OUTC18

Finally back home from the OUTC18 conference which took place in Anaheim this year. This is now the third OUTC that I have attended and I continue to come back impressed. Getting to meet and discuss not only colleagues from other schools, but also the development and support staff is very beneficial.

The flight over wasn’t too bad. I did feel quite lousy for a good part of Sunday after the flight which unfortunately is the norm for me with travel. But, I was able to get close to normal after a In-N-Out Burger courtesty of OmniUpdate at their welcoming/registration. So within a few hours I did check off a big to-do from my California list within the first few hours. Not too shabby.

Monday had some solid sessions. The opening keynote and panel discussion were interesting. Learned about some new offerings from OmniUpdate and also got some insights as to where some folk think things are going.

I also took part in a Feedback meeting with members of the OmniUpdate development team and a colleague from Dartmouth. It was nice that the OmniUpdate folks took the time to learn about our longterm goals and how they may be able to address them in the future. I did appreciate their time.

Later that evening OmniUpdate had invited us to dinner in Disney California Adventure and we had a few hours to walk around the park. I didn’t go on any rides as there really wasn’t much time, but walking around and taking everything in was pretty interesting. Radiator Springs from the Cars movie really stood out as well as A Bug’s Life were interesting too.

Day two I presented early in the morning. I felt pretty tired and lousy as I just hadn’t adjusted to the travel, time zone shift and the lack of sleep. I don’t feel as though my presentation went very well, and was through my slides in about 15 minutes (for a 45 minute presentation). However, we went over the allotted time with some excellent questions and answers. It was great to be able to give advice to other schools looking to successfully migrate in a similar manner as we did recently.

The Tackling Quality Control with XSL had some excellent suggestions that we will certainly look into, and Turn OU Campus into a Marketing Machine really got me excited to try out Google Optimize. Both those sessions really stood out to me as something we could certainly benefit from.

I did enjoy the workshops more this year than in years past. I’m not sure if they were better or if I was just better prepared with a couple years under my belt. I certainly learned a lot and am eager to share with the team.

Wednesday night was the Hackathon. Even though I was on the winning team last year, none of my teammates were to be found as this year’s OUTC. So I asked a random guy who was sitting alone if we wanted to team up with me. Our team was formed.

We bounced around a few ideas, but thought that leveraging the Google Vision API (which is amazingly powerful) to suggest or apply alt tags to images would be pretty amazing. If you feed the Google Vision API and image it will analyze it and suggest what it thinks the image is. We testing a dog photo out. Not only did it respond that is was a dog, but it also responded that it was a golden retriever. We were sold.

With only a few hours to work with, we split up the tasks and went right to work. Ryan was developing the Gadget that we would use within OU Campus and I went to work on the Google Vision API portion.

While we realized that we weren’t going to be able to complete the task by the deadline, we did focus on getting the core functionality done, so that we could demo the power of what we thought we were only by leveraging that particular API.

The 7 or 8 teams gave their short presentation then the judges left the room to pick a winner. While they were gone, I was pretty sure that the team that developed the file lock would win, with maybe the Insights project.

The judges returned and after a group drumroll announced that the Google Vision team had won. Both my partner and I sat there looking around for several seconds. We both assumed that they had announced another team as we winner. We were truly shocked and not prepared for that. It was an extremely fun time and felt pretty great to be able to win the Hackathon again.

All in all it was a very beneficial conference, and one that I was very glad to attend. While I wasn’t as impressed with Anaheim as I have been with San Diego or LA, it was still a pretty amazing adventure and the weather was perfect (even though I was indoors for almost all of it). Great and very useful time.

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OUTC 17 Day 1 and 2

mpus is the CMS solution that we use at work, so it’s always exciting to go and learn as much about it as possible. This year I was also presenting, so that made things a bit more exciting as well.

The flight in wasn’t too bad. Typically in the past I wind up feeling pretty sick after such a long flight, but this time around wasn’t so bad. I did eventually get a bad headache later that first night, but nothing nearly as bad as how I had felt in the past. So that was a plus.

The conference took place at the Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego. It’s a very pretty and unique location. It’s on an island in Mission Bay, and all the rooms seem to be little bungalows scattered throughout the island. Not the traditional 20 story hotel. It’s pretty nice. Palm trees, beaches, pools and little ponds all over the place. Very scenic and fun to just walk around and take it all in.

