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Web Technologies and Policy

Project ID: 
Current stage: 

Description: Assess the future requirements of the stakeholders in the Informatics Web Service and form a strategy to meet those requirements.

Deliverables: Report recommending future strategy for web development in Informatics. I


Customer: Initially CEG but in the long term Informatics web content providers, authors and maintainers, from secretarial to professorial staff.

Case statement: We are required to provide web content in a form that meets accepted standards and abides by legislation e.g. on accessibility. Our current web delivery system was devised at a time when available web authoring tools were not necessarily standards compliant and before some of the more collaborative or media-rich elements of web usage were fully developed.

The current web content authoring system will require replacement/upgrading in due course, and we need to review the possible technologies available. As the web has continued to develop into a more interactive and richer medium we need to assess how we can enable content providers to access such developments as wikis, blogging, Content Management Systems, RSS, podcasting, video etc; while upholding our requirement to meet standards.

We also need to consider changes in University policy and structures regarding IT provision (e.g. Kenway Report) and roll-out of centralised web content management (polopoly/webCT/portals) and how this may affect our own plans.

We should keep an eye open towards advanced web research and development, e.g the semantic web.

The proposed timescale may seem leisurely but it is vitally important that the needs of the stakeholders in the Informatics' web service should be correctly and fully determined and that that the correct tools for meeting these needs should be identified. Rushung this process would be false economy.


Status: Stage 7

Timescales: Completion of stage 5 by April 07 development meeting

Priority: High




Resources: We require CO staff time to research current web technologies. If a full consultation with stakeholders is to take place then we may need to organise either small group consultations (research-instutes, secretarial staff), or a larger general meeting on web development. It is possible that the stakeholder consultation could be carried out by the RAT or US units.

Plan: The project has several aspects which may run concurrently.

  1. Review of technology
  2. Consultation with content providers
  3. Review of policy (university, web standards, legislation)
  4. Consultation with other university stakeholders (College/Information Services)

The major part of the project is to examine the emerging technologies available to upgrade our web-authoring and content provision. We need to consult with academic staff to see what they envision using the web for, how they are using collaborative web ideas etc. Secretarial and research staff (and students) are often tasked with making web content changes from minor edits, to full-scale authoring of research institute sites. We need to assess how this work can be more easily facilitated.

Computing staff need to be able to provide documentation for all aspects of IT usage and policy, so we are also web-authors as well as users.


Dependencies: The review has no dependencies.

Risks: Failure to take account of changes in central University developments and policy may result in misdirected effort.



Proposed date Achieved date Name Description
2006-12-31 2006-11-20 Plan knowledge Agree with the US Unit the terms of reference of the joint knowledge acquisition exercise to be carried out with them.
2007-03-05 2007-02-09 Refine data cap In collaberation with US unit, refine approach to main data capture in view of initial survey
2007-05-17 2007-05-11 Complete data c A deadline for users to complete the online questionaire
2007-05-24 2007-05-21 present data ca The first inovation meeting should take place during this week. The intention is
to focus on Web topics. As part of this, we will present a digest of the findings of the web survey to the meeting.
2007-04-13 2007-04-13 Design question Deadline for completing the design of online web question.
2007-06-27 2007-06-29 results online Publish the results of the web survey online. The results are now on line at:
2007-07-03 2007-08-01 selectcms Decide which CMS should be used for the new commodity web service.
We selected Plone. The justification is on the wiki at
2007-09-03 2007-08-31 pilotcms Implement a pilot CMS service for general use. Should be backed up and on dedicated hardware.
The pilot CMS is now on (cigar) and is being used to host the web site. User auth is *not* cosigned yet due to incompatibilities with Plone 3.0
2007-09-28 2007-10-05 wcmsdoc Produce initial documentation for WCMS service.
Done a while ago:
Which is linked to from: and
2007-09-19 2007-09-14 icsawcms An initial version of the icsa web site hosted on the the WCMS. This should include some branding and some of the functionality they requested.
This was done a while ago: it is still very much an initial version.
2008-04-02 2008-04-02 wcmsauth Get Cosign auth working with WCMS service.
2008-04-30 2008-04-30 Produce report produce end of project report. This can be found at