Meeting Report

21 October, 2016

Present: Joel, Marge, Ken, Sudha, Jeremy, Shane

Fundamental Functions

  • Organize QuarkNet Centers, provide them a platform for collaboration
    • Social network utility: Groups, file uploads, new user pages, comments, wiki
  • Organize Fellows Groups
  • Organize Workshops and provide materials to workshop attendees
  • Provide access to Data Portfolio
    • Level 1 materials to teachers
    • Level 2 (Masterclass) materials to classgoers
    • Level 3 (e-Lab) access?
  • Provide user data to administrators and staff

Desired Functions

When considering a platform upgrade, adding these functions will be considered priorities:

  • [user data] Full database interactivity, including report generation, through a web interface
  • [file management] The ability to upload additional filetypes (.mp4 cited as example) and embed them in user-created pages
  • [editing] The ability to customize Center pages to create a "home page" feel

Problematic Issues

These issues all came up during the meeting or in conversation surrounding the Ad Board meeting. Not all of these are addressable by a platform upgrade, but they're collected here for reference.

  • site functions
    • Search is imperfect. For example, "FSU" does not return the center page for Florida State University
    • Files of "allowed" upload types are frequently not uploadable
    • There's some sort of glitch when creating new pages vs. creating new documents. We have a workaround, but no fix
    • Posted material is always listed in reverse-chronological order. In many cases it's preferable to have a different ordering
  • editing
    • Entered text sometimes shows up twice in the finished page
    • When composing, backspace sometimes spontaneously moves up a line and deletes text from the previous line
    • Font size is not always consistent. Looking at the html, one sees that "span" tags were automatically added with unintended font sizes.
    • WYSIWYG is not always WYSIWYG
  • design/layout
    • banner logo takes up too much vertical space
    • Front page should explain what QuarkNet is in clearer terms
    • Front page should make clear what this site does, in terms of the functions identified above. As it is, links to the site functions (Masterclass materials, Centers, etc.) are hidden among links to external sites, plus "Data Portfolio" up there on its own.
    • Friday Flyer should be posted outside of the login barrier
    • Too many menus and sidebars


As far as we're aware, the site can be left as-is on Pantheon servers indefinitely. If it is to be hosted from QuarkNet's servers at ND's CRC, however, there are two main options:
  • Upgrade to Drupal Commons 3.x-7.x / Drupal 7 or 8 + modules
  • Convert to WordPress

The biggest criteria when deciding are
  1. Which platform provides the functions we want?
  2. Which platform is sustainably upgradeable?
    • Both Drupal and WordPress use PHP, which must be kept up-to-date to be allowed at the CRC
  3. What's the cost of each option?

1) is the most important. To understand the current limitations of the site, though, we must consider whether observed problems are due to
  • Drupal can't do that
  • This particular instance of Drupal hasn't been developed to do that
  • The site can do that, but we don't know how to use it.
    • User training: Should mentors/fellows (or even regular users) be provided training in how to use the site, either through documentation or in person?

-- Main.JoelG - 2016-10-25


Topic revision: r5 - 2016-12-16, JoelG
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