Product Development

IMIS 15 Public view

We are currently using the iMIS 15 public website and are experiencing bad performance. Upon viewing the source it was noticed that the system calls +/- 31 stylesheets on each page.

We have updated the styles and themes as much as possible so that the site looks in line with the Clients CI but because of all these stylesheet calls the site is extremely slow and unresponsive at times.

We have done some .Net integration into the iMIS database and these pages are almost instantanious...

e-book trend: New "Short Cut" series from O'Reilly

O'Reilly has a new book series, "Short Cuts", that is ONLY being sold in electronic form: "Whether it's a first look at a brand new technology, a quick reference, or a thorough explanation of a narrow but crucial subject, Short Cuts bring you focused information in an easy-to-use, portable package." Interestingly, this is the same strategy we applied to handling publications on the iMIS Helpsite ( the User Guides are available as bound publications as before, but the narrow, topic-specific References are posted for download only, for online use, portability, and personal printing. Where we differ is that ours are free distributions, and we post in an editable format, to support site-specific modification.

"Head First": Revolution in instructional authoring

By revisiting the work of Kathy Sierra, of Creating Passionate Users fame, I followed the breadcrumb trail to the new O'Reilly book series she helped to shape: Head First. The Head First Labs blog reveals some of the research and approach employed in these "brain-friendly guides"; I'll try to summarize their strategy as it's presented in the book I purchased, Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML.

creating social change and affecting impact – good reading

This past week, I have caught up on a lot of traffic about a new book called Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits and a supporting article both by Heather McLeod Grant & Leslie R. Crutchfield. I am also working on looking at how we organize and structure iMIS moving forward for the UX Team. The article refocused some of my thoughts.

There has been a trend in the non-profit world to adopt more for-profit business practices to succeed. I have seen, as an example, more people with advanced degrees and experience in the for-profit world recruited into customer organizations. I have often wondered about the overall impact of this direction, whether over the long-term it would bear greater results or just somehow make it more mechanical, lose a little bit of the magic. I am an idealist and I want to be believe that through my work at ASI, I am affecting social change and having an impact on the greater good, regardless of how small or indirect. It’s one of the main reasons I work here. I guess, like most relationships, there are benefits to both the non-profit and for-profit sectors from these trends.

Speeding Up Your Web Applications and Websites

In the days of client/server applications the amount of data sent “over the wire” was not typically a huge concern unless the data was very big. This is because client/server applications typically run on local networks with 10, 100 or even 1000 Mbps connections; plenty of speed for most data applications. In the web world, however, more people access their application over remote networks, like from remote offices, home, or Starbucks. These are typically much slower connections, have to go thru many routers along the way (called “hops”), and often travel thru VPNs which encrypt/decrypt the data along the way.

Another Control for consistent HTML generation

Always a stickler for UI patterns and consistency, I’ve found another pattern that seems to be repeating a lot…

An object that has a title, a description and optionally a Thumbnail Image and (optionally again) a HighRes image.

Cross Browser More Info Control

So, I had quite a few senarios where I needed to display information that took up a whole lot of real estate, but was only needed for a short period of time. Sort of a "hover help" kinda thing. I googled it for a while, and really wanted a "pure css" solution, but after realizing how much "fussing" with it that was needed for it to actually work in IE6 (even IE7 requires a strict doctype to get the hover pseudo element to work properly on non anchor elements), I decided to just go with a JS solution.

The Information R/evolution

For those of you who enjoyed the web 2.0 - The Machine is using Us video posted on YouTube by Mike Wesch, a Kansas State Professor. He has added another video on information categorization - At the same time he posted another video called A Vision of Students Today - which is an interesting look into Gen Y - E

iMIS15 themes

I am trying to create my own theme for the iMIS15 public view. All I did was copy the "C:\Program Files\ASI\iMIS15\iMIS_public\App_Themes\iMIS" folder and paste it into a new folder called "C:\Program Files\ASI\iMIS15\iMIS_public\App_Themes\CEDA". This way I could modify the style sheets as required, without affecting the iMIS theme.
I then went into the IIS iMISPublic virtual directory properties and went into the ASP.NET tab and clicked on "Edit Configuration". In the General tab, I modified the PublicSiteTheme to be "CEDA". In the Application tab I modified the "Page Theme Default" to also be "CEDA".

STC program: Exploring and Implementing Embedded Help

On October 2, Shannon and I attended the STC Austin presentation on Embedded Help by Paul Mueller, President of UserAid ("Delivering information when and where users need it").

Embedded Help systems seek this ideal: to answer users' questions without requiring them to ever ask for help, by making information available exactly when and where they need it. Users get the support they need without leaving the task they are working on. This presentation reviewed UI and technological strategies for embedding user assistance in both web and non-web user interfaces.