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Minutes of the Web Advisory Group at NCAR

Date: Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 10:00 AM in CG1-2503

Present: Nate Wilhelmi, Alex Sartan, Alex Chaux, Jun Akiyama, Maggie Sleziak-Sallee, David Vance, Janine Aquino, Ligea Ruff, Carl Drews, Erika Markum, Lara Ziady, Stephen Geinosky, B.J. Smith.

The August 2013 meeting minutes have been approved.

Agile Program Management

Nathan Wilhelmi speaks to the merits of Agile Project Management.

EOL Weather Module

EOL has created a weather module for its Drupal instance and would like to get feedback from the group as to whether it should be packaged for general use across NCAR/UCAR websites.

Put it in GitHub, or UCAR Git (figure out the home for it) for developers to look at, clone, pull requests.  Once we have a home for it, will add the code and notify the group to where it lives.

WEG Update

  • Welcome to Nathan Wilhelmi, Web Engineering Group Group Head.  Commercial experience and construction, media and emergency response work.  VETS since 2003.  Data sharing applications, YouTube for scientific data.  Web-based projects, Java shop.  Software engineering focus, Scrum.  Started at WEG on September 16, 2013.  Coming up to speed and, moving forward, strong engineering focus and cross functional team.  High value to the organization.  Agile methodology.  UCAR is not that different from other organizations: funding, projects, science.
  • Agile: Agile is not chaos, it is structured and disciplined.  Challenges: budgets are tight, finding and keeping technical talent. 
    • Projects: temporary endeavours undertaken to create unique product or service.
      • Repetitive, well known projects.
      • Creative, new, level of certainty.
    • COGNOS project life cycle.
      • Analyze, design, build, deploy, operate => customer value
      • Project knowledge stages - beginning, know little, at end we know a lot.
    • Software projects
      • plan & analyze, design, build, test, correction, test, deploy
    • Agile life cycle:
      • analyze & plan, design build test, deploy in smaller iterations and keep repeating.
    • Agile life cycle returns. Single release strategies can be more expensive and less return on investment.
    • People deliver projects.  Agile focuses on people, motivation and team building
      • Drive, Daniel Pink, People are motivated by purpose, mastery, autonomy.
      • Teams are the assets of the organization, cross functional and self organizing
      • Goal is a high performing team
      • Team development: Forming, storming, norming, performing

Need to get upper management and scientists on board with Agile. 

Working group updates

  • Staff Directory II: update on progress being made on the API / consumer modules as well as discuss some changes to the development approach.
    • Initial goal to have a hands on working group where developers can contribute code.  Alex Sartan proposes that he take on most of that development because of knowledge of the code base and difficulty in organizing the Web Developer group. 


  • OrgNav updated to include emergency and closures link.  Sites using orgnav Javascript have been automatically updated, other are still needing a manual update. The link and emergency page worked well during the St. Vrain flood last week.
  • Future topics for discussion brought up by the group:
    • App development vs mobile web development - which should developers target?
    • GitHub training
    • D3 JavaScript visualization framework - Alex Sartan
    • Screen capture video for online tutorial videos.

Security issues and practices for our websites.  What processes can we put in place to increase and better our security practices?  Ask security team person to make a presentation.  What is the culture of security?  How do we raise the awareness?  Have an outside organization, Applied Trust for example, give a training session on what to do and look for.  Have CSAC do a brief introduction to let us know what they are currently doing, what they would like to do more of and then have a discussion with us and what our concerns are.