Project Updates & Future Plans

My whiteboard has not had snarky drawings on it for a while now. It has been used for a more practical purpose, to list the array of projects I can choose from on a daily basis to work on.

To that end here are some project updates:

The UI for the Virtual Campus Tours. Is now much more than and PSD comp. The site is up on the server but it is not linked to anything and I’m certainly not promoting it.  The hold up as usual is the content (or the lack there of).  It’s just a matter of time but the video and 360 panoramas are in production.

The virtual tours interface in online but far from live.
The virtual tours interface in online but far from live.

The UI itself is a mish-mash of various plugins and technologies I’ve foraged from the inter-webs. The tabs are jQuery, the pan/zoom interactive map is provided by Ammap. Ammap is a very nice flash object that uses xml files to populate data and generate all the interactive fiddly-bits.

The “Walking Tours” tab will hopefully feature online tour booking provided by Appointy. Though the jury is still out on that one. We are in a demo phase with Appointy and of course there is always budgetary concerns to consider.

The 360 panoramas are QTVR’s and that presents a problem. The interactive map is flash based. Flash and Quicktime don’t get along. (Go figure) I can link to the QTVR and open it in a separate window or browser tab but that is less than ideal. I will continue to investigate my options.

I had originally thought of doing a separate tab and static image map for the video tours. However I was able to get an FLV playing in the Ammap flash instance. It takes a little fancy Flash-fu but it works.  Visit the production site and click on the “W” building to see the test video in action.

The video will feature key parts of the walking tour that our student ambassadors typically guide prospective students through in person. We are hoping the Student ambassadors will jump at the chance of doing some “acting”.

The official launch and promotion of the new Campus Tours page will likely be after the last summer session just before the fall semester.

Another project in production is a Drupal sandbox site. I talked about our CMS selection process in CMS Ooze. Well… thing’s may accelerate faster than anticipated. Heikkila (CFCC’s Webmaster) and I agree that Joomla just doesn’t have the chops. It’s really missing a robust user roles and permissions structure.

Plone may be out too, despite being a strong system and pretty easy to use. Developing for it has turned out to be… challenging to say the least. Much of my development work has been in HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript these thing I understand and I can work with these tools. To develop for Plone one must have a strong grasp of Python and the Zope Management interface.

Seriously, it makes Drupal look easy.

Speaking of Drupal here is a screen shot of the Drupal skin/theme thingy for the sand box site. My goal was to “replicate” the existing site so as not scare people with a brand new design and layout. Then I would pull a “bait and switch” when we develop the new CFCC website and knock ’em dead with a real stellar layout.

Drupal theming in similar to WordPress theming... but totaly different.
Developing Drupal themes is similar to WordPress themes... but totally different.

It also provided some proof-of-concept for me in figuring out how to do things like embed slide shows, integrate tabbed interfaces and aggregate blog feeds. Unfortunately there is no web link the virtual sever where this lives is not available for public consumption.

In other news I have a habit opening my big fat mouth and volunteering myself for projects. Actually this project idea can be beneficial and may help people. One of my upcoming projects will be a Self-help Web Resources page.

Let me preface this further by saying that I also have  a habit of taking an idea and  blowing it way out of proportion.

So here’s the skinny.  I’m going to create a web page where faculty and staff will be able to access documentation, materials, tutorials, and screencasts on how do such things as create and maintain a webpage, maintain a blog, create a podcast and much much more.

I’m going to do this. Yup, me.

I’ll let you know how that goes.