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Web Communication Lab Recap

Open Lab Recap, Spokane Edition – March 23rd

Today was our first open labs session at WSU Spokane! We had 2 sessions, the morning in PBS and the afternoon in Academic Services. We had a nice turn out at both and are looking forward to our next at the end of April.

Spine Theme Updates

We briefly touched on a few of the updates from yesterday’s Spine Parent Theme release. Most of them are tweaks to existing behavior and styles to provide incremental improvements. A couple are new – specifically background images on columns.

Join the WSU Web community

A Slack team is available for questions, discussion, and general collaboration. Anyone with a wsu.edu email address can join without an invite. We also have a GitHub organization available where all of our work is published as open source.

Background images on sections and columns

In the page builder interface, images can be added as backgrounds to both sections and columns. Click on the gear icon to add each. At the moment, you’ll need the full URL to the image. We have issue #292 open in the Spine Parent Theme repository to track improvements to this interface in the future.

Content Syndicate

We walked through the ins and outs of the WSUWP Content Syndicate plugin, which is enabled on all sites by default. We even updated the documentation to link to a better document for how dates can be formatted.

Managing Menus

We walked through the interface for managing offsite and site menus, including the process it takes to remove or rename “Overview” links in the menu. This is something we should document and we now have issue #296 open in the Spine Parent Theme repository to do so. The BU Navigation plugin is also available for a different way of managing pages in menus in a more hierarchical way.

Plugins

We went down the list of available plugins on the platform and walked through examples of Duplicate and Merge Pages, Gravity Forms, MailChimp, and TablePress.

Lunch

At this point, we took lunch and moved to a different location on campus to continue open labs. ūüĆģ

Afternoon session

Some of the stuff we covered in the afternoon session is repeat or very specific to individual sites. I’m going to break things down into some bullet points here.

  • Basics and the future of the People Directory.
  • Using the WSUWP Content Syndicate plugin.
  • How events can be submitted through the Community Events plugin or managed without the plugin.
  • How to access the Edit CSS screen.
  • How to manage ticket numbers associated with work orders in Gravity Forms and possible conditional logic associated with that.

March 18 – Open Lab Recap

Hi there! Here’s a brief recap of the topics we discussed in open lab this week.

Spine Updates

Jeremy demonstrated the recent enhancements and bug fixes he has made on the Spine. Check out his post to read about the changes that have been made. They are slated to be released next Wednesday.

Menu Item Highlighting

Sheilah mentioned that if a page being visited is not in the site navigation, but is a child of a page that is in the navigation, that parent page should be highlighted as current. This issue has already been tracked on the Spine Theme repo (#228), but we bumped it up to high priority.

“Quarters” Layout Behavior at Smaller Widths

Sheilah bought up that four column layouts¬†collapse down to two rows of two columns at smaller screen widths. We don’t want to suddenly change this behavior as¬†it¬†has been the default since (presumably) the release of the Spine, but since it is inconsistent with the other layouts –¬†the columns should stack and all be 100% wide on smaller screens – we may add a utility class that can be added to four-column rows to make them behave in a¬†more expected manner.

Content Visibility

Sheilah asked about the possibility of restricting¬†a section of a site to be available to only a few specific¬†users.¬†Leveraging the¬†WSU Content Visibility plugin is probably¬†best way to handle¬†such a task, but it would need to be able to support adding individual NIDs and apply a page’s settings to its children.¬†These features were tracked as issues on the plugins Github repo.

University Taxonomies on Events

Phil bought up that it would be valuable to have the University Taxonomies attached to Events. This should be easy enough to do!

Email Services

We had a good discussion about the pros and cons of different email sending services and options. Many colleges and departments are handling their own sending, and those present today related their experiences with using MailChimp and phpList, and the merits of using UComm’s¬†Crimson Communiqu√©¬†distribution service.

Content Overflow

Javier pointed out that¬†horizontal scrolling isn’t available¬†when a page has content that is wider than the browser window.¬†In such cases, the overflowing content is simply cut off with no way to access it. We weren’t able to find a fix at the time but will continue to troubleshoot the issue until we do!

Google Calendar Embeds

Joyce asked about adding support for Google Calendar embeds for one of her site users. We added this as a high priority enhancement (issue #31) to the WSU Embeds plugin.

Thanks to everyone who attended. Until next time!

March 11 – Open Lab Recap

Howdy! Here’s a recap of the topics we discussed during open labs this week. We’ll turn comments on at some point in the near future. For now, if you have any questions or suggestions, check out the WSU Web Slack team.

