Development Project 93 - Future direction for the main Informatics web service


The original goal of this project was to investigate possible routes we could go down to improve the current Informatics web site. However, it fairly quickly went beyond that and we started implementing some of those possible routes, without altering the project appropriately.

At the Development meeting of 3/3/2010 it was decided that we should really draw a line under this project and spawn a new one. The new project, Project 158, tracks what we are now actively doing to improve the Informatics website.

The project page: has some more details.

Work Carried out

In the beginning of 2009 we looked at identifying 10 or so pages to move to Polopoly (The University Web Project). Those were identified, and people went on the Polopoly training courses, but content was never moved, mostly because of the "web review" procedures that the UWP people insist on, bureaucracy and the lack of effort to carry out those procedures.

As we weren't confident about Polopoly being suitable for our needs, the project investigated an alternative to Polopoly, given the result of Project 8 - Web Technologies and Policy , Project 97 - Commercialisation Website, we assumed this would be Plone.

One thing that was identified as being needed, was an Informatics "skin" for Plone, what was later dubbed "Institute In A Box". A lot of effort was spent implementing this, and it is now in active use, but still has some rough edges to fix.

Things went quiet for a while. Recently though another effort has been made to move some "first stage" content into Polopoly. Polopoly itself has improved, allowing us to do things that we couldn't before, such as proxy in content from another site and photo galleries. There are now about 100 pages of content in the development area of Polopoly. A PhD has been involved migrating most of that content. This process is on going and we've only a few more DB generated, proxied content to complete. We'd hoped to have the site ready for external review by the end of March, but that will roll on into April.


Again we've not stuck to the plan with this project. The deliverables were specified as:

"In the first instance a proposal for the changes to be made to the web service. Should these proposals be accepted, a new Web service as proposed."

We've gone beyond the proposals, and are into implementing them (the Plone skin, and the move of content to Polopoly). Without updating and progressing the project appropriately.


I had to go back and check, as I think I may have over estimated how much time I've spent on this project because I've been using the same "bucket" for this and similar web project that went before it. Assuming that this project started in October 2008. Then the time spent on it is

Period Effort (hours)
2009 89.1
2010 33.7
Total 122.8

Which is about 16 days FTE.


To pay closer attention to what the original goals and deliverables of a project are. Keep going back and checking, don't rely on memory.!

-- NeilBrown - 31 Mar 2010

Topic revision: r2 - 31 Mar 2010 - 19:49:36 - NeilBrown
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