First update of the new semester! Yay! Anyway, here’s a quick lowdown of what my work will entail this semester, and some of my preliminary research into how to go about tackling it.
I’m working with Professor Victoria Fu this semester, a professor teaching the Film and Video Art class here at USD. Here, she has a website titled Art Office where “seeking, sharing and promoting a community around time-based art” is the primary purpose of the site. All in all, it’s a pretty site already, but doesn’t perfectly fit into the needs of what Professor Fu wants for it. Some of the problems she illustrated to me during our first meeting was the Tag Cloud off to the right hand side of the screen. With hundreds of tags sorted by who knows what algorithm, it is impossible to search for a specific item that you may want. Even worse, the search module at the top won’t return partially matched results, so if you want to find “Seeing Through A Frame” and you search “Seeing Through,” you won’t get the page you’re looking for.
So the first item of business I was charged with was finding out whether or not Tumblr could still be a viable platform for the website. After a bit of research, I determined it is not. I could find no mention or guides or resources for recreating the tag cloud system, or helping with partial searchings, or any of the complaints she had. So what do we do now that Tumblr is out?
I offered Professor Fu two options: 1) switch to WordPress or 2) switch to Joomla. As usual, I’m a big fan of both of these powerful Content Management System (CMS) platforms, so I never hesitate to recommend them. Right now, after some discussion, we seem to be leaning towards switching over to WordPress. So to illustrate how the transition could work, I’ve created a test WordPress installation on my own server and ran a Tumblr to WordPress importer. Everything seemingly went well, and all the content was duplicated over to the test installation.
Beyond that, I’ve been doing research into various themes and plugins that could work well for her, but I have nothing to concrete to report here yet.
Other items she’s looking for her site to do are: create a unique account for contributors to post to, create a mobile (iPhone/iPad prioritized) version of the site, push posts to Tumblr (so she doesn’t lose her community features), etc. Unique accounts are easy, mobile versions are generally theme dependent, but shouldn’t be too hard to implement, and pushing posts to Tumblr may prove to have some issues, but from my preliminary research it looks like Tumblr can read in an RSS feed from WordPress, so that will likely be a plausible solution.
Other tasks she has on her to-do list for me relate to cleaning up and reorganizing the tags, artist links, resource links, etc. This looks like it’s going to be a fun semester! Hopefully I’ll have some pretty pictures of the site that I can start showing soon, but right now I’ve got nothing more but an ugly test installation with imported data.