Background images on columns

Background images can now be assigned to columns in the page builder interface. Use the gear icon on a column to bring up the interface to enter the image URL. This is similar to how background images can be added to sections.

The background image itself will only take up the size of the content in that column. The equalize class can be assigned to a section to make all column heights equal in that section.

TablePress DataTables Row Grouping

We’re not entirely sure how to use this feature yet, but we’re looking into it. ūüôā

Gradient backgrounds

While Marsha¬†was showing off the work she’s been doing on https://hws.wsu.edu, we explored CSS gradients vs image gradients. ColorZilla provides a gradient editor, which is a good resource for generating CSS gradients.

Are testimonials worth it?

Sheilah brought up an interesting resource that seems to claim that social testimonials are better than talking about yourself. The UI of goodui.org is a little strange though, so it’s hard to tell if it really is bad. We seemed to have some group agreement that fake testimonials are bad, authenticity goes a long way. (And talking about the work you’re doing isn’t bad at all.)

More flexible roles

There are several roles and capabilities that need work throughout the platform. Joyce brought up an issue where some folks may only need access to add calendar events, but should not be able to publish posts and pages without review. We’re tracking our wishlist of future roles and capabilities on GitHub in WSUWP Platform issue #274.

People Directory discussion

We talked through some of the current status of the people directory, including the possibility of mass importing users by WSU NID. If you have examples for how you would like people records to appear when syndicated on your site, please chime in on Slack. We’ll be looking to add a couple other HTML templates soon to cover some basic cases.

Thanks everyone!

July 11th Open Lab Recap

Apologies for the lack of updates over the last few weeks! Here’s hoping we can get back on a regular schedule. Even though no recaps have been posted, open lab has been in session every week. We had 15 attendees for today’s session, including a handful of new faces.

Topics discussed and bugs found:

WSUWP Platform: It appears that the WSU SSO Authentication plugin is not being activated by default when a new network is created. This was a bug and was resolved shortly after the open lab under issue #171.

WSUWP Platform: Network admins do not currently have the ability to promote other users to the network admin level. Issue #172 has been opened to address this.

Labs@WSU: We’re just starting to talk about this a little more and will continue to spread the word as we sort out some of the details. Our intent is to have a labs.wsu.edu space available for any lab at WSU to have a free site with features and content organization common to a lab’s general needs. Jake Leachman’s HYPER lab¬†was our first test and we’re looking to expand. If anybody is interested in this, please contact Jeremy Felt.

WSUWP Platform: Discussed some of the possibilities around enqueuing custom Javascript from outside CDNs and the various needs of custom Javascript entry in general. This is a feature that is not yet enabled in production, but will be available in the near future.

WSUWP Platform: We need to start documenting several parts of the platform. Two areas were brought up today. First, how is PHP code introduced into the system. We’ll want to lay out what the review process looks like for that. Second, how users are added and managed at the global, network, and site level.

Web: Some kind of newsletter would be nice from the web team to keep everyone apprised of recent updates. Right now, web.wsu.edu is likely the best place. We can create a newsletter from that content.

Web: Where do we host large files? Chemistry currently has a couple videos that are many hundreds of MBs in size. We don’t want to handle the upload through WordPress, but we should have another solution where those files can be uploaded and then served.

WSU Spine Parent Theme: At this time, we link to facebook.com instead of the default WSU Pullman Facebook account in the parent theme. Issue #72 has been opened to resolve this in the theme.

WSU Maps: We covered the embedding of maps in WordPress with the shortcode that is now available. We also went through some of the custom functionality that is available to groups of the University when requesting a custom map from University Communications. This can all be done through maps.wsu.edu.

WSUWP Platform: We should document the best way to use YouTube embeds so that they are responsive and mobile friendly. The default oEmbed method works, but we can probably do a bit better to make this flexible.

WSUWP Platform:¬†It would be interesting to see how well the WordPress iOS and Android apps work for publishing to a multi-network platform. I’ve opened issue #173 to track progress on this.

That’s that. See everyone next week!

May 30th Open Lab Recap

A very belated recap at only 15 hours away from the next open lab!

We had a great turnout again, with 11 total in attendance, and there was plenty of good conversation.

Topics discussed and bugs found

WSUWP Platform: We’ll need to do some work to better clarify how the platform can be used to host various intranet type sites where only certain groups have access to both the back and front end. We have the ability to make sites private, but there are issues with hosted uploads being accessible to everyone. This is something we’ll need to keep on the radar as we continue building things out.

