The Latest on OIT Flex for WordPress…

Some of our very astute and dedicated followers (if we have such a thing) might notice that the look of this site has changed quite significantly. In an attempt to match the new campus brand we’re working on updates to the OIT Flex theme that is used by many sites on campus. We’re still in the early phases – testing, double-checking our accessibility, and mobile experience, trying out some theme variations – but we hope to make this available soon in the new year. This site gets to be our guinea pig.

In the meantime we’re also looking for solutions for updating this theme in our various environments. In the past we’ve used the Theme Updater plugin to seamlessly prompt for updates when we pushed a change to Github. Sadly that plugin is no longer being maintained so we’re taking some time to look for other solutions that will allow us to do this update without impacting the configurations for those already using OIT Flex. Hopefully we’ll have more good news on that front in the new year as well.

In the meantime we’re keeping busy with our client projects, internal projects (more to come on these soon…), our own project management efforts, and lots of other to-do items as we look to roll into a very busy 2015. Enjoy your holiday break and we’ll see you next year!

2014 Conferences: HighEdWeb and UNC CAUSE

Fall is one of those crazy times of year when everything seems to happen at once and the past few weeks and moths have been no exception. In case you haven’t heard, we hired a new guy, Brian. Wohoo! Welcome, Brian!

In addition I had back-to-back conferences in October: HighEdWeb in Portland October 18-22 and then UNC CAUSE, October 29-31. A quick recap of both events…

HighEdWeb

Brilliant. Loved it. Two thumbs up. Would recommend. This was my first time at HighEdWeb but it turns out it’s the perfect conference for the job I do. It’s people from all over the world who work in higher education and deliver content and functionality via the web. The people there were great and their problems were my problems and we had lots to talk about.

I actually started HighEdWedb with some leadership training the two days before the conference and I think that was helpful. I was able to meet some people that I could check in with during the conference but we also had a very diverse range of backgrounds and skills. The leadership sessions covered everything from management to governance for people in different types and sizes of schools.

The conference itself wasn’t as technical as I kind of wanted but that’s not really the point of the conference – a fact I was reminded of after going to a couple sessions. We spend so much time solving technical problems we’ve forgotten the importance of some of the other elements of site-building: the content and architecture, usability, training, day-to-day organization, and planning for the larger picture. It was these messages in particular that I tried to bring back and I really think our processes and habits need to improve. I spend so much time putting out fires it’s hard to get focused so this is one of the areas I’m working on.

UNC CAUSE

This was not as relevant to me as it has been in past years. There was a lot of Learning Management and technology in the classroom in this year’s sessions.

There were a couple that related to campus web content that were very helpful. One was UNC-Charlotte’s sessions outlining their implementation of Drupal for campus. Sounds like it’s been largely adopted, much like the way App St. has done it and that’s fabulous. I don’t think that model works for NCSU but there were elements of it I really liked (such as the way their web staff works with campus clients) and I’m always intrigued by the economies of scale that are possible with a single web solution.
The other session was UNC-CH’s demo of their WordPress multisite environment. It’s so similar to our (and was in fact the inspiration for me to start up our Blog and Hosted WP services) so it was really nice to see where they are a couple years down the road. We really need to hang out with these guys more often.

That’s my recap for now but keep checking back — Brian and I are working on a couple things for the site and we hope to do a much better job of keeping this site updated with new experiences, projects, etc.

The New Guy

As I settle in at NCSU OIT– and as we wake the OIT Design site from its recent slumber– I thought I would write a short blog post introducing myself.

My name is Brian DeConinck, and I’m the latest addition to the OIT Design group, replacing Ross and giving Jen some much-needed support. I’m a WordPress designer and developer (minus a three-year detour at WebAssign on Centennial Campus), and I’ll be working with Jen as we transition more of campus over to WordPress.

I’m looking forward to working with all of you and getting to know the NC State community a bit better!

A Year of Posts

Been almost a year since our last post. Just made it in under the wire! We’ve been busy around here and there’s been a lot going on. To bring you up to speed, here’s a quick recap of the last year or so…

  • Nick left for UNCG. He’s doing great, still stays in touch. Hi, Nick!
  • We hired Ross Jernigan to replace Nick and to help us run our Drupal services in September/October 2013.
  • We coordinated the 2013 UNC CAUSE conference in Wilmington, NC, and assisted with logistics for the WordCamp RDU that took place on Centennial Campus in November 2013.
  • Continued working on our Hosted WordPress and Hosted Drupal services for campus. The number of users of these services more than doubled in 2013-2014 academic year.
  • As of early July 2014, Ross left us for a position with Bronto. Decision was made to try to hire for more WordPress experience in the next position in order to provide more consistent support and to take advantage of collaborative opportunities with other campus organizations.

By focusing on WordPress we hope to improve service and offerings to campus, however we realize that this leaves our Drupal clients without adequate support. We will be assisting our Hosted Drupal customers, and stand-alone Drupal install clients with the migration of their sites over the course of the next year. Stay tuned for more information on this process!

If you’re a client of OIT Design and you’re wondering where your annual SLA is, fear not. We’re ready to send them out but are waiting on the NC legislature to give us a budget. Many of our clients won’t be able to pay us until that is resolved. That said, if you’d prefer we bill you now, please drop us a note at oitdesign@ncsu.edu and we’ll send that right over.

Some of our major projects for the 2014-2015 academic year…

  • New generic WordPress theme for campus use
  • Additional themes and plugins available for our Hosted WordPress and the WordPress Blog environments
  • A new WordPress person in the office!
  • WordCamp RDU 2014, hopefully to be on Centennial again this fall.
  • Updates to campus plugins
  • Training and support for clients moving to the new campus brand
  • …and much more!

Among other things we’d like very much to do a better job of keeping this site up-to-date with our various projects. That said, we stay very busy with various projects and committees in OIT, and we encourage our users to follow OIT activities via the main website, oit.ncsu.edu and through SysNews, sysnews.ncsu.edu.

As always, please drop us a note if you have any questions or concerns about any of our services – oitdesgn@ncsu.edu. Thanks very much for checking in!

Update to OIT Flex Theme

A report came in yesterday that IE compatibility mode was displaying the OIT Flex theme without CSS so I set about researching the problem. Curiously the theme worked fine with compatibility mode OFF, but this “feature” provided by IE to render sites with an older version of IE (technically it’s the IE 7 rendering engine), was causing the primary stylesheet not to be called.

I spent a good deal of time on Google for this one and sadly, none of the solutions I found were correct. Ultimately IE was unhappy because I was using media queries to call my CSS, a change I made about a year ago when I improved the theme’s responsive design. IE7 and prior versions (including the compatibility view rendering engine) could not understand the media query call. Ultimately a very easy fix – just one that took a little while to identify.

As a reminder, anyone using the OIT Flex theme will automatically be notified of all updates pushed to the theme’s Gitbub repo with the Theme Updater plugin. The plugin will also allow auto-updates of the theme, which you should do in the “Themes” menu area, not with the “Updater” (this causes you to have to reconfigure the site). Let me know if you come across any other bugs.