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Louise Gruenberg. MAE. MLS. MIAKM-UXD (staff)'s picture

ITTS Report to WAC, June 2012

1.0 ALA Web Related

1.1 CMS Migration Project

Everything from ala.org has been migrated except the homepage. Our first attempt at taking the homepage live in Drupal took place after working hours on May 29, 2012. We had to revert to the Collage homepage within an hour, but learned valuable lessons about what should be changed so that Shibboleth and Active Matter will work properly, thus making it possible for members to update their profiles, renew their memberships, and register for events.

We are scheduling another attempt for this week. When we succeed, the migration of ala.org from Serena Collage to Drupal 7x will be complete and it will be time to plan a celebration.

Addendum: We successfully migrated the homepage on June 12, 2012.

1.2 Single Sign-On & Shibboleth Implementation

With the entire website in Drupal except for the homepage, Shibboleth treats the login to each subsite as if it is a completely new visit. At the very least, it requires that visitors click the Login link to be recognized, although they don’t have to re-enter login information. With the migration of the homepage to Drupal, Shibboleth will recognize a logged in user across all of the microsites that compose ala.org without requiring additional Login clicking. (Members may need to adjust browser settings to allow cookies to experience this behavior.) Once connect.ala.org is in Drupal 7 and its profile data is merged into iMIS, it will be shibbolized.

1.3 Review of Migration Improvements

If some of the options below are of interest but have not been enabled on your site, contact your staff liaison and copy Louise Gruenberg, lgruenberg@ala.org.

  • Slide show now available on the homepage of all microsites, and now allows text left or text right options.
  • News tabs for press releases, RSS feeds and/or Twitter hashtag displays now available on the homepage of all microsites.
  • The listing page option makes it possible to pull content tagged using the taxonomy tags (using Boolean and, or) to display in alphabetical or chronological lists (ascending or descending). Plans for extending the taxonomy are in the works.
  • Both the Book module (for manuals and other long documents, as it automatically creates a Table of Contents and makes a PDF of the entire book available), and Lightbox2 have been installed.
  • It is now possible to add different views, including two and three column layouts, from within the WYSIWYG editor. 
  • The Awards & Grants database was launched in May. Soon offices, divisions and round tables that maintain their data in the database will be able to build pages with various layouts that automatically update when new winners are added.

Initiative themes: It is now possible to separately theme a special subsite within a microsite. Such theming includes a separate banner, color scheme, dropdown links, and even left navigation. Initiative themes are recommended for special events and projects. This option has been used for the new Andrew Carnegie Awards for Fiction and Nonfiction at http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/carnegieadult .  RUSA members are working on updating the virtual reference companion to be the next implementation of this option.

1.4 Roles, Permissions & Training

Access to Drupal microsites is set in iMIS via a system of roles and zones. We have been without a trainer since early February, so training has been by request. Sean Bires is now working on the first screen capture videos to document basic skills.

1.5  ALA Connect Report

ALA Connect continues to grow, having celebrated its third birthday in April. A summary of third year statistics will be available in July.

The bulk of the last six months has been spent on some minor tweaks to the site and a major redesign of the interface. We opened beta testing for the redesign in March and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. In fact, we got so many great comments and further suggestions that we postponed launching the new interface until July in hopes of implementing more of the changes suggested by the beta testers. We don’t have a specific date yet, but the new version will go live sometime after the July 4th holiday. Thank you to everyone who helped beta test the new interface.

1.6  ALA Connect Conference Scheduler

The other major project for Connect this spring was the implementation of the 2012 Annual Scheduler and the in-house creation of a mobile app for it. In the past, app users have complained that they couldn’t see the Connect schedules they’d already built, so we decided to build our own app so that attendees would have access to their schedules, list of exhibitors, notes, and more via mobile devices.

The mobile versions launches the week of June 11 with apps in the iTunes and Google Play stores, as well as a separate mobile site designed for other phones/devices.


2.0 Working with Stakeholder Groups

2.1 Web Working Group Accomplishments

In January we reported on the conversion of the staff Web Editorial Board to the Web Working Group. You can follow the group’s work at http://connect.ala.org/wwg.

2.2 ALA staff Social Media Working Group

The SMWG continues to hold brown bag lunches for staff to highlight new sites and services. The group also held its second annual Social Media Showcase during National Library Week to show off how some units are strategizing and integrating their use of various sites.

You can follow the group’s work at http://connect.ala.org/smwg.