General: Related to the intranet topic, we do have a regex that matches all WSU IP addresses. Jeremy Bass sent that out in an email after the session. We should also discuss if there is a place where that makes sense to be published.

WSUWP Platform: The space restrictions for sites are handled in a better way now. We have uploads capped at 50MB per file across the board with no maximum limit on total used space. We talked about raising the limit to 100MB in the near future, though it may not be necessary. See the next item for other considerations around that.

WSUWP Platform: Can video files be uploaded? Technically, though the current maximum upload size can restrict that. WSU does have a video server that is better equipped for hosting videos, though we should figure out how to best provide that as a service if possible. Nonetheless, we should remove MOV, WMV, and AVI files from the allowed upload list and add MP4 as an acceptable video format. We should also test some short videos from iOS and Android to see what the experience is like. (Filetypes were adjusted in #151 and deployed as part of v0.7.5 of the platform)

WSUWP Platform: It may also be desirable to handle CSV, XML, and SVG files. We need to explore the list of possible file types and the security implications that may come with each.

WSUWP Platform: Gravity Forms is now available as a plugin on the platform. There is still plenty to learn about the plugin, but we were able to cover some introductory material. Basic forms can now be created through WordPress. Forms that require more advanced logic around inventory or pricing should go through Magento.

Magento: Magento will be available for testing soon with a store that will wipe out daily. We talked about how tiered pricing could look like for internal and external users of a college site. We also walked through some basic scenarios for the use of Magento.

Spine Parent Theme: A “header” layout option will be added to the page builder. Follow progress on #45 in the Spine parent theme repository.

General: We talked briefly about the new Pullman WordPress Meetup that was created. This will be a way for those in the Pullman area to get together outside of work and talk WordPress. Please join the group for updates. Our first meetup is June 18th. Brought up the new Pullman WordPress meet up as a way to find WP folks.

WSUWP Platform: We discussed the need to enable site paths that are two levels deep. Sites at domain.wsu.edu/site/subsite/ can then be created. Issue #152 has been opened to track this.

Spine Parent Theme: Revisions are created each time a post is previewed when using the page builder. This is likely because of the way content is compiled before a view can be shown. We’ll need to check upstream to see if this is something that can (or should) be modified.

See you all tomorrow!

May 23rd Open Lab Recap

Another good turnout today, especially for a slow Friday right before the holiday weekend. Thanks everyone!

At the beginning of the session we did an overview of the current content creation status in the WSUWP Platform. We walked through the newly deployed Page Builder area to show off the new functionality and discussed some of the work that can be done through the customizer. We also highlighted the framework that exists behind the Spine as it is becoming much easier to visualize in combination with the Page Builder. I think this will continue to be a focus over time as we introduce new features to this and other platforms. The possibilities for the content created throughout the University are pretty amazing!

Topics discussed and bugs found

WSUWP Platform: Talked a bit about how the Javascript and CSS editors inside the dashboard could be used together to do some pretty cool stuff with the theme. The CSS Editor is already available in production, the Javascript editor is forthcoming. We want to make sure these are handled properly on the site level, with a possible option to add common CSS and Javascript at the network level.

WSU Spine / Spine Parent Theme:¬†How will galleries and slideshows work? We’ll have some good defaults in place soon. At the minimum, a gallery of images will be displayed with a nice modal interaction to view each of the images. The best method for prepping these into a slideshow will need to be worked out over time. There are also opportunities to handle this all with custom Javascript and CSS, but it will be nice to have a clean solution for everyone.

Spine Parent Theme: We briefly discussed what the default template should be. Right now the Builder Template appears when a new page is created. It may make more sense to show a standard page layout. We’ll also want to revisit some of the existing page templates now that the builder is available as they may not be necessary.

Spine Parent Theme: Through some of the discussion during lab hours and some after, it’s apparent that we can probably do a few things to make custom header graphics easier to implement now that the page builder is available. We’ll explore adding a header section that can be customized accordingly.

WSUWP Platform: Upload settings should be set to 50MB by default. The default site level setting was currently 1.5MB, which is way too low. This is actually a setting that could be changed at each individual network level, but it does make more sense to have that as a global setting. #132 will make its way to production early next week to resolve this.

WSUWP Platform: XLS should be allowed by default. This is also a network level setting that should be controlled globally. Also in #132, due early next week, we’ll be adding XLS, DOC, PSD, AI, EPS, and ZIP files. This is very much subject to change over time, mostly for security reasons.

