Version 1.2.4 of the OSU Home Page rolled out quietly, so to speak.  If you received a text, phone call or email of the emergency notification test, then you have signed up to receive alert notifications for Oregon State University.  If you haven’t, then you should visit the alerts page and sign up.

If you happened to be looking at the home page when the alerts went out, something else happened.  You would have seen a red area and text about the alert that appeared due to the code changes we made for the home page in our 1.2.4 release.  The work that started with the 1.2.0 release continued and we were able to rollout and actually do a live test of the functionality necessary to have both alerts manually pushed to the page by a person’s intervention, as well as an alert to show up without human intervention.

You read that correctly, no human intervention.  How does that happen you ask?  Well, through OSU’s usage of the Blackboard Connect system to distribute alerts, we were able to leverage the alert RSS feed that was set up as part of the notification process.  By developing code to watch for new feeds, and also with feeds being able to have start and stop times, we can not only place them on the home page with no intervention, we can also remove them as well.

Now what happens if something goes wrong with the automatic process you ask?  Well as stated, we do have that capability for human intervention to put alerts directly to the home page.  Also, in some cases, alert information or updates may not go through the emergency alert notification system, so the human intervention was a necessary requirement.

In going through this process, we did learn a few things that we will be making enhancements and improvements in the next few maintenance releases.

So here’s to you OSU Home Page, and to the collaborative efforts of many on campus, the Crisis Communications Team, Kirsten in Network Engineering (who I am giving a personal thanks), Central Web Services and Web Communications, for being on alert!

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