Every department hopes for collaboration and cooperation among all of its members. Here at Central Web Services we are working towards making that a reality. In September, our office had a face lift. Out went the dull grey cubicles and in came new wooden desks and an open work space. The removal of the cubicle walls created an open and inviting workspace. Here are some pros and cons we’ve noticed since the redesign:
More space in the office
Easier to talk to one another
Collaboration among different areas within the department is easier
The office appears brighter and more inviting
Seeing who’s in the office at a glance
Nosier at times
No cubicle walls to hang things on
Spontaneous drop-ins by visitors can cause more disruption then previously
Although there was some hesitation on taking down the cubicles, we all agree that the change in the work environment has helped strengthen the team dynamic.
We have rolled out a new blog theme which is named OSU Responsive. Why Responsive?
Responsive really means responsive web design. The goal behind responsive web design is to have the design of a given web page be adjusted dependent on the size of the screen. So on a phone, the look and feel changes to be more of a mobile experience where reading a full web page doesn’t necessarily make sense.
The theme is a two column theme, with only a main sidebar, and the bottom contact area as available areas to put widgets in. Remember, not all widgets will look good in different areas so you will have to see what works and doesn’t.
Who can use OSU Responsive? Responsive is available for everyone, however, there are some things to note. The use of the OSU logo or tag is restricted to certain use. The theme will display the tag or not based on the Organization Type as specified by the table below.
Can Use Branded Theme?
Sponsored Student Organization (SSO)
Voluntary Student Organization (VSO)
Non-Affiliated Student Organization (NSO)
Student Organizations are governed by the policies of Student Leadership and Involvement. If you are a student group and do not know which type of organization you are, please visit the Student Leadership and Involvement site.
What do you need to do to use it?
1. If you are switching over from an existing theme, and you switch it immediately, it might seem that your site is broken in layout. It isn’t. It is simply that the widgets need to be removed and put back into the areas available for it. So we recommend first removing all the widgets in use from the sidebars.
2. Go to Appearance -> Themes in your WordPress dashboard, and select the OSU Responsive theme.
3. Put your widgets back into the sidebar.
4. Deactivate the Sociable Skyscraper plugin if you are using it. Use of this inserts a thin horizontal line and makes the theme look broken. Go to Skyscraper Options in the Select Sociable Plugin expanded menu to deactivate.
And that’s it. Good blogging to you all.
Accessibility and Brand Guidelines
As part of the OSU Responsive use, the use of a different background image or color must adhere to OSU’s policies regarding Accessibility and Brand. Any failure to do so may cause your blog to be disabled. The net takeaway here is don’t change it if you don’t understand the policies, which is why we at Central Web Services, take care of these things for you in creating the default theme. However, do remember within your articles, accessibility policies still apply if this is used in any official capacity for students, staff, or faculty or OSU.
With the beginning of a new school year just around the corner, something big has been brewing. Connect Week is all about connecting new students to Oregon State through events that introduce them to the different resources available on campus. Since the events are not restricted to just new students, they have the opportunity to connect with returning students who have already been through the ropes and can give them some tips. To help with the transition, this year there is a Connect app! The app helps you:
Keep track of the new student events
Get up-to-date info through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook
Information about the assortment of food options open on campus at the time
Connect week FAQs
Connect week and new student news
What did the lead student developer, Nicole Phelps, have to say on the release of her first official app? “The OSU Connect app is a great way for students to get involved at OSU’s Connect week. Its theme is ‘Connect the Dots’, so I see it as an allegory for how each new student comes to the school with a blank slate, ready to connect their own dots.” You’ve connected the dots your whole life; from connecting the dots to discover the picture on the page to connecting the dots between classes to earn your diploma. Now you can use the app to help you stay connected at OSU while you earn your degree. It’s a connection to important up-to-date information on what’s going on and where to be right on your phone. This app provides a searchable campus map for the term (or multiple terms if you have luck like mine) that you have a class in a building like Wiegand Hall and you have no idea where it may be. Its list of the open food establishments on campus keep you informed and on time for meals. I wish I would have had an app like this during my first year on campus to save me from learning the dining center hours the hard way and showing up too late for a meal. Save yourself from the disappointment of missing new student events, and meals, and check out the app for Android and iOS!
No oops, but we did it again. Add another award winning design and implementation for the category of Overall Website in the CASE VIII 2012 Communication Awards. Oregon State University proudly brought home the Silver for the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences Website. If you don’t know by now the work of Web Communications and Central Web Services, you should. For the Central Web Services team of Sher Fenn, Paul Lieberman and Mauricio Cordoba, congratulations! Congratulations to Web Communications and CPHHS team members. It was a truly a team effort and another win-win-win for OSU in its collaborative efforts. This could not have happened by any of us individually and reflects what comes from working together.
