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Degree Chooser

Areas of Study screenshot

We made a pretty slick degree chooser at work. Ours is labeled as Areas of Study, but ultimately we made an easier way for our visitors to sift through what degree(s) might appeal to them.

Live example:

https://stockton.edu/academic-affairs/academic-schools-programs.html

There’s a lot going on under the hood with this one, and we’ve utilized what I think are some pretty cool techniques to make it not only easy to use but also easy for our content managers to keep up to date.

Our CMS (content management system) is OU Campus which specializes in higher ed. They’re great for us. Their templating system relies on XML/XSLT (not always so great), so ultimately a content manager typically is editing an XML file on the staging server that is then transformed into an HTML file that live on the production server for visitors to see.

So to make editing as seamless as possible, we setup a table is OU Campus that our content manager can edit, just like any regular page. Just what they’re comfortable doing day in and day out. We then leverage some XSLT magic (there are parts of it that I still believe to be magic even though I wrote it) to transform the content managers edits. Here’s what’s happening when they edit:

  1. Content manager makes normal edits to a html table with columns, rows, etc. Each degree is a new row in the table.
  2. On publish the XSLT transforms the edited XML into 2 files. A standard HTML page of the table transform and grouped by degree type.
    1. This is the most basic but functional version of the page. It’s served up like this to meet any visitors who may be visiting with the most ancient of browsers. They will still at minimum get a fully functioning list of linked degrees.
    2. The table is also transformed via another XSLT file to a JSON file. This JSON file will serve as our data source of areas of study. The external JSON file makes it easier to use the data in other pages/applications too!
  3. So now we have 2 files. The HTML page which is fully functional, yet a tad boring and a JSON file just waiting to be used.

Next we used Vue to write the JavaScript for this little app. I found Vue to be pretty lightweight and translates well to our CMS and the talents of our team. It’s my current favorite way to code up JS projects.

We didn’t use the vue-cli, just some vanilla Vue for this one. If we do a 2.0 we’ll probably go with vue-cli as we have a much better understanding of it now and it’s benefits.

Vue

4. The Vue script not only filters by title, school, etc. but we also include a field for tags. This really opens the door for us to make sure that our degrees can be found not only on their proper name, but perhaps a name that is used at other institutions, or even if searched as a career driven term. This should be a big upgrade for all.

5. To top it off we collect Events in Google Analytics of terms searched on. This data will help us make sure that the tags being used make sense and if we should consider adding new tags or even renaming or launching new degrees in the future.

All in all a very fun project that really helps to modernize a highly used page on our site. We’re looking to incorporate the JSON data into other apps/uses as well.

Here’s the repository on GitHub:

https://github.com/joedag32/areas-of-study-app

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Vue JS 2 – The Complete Guide (incl. Vue Router & Vuex)

Vue.js logo

I’ve been eager to get better with Vue.js, and in additional to reading and watching all the great resources online, I also give the Vue JS 2 – The Complete Guide (incl. Vue Router & Vuex) on Udemy a shot.

The course was really great. I had to put it down for extended periods then come back due to my heavy workload at work, but the instructor Maximilian really put together a very solid Vue.js course. Highly recommended

The final project was a stock trading app. The final stock trading app did a good job of utilizing Vuex and Vue Router too, so that was a plus for sure.

Here’s some of the issues or differences I had on the final project:

  • The only part I really had a little difficulty on was the Javascript logic for creating the stock and adding it to the portfolio. Ultimately I did get it to work, but I was going with 1 stock component for all the uses, while the course example went with 2 separate stock components. While either could work, going with 2 components in this case did seem to be a bit easier to get going.
  • Sometimes I still go with ES5 style instead of going with the ES6 Higher Order functions. I forget .forEach, .map, etc. but am getting better of giving them a short as well as the good old for loop that I tend to lean on.
  • I went with Bootstrap 4 instead of 3 that was used in the tutorial
  • For now I’ve omitted the Firebase integration. I’ll probably go back and include that at some point, but was thinking of implementing it in a slightly different way that was was proposed in the lesson.
  • Had to change the publicPath in config for the project to work on GitHub Pages. This had me stumped for a few minutes, but made sense once I thought it through.