The opening keynotes were pretty interesting. Not as interesting to me as last year, as we’re not brand new to OU Campus any longer, but still well done. The sessions on days one and two weren’t as interesting as last year for the same reasons, but meeting everyone and discussing similar issues and solutions is always very helpful, and I’ve been enjoying doing that.

I do seem to be having some sort of allergy out here. I awoke Monday morning with my right eye nearly completely shut. I suspect it’s a reaction to some plant/pollen out here, but who knows. There’s many new variables in play for me out here. I was a bit bummed that I have had to wear my glasses more than I’d like, especially when I was presenting. But oh well, it’s better than my eye getting irritated further.

My presentation took place on the first day at 3:15 pm. It was titled, Surviving the Migration from Homegrown CMS to OU Campus. I went over how we had gone through our migration. The audience was primarily individuals who had not migrated yet, so it was the ideal audience. I don’t present too often, and this was the first time I had to wear a mic when presenting, but I must admit I wasn’t nervous at all.

Per a random request I played elevator music that I had found on YouTubTube leading up to the presentation. It think the silliness calmed what little nerves I may have had going in. The presentation went fairly well and lasted the full 45 minutes. I didn’t notice anyone who left the presentation early, and there were many questions at the end that were a pleasure to answer.

At the end I had several people come up to me afterwards and thank me for speaking in a language that they understood. They are going through a very similar situation and sharing our success and regrets was very beneficial to them. It felts nice to be of help.

Later that night we had a steamboat dinner cruised through Mission Bay. They bused us from our hotel to the steamboat where we got on and for a few hours calmly went around the bay. It was pretty nice and definitely a unique thing for me. The food was solid and the company entertaining. A fun little trip.

Checking out a some more sessions on Tuesday and looking forward to the workshops and hackathon to come later in the conference.

 

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XSLT

Since we’ve adopted OU Campus at work as our CMS platform I’ve been learning a lot about XML and XSLT. XSLT wasn’t a language that I was interested in previous to adopting OU Campus, so I haven’t picked it up as fast as I’d of initially liked. But, it’s finally making sense to me.

So, I think I’ll come out of hibernation and try to post some of my upcoming XSLT adventures as I begin to learn more about it.

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2016 OmniUpdate User Training Conference: Workshops Day 2

Day 2 of workshops. Some wifi issues early on, were unfortunately a problem with following along.

How To Tag Content in OUCampus with Tag Manager

I really like the potential of the new Tags feature. News, events, and image galleries immediately sprung to mind.

Tags can be used to:

  • organize content
  • find related content
  • build associations

The XSL API can make the following calls:

  • GetAllTags
  • GetTags
  • GetFixedTags
  • GetCombinedTags
  • GetParents
  • GetChildren
  • GetFilesWithAnyTags

However, just a note to use the support site when 10.4 is released, features may change from this demo.

Reusable Content

This workshop covered Assets, Snippets and Includes and the differences between each. While nothing too mind blowing, this was a good overall explanation.

Types:

  • Assets (centrally managed content)
    • Web Content
    • Plain Text
    • Source Code
    • Image Gallery
    • Form
  • Snippets (pre-defined content)
  • Include Files

Guidelines to follow when deciding which to use/when:

  • DRY – don’t repeat yourself
  • think about updates
  • editing experience – snippets
  • complexity

Front-End Development Best Practices

This was a very informative and interesting workshop. He did a great job explaining the issues in page speed (latency!!), and techniques to improve page load speed. Unfortunately, I already was fairly knowledgeable in this topic, so I didn’t learn a whole lot. However, it was a great workshop still, and I did learn of some best practices and more importantly was reminded of techniques that could be employed.

Responsive Design and OUCampus

Another great workshop by Shahab, but also again an area that I was already knowledgeable in. Still great, and I’m glad I attended.

Don’t use maximum-scale in your media queries (poor for accessibility).

For the workshop we created and went over setting up a grid using Bootstrap.

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2016 OmniUpdate User Training Conference: Workshops Day 1

Yesterday was workshops day. While there was a lot to learn, I did get a bit lost at times with all the info at once. Luckily they did share all the resources, so I can go back and practice along when I get back home.