It’s here! Central Web Services and the iOS App Development Club have been busy over the last several months getting the next version of the iOSU App for iPhone ready to release to the Apple store.
So…why did it take us such a long time for our next release? In the initial release, we identified a number of items that needed further investigation to fix some quirks that existed. It also took us a little time to get the specifics going with the iOSU App Development Club. If you are a student and don’t know about the club and are interested in iOS App Development, you should visit the Student Leadership Site and search out the group.
Why did we wait and not just put up to the store a while ago when we did our initial beta release? It was important that the App be of a quality level high enough for us to put up, and we were waiting for the budget to have additional training to enhance our skills so we could move in a knowledgeable and purposeful direction. We were able to go forward with the training in August of 2011.
After the onsite training by a company named Appcelerator we learned a few better methods to develop for their Titanium platform, so we have taken that to incorporate a couple new features with the addition of Videos and iTunesU to the App. While we were in our beta phase, we received some good feedback, through the use of the feedback method available directly in the App! We also received some small praise on its value, with one person even using it from India to look up contact information back at OSU.
For the current release, we’ve incorporated some of the feedback, and made some additional changes, such as the removal of the mobile site button, and a few other other enhancements. And of course what would a release be without fixing some previous bugs.
What was the process we went through for this release, you ask? We planned for a release prior to class start as part of our roadmap and strategic planning. After releasing 1.1.0 to our Enterprise customers (that is everyone at OSU), we discovered a few additional bugs that delayed our originally scheduled pre-start-of-classes launch. So we went on to version 1.1.1 to do some additional fixes, and then on to 1.2.0 for a few more feature changes. After checking against iOS5 and those pesky last minute fixes, we were ready to go. The next step was to go through the various steps to get an App submitted to the Store. For those who don’t know, it’s a step process, where we have to enter all the various information you see, submit images that you see on the store, and then submit the built app for Apple to review. Once Apple reviews, and the App meets Apple standards, they send us a notification that it was accepted. At that point it is ready for the World to download!
Now saying all this do we, as a Software Organization, expect a 100% bug free application? Not at all.
However, we will fix the issues that we see or hear about, as we did with version 1.2.1 which came out shortly after to fix some bugs that came directly from your feedback, and some accessibility issues that we noted ourselves.
There is of course still more to do working with partners around campus to deliver more features, and for all the Android fans, we haven’t forgotten about you. The purpose of the training was also to take what we have and deliver an Android app in the near future. So that will be coming. Stay tuned!
The performance of the EvalS application is now ready for primetime use. The team worked hard, in conjunction with help from Enterprise Computing, to make changes to the code to improve upon the speed of the application. Locally, you should see a significan improvement. What took over 30 seconds to load before now takes a second or two on bringing up a person’s evaluation. The initial load of the application is about 4 seconds, and still a little slow for our liking, so the team is looking at how to make it better. Half a world away, in Malaysia, I can access the EvalS system and begin entering in results, and on a slow-wi fi connection, it takes about 15 seconds to load. Not too bad.
The official notification went out on October 19th, by Jacque Rudolph. If you haven’t read the email from the inform list, you should. A kudos to the HR and Business Center team for all the hard work put into it. I found out more than I imagined about the process, and there are a lot of nuances to consider, with bargaining agreements, and other particulars to work with. Along the way, we hope we improved the process as well.
So how did it begin? Well it all began with a request for development of an electronic time reporting system, funded by the Provost. As Bob Nettles and I discussed, the decision was to ultimately look at a vendor system for the time reporting piece, as there are good systems already out there. So we couldn’t just sit around and develop nothing, and discussing with Jacque Rudolph and Bob Nettles, we said why don’t we tackle some of the other paper processes, and the evaluation process came to mind, due to its specific nature. With approval from the Provost, we set off in discussions and Agile development. We didn’t wait until all the details were there, otherwise it would have taken significantly longer. The Agile method allows for more rapid development, while gathering the particulars. We did show and tells along the way, and worked out many of the specifics.
The development team of Lead Developer Jose Cedeno with some assistance from Kenneth Lett, Mauricio Cordoba on styling, and Joan Lu, the software architect responsible for the overall technical design, put in a lot of hours, working weekends and then some to bring it together. We didn’t have the staff of a Google or a Microsoft, or my former company IBM, to implement this, but the talent of the two helped bring this to life. I put in a little time, myself on the original concept of the User Interface design, and Mauricio filled in the rest, so we do hope you find it as a good and modern interface. There’s still some things we can do to make it better, but we have to save some things for the next few releases, don’t we?
For those who don’t know what it takes to develop portlets, the little apps in a portal, send us a note, and we’ll fill you in. It does take some knowledge of Portal development, along with java programming expertise. So it’s not just for anyone to develop in.
