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Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

FY11 Connect Timeline

Now that phase one of the Conference Scheduler is done, we've taken a breath to evaluate where we're at and how we'll finish out this fiscal year (which ends on August 31). We're having to push back a few features to fiscal year '12 due to unanticipated projects that have suddenly come up as part of the ALA website's migration to a Drupal-based environment.

Drafted in February 2009, the original roadmap for Connect can be found on the ITTS News blog (114KB, PDF). We've implemented quite a few of the features listed in it (along with some that weren't), but it needs some updating. We're looking ahead as a two-step process, so we've put together this seven-month roadmap to finish the fiscal year.

Part two will be a Roadmap for FY12, which for us starts on September 1. We'll post that separately when it's ready.

Let us know if you have questions about this plan for the next seven months.

January, 2011


  • Develop Technology Roadmap (this document)
  • Implement minor fixes/enhancements and security patches



  • Implement Group File Manager module
  • Optimize Connect for increased activity and server load
  • Optimization
  • Evaluations for a new hosting environment
  • Plan and implement “Follow a group” feature (ie, get email notifications of new public content from groups you're not a member of)
  • Real-time Chat – Evaluation (restore text-based chat)
  • Maintenance


  • Implement redesigned dashboard, group home pages
  • Phase 2 planning for Conference Scheduler for Annual
  • Implement member matching feature (find other members like me)
  • Drupal 7/Shibboleth integration for the new ALA website
  • Develop Drupal 7 Shibboleth module
  • Develop write access to iMIS (our member database software) via Shibboleth
  • Optimize Connect - Implementation, including move to new hosting environment
  • Maintenance




  • Work on phase 2 of the Conference Scheduler for Annual
  • Real-time Chat - Implementation (restore text-based chat)
  • Maintenance





  • Implement group/committee matching feature (find groups I'd be interested in joining)
  • Upgrade to Drupal 7 - Planning
  • Evaluate, integrate Etherpad into online docs if possible (http://etherpad.com)
  • Maintenance


  • Upgrade to Drupal 7
  • New version created
  • Maintenance



  • Upgrade to Drupal 7
  • Beta/test migration first week in July
  • Launch upgraded site (7/14 target)
  • Drupal 7/Shibboleth integration
  • Merge ALA member profile information in Connect into iMIS (7/14 target)
  • Implement single sign-on with the ALA website using Shibboleth (7/31 target)
  • Maintenance



  • Drupal 7/Shibboleth integration
  • Merge non-ALA member profiles in Drupal with non-ALA profiles in iMIS (7/21 target)
  • Integrate the Solr search engine for Connect (once it's implemented for the ALA website)
  • Maintenance

If all goes according to plan, we'll come out of this fiscal year with:

  • A dedicated "files" area for each group
  • "Follow a group" email notifications of new public content for groups you're not a member of
  • A redesigned home page and group home page
  • A new, more robust hosting environment
  • Text-based chat feature restored
  • Phase two of the Conference Scheduler
  • Member matching feature (find other members like me)
  • Committee/Group matching feature (find groups I'd be interested in joining)
  • Integration of Etherpad for more robust online document collaboration (can't promise, but we hope this will work out)
  • A migration to Drupal 7
  • Single sign-on with the new ALA website (log in to one site and you're automatically logged in to the other one)
  • A single profile that works on both Connect and the new ALA website that lets you update all of your information in one centralized place
  • A better search engine that allows for faceted and more granular searching

Let no one ever say we weren't ambitious.

Peter Murray's picture

Out of curiosity, why are you implementing Shibboleth for intra-site access control?  Is the intention to allow institutions with Shibboleth Identity Providers to sign onto the ALA Connect website?  Or is there existing Shibboleth work with Drupal, Mediawiki, and other sites that you are hoping to leverage?  The reason I'm curious is that it is probably a pretty high hurdle for a company like the one used for conference registration to implement Shibboleth to achieve the single sign-on effect.

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Hi, Peter --

The primary reason we're using Shibboleth is that research showed it to be the most straightforward, standardized way we could implement authentication to our member database for the wide variety of web-based resources we offer. Shibboleth currently works with Drupal 6, and our vendor has a lot of experience implementing it with Drupal (including for some universities).

Our intent is to have them update that module for Drupal 7, get single sign-on working between Connect and the website, implement a new ecommerce system, and then begin bringing our various WordPress, Mediawiki, Moodle and Sympa installations under the same authentication umbrella.

Does that answer question? If not, let me know.


Peter Murray's picture

Wow -- I think that might be the first time I've seen "Shibboleth" and "straightforward" in the same sentence.  ;-)  It seems more common that OAUTH is being used in intra-domain authentication (Amazon uses it, for instance, with the AWS platform).  Don't get me wrong...I love the Shibboleth technology.  I've just seen a lot of sites stumble on it.  If y'all can make it happen, more power to you!  I didn't know Shibboleth worked with Drupal, but I did know about existing integration with Mediawiki, Moodle and Sympa.

Good luck!