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Minutes of the Web Advisory Group at NCAR

Date: Friday, August 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM in Foothills Lab 1 - 2133.

Present: Debbi Lake, Alex Chaux, John Fable, Gary Studwell, Jun Akiyama, Carl Drews, Sharon Clark, Ligea Ruff, Zhenya Gallon.

The July minutes were approved with minor changes.

Featured Presentation

Alex Chaux gave the Featured Presentation on accessing the NCAR Library. The repository points to resources held and accessible, but not necessarily at NCAR physically. The API uses the Digital Discovery System (DDS) search engine. The Search Service API includes documentation and instructions on how to create queries. Web access is provided through a REST service (REpresentational State Transfer). REST is lightweight; not much XML markup. It looks easy to build applications and issue http calls for the information you want. The syntax is not SQL, but you put together a query string containing something like a WHERE clause. The REST service returns XML results; you pull out the information you need by parsing through that text block. The results are machine-readable and somewhat human-readable. Alex has debugging tools built in so he can see what's going on.

Alex continued with an overview of the process, and said that it can be set up rather quickly.

NSDL (National Science Digital Library) uses the same process. To see what is available, look at the schema they are sending back to you. The schema should be supplied somewhere on their web site (look for an .xsd file). Drupal has facilities for handling this operation. URL for the repository is: http://nldr.library.ucar.edu/dds/services/ddsws1-1/service_explorer.jsp .

Carl will post Alex’s presentation on the WAG site.

Drupal Editors and Contributors (DEC)

Carl has encountered a need for Administration topics within the Drupal taxonomy. He wants to announce staff promotions, appointments, changes, honors, and awards on the ACD web site. For example, Roger Wakimoto was recently named NCAR Director. Those events are News, but not really Research. Next step: Zhenya and Carl will formulate a short list of additions to the taxonomy, and submit it to DEC and UDUG for consideration.

DEC Report continues: >60 people went through Drupal training for contributors. Will there be any advanced training? DEC will look into this (Zhenya and Markus Stobbs). The advanced training will be offered and coordinated by Drupal resident experts (Alex, Sharon, Markus, John, Jeff,...). New Drual sites in production: CISL, NCAR, ACD. See the latest list of Drupal public sites at https://drupal.ucar.edu/docs/node/51-0 .

Export Control

Efforts at the UCAR Corporate level will involve the WAG members. Alex Eschenbaum of IT Operations has asked the WAG to record good, specific, notes on any discussions of export control. Webmasters should know what can and cannot be posted on your sites. If you break the rules, you could go to jail, so follow UCAR policies and guidance. More training is coming. How hard do we have to try to block the "Axis of Evil" countries? We can’t catch everything. Gary points out that we must apply our best efforts, and that will be sufficient to avoid legal trouble.

NCAR Drupal Template

John Fable has created a Drupal Template for NCAR web sites. This template will help Drupal developers to get their first site going. John was originally instructed to come up with a good design for the NCAR site, without the need to preserve the former design. Some web developers noted a difference in the relative positions of the main lab navigation and the banner. The WAG thinks that John's design is an improvement over the former layout, as it puts the main navigation below the banner and makes it more accessible to where users are going to be clicking.

Although the org-nav at the very top of the screen is a standard and should not be changed, there is no formal WAG recommendation for the lower portions of the screen. The WAG continues to advocate the general principle that NCAR sites should have a similar look and feel since we are all part of the same organization; web developers should seriously consider taking advantage of the new template to achieve this goal. John's new NCAR template is fine; it's okay to put the lab navigation below the lab banner. Some sites (CISL) use the UCAR template instead, which puts lab-nav above the banner. The WAG sees no present need to prepare and issue a formal recommendation with regard to the relative placement of the banner and lab-nav.

Do we need a repository for the banners and logos? PSD files, so they can be revised? Yes - that repository shall be the WAG wiki.

OpenScholar

OpenScholar is a Drupal-based framework for creating Staff pages to be used in academia (http://openscholar.harvard.edu/). Can we provide an easier means of building Staff pages? One could download OpenScholar and try it out, but to do this right the WAG would need a committee to evaluate various packages and make a recommendation.

The WAG prefers to try a homegrown Drupal solution first. Drupal should make it easier to create and maintain Staff pages without OpenScholar. We request Bruce Sun to investigate PeopleDB-fed staff pages, where the Staff information on the page would come from the database. We prefer an institution-wide solution (centralized).

Other Business

Keep your org-nav code fresh! Make sure you have the latest revisions from the WAG wiki.

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