Last Orders at the IWMW2009 blog

12 08 2009

This year we decided that we’d like to have an exciting, interactive mechanism for sharing information about the Institutional Web Management Workshop. We also wanted this to be a way for delegates and interested parties to have a voice before, during and after the event.

And so the IWMW 2009 blog was born…

We hope the blog has been useful to you and you’ve found the posts both stimulating and informative.

From today we don’t intend to provide any more significant posts on the blog. The blog will remain here as a resource for you to use and comments will remain open (for the time being).  In the future we may consider archiving of the blog.

If you have any comments on the content or structure of the blog please do let us know/post them up.

We’ll hopefully see you all at next year’s event!

Blog posts on this year’s event #2

12 08 2009

A few more blog posts for you. If you have written a post we’ve missed add it as a comment.


Parallel Sessions

Remote Participants


Take Aways

7 08 2009

Thanks, lessons and warnings at the end of IWMW 2009…

Note that these three videos are hosted on Vimeo and can be accessed directly at:

Summary: How The BBC Makes Websites

7 08 2009

The final plenary session for this year was delivered by Michael Smethurst and Matthew Wood, web developers for BBC Audio and Music.  They took us through their development process for which is designed to provide a permanent home on the web for all BBC programmes.

Their aim was to make URIs human readable, hackable and, most importantly, persistent.  To this end, they begin their design process with the domain objects (programmes, songs, recordings etc) and build models based on how these domain objects relate to each other.  They do not use wireframes or mockups, but do take the domain model to users to check that they are speaking the same, ubiquitous language.  They then translate the domain model into a physical database schema that enables them to richly express the domain model in the language of the user.

Once the model is established as a database schema, it is a case of collecting together all the data needed to create the resource in all of its forms, before moving on to document design.  One of the most poignant points made for some of the delegates I spoke to afterwards was the assertion that document design should be independent of the page layout – as that’s the job of the CSS.  In fact, wireframing doesn’t happen until they add the layout CSS to the HTML pages and any Javascript or AJAX gets added last of all.  Michael and Matthew were very firm that they don’t test photoshop mock ups or wireframes, they test working applications, which enables them to focus more on creating rich content discovery journeys through the resources that are domain driven.

We were given a tour of to see all this in practice and the opportunity to ask Matthew and Michael about their processes in more detail.

I Wonder What They Thought About My Session?

6 08 2009

I mentioned previously how we assigned  a two character code for the plenary talks (P0-P8) and for the parallel sessions (A1-A9, B1-B4 and C1-C5). We suggested that Twitter users may wish to use these code when tweeting about a particular session.

As I described on the UK Web Focus blog these tags appeared to be well-used, with over 34% of the tweets containing the event tag (#iwmw2009) and an additional tag.

Twitter search engines, such as Tweetzi, Twazzup and Twitter Search, can now be used to find tweets related to a particular talk or parallel session.  As an example you can view the tweets for:

We have updated pages on the IWMW 2009 Web site so that the details of the plenary talks and workshop sessions contain links to these three Twitter search tools. We hope that this will help the speakers and facilitators to get an idea of what the audience was thinking.  We hope the findings aren’t too shocking 🙂

Summary: Lightweight Web Management

6 08 2009

Chris GutteridgeChristopher Gutteridges’ talk was full of practical tips to manage the workload of web services management, making you more like Batman with his Batcomputer than Superman rushing to the rescue when things suddenly go wrong.

Chris argued that it is a waste of time and resources to have humans doing jobs that computers can do really well.  To this end, his department has written lots of scripts to perform basic tasks – particularly monitoring tasks – to help make them more visibly more efficient.

Whilst monitoring their department’s systems in this way has made it easier to manage their workload – preventing them from dropping the ball on normal requests in favour of crashing in to the rescue when something unexpectedly breaks – Chris had also noted that this practice was going to be especially important in the current economic climate, when we are all facing uncertainty about our jobs.

