Iteration 12

We’ve just embarked on Iteration 12 which will focus on bug-fixing and run one week from May 22nd through to June 13th.

Work underway this iteration includes:

  • Adjustments to our legacy WPS Channels system to prepare for the upcoming Channels switchover.
  • Custom presentation of important dates events data in the new channels system.
  • Issues with intermittent Javascript errors occurring on all WMS sites.
  • Issues with thumbnail images occasionally failing to load on McGill home pages.
  • Custom presentation of newsroom news data in the new channels system.
  • Usability testing and possible deployment of revisions to home page navigation.
  • Additional tweaks related to the upcoming release of the new McGill Channels system.
  • The integration of all WMS sites with a single internationalization server.
  • The deployment of an internationalized interface for Student Accounts tuition fee table information.
  • Investigation of duplicate Google Analytics tracking codes on WMS sites.
  • CSS bug that causes unusual tight-hand-side presentation on resized browsers.
  • A number of small bugs related to the eCal system.
  • Custom display of Athletics hall of fame data in preparation for Athletics go live.
  • Deployment of Site Manager feedback form on all WMS sites.
  • Replacement of custom theme on the /community site.
  • Code review of modules submitted by our partners in ISR.
  • Creation of wireframes for upcoming McGill Profiles results display work.
  • Review and adjustment to video presentation via McGill home page slideshows.

Iteration 11: Update

Iteration 11 ran from May 14th through to May 18th.

It was a short one week iteration focused on bug fixing.  The following bugs were fixed as a result:

  • Site managers can now view custom content types via the content->edit interface.
  • CSS issues with WMS blocks.
  • CSS issues with menu text (forced-capitalization and issues with punctiation).
  • An intermittent bug in the courses module.
  • Issues with unexpected files on /law.
  • Several issues related to the new McGill Channels system.
While progress was made on all of the following issues, they were not closed and have been push forward to future iterations:
  • An image cache issue with the McGill home page.
  • A JavaScript aggregation issue.
  • Duplicate mark-up issues with Google Analytics tracking.

A total of 20 story points worth of work was completed in Iteration 11.

Lucene Revolution

I’ve just returned from Boston where I spent a few days at the Lucene Revolution conference. I attended the conference because we’ve been using Apache Solr for a couple of years now at McGill. Solr is a search engine sitting on top of the Apache Lucene library. Currently we’re using Solr for local search on each of our WMS sites, and more extensively on the course calendar site for searching programs, courses and faculty information. Eventually we would like Solr to meet all our search needs.

I learned a lot at the conference, including:

  • We’re on the right track with our Solr installation, but:
    • We need to upgrade to the latest stable version (happening soon).
    • We need to load balance our search servers properly so indexing goes to one server while searching is done from another.
    • The load balancing means we need to set up proper replication (also happening soon).
  • Solr could be doing so much more for us, like:
    • Full global crawl and search using something like Nutch on top of Solr to do the crawling.
    • BI data processing, along with the Hadoop stack.
    • Specialized search services such as channels, classifieds, and other data collections around campus.
    • Library collection data processing.
  • Other people are doing some very interesting things with Solr:
    • The Library of Alexandria uses Solr to index full contents of thousands of their manuscripts and books in five different languages.
    • UCLA is using Solr to process data retrieved from all TV news broadcasts for the past few years as part of their communications studies program.
    • A few people are using Solr to index Wikipedia content in various different ways.
    • The Internet Archive (aka The Wayback Machine) uses Solr to index their seven petabytes of archive data.
    • Solr is being used to process social networking feeds in real time, using machine learning to add value to the data.

There was a lot of talk about Hadoop at the conference, which is another open source project by Apache. Hadoop allows large scale distributed processing of data, so that extremely large datasets can be processed across many servers quicky and efficiently. We don’t currently have a good use case at McGill for using something like Hadoop, but the BI initiatives currently underway in IT Services could look at it for deep processing of our enterprise data, and our global search needs may become complex enough to warrant that kind of scale.

 

Iteration 11

We’ve just embarked on Iteration 11 which will focus on bug-fixing and run one week from May 14th through to May 18th.

Our primary focus in Iteration 11 is address a number of linger bugs that have been identified as pain points for Site Managers and other users.

Work underway this iteration includes:

  • Adjustments the content->edit interface used by site managers.
  • CSS issues with WMS blocks.
  • Mark up issues with Google Analytics tracking.
  • CSS issues with menu text.
  • An intermittent bug in the courses module.
  • An image cache issue with the McGill home page.
  • A JavaScript aggregation issue.
  • Issues with unexpected files on /law.

Iteration 10: Update

Iteration 10 ran from April 16th through to May 9th.

Iteration 10 focused on moving the new McGill Channels system into our QA environment so that it can begin user acceptance testing.  In addition, the following work was undertaken:

  • UI improvements for the new mcgill.ca home page.
  • eCalendar Enhancements.
  • Improvements for the Student Accounts fee tables application.
  • Deployment of the infrastructure necessary for /hr job postings to appear in French.
  • Updates to a number of contributed Drupal modules including enhancements to the Webform system.
  • Requirements gathering for Display functionality in the McGill Profiles system (a replacement for People Pages).
  • Code review for our partners in ISR and Libraries.

A total of 118.5 story points worth of work was completed in Iteration 10.

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