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  • Web Council - June 17, 2010
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Web Council Meeting

June 17, 2010, OUGL 220

  • Announcements
    • No Web Council Meeting will be held in July; many attenders have said they will be gone. It is possible that there will also be no meeting in August
    • The latest version of the WordPress template is now available
  • Mobile Web and the Home Page - Tim Chang-Miller, Marketing
    • Supporting mobile users accessing the UW Home Page is being explored
      • Google Analytics statistics indicate that mobile users account for about .7% of people visiting the site
        • Most visitors are using iPhones, iPods, or iPads, with some using Android and Blackberries. Other types of mobile devices have far smaller visit numbers
        • Bounce rates for mobile visits are fairly high (60-70%) suggesting most mobile visitors do not follow links on the page (may be just visiting to see what is there)
      • Offering style sheets specific for mobile devices is being explored
        • Offering mobile specific pages or stylesheets for pages raises a question: Should the site auto-detect the device type and give the appropriate page or stylesheet, or should users simply click on a link to a mobile optimized page/stylesheet if they want it?
        • Detecting device types can be difficult
          • Display size is one method, but not too reliable
          • Libraries of device characteristics are available that can be used to assess devices (example: WURFL, Wireless Universal Resource File, http://wurfl.sourceforge.net/); not simple, device characteristics are constantly changing.
        • Another approach is to cover the major device types; if it works for iPhones, iPods, and iPads, you have covered a substantial majority of the mobile visitors
    • Should mobile be supported with Web apps (Web pages designed for mobile devices) or Native Apps (applications that run on the mobile device itself)?
      • Web apps are available to all mobile devices
        • Usually simple technically (see http://m.uw.edu/?f=mobile )
        • No software needs to be installed on the mobile device
        • Any device that has a browser can view the page, but devices have widely varying abilities so Web apps much be designed conservatively
      • Experience is that Web apps do get visits, but people do not come back to them much
      • Native apps , such as the UW's m.UW iPhone app must be installed on the mobile device
        • The UW m.uw.edu iPhone app is available through the Apple iPhone App Store
        • UW is participating in a consortium including MIT to develop native apps for educational institutions (http://m.mit.edu/about)
          • iPhone app has been out for a while
          • Android app is being developed and should be out soon
          • New modules for the apps are being developed
    • What information should be offered to mobile users?
      • Information of use to people who are mobile, such as courses, calendars, maps
      • People do read lengthy texts on their mobile devices (reading an ebook while waiting for the bus) but they do not seem to like trying to work through a complex interface on a small screen
        • iPads have a large screen and run the same OS as iPhones (what is a mobile device?)
      • Our m.uw.edu iPhone app draws on Web services data sources, which means the app can be technically simple; it just gets information from a separate datastore that is offering the information in a specific format by a specific access method
  • Web Services - Paul Schurr, Chris Heiland, Tony Chang
    • In the past, data was in many forms and locations, including shadow datasets maintained locally
      • Making changes in data types, organization, and access was very difficult because of the complicated flows
    • Web Services project moves toward agnostic methods of offering data
      • Single security point for each data source
      • Simpler to get and handle data
      • Moving away from shadow datasets
      • Easier to evolve as things change
    • Moving to Web Services facilitates retiring old adminstrative systems and sliding in new systems
    • Application developers can continue to use their favorite languages (Perl, Objective C, Cobol, etc.), yet can reliably retrieve the information they want from the Web service
      • Accessing a particular Web service often (but not always) requires authorization
      • X.509 certificates are used on many to control access to protected resources
    • Project Web sites
      • Find Web Services at the UW (UW Web Services Registry) -http://webservices.washington.edu
        • Lists available Web Services
        • Has Feedback tab through which you can submit ideas; the feedback forum includes the UserVoice system by which visitors can rate ideas. Ideas with high ratings "bubble to the top".
      • On The ROA blog, stay current on Web Services happenings at the UW - http://depts.washington.edu/ontheroa
      • Vote on what you think should happen next with the development and support of Web Services at the UW - http://ontheroa.uservoice.com
  • Plone in Education - Cris Ewing, UW Radiology
    • Setting up Plone does involve some heavy technical lifting (learning Python, setting up Apache server, installing plone, configuring Zope database, etc.). It is very helpful to have someone on the staff with significant server management skills.
      • Plone can be customized and configured in many ways, but doing so requires knowledge of Python
      • Plone has many add-ons, which is both and advantage and a disadvantage. How do you decide among the many add-ons available
      • Plone has an excellent security record with far fewer hacks and break-ins than most other CMSs
      • Plone has had a reputation of being a bit slow, but new versions are much faster
    • Many universities already use Plone - https://weblion.psu.edu/trac/weblion/wiki/UniversitiesUsingPlone
    • A new project promotes open source Web publishing for all levels and types of education
    • Plone at the UW
      • UW sites built with Plone
        • UW Home Page and Administration pages
        • Learning and Scholarly Technologies
        • Libraries intranet, working on moving external Libraries pages to Plone
        • UW Department of Radiology
      • Seattle has an active Plone community, including consultant and design services
    • Radiology is offering the HuskyWeb Hosting Service (http://huskyweb.washington.edu/) that offers pre-built Plone sites supported with documentation and technical support (for a fee). They will take care of the heavy technical lifting.

- Notes by Rick Ells, UW-IT

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