Creating New Page and Section Templates

This was a very important workshop for us, as we really want to get a better understanding of how we can create a and edit templates in OUCampus. I learned a lot, but will really have to practice a bit more what was learned while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Building Directories and Templates with MultiEdit

It was great to learn more about MultiEdit and how it may be able to work for us.

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2016 OmniUpdate User Training Conference: Day 2

Day 2 was a lot of fun. More technical sessions and a hackathon to end the day.

Training & Herding

The presenter did an excellent job, but this one didn’t turn out to be as useful to me as I had hoped. I did stay for the entire session and did find it to be enjoyable. Many cats were used in the slides, and I did learn a lot about Arkansas.

Redesigning Your Site for a Better User Experience

This session would have been more valuable for us a year or so ago while we were forming our web team, but it was still nice to see that were were following many of their best practices anyhow. What really stood out to me was their emphasis on having a good team of people, and don’t rush for deadlines. If it will take a bit longer to get something right, then take the extra time to do it right.

One on One

Lout and I met up with our OUCampus implantation team. I was hoping that they’d go over a bit more, but we did use the time to ask them many questions. Right off the bat they packed the room to discuss with us about our production server environment.

They were very frank and shared many pros and cons of going with Coldfusion vs a more popular language (PHP). We really appreciated their attention to this matter and will share more when we get back to the team.

Development Roadmap

The development roadmap was great. A lot of the features I wasn’t 100% on when making the decision to go with OUCampus seem to be getting address in the coming year or so. That was extremely good news.

  • OCN (OmniUpdate Community Network) : email support@omniupdate.com to join
  • LDP Forms
    • new settings, elements, element properties
    • success message can work well with Google Analytics Goals
    • captcha
  • Gadgets
    • Bookmarks
    • Notes
    • Metadata API
    • create and manage persistent metadata
    • Tag Management
      • find and embed related content in XSL
  • Modules
    • OUInsights
    • OUAlerts
  • A little further ahead…
    • Image Size Sets
      • define multiple custom sizes
      • each folder can have its own set
    • Custom Asset Types
    • Custom User Role
      • very granular controls
      • Access Control Lists
      • multiple groups and users can be added to an access setting
    • Feed Manager
      • create feeds of structured content
      • send items to multiple feeds

Integrating Content from External Sources in OUCampus

This turned out to be nothing too new for me, but at least it confirms that we are thinking along the right path on how we can approach integrating content from external sources.

  • utc.edu
  • cache RSS feeds, cron job to fetch feeds to local server
  • minimize external requests
  • jQuery Social Stream
  • look for slides for code examples
  • utc.edu/outc16 – for more info and examples

Bootstrap Form Builder

This was very interesting to see just how much additional functionality could be built to work within OUCampus. The presenter really wen the extra mile.

  • customize the <advanced> xml tag
  • jQuery Validation Plugin
  • Honeypot variables
  • optional reCAPTCHA

Creating Gadgets

In preparation for the Hackathon, we attended an extended session on how to create Gadgets. Despite some horrible WiFi issues, we eventually did get the basics down.

  • what are they/do?
    • web applications
    • context aware
    • connect via API
    • extend the platform
  • github.com/omniupdate
    • gadgetlib.js (good starter spot)
    • documentation can be found in Gadget Starter
  • requirements
    • need location to publish to
    • minimum 2 files
      • html page (source code of gadget)
      • config.xml (info about the gadget)

Hackathon

The Hackathon was great. They fed us dinner, and we broke up in to teams to compete. Our group included Lou, Caleb (developer), Mark (CSS), and myself. We decided to make a to-do, task list manager Gadget.

We drew up a concept, and then divided up the tasks. I turned out to be project lead, and I thought that part went very well. We all had some very great input, and also were willing to contribute to the team in any way that we could.

A huge roadblock that we ran into however was that the development environment that was given to us was not the latest beta version of OUCampus that we we lead to believe it was. Since our Gadget relied on the soon to be released Metadata API found in 10.4, we pretty much wasn’t an hour and a half of attempting to debug and issue that was not our doing. Super bummer for us.

Once that was discovered and a new environment given, we began to make progress. Mark come up with a solid design, and Caleb was able to get a basic list to appear and communicate with the Metadata API. Unfortunately we were not able to complete our Gadget in the given time, but it was a lot of fun and we did learn a lot. Great time.

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