Monitoring is enabling them to build a stock of statistics and graphs that show how much work they do for the department they support, and how efficiently they work.  He was concerned by the amount of data people in similar roles in other institutions could be throwing away and argued strongly that they should start preserving that data – even if they don’t do anything analytical with it initially.  He also recommended monitoring the things beyond your control that cause your systems to become unavailable.

Throughout, Chris kept returning to the point that we are here to facilitate research and teaching.  Building a Batcomputer can help you focus on this task and allow you to better enable your researchers and students, rather than rushing round trying to be Superman.

Blog posts on this year’s event #1

5 08 2009

Here’s a round up of the blog posts that have been written so far on this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop. There’s probably a few more to come and we’ll put some more up next week. If you do write something please let us know.


Parallel Sessions


What’s the default browser on your network?

3 08 2009

A post from Tony Hirst on why last weeks IWMW has led him to set up a survey looking at what’s the default browser on your university staff network?


Whilst at IWMW last week, I noticed that a web application I wanted to demo didn’t work on the IE6 default browser on the local Essex machines. Bearing in mind that many developers on programmes such as the JISC Rapid Innovation strand (#jiscri) are likely to make use of frameworks and libraries that exploit the power of current generation browsers (IE7, FF 2.*) and assume standards compliance, the assumption that support for IE6 will not be required is one that many developers may take, either explicitly or implicitly (e.g. as result of developers not using machines that run IE6).

That is, for rapid innovation and development to work, developers are likely to use contemporary tools. But there’s a problem – if JISC are funding the development of tools and apps for use in HE, they need to run on the installed base of web browsers – hence the poll. If a lot of HEIs are running IE6, and a lot of HE staff use IE6 as their browser, developers creating apps for use by staff are going to have to check that their apps run on IE6. For some, this is going to be non-trivial and time spent tryijng to support IE6 will make the projects non-viable.

Maybe JISC needs to start innovating on behalf on the HE community, and finding ways of putting pressure on HEIs so that they adopt browsers that can run apps developed rapidly for modern browsers? Maybe in some programme strands, JISC needs to tell the HE community that they are holding (rapid) innovation back by not adopting current browsers? IMHO, of course…

Why not have a go at the survey.

Tony Hirst, Open University

(Southampton) Developers of the World Unite

1 08 2009

On the final morning Mike Ellis offered us some thoughts on how developers can get together to share ideas and ‘get away from the treacle’. From BarCamps and Mashups, to Geek Dads and Pecha Kucha nights.

Have a go

We’re always asking you what you’re going to differently after you get home from IWMW. We don’t want you to just feel inspired and fired up, we want you to use what you’ve learnt to change the way you work.

In a very impressive example of speedy action Chris Gutteridge is having a go at organising a Southampton Developers Group. The short-term plan is for local developers to meet up for a drink, long-term he’d like to have a go at a hack day.

Chris says….

I’ve been waiting for years for somebody to set up a developers social group in Southampton. The session on the last day really rubbed in the fact that (a) it would be easy and (b) I should just sodding do it myself.

So I’ve set up a google group, a hashtag #sodev, put the word out on twitter.

I’ve spoken to a pub who can provide wifi etc. Biggest worry there is how to provide some power leads without trip hazards.

I’m now slightly worried that it could be too popular… In Southampton area we’ve got 2 universities, the SpecSavers developers, IBMers, Roke Manor Research, and the Ordinance Survey just off the top of my head.

I used google groups as a feel some developers may have a bit of hatred for being in facebook groups. I’ll see what community I get and what they want. I suspect that people will want to have a facebook group to get event invites (facebook’s actually useful bit).

If you are interested in joining up with Chris sign on to the Google group.


1 08 2009

Siteimprove, exhibitors at this year’s event, are offering those interested a free trial of SiteCheck.

For further details contact:

Naomi Pettitt
Account Manager
Siteimprove Ltd.
+44 (0)845 226 8050