David Clover


    Updating Faculty and Department Websites

    David Clover  25 June 2013 23:38:59
    Our current and major task, and certainly not a trivial one, is to provide a new 'focal point' website to reflect major organisational changes that have just taken place in our Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology.

    This had originally been planned for October 2013 but was brought forward to August 1st 2013 and so this gave us very little time to build the environment. In fact the services on the new PHP sites referred to below didn't exist a month or so ago.

    The 'Presentation' layer uses a popular bulletin board PHP framework (Drupal), but large sections of it are populated dynamically using XML and Web Services from our existing IBM Domino content containers. These containers also service other existing and 'legacy' websites and services which are presented directly from the Domino http server - sites such as Centre for Research in Computing and sites such as our Faculty intranet for example

    We have described the plan in outline for (in-house readers) in a PDF file.

    We have been instructed that many of our team's (and indeed users') long-held assumptions about how we represent the Faculty and its three new departments via a web information system have to be put aside, so we are, to a certain extent, making it up as we go along.

    What is clear though is that it is very easy to exploit the mature XML techniques available from our existing IBM Domino databases and infrastructure to provide fast and efficient web services so that we can capitalise on the data containers we already have for Staff and research projects, news and events. We can do this in a way that allows us to re-present single sources of data within the PHP environment via XML and linked data. For some examples see these pages: We have done the same with news items at: From a development point of view, it would have been very much simpler for the team to have devised everything within a single Domino data and presentation framework, but the Web Services, XML, Linked Data and SOA elements that we can expose from our back-end Domino containers are the key to flexibility in commercially focused organisations and we can use them too. We should be able to extend this seamlessly as needed, and it will extend greatly the technical range of our team which is now well-versed in the existing and simple to manage IBM Domino 9 environment and increasingly the PHP framework we have been instructed to use.

    As ever with web-based environments, especially one created very quickly like this, the technical challenges are more than matched by the even larger challenge in getting meaningful content into the new site; we will probably be plundering our 816 or so existing Faculty sites for suitable content in the short term.

    We will offer staff working as editors and content providers with an Active Directory login via LDAP to the new site for editing and they will use 'in place' editing of static PHP content. We'll also be providing web-enabled editing of the dynamic/SOA content using Domino XPage interfaces such as which we are just finishing now.

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