Show & Tell, October 10 2014

Posted in: Show & Tell

Another Friday has come (and gone) where DMC and friends share their latest projects and, oh, what a magical session it turned out to be.

Kelvin - KIS (Show) and Tell

Kelvin kicked things off with revealing all. His coding skills, that is. For a few years now, Kelv has been our KIS expert (Key Information Statistics). Important statistics are displayed on the Unistats website which provides prospective students with comparable information across all courses and universities. Our pages on this site also include links to our own website.

Every year Kelv has had to eat a lot of data in order to match the correct UCAS codes with the correct courses with the correct pages. He then has to generate a long list of redirects to make sure all the links go to the pages they are meant to be going to.

This year he discovered something amazing. He realised the searching could be automated. So he created a tool which searches the courses and produces the list of redirects in a fraction of the time. Not only is it a time saver, Kelv now hopes the other devs can become KIS experts too.

Dan - Just my Type

Dan followed on from Kelv by revealing the work he and Rich have been doing on content types. Over the past week, they have been battling the Big Question; 'how do we define content types?' along with discovering what content types exist on our website. Eventually they settled on the idea that content can be broken down.

  • Element - Smaller bits within the type. For example Name, Location.
  • Type - A bucket of content. Made up of multiple elements. Types are a unit that can be reused.
  • Item - A completed type. For example a team profile, displaying the name, location and contact detail of that team.

One type can produce many items. Once these had been defined, Dan and Rich looked at the website and realised the content could be broken down into various types like Announcements, staff profiles, events.

This work allows us to break down the content on a page, split it up, put it elsewhere and structure it how we want. In the future, changes made to webpages can cascade across the website much quicker. It will also allow us to analyse how different content is performing.

Tom N - Accessibility

This week Tom N took a break from teaching us about security (and a break from drawing on flip charts) to tell us about accessibility. Having a fully accessible website means that people with disabilities or other difficulties can use our website. There is no easy way to test for accessibility. The needs and disabilities our users may have can be so varied, there's no one automated tool to cover everything.

There are, however, some tools out there that can test our site for some of the problems and HTML Codesniffer is one of them. Quick and easy to use, the programme will flag up:

  • errors that must be addressed
  • warnings that should be addressed
  • other areas that could be addressed in an ideal world, but do not fall foul of accessibility guidelines.

We hope that over time, any new pages we create will be more accessible for more people.

Phil - Bamboo

Carrying on with the technical theme of Show and Tell this week, Phil told us why the dev team use Bamboo.

Building and deploying is hard work. Not only does the code have to written, it has to be standard and it has to pass vigorous user acceptance testing. They also need different versions of the same sort of code. The devs also need to be able to write and re-write code, without over writing each other. They use GitHub to do this. So what about Bamboo?

The brilliant thing about Bamboo, is that all this work is fed into Bamboo and the programme will automatically run all the tests and let the devs know if something is amiss. Simply Bamboo is critical to ensure everything works.

Now let's get on with the magic...

Rich - The content horcrux

A few Mondays ago, after a bit of a difficult week, the content team were treated to a Harry Potter themed presentation. On Friday, Rich shared his wizardry with everyone else.

The reliving of some of Harry's adventures enabled us to take away some great messages.

  • Use data and empathy to create good content. Be driven by data and have a good understanding of your user needs. However we should also understand our colleagues and why they might want a bit of content created.
  • Like Dumbledore's Army, we can help train and teach each other, so we can all share the true act of creating wizard content.

And they all lived happily ever after (mostly).

Due to a room change taking good photos was fairly impossible, so here's a relevant gif...

Obliviate/Expecto on Make A Gif

Do we run away from a problem, or do we stand tall and cast our strongest spell? (Psst it's the latter.)

Posted in: Show & Tell