The source can be found on GitHub. It can also try it out on the GitHub Page Environment.

Great course and highly recommended if you understand Javascript and want to figure out how the Vue.js works.

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OUTC19

OUTC19 Hackaton Winners!

Attended the OUTC conference in Anaheim, CA again this year. Presented again on Using Google Lighthouse to Find a Faster Website.

The trip out there was a little rocky with a decent amount of turbulence. While I typically do not travel very well, I was happy to not feel super lousy when arriving at LAX! Usually I’m in bad shape for the first day after a flight.

I was able to check in super early at the hotel, and took a much needed shower. I do think that was a key factor in me not feeling too poorly that day.

Arriving early on Sunday, we headed out to Irvine Regional Park. This place was awesome! The mountains, openness, so many cool things to do. Though I probably only saw 1% of the park, it was pretty awesome to take in all the differences that I would not find in New Jersey. A great experience.

Getting back to the hotel, we were served In-N-Out Burger from a food truck. The Double Double really it the spot, I was starved. It was great to meetup with earlier OUTC friends Caleb and Mark. They’re good guys.

Later that night, with a little bit of hard work was able to get HBO Go to stream on the large TV in the hotel room. On the west coast there was the option to watch it a t 9:00 pm or stream it at 6:00 pm EST. I had to present the next day and flew in that morning, so getting it to stream and watch the early time was a great success.

On Monday the sessions kicked off. I presented at 2:00 pm, and while I think I got off to a shaky start overall I think it went well. It wasn’t a very talkative crowd, but I could tell most everyone was following along and testing their site out using Google Lighthouse. It was fun.

The OU Campus 11 demo was pretty cool. I am excited at the direction the interface is going in. I think our content managers will be very happy with the coming updates.

I always look forward to hearing about their Product Roadmap, and that took place on Tuesday. The mentioned the following:

  • WCAG 2.1 (April 25)
  • Web Hooks (June) – Trigger actions outside of OUCampus. Can be assigned on folder.
  • Image Size Sets (July) – Set size (crop or not), group to set, assign to folder
  • File Uploads for LDP Forms (September)
  • Feed Manager (Winter) – easier feed management
  • OUCampus 11 (Winter)
    • Phase 1 – look and feel
    • Later phases to workflow
  • Formstack – available in Marketplace
  • Looking Further Forward
    • OU Calendar
    • Layout Builder
    • Accessibility Check/Insights Improvements
    • V11 Phase 2+

We’re exciting to see exactly how Web Hooks will work. There is some decent potential there.

I attended the Gadgets workshop again on Wednesday. It was a different take on that workshop, and I did find it to be useful. I’m always looking to improve my javascript game.

Later that night was the Hackaton. While I’ve been lucky enough to of been on the winning team in the last two events, I wanted to try a different role this year. I partnered up with Aaron, Soe, Fernando, and Nick in that order based solely on seating position when the Hackaton begun.

Aaron really wanted to develop a command line interface for OU. Fernando was all in with the idea, and quite frankly I was a little on the fence. In the past I’m leaned on user driven ideas, not so much admin. But Soe and Nick were all in, and I really wanted to try to enter with someone else’s idea this year.

I can’t say this enough, but we really worked so well as a team. Fernando was a command line genius and Aaron and Soe were great coders as well. They did such a great job, and far exceeded what I thought would get done in that timeframe.

Nick and I decided to focus on the presentation and marketing aspect of our team. We came up with talking points and images to be used. We even used the official presentation template (since I was a presenter) and got some big chuckles from the audience. Presentation can be a big factor in hackathons and we had a lot of fun with that.

It was a good thing that we worked so well as a team as there was some very stiff competition this year. Translation tools, image compression gadgets, XSLT data parsing, so many great entrants. In the end we did win, and I somehow would wound with with three in a row. Insane.

The last days workshops were very cool too, but there was so much going on in them I will have to revisit my sandbox and review the code before I forget too much. I’m very interested in learning more about PCF data outputs, especially outputting to JSON.

The flight home was smooth and a great way to end a great conference. While I’m not learning quite as much as I used to, it is fun to be in the role of the veteran who is now sharing knowledge with the newer folks to the platform. Glad I was able to attend again and looking forward to working in all the new ideas that were shared!

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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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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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