Change before you have to

by Stephen O
Some of us remember the internet of the 90’s, sometimes even fondly. It was full of static WebPages, and with static WebPages there were advantages and disadvantages. Advantages were that there was no real need for any programming skills. HTML is really simple to use and it is easy to create a site. The down side is that any interactivity is run on the client side and limits what is possible, and the more static WebPages you have the harder it is to manage. This is what University Library of Santa Cruz was facing.  In the end they decided to move from static WebPages of Dreamweaver and HTML to a database driven website using a Content Management System called Drupal to facilitate what they wanted in a dynamic website. They had quite a few reasons change their system but one of the largest issues was that their severs were unable to handle the load: “The catalyst for updating our web presence was predicated on several things. With more than one million visits per year and more than two million page views, our old servers were no longer able to handle this load, and we were about to begin a major project to replace our server hardware.” (Hubble, Murphy, & Perry, 2011) Drupal was their choice when it came to the CMS. Many of the departments on campus had already made the change to dynamic pages and many of them had chosen Drupal. Drupal is an open source cms, and it already had a large base of people on campus who were using it. This helped move us toward choosing Drupal and taking advantage of a growing developer community on campus. Two of the largest units on campus both chose Drupal as their CMS and have since been great partners for collaboration and peer support.” (Hubble, Murphy, & Perry, 2011) The process was long, ones does not simply transition without a lot of planning and training. Transition Teams were created, there was transition planning, there was training the transition team, and then there was training the staff. They even went through a SDLC like process that may look familiar, “Sandbox, Development Distro, Testing, and Production.” In the end they feel like they achieved what they wanted “We now have a consistent look and feel to our site, though there are still many things yet to do. Now that we are more comfortable using Drupal, we can focus on creating more dynamic content, such as staff lists, adding sidebars to pages, and so on.” (Hubble, Murphy, & Perry, 2011)

Reflection:

This in a way mirrors the process we are going through. We have finished our HTML Pages of project 2, those were our static pages. What we are doing in project 3 in some ways is similar, we are transitioning from our html pages to asp.net and we will have a database attached to our project, it’s not hard to see some of the parallels.

In addition we all have learned about the developmental process, or are become more familiar with it. We are somewhat familiar with the SDLC: Analysis, Design, Implementation, Testing, and Evaluation. The process they went through “Sandbox, Development, Testing and Production are very similar to this process. In the end what I am trying to say is in  a lot of ways we (those of us taking CIS311) are doing something that mirrors a real world project, and at the same time we should examine situations like the Santa Cruz’s not only because our course covers the material (Static HTML, Dynamic WebPages, Database Driven Pages, and CMS) but because it is easy to lose sight of real world examples while studying in academia.

 

 

Hubble A, Murphy D, Perry S. From Static and Stale to Dynamic and Collaborative: The Drupal Difference. Information Technology & Libraries [serial online]. December 2011;30(4):190-197. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 5, 2012.

2 thoughts on “Change before you have to”

  1. So many times I wonder why we have to learn coding by hand as opposed to use new technologies that will generate the code behind it automatically just by designing first. And I know it would not be the same for us if we didn’t do that, but it is still a headache for me maybe because I don’t like programming. But anyway, i guess you pointed out something really important and that is that it makes us more knowledgeable to experience the process of change in technology that the real world has gone through.

  2. Its true that projects in class is just a miniature of the real world. But everything need to starts from the basic, right? When I was in CIS 235, I asked the professor why he asked us how some basic codes work or what is wrong with those raw codes. He said that "tools nowadays are too convenient, they create everything for you, and you end up have no clue how it actual works to fix when problems appear. So you guys have to understand those codes from outside to inside."

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