2.3 Feature Slide Request Forms

With all microsites having the option to feature slides on their homepages, we needed a method to handle submissions to be presented on pages that present content from more than one ALA unit. Sean Bires built forms that make it possible to submit feature slide requests for the ALA homepage and for any other area. Stakeholders in each area have been asked to develop their criteria for feature slide inclusion. After submission, the request will be routed to the appropriate group in Section 2.4.

2.4 Web Leads Lists for Feature Slide Submissions & Communications

ITTS has created 16 Sympa lists for communication amongst microsite stakeholders. Fourteen of the groups are for stakeholders in specific areas, such as ala.org/advocacy, ala.org/conferencesevents, etc., while the remaining two lists are for the division web leads and the round table staff  liaisons, respectively. The Web Working Group conveners and ALA’s Sr. Usability Officer and Web Design Specialist participate in all of the groups, which are set to receive submissions from the Feature Slide request forms.

2.5 Round Tables Content Management

ITTS in interested in improving communications with the round tables to make sure that they’re aware of all the options Drupal makes possible. We’re preparing a handout on the advantages of working in Drupal to share with the Round Table Coordinating Assembly at Annual. The staff liaisons for each Round Table have been asked to tell us which RT leaders and web editors should be added to the rt-web-leads at ala.org list.

2.6 Feedback Forms

One of the feature requests for the website was a feedback form for each area that would submit to relevant personnel. We recently installed customized feedback forms on each division, round table, and microsite portion of ala.org. In most cases, forms submit to the relevant ALA unit and copy ITTS. Once the homepage is live in Drupal, we will replace the original sitewide feedback form with an updated version of the Drupal feedback form.

3.0 Infrastructure & System Upgrades 

3.1 Virtualization

We continue to move forward with our virtualization initiative.  The equipment we ordered to upgrade our virtualization environment arrived in April.  The new hardware has been installed and is in service.  The equipment included replacement hosts and storage for our public facing zone, and significant additions to our internal hosting and storage. 

This new hardware is faster, has more memory, and has multiple CPUs that can be allocated as needed.  For those who care, we moved from three dual processor/dual core 20GB servers hosting VMware 4.1 to three dual processor/16 core 128GB servers hosting VMware 5.0.  We moved from 1GB low performing storage to 6TB high performance storage, and all of our virtualized servers in our public facing zone are now on the new infrastructure. 

In our internal zone, we've continued to virtualize significant portions of our infrastructure, including all the new financial system servers; all six Citrix servers; our upgraded Symantec Endpoint Protection application; and our upgraded Windows System Update Services application.

During the upcoming months, we expect to further virtualize all of our database servers (iMIS, Joblist Knowledgement Management, etc.) 

3.2 Infrastructure Upgrades

Migration to our new Internet Circuit was completed in March.  This new circuit increased our external bandwidth, saves us money, and was configured with new firewalls to provide greater security zone separation. The new firewalls provide enhanced security for all of our resources.

Our core switching infrastructure was installed as part of the move to the new Internet Circuit.  The new core provides us with enhanced redundancy, management, and bandwidth, utilizing HP’s Intelligent Resilient Framework, and doubled our bandwidth to each of the floors at Headquarters.

3.3 New Financial System

More units were brought live in the SharePoint application to process expense authorizations and check requests. More advanced reporting is now available to our units.  We have virtualized the Clarus SQL server and retired the old physical hardware.

3.4 Wordpress Blogs

There were a few minor security incidents with blogs. An intruder was able to gain access to a few units using outdated plugins. Malicious software was being served from a few blogs. The incidents were specific to the units and did not affect the rest of the server. Wordpress has also been updated server wide to version 3.3.2. Plugin updates remain the responsibility of the owning units.

3.5 Wikis

We had one major incident with wikis, which resulted in all wikis located on wikis.ala.org becoming compromised due to an outdated extension that had the sites serve up malware. After cleaning all of the wikis, we removed all extensions and upgraded them to the most recent version. There were a few outdated extensions that had been discontinued for which we found the closest replacement and put in place.

3.6 Sympa Upgrade

The Sympa upgrade project has been on hold pending the completion of the Drupal migration. Current plans are to use a purpose-built VM appliance to host the next version.

3.7 Moodle Courseware Software

Moodle has been stable. There have been no updates or issues worth mentioning. There was a brief chat outage due to Flashchat making a bookkeeping mistake.

3.8 Dreamhost

Dreamhost – Dreamhost suffered two major outages. Both were Dreamhost issues and lasted several hours.

Some scripts and forms were found on the server that had been authored by an intern. These scripts were found to have severe security vulnerabilities that put the entire server and the databases at risk. After much discussion with the unit that used these scripts, a solution has been found. The unit is re-authoring the forms using our Drupal forms tools. The data should be able to be imported after additional work to get it in the proper format. Until then, the vulnerable scripts and forms have been removed.