This is one of the steps Central Web is taking in Greening OSU. So we encourage everyone to start using it. For the Classified IT and Professional Faculty, we will be working toward your electronic evaluations next, so as I always say, stay tuned. Sincerely, Jos Accapadi, Associate Director
Central Web Services in partnership with Human Resources and University Business Centers on Friday, with assistance from Enterprise Computing, deployed version 1.0.0 of the EvalS MyOSU portlet application on Friday, September 30th, 2011. What is EvalS? It’s an electronically-driven performance evaluation system designed to assist supervisors and employees to complete their annual goal-setting and appraisal tasks. This project, sponsored by the Provost, was almost a 9 month effort to understand, improve and deliver efficiencies to the evaluation process of Classified Employees (not including IT Classified). As everyone knows, it is largely a paper process, and it takes many person hours to process and work with paper documents. This application is the first step in making that process much easier.
Now while we deployed the application, unfortunately the first feedback is for the application’s own performance to improve. So for those seeing it on the Employee page of the MyOSU Portal, and if you have notification of something needing to be done, then it might be just a little bit slow to bring up the appraisal form. Don’t worry though, we are investigating the problem and looking at options to boost its performance, because we know that for you this is not good enough to fully use. The paper process per the notification in the portlet is still available to use, however, if you have the patience, you can use it electronically, until such time as we fix the speed problem. If you do use it, please don’t hit reload multiple times, and don’t forget to save any drafts, and please be patient.
Once the application is performing, we’ll put another post out here to talk more about it and the process of development.
In the meantime, if you want to find out more about it and how to use it, visit the Evals page.
It’s here and it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. On April 1st, under the Oregon State University iOS Enterprise License, Central Web Services and Web Communications released the Beta version of the iOSU iPhone Application.
Link to Library mobile sites
Link to m.oregonstate.edu mobile site
Key contact numbers
OSU’s Twitter feed
and a Feedback form.
There are still some issues, known in the software world as bugs, to work out. While we did some preliminary testing across various iOS devices, we have not run through every permutation on how a user interacts with their app, and as such we do expect to discover more. Well in fact, users have already been using the Feedback portion of the app to tell us some of the things they are seeing as problematic.
We are also keenly interested in the views of students, and aspects that make their lives easier using a mobile platform. So if you are a student, do let us know what you think, and what you’d like to see!
Visit the the following site on your iOS device to download (and remember, you will have to login with your ONID id and password):
There’s an app for this. Just today I looked to see what apps are available for iPad for WordPress, and there it was WordPress for iPad. So naturally I had to try it. There is one setting to enable on your blogs.oregonstate.edu blog after you install it, but then voila. The device will tell you what to change after you set up blogs.oregonstate.edu/your-blog-name/wp-admin in the interface with your ONID ID and password, and then attempt to connect. That is all it takes, and you are able to write and publish to your OSU blog from your iOS device. For more information, visit http://ios.wordpress.org.
Oregon State University has representative members at DrupalCon 2011 in Chicago. The conference is a great way to hear about user experiences, get tips on how people approach development, and new services available that may benefit the University and others. Central Web Services and Web Communications are attending numerous sessions as we look to determine where to take Drupal sites in the future for OSU.
The conference started out on day 1 with a Drupal music intro form members of Acquia, followed by the key note from Dries Buytaert, who spoke briefly about Drupal 7 and went into the aspects that worked well, and not so well. This segued to more on the new approach to Drupal 8, and the announcement that development on Drupal 8 opens on March 8th.
There was a slide on the devices and market share of devices over time, and not-so-surprisingly, mobile devices are now in the lead, over desktops and notebooks. Tablets were also a part of the chart, and it was interesting to see on there, as my view also is that touch technologies will change the face of education, with the proper embrace of it. Dries stated that if they were to start Drupal now, they would start with mobile devices. He went on to focus on key initiatives he envisioned for Drupal 8, and that he’ll be looking for leads for the initiatives. What I liked was the fact that performance was also something they want to put as an up front consideration instead of an afterthought.
Following the keynote, after a lunch session, and a BOF discussion, the day sessions began. Oh, what’s a BOF? BOF is Birds of a Feather, and what was done was some rooms opened up to groups of community members to get together to talk about mutual interests. We participated in the uWEBd BOF for University Web Developers, with representative University individuals sharing experiences and how they use technologies. I believe we can do more with Universities, such as setting up a common edu git location for all Universities to participate in module development, as an example. There’s more we can do to collaborate, it’s looking at the right strategy that can benefit many, followed by commitment and then execution.
There were also discussions ongoing with the core team, or those dedicated set of people focused on making the core of drupal moving forward.
Overall a good first day that sparks innovative minds to think about how to do things better, and how to tackle problems in the way things are.
Central Web Services
121 The Valley Library