Institutional Web Management Workshop 2005: Publish And Be Damned: Re-purposing In The Real World

Institutional Web Management Workshop 2005: Publish And Be Damned: Re-purposing In The Real World

This session is going to describe a project at UCL about repurposing content.

Is this the ‘holy grail’? Seamless re-purposing. Looking at the ability to share a data source in real time. They are looking for consistency, accuracy and economy.

Started with a small pilot with a generic approach. The Study Abroad Guide – a booklet produced on a annual basis.

Looking for the print and web versions to use the same content without cutting and pasting etc.

Trying to define who owns the processes:
UCL – the institution
Committee for the Recruitment of Students
Departments (who autor their own entries)
Communications and Design – the look and ‘voice’
Web Services – the Web look and CMS
Information Systems
Management Systems

Their were both cultural and technical problems:
Resistance to changing long-standing proven processes
Lack of resource for training and implementation
Culture change – paper to electronic – particularly in academic departments

Multiplatform and multi-application process (Quark, Zope, MySQL, Oracle, Linux, Unix, Mac, Windows)
Mutl skill-base
Differing text needs for print and web (e.g. “see page 10” vs “follow this link”)
Many attempts in the past to pass data through to Quark from databases/Word – but no dynamism from Quark side – so it hasn’t been possible to edit it in Quark, then pass back those changes to the source data

What are the solutions?
Get workflow right – identify essential processes
Reskill staff – make sure they are given appropriate time for this.

I’m going through a bit of a post lunch dip – not sure I’m adding much to the slides here (available from the IWMW 2005 website).

The interesting thing to me is the integration with Quark – the speaker has said that he knew nothing about Quark – and I’m in the same position. Perhaps this is a fundamental failing (and a market opening?) – why is there no crossover here between the applications for paper and online publishing.

For integrating Quark there seem to be a number of options, but they ended up using something called ‘LinkUP! Enterprise’ (Xcatalog Pro is another – and cheaper – alternative – but US based without so much UK support)

They prototyped the data structure in MySQL but intended to use Oracle for live. This is interesting, and I wonder if we could use this as a model for rapid development in some areas?

Anyway, this caused problems because the technical issues of connecting MySQL to Quark turned out to be different to connecting Oracle to Quark – and so they are still running on MySQL!

Now a live demo – some slight teething problems with the network at the moment…

OK – now someone in the audience is updating the entry on Anatomy and Developmental Biology – changing the tutor details. This is immediate on the web site – and then a refresh of the document in Quark Express updates the file for print publication. Not only this – but then updating it in Quark, and the data flows the other way as well.

This is a really good example of making the content independent of the publication process – and also that the user doesn’t care where the content lives – they update it wherever they are working with it.

Really good to see a real life demonstration of how this stuff can work.

Having done this with a single publication – they now want to do their prospectuses, departmental booklets, cholarships information and accommodation information. However, not all publications are as structured as their initial pilot publication.

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