3.9 App Development

ITTS recently took on the role of maintaining the Apple developer account. We have been working with Ora Interactive to bring the new version of the YALSA software to release. The final version was uploaded and is in the process of being approved by Apple.

ITTS is also now coordinating the ALA Google Play account for Android app submissions.

3.10 Virtual Meeting Software

Our iLinc contract has been extended through August 30, 2012, while we research alternative virtual meeting software platforms. Staff in the Online Learning group, the cross-organizational group that works together to provide online learning opportunities, attended a brown bag session on Adobe Connect. We have also sought pricing from Blackboard, WebEx, and GotoTraining. One of the issues we have is where and how to migrate existing recordings so that they can be retained for use. 

3.11 ITTS Staffing

We are now in our third search to fill the elearning specialist position.  We have another interview scheduled for the week of June 11.

4.0 2015 Upcoming Projects

4.1 Profile Management System

An RFP for a Profile Management System was created and sent to several vendors.  The objective of the project is to develop custom web services or configure a commercially available product to collect member and customer profile information using an online interface, to maintain the information in our iMIS 15 association management system database, and to display some of the information online. We are currently reviewing the proposals received and should have a decision after the Annual Conference. 

4.2 Ecommerce RFP

The ecommerce RFP is in draft form. We would appreciate WAC feedback on the proposal no later than Thursday July 5th. The RFP will be released on or before July 9, 2012. Work on the new ecommerce system will commence in October.

4.3 Event Management RFP

An RFP for an Event Management system is being developed to replace Conference Services’ abstract/ program submission and proposal system.  This centralized system would be used to gather, evaluate, select programs, as well as handle the placing of sessions across the conference campus.   The system will be integrated with the conference scheduler and include room and resource data. The RFP should be ready in August.  The new system must be in place by August 2013. 

4.4 Solr Search Implementation

The new Solr search engine is scheduled to go live in October.  Solr will make it possible to provide federated search across the ALA.org/Connect websites with faceted search within results sets. 

4.5 Committee Appointment System

An RFP for a new committee appointment system was developed in early June to rebuild our committee appointment application system for the ALA website.  This system will include an improved interface on the website, a more consistent look across those units using the volunteer form, and improved navigation through the form.  On the administration side, to improve the interface for staff for both the appointments database and the volunteer form and bring both into closer alignment.  The system would collect member appointment information in our iMIS 15 association management system database, and display some of the information online.

4.6 Connect Migration

We have a lot of behind-the-scenes work coming up to begin integrating pieces of Connect with ala.org. Our current roadmap for the next six months includes the following projects:

  • July
    • Launch Connect redesign
    • Migrate to ALA’s new virtualized environment
  • August
    • Upgrade to Drupal 7
    • Begin work to merge Connect’s profile data into iMIS
  • September
    • Launch Drupal 7 version of the site
    • Complete phase 2 of the Connect redesign
    • Finalize profile work
    • Finalize Solr implementation
  • October
    • Launch Shibboleth for single sign-on with the ALA website
    • Implement ala.org’s Solr search engine for federated search across both sites
    • Launch new 2013 Midwinter site on in-house servers
  • November
    • Open the 2013 Midwinter Scheduler fully integrated into the Midwinter website
    • Begin work on the 2013 Annual site and Scheduler
  • December
    • Launch the 2013 Midwinter Scheduler app
    • Implement session evaluations in the Midwinter Scheduler and app
    • Finalize the 2013 Annual site and Scheduler

4.7 Midwinter Website Integration

ITTS is working with Conference Services to merge the ALA conference website and the Connect Scheduler into a single site in order to reduce the number of places users have to go to find information. We’ll launch the first combined site in October for the 2013 Midwinter Meeting, with the integrated Scheduler opening on the site in November. We plan to follow this timeframe for all future Midwinter Meetings.

Our goal is to routinely launch a combined website and Scheduler for the Annual Conference in January in order to begin our promotional efforts earlier in the year. The integration of the Scheduler into the conference site means we’ll be able to highlight specific sessions of interest to potential attendees once they log in to the site. Attendance numbers on sessions will also help Conference Services track room size for popular sessions in case changes need to be made (depending on the size and configuration of the conference campus).

Combining the conference site and the scheduler also means that conferences websites will now be permanently archived, along with the session content posted to the scheduler, instead of disappearing every time a new conference site opens.


Please let us know if you have questions about any of these items.