Graduation website now powered by WordPress.
  • Saturday’s graduations will for the first time use YouTube Live streaming to broadcast to the internet. This means you can now watch from a mobile phone or tablet. We’ve done a few trial runs with colleagues from Learning Services who will be in the control room while I’ve got a second row view!

  • We’ve planned for more academic department sites to move to the new WordPress theme in the coming weeks.
  • Yesterday saw the induction of the latest batch of student bloggers working with Student Recruitment to show what life is like at Edge Hill. Follow the Inside Edge blog to find out what they have to say!
  • As mentioned last week the Edge Hill Central app is now available for iOS – it’s also available through the Google Play store for Android.
  • JIRA – Created: 29; Resolved: 23
  • RMS – Created: 19; Closed: 17

Finally, this week we solved the problem of getting information “above the fold”: Above the fold Or, y’know, not.

Week Notes: 29 November

  • This week’s new homepage developments:
    • Refactoring have some of the site works, in particular to simplify how JavaScript and CSS interact to style the page.
    • Switching the responsive navigation from jPanelMenu to Sidr allowing the contents of the menu to be dynamically extracted from existing elements on the page rather than replicated in the HTML.
    • Started building a staging homepage. This will be a copy of the homepage and a new plugin for WordPress enabling the publishing of settings, widgets, pages and media to the live site, plus the ability to save draft versions and roll back changes.
  • Edge Hill Central for iOS has been released to the App Store and should be available to download within the next 24 hours.
  • Had discussions with colleagues from Student Recruitment about the next steps for Getting Started for new students.
  • Testing new hardware for streaming next weekend’s Graduation via YouTube Live – more information about this next week!
  • Discussions with Finance and Learning Services about how to raise the profile of Online Payments such as printer credits and library fines.
  • Migrated to new theme:
  • Working on several new WordPress sites for English as a Foreign Language and the Faculty of Education’s
  • UK-China Conference.
  • Set up a new live chat session for Student Recruitment and the Faculty of Education to run next week
  • JIRA – Created: 27; Resolved: 28
  • RMS – Created: 20; Closed: 18

Publishing early as I’m taking a few hours flexi but I’m sure loads more will happen on Friday afternoon!

Favourite discovery of the week was that the awesome isitchristmas.com now forces you to connect via SSL:

Week Notes: 22 November

  • This week saw many in Corporate Communications and Student Recruitment get their first look at the new homepage design at Tuesday’s super-Edmon meeting.
  • CAKE conference holding website and discussions about developments for the full site next year.
  • Websites migrated to TwentyTwelve child theme:
  • We now force users logging into and editing our WordPress sites (including the corporate website, blogs and online.edgehill.ac.uk) to connect via SSL. This follows Durham enabling SSL for all connections last month (subscription to JISCMAIL WEB-SUPPORT list required to view). This isn’t something we currently force – though sites are available through SSL – but we’re considering the implications of switching it on.
  • Added oEmbed provider support to our News website. Now you can get some embeddable content directly from edgehill.ac.uk/news/*. We plan to extend this to other types of content such as events, profiles etc.
  • Edge Hill Central app has been submitted to the iOS App Store – subject to Apple’s approval it will be available shortly.
  • Continued auditing our sites and cleared out a number of dead ones including the public Web Services page!
  • JIRA – Created: 23; Resolved: 26
  • RMS – Created: 10; Cleared: 10

That’s all for this week but if you have a Windows ME related crisis over the weekend then fear not – I’ve got you covered!

Week Notes: 15 November

  • Steve Daniels and I attended the Percona Live London conference on Tuesday. Steve has a bit of a write up.
  • Jenny Jordan and I represented IT Services at the first meeting of the Student Affairs Committee. There’s always work going on across the University to improve the student experience and some of the changes in our department can play an important part in that.
  • We’ve been building some additional functionality for the new homepage ahead of it going live in the next couple of weeks. One feature we hope not to use is the ability to push alert notices onto the homepage – think “escaped monkey on campus”, or more likely “campus still open despite the snow” – and what was previously a frantic hack to the homepage will be possible with just a few clicks.
  • Delivered Wiki and WordPress training for two Graduate Trainees working in Corporate Communications and Student Recruitment.
  • Alumni website is now in WordPress with a new homepage design.
  • As always, there’s lots to do ahead of tomorrow’s Open Day and this time we’ve been pushing content out to selected screens across campus plus getting some Media students’ work up on the new video wall in Creative Edge.
  • JIRA – Created: 20; Resolved: 20
  • RMS – Created: 11; Cleared: 12

Congratulations to Alison Kerwin (formerly of this parish) and her team at the University of York on the launch of their homepage redesign.

University of York

Suppose I should get the beers in ready for when ours goes live!

Week Notes: 8 November

  • The homepage designs have been honed and debugged and are perilously close to being ready to go live.
  • Part of this work was reviewing how far to go to support non-JavaScript users. GDS have some interesting findings showing a gap between the number of users who have JavaScript switched on and off: people who have JS turned on but for whom it doesn’t execute.
  • On Wednesday I met colleagues from Learning Services to look at how we can make use of YouTube Live for streaming corporate events such as graduation ceremonies.
  • Work on moving profiles into WordPress continues with valuable assistance from Mark who’s doing some work collating information about staff for Corporate Comms.
  • Updated another WordPress installation – this time the one that hosts the bbPress/BuddyPress-powered Think Applicant Forums.
  • Moved our shared network storage across to a new platform.
  • The Scholarships website joins Biology and Social Sciences is now in our TwentyTwelve child theme.
  • Several key sites start their migration into WordPress – Graduation should be relatively straightforward but Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Study sites each contain hundreds of pages so for the first time we’re planning a staged transition, initially moving the homepages before working through the rest of each site.
  • Feedback on our beta site search has been broadly positive so we’re fine tuning it with promoted pages and auto complete suggestions to ensure visitors get to the most relevant results. Feedback still welcome.
  • In JIRA – our team project management tool – we created 42 and resolved 41 issues in the last week.
  • RMS – 23 calls came in through the service desk and we cleared 32 (which will include some carried over from last week).

Finally, I learnt the hard way the importance of triple-checking what window you’re in after I accidentally restarted our development server on Monday morning after 999 days, 20 hours and 30 minutes continuous uptime – I just had time to grab a screenshot before it disconnected:

999 days uptime

1000 is a pretty arbitrary number anyway, and it gives Infrastructure Solutions to do some maintenance on the virtual machine that wasn’t possible without shutting it down so every cloud has a silver lining.