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Duke’s Faculty Database System: Content Management for Faculty Information EDUCAUSE Baltimore January 13, 2004 Copyright Melissa Mills, Kevin Wiitte, and.

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Presentation on theme: "Duke’s Faculty Database System: Content Management for Faculty Information EDUCAUSE Baltimore January 13, 2004 Copyright Melissa Mills, Kevin Wiitte, and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Duke’s Faculty Database System: Content Management for Faculty Information EDUCAUSE Baltimore January 13, 2004 Copyright Melissa Mills, Kevin Wiitte, and Adrienne Moore, This work is the intellectual property of the authors. Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the authors. To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the authors.

2 Duke University January 13, 2004 Faculty Database System Agenda What is the FDS? Project Time Line Technical Overview Implementation Next Steps Questions?

3 Duke University January 13, 2004 Themes Tool for Faculty Adaptability Complexity Efficiency

4 Duke University January 13, 2004 What is the FDS? Ties to enterprise systems Repository of faculty CV data Operational system - faculty submit annual reports - chairs submit annual evals CMS to syndicate faculty & dept data

5 Duke University January 13, 2004 Features Easy to access Flexible/Scalable Secure

6 Duke University January 13, 2004 History Grassroots - Math Dept Solution to a Problem - timely web page maintenance - annual reports from faculty - faculty incentive First implementation

7 Duke University January 13, 2004 Project Time Line Year One : June 2001 : FDS commissioned by Dean of A&S October 2001: Delayed implementation while collecting feature request January 2002 : Showcase training for pilot departments Year Two: June 2002: FDS production system ready for runtime; Input for individual departments begun November 2002: Annual report submission feature deployed May - June 2003 : Pilot project assessed Year Three: July 2003: Deployment to 34 departments December 2003: Annual reports required of 600 faculty

8 Duke University January 13, 2004 Project Team Sponsor: Dean of A&S (W. Chafe) Developer: Sr Sys Admin, Math (Y. Yu) Liaison: Assoc Dean for Computing (M. Mills) Project Manager: IT Communications Consultant (A. Moore) Technical Support: Director, Sulzberger Interactive Lab (K. Witte)

9 Technical Overview

10 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS System Implementation LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python Bulk of function written using Perl and CGI Secure, scalable and very fast Built around open standards and non-proprietary data formats Thoroughly integrated with enterprise systems on and off campus Content published using templates which means the same data can be published in innumerable ways

11 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS System Security and Data Integrity Data input is validated, database queries systematically checked Sensitive data is protected by GPG 128-bit public key encryption Data is always transmitted using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) System backups are encrypted as well Single sign-on via secure, trusted authentication mechanism Rich role-based authorization layer Supporting third-party utilities operate within virtual software jail Secure, dedicated server with redundant safeguards and failovers

12 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS System Scalability and Performance Generic Linux server setup with large disk array and excess RAM Tuning and caching support a large number of concurrent users MySQL database is very small, fast and efficient Persistent web and database server connections Database caching minimizes redundant query parsing and fetching Capable of handling more than 100 requests per second with sub-second response times being the norm Can handle 30,000 users, more than eight million queries per day

13 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS Interfaces to Enterprise Systems Duke’s Student Information Services & Systems (SISS) Duke’s LDAP-based Enterprise Directory Kerberos (KRB5) and Webauth authentication mechanisms National Library of Medicine's PubMed American Mathematical Society’s MathRev America Physical Society’s E-print Can parse most manuscript data formatted using well- formed XML

14 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS Templating System Makes the FDS a true content management system Database queries spawn XML data output streams XML is merged with appropriate template to render HTML Same data can be rendered innumerable ways via templates Custom scripting language for building templates Every template in the system is stored in the database Every web page generated by the system is based on a template Templates parsed and certified each time one is modified/created System supports template versioning and staged publishing

15 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS in Operation

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50 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS Technical Lessons Learned Tricky balance between complexity, usability and adaptability Customization is the feature that makes a system like this viable Write once, publish anywhere via templates increases efficiency, and ensures consistency and accuracy of published data Template development requires specialized skills: - more like coding JavaScript than straight HTML - most faculty and staff will avoid customizing their own templates - web development staff creates the majority of FDS templates - up-front need for hands-on technical assistance can be high for each department

51 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS Templates - Streamlining Development Create thorough documentation on custom templating language Build library of “à la carte” template themes from which departments may chose elements from a ready palette Utilize and communicate development caps on investment of time and energy

52 Implementation

53 Duke University January 13, 2004 Train Departmental Managers FDS managers/administrative assistants had to be convinced Funding data entry of faculty CV info and providing website customization made the project possible Getting the right contacts in departments made all the difference

54 Duke University January 13, 2004 Data Entry Collect faculty CVs and enter last five years’ worth of data Goal was to enter enough data to ease the annual report process for faculty Trade-off between efficiency and the benefits of departmental oversight

55 Duke University January 13, 2004 Collect and constantly respond to feedback Ability to swiftly respond to feedback by implementing new features has helped ingratiate the system to its users. Different disciplines have different requirements

56 Duke University January 13, 2004 Get template customization underway as soon as possible… THEN introduce faculty to FDS Customizing the web pages made it much easier for departments to understand how the database would work for them

57 December 2003 The Arts & Sciences Faculty come face-to-face with the FDS

58 Duke University January 13, 2004 We have a few regrets... Very little time for training No contextual help Not enough time for proactive customization Not enough time to get a flu shot

59 Duke University January 13, 2004 But on the whole, it was a success The privacy policy was important Some things you can really only learn by doing

60 Duke University January 13, 2004 To-do list Focus groups Contextual help Integrate with university grants database Implement ability to upload publications in BibTeX format More work on user-interface and web customization strategies

61 Duke University January 13, 2004 Next Steps Focus groups - Department chairs - Dept’l managers - Faculty Institutional directions - Faculty databases - Zope4edu

62 Duke University January 13, 2004 FDS Information Dr. Yunliang Yu, Developer Pilot Report: Faculty Database System Questions:

63 Duke University January 13, 2004 Presenters Melissa J. Mills Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences for Computing Kevin Witte, Director Cynthia Sulzberger Interactive Learning Lab Adrienne Moore IT Communications Consultant, Arts & Sciences

64 Duke University January 13, 2004 This presentation is available at:


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