Webmaster Committee Meeting Minutes
November 12, 2002
Members Present: Jamie Bethel, John Chandler, Marty Fettman, Janine Gentile, Tom Harmon, Charlie Kerlee, Jill Lenz, Erin Napier, Mary Pridgen, Joe Strecker, Linda Tarnoff, Sallie Varner.
Guests Present: Thom Hadley (presenter), Cath Kilcommons (Assistive Technology
Resource Center), Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher, Laurie Colgin, Andrea Linton
Thom Hadley gave us a presentation on "SiteObjects" software, under consideration for purchase by the college. The software creates pages that "objects" can be placed in, which are designed for each type of entry needed. SiteObjects can handle up to 3 columns per page, and objects can be customized, so that items like CVs or Publications Lists are made to look consistent throughout the site. Items can be timed to appear for a specific time period and then automatically be taken off the site. Objects can be designed as calendar pages or newsgroup items. This software could allow the site administrator to dictate styles and sizes of content, or could be customized to allow more flexibility by the individual department webmasters. Security is built in to allow specific access to editing.
Cath is concerned about accessibility of fancier objects. Thom responded that SiteObjects is very responsive to our needs and is very enthused about having us as a client-they are prepared to design objects for us for 6-9 months and help train us in designing them, and would happily work with Cath to make certain that access issues are addressed or built in.
There was a lot of discussion about using Flash to design surveys, that would include reporting and graphing abilities (but not analysis of the data.) Thom says the results of surveys could be dumped into Excel spreadsheets, where the data could be manipulated and sorted at will. Survey responses can be tracked, and responses could be made "mandatory" so that the status of respondents could be monitored. Joe has some concerns about how this might potentially mess up an otherwise stable environment. Regina asked about making survey results anonymous-this isn't actually possible, as at some level, anyone responding to a survey could be tracked, but this isn't a drawback unique to this product.
Thom states that he has negotiated the price down to around $10K, from an initial asking price of $25K, and says the company is very interested in marketing the product to other higher education institutions, and therefore would be very cooperative in developing things customized to our needs. He had delayed this demo hoping to show us their 3.0 version, which is expected out after 1/1 and is well along in development. Other products available that have similar features range from $99 for "Contribute" (a scaled-down version of a Macromedia product that failed some time back) which offers very limited features of the SiteObjects product, up to "Vignette," which Thom says is very comparable and is currently priced around $250K. He feels that SiteObjects is a good value for the product. Jamie reminds us that our initial consideration is to manage web pages only, but that we are discussing this to change how we use Cold Fusion and Web CT. Thom urges us to think 5 years from now in considering the expense of this vs. how it may help us expand our capabilities.
All other items were tabled for lack of time. The next meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 9:00 am in W1 Anatomy.
Submitted by Mary Pridgen 12/4/02
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