WSUWP Platform / Spine Parent Theme: How will comments be handled? There seems to be a general agreement that comments should be available, though disabled by default. We want to avoid using a comment service such as Disqus or Facebook. We should look into a university license for Akismet. We’ll need to work within the spine parent theme to handle the display of comment forms. I’ve opened issue #38 on the parent theme and #133 on the WSUWP Platform to track this.

WSUWP Platform: Useless new user emails with passwords are still going out. We’ll be working on making the user process much better in the near future. Emails should be relevant and it should be easier to ensure that users added are valid users on the WSU network.

We almost talked about labs.wsu this week, but then I missed it. I’ll make sure that this is brought up in next week’s session as I’d like to continue spreading the word on that initiative.

Thanks again to everyone who attended. Everyone is welcome to come hang out next Friday!

May 16th Open Lab Recap

We had a great turnout at today’s open lab with 10 total attendees across 6 different colleges and departments. Thanks to everyone for coming!

A projector was brought in this week so that we could demo a few of the things that will be appearing in production soon on the WSUWP Platform. I think that helped not only as a way to demo features but to dynamically walk through some of the questions that came up. In the future there may be some room for prepared slides to walk through various concepts.

Topic discussed and bugs found

Spine Theme / WSUWP Platform: When watching over a shoulder while configuring a site on the platform for the first time, it’s easy to see how the navigation menu area that is currently setup can be confusing. We have spaces for onsite and offsite navigation, but should do a better job by creating default menus that items can be added to. As it stands, menus need to be created first, and that process can be confusing.

WSUWP Platform: The logic controlling authentication needs to be fixed so that a double login is not needed. Right now, when you login for the first time at a site, you are redirected to that site’s network. If this network does not match the site perfectly, another authentication is required to setup the right cookies for access. This should all be handled on the first round. Track this issue on GitHub – #125

WSUWP Platform: We walked through an overview of the page builder that we hope to have in production within the next week. We talked about the concept of building pages as blocks and how this can apply to various sites that are built at the University. There is a lot of excitement around this feature.

WSUWP Platform: Explored some of the basics of TablePress, which is about to be added to the production environment. This will make managing large amounts of tabular data much easier than attempting to do everything in HTML. It also provides some great default features for sorting, searching, and formatting.

WSUWP Platform: Answered some questions about WordPress roles and capabilities, including the specific use of filters for has_cap and map_meta_cap. A couple resources on this topic were shared, including the video below. The slides from that video are a great read on their own. Another great talk that I didn’t remember at the time is Andrew Nacin’s “Current User Can Watch This Talk”, which is also embedded below.

Labs in WordPress: We had a good initial conversation about how a lab could be defined in the context of hosting on the web. Our first labs.wsu site was configured today and I look forward to discussing this in detail with many others in the near future.

See you all next Friday!

May 9th Open Lab Recap

first-open-lab

Today we held the first open lab in what we hope will be a long series of sessions. A handful braved the first session and we had quite a few great discussions.

I will admit that this is coming a week late and the topics are not fresh in my head. We’ll do a better job of recapping in detail in the future. ūüôā

Topics discussed and bugs found

Spine Theme:¬†Explain “bookmark” behavior for posts and pages and categories. The bookmark of the spine is the top right area by default. Quite a lot of thought has gone into what headers should appear there for each view. We talked through a few of the scenarios and how to change the default behavior in CSS. More changes around this will come in the future.

WSUWP Platform: Taxonomies need to be added to pages and media in order to categorize things properly. This includes site level categories and the University wide taxonomy that will be enabled on all sites. See issues #126 and #127 on GitHub to track progress here.

WSUWP Platform: A feature request to protect posts so that they can be visible to only those with a WSU Network ID. This is now technically possible, as a post can be marked private and require authentication. It would be interesting to see how we can make this process easier in the future. This will go hand in hand with page level roles and permissions. Track issue #29 on GitHub.

Spine Theme:¬†It is possible that the site tagline is wrapping unexpectedly on mobile displays. This is something that we’ll need to explore. I’ve opened issue #72 on GitHub for this.

WSUWP Platform: Previewing custom CSS changes results in a broken URL. This was resolved on issue #3 and pushed to production.

WSUWP Platform: We discussed the idea of having CSS instructions for hiding next/previous post links. This later turned into an idea to provide various blocks of commented out CSS in the CSS editor so that common customizations could be made or areas altered with a few line changes.

WSUWP Platform: We briefly discussed the upcoming page builder feature.