Update for Alpha Testers

Posted on 10/4/2007 11:59:25 AM

Thanks to all our alpha testers for their help and patience as we get out new CMS into shape. As you’ve no doubt noticed, the Web Team is still working out the best ways for our authors and approvers to get things done in Ektron, documenting how things works, and so forth.

The best place to look for updates on what’s going on with the CMS transition is the Web Team site. We’re working on getting all of our documentation on the site, so always look here first when you have questions. (And feel free to e-mail or call if you can’t get the answers you need on the web.)

Things We’ve Learned

With your help, we’ve learned a lot over the last week.

  • Plan your site structure first. Moving content blocks around in the Workarea isn’t the easiest thing to do. So planning upfront helps a lot. Consult your content inventory as well as the descriptions of what goes in each folder—and talk to the Web Team if you have questions.

  • Always preview your work in the browser. In Preview mode, you can see changes that haven’t been approved or published yet. It’s the best way to proof your work before sending it into the workflow. To use Preview mode, log in to Ektron, click the “Preview” button, then navigate to the page you’ve updated.

  • Avoid using Dreamweaver or FrontPage. Because you can access the HTML source code in the Ektron Workarea, it is very tempting to try to save time by pulling out a tool you’re familiar with—then pasting the HTML code you make back into the Workarea. Don’t. The HTML generated by these tools—especially positioned “layers” and inline font tags—can interfere with our layout templates in all sorts of unforeseen ways. It leaves give a mess to clean up, and ends up taking more time in the long run.

  • Use the “Paste Text” button. That’s the clipboard with the T on it. This is especially important when cutting and pasting from your old site to the new one. A regular paste will retain all the font sizes, layers, etc. from the old look and feel. Using “Paste Text” strips all that out, which will allow Ektron to automatically adapt it to the new look and feel.

    You may need to put back some bold text, italic text, and lists once after using the paste text button, but this takes much less time than stripping out all the unneeded cruft from the old site.

  • Give titles to photos and images you add to the Library. When you add a photo or image to your library, take the time to give it a title. That will make searching for images easier in the future. It also helps us improve our sites usability for the vision impaired, because it your title will automatically be suggested as the alternative text when the image is used in a page.

Recent Changes

Everything changes. Here are some of the changes we’ve made over the last week:

  • E-mail notifications for workflow. We have e-mail notifications turned on now. You will receive e-mail whenever one of your content blocks is changed, approved, or declined. You may get a lot of e-mail. (I’ve received 44 e-mails from Ektron today, and it’s only 11 a.m.) We’re looking into ways to cut this down a bit.

    (We’re also looking into how you can track the status of your items as they pass through workflow. The answer involves using the Reports available on the SmartDesktop. We’ll post detailed instructions when we have them.)

  • Stock photography. We are making stock IUP photography available through our University Photographer’s Ektron library. We have about 150 images uploaded right now, with many more to come. We also have a work-study student hard at work to create proper titles and useful descriptions for all of these photographs, which will make them easier to find and use. And feel free to use them anywhere and everywhere on the site.

Upcoming Changes

These changes should be coming soon. I’d like to say “in the next week,” but I won’t, since other changes might end up taking a higher priority.

  • The Workarea will become more WYSIWYG. What you see in the Workarea is definitely not what you get in the browser. We’re working to make sure you see the same fonts and styles in the Workarea as you see on the public site. Due the way Ektron works—where the same content can appear in multiple places—we’ll never have a completely WYSIWYG environment. But we’ll be getting a lot closer.

  • Easier Tables of Contents with the toc template We’ll be updating the toc template to automatically show a list of every item in a folder—which should make it much easier to handle large amounts of content.

There are many other changes in the works. We’ll let you know as they roll out.