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.

I’m Leaving NC State…

Just a quick blog post to announce that I have accepted a new position at UNC Greensboro and will be starting there on July 17th. I will be an IT Manager there, overseeing some of their cloud services (Google, ITunesU, Blackboard CC, WordPress, Drupal etc), and i’m really looking forward to the challenge.

I’ve enjoyed my time at NC State immensely, and have seen a lot of positive change throughout my 5 year tenure. The highlights of which were those more visible projects: Google for all faculty/students/staff, Go Links (3,290,619 hits and counting), Web Hosting Service (CPanel), Hosted Drupal & Hosted WordPress services for campus, and Web Registry.

Thanks to everyone who’ve been a part of my successes and failures here at NC State… it’s been a blast. Special mention must be made of my closest friends and colleagues that I’ve had the pleasure of working with more than most: Jen Riehle, Jason Austin, Garrison Locke, Sarah Noell, Stan North Martin, Tim Lowman, Charles Brabec, Jason Maners, and Leslie Dare.

If you’re looking to stay in touch with me, you can reach me at UNCG via n_young@uncg.edu, or follow me on twitter: @usaussie.

Go Links Upgrade

Today, July 3rd 2013, Go Links was upgraded. This was a long time coming, as the Go Links service was almost entirely still in its original form (as far as a percentage of code goes).

This upgrade included a lot of behind the scenes work, including an upgrade to the version of Zend Framework and OT Framework. All of the kudos for the work on OT Framework should be directed to Jason Austin and Garrison Locke (Outreach Technology, OIT).

The forward-facing changes most noticeably included a refresh of the theme, to more closely match an NC State look and feel.

Some things have been removed from the application, to provide a more efficient service, and other features were tweaked or moved around into a more logical place.

What’s Gone?

  • “Themed” links, aka IFrame based links, which showed the toolbar at the top of the page. These are gone, and now all links are pure redirects without any toolbar.
    • Why? Because the toolbar caused major problems for printing, as well as introducing an additional level of complexity when trying to display a link on a mobile device.
    • Links now redirect much faster, and work seamlessly on all devices.
  • Google Analytics can no longer be added to links
    • With the theme option being removed, analytics are also removed.
    • Out of over 10,000 links, only 32 used the analytics option (and some of those were mine for testing)

What’s New?

  • Link Directory
    • A major improvement for finding your own links, as well as those that have been created by other people
  • Top 10 Statistics
    • Use this to view a quick snapshot of the Top 10 lists for common statistic categories (browsers, modifiers, referrers, visitor IP addresses)
  • Simplified Link Details layout
    • The link details page is now makes it much easier to find the information you’re looking for.
    • Those things that take longer to calculate (statistics charts) have been moved to a separate section, thereby making the link details much faster to load for everyone.
  • Improved Admin Interface
    • Most users won’t notice, but there’s a much improved administration interface that allows easier searching and management of links, banned phrases as well as investigating wrong links that have been attempted.

WordPress Updates for Campus

A few items of note recently. First of all our buddies over in Engineering have decided to embrace WordPress in a big way and plan to start using it for many of their projects and faculty needs. We’ve already been in conversation with several of the guys over there including Bill, Jason M., Dustin, etc. I’m super-excited to see what we can do together, and what WordPress can do for campus once we have a few more resources and man-hours to throw at it. Thanks very much to the Engineering guys for reaching out to us and I can’t wait to really get going!

Along those lines some of the Engineering developers have been working on updates to the WRAP plugin for WordPress. Once I know more about that and have an official release I’ll link to it and post more info. Meanwhile OIT has been trying to reconfigure our Brand Bar plugin to make it more responsive. Frustratingly, the current brand bar breaks the responsive layout of many of our themes so we’re trying to put together an accessibility-friendly workaround for that. Hope to have it out soon.

And finally I’ve added some functionality to the OIT Flex WordPress theme and pushed an update to version 1.05 (probably will update to 1.06 before EOB today). I’ve created a new template which replaces the header image with a news and profile image slider. Simply tag your posts with the ‘feature’ category (which gets added automatically on theme install) and then set your homepage or news page to the slider template and you’re ready to go. The theme needs a few more tweaks, particularly as I work on ensuring that the slider is responsive, but it should be functional with the latest release so feel free to check it out on Github.

My conference got me excited about Bootstrap and I want to try something out with Bootstrap for NCSU… so as long as I can get some work done and stay out of meeting for a bit hopefully I’ll be back here soon with more theme news. Check back soon!