Here is a run down of the different focus points for this year. I’ve divided them up into two main sections: Workshops and Tutorials, and Platform Migration. This is just a glimpse of each, I will have more information as time goes on.

Workshops and Tutorials

In order to to make the most out of the websites and promote new features, I will continue holding workshops, although not as aggressively as first planned. Instead, I will be publishing some tutorials (written and video) and other articles to get the information out there.

The next Workshop should be late February or March. I will post a notice when I have more details.

Logs & Tracking

There will also be a continued expansion of available logs, such as the notification history, and tracking features, like analytics. Google Analytics has a tool we can hook into to better utilize site traffic, as well as produce more in depth reports that allow us to make more sense of site traffic. In addition, there will be a site “health report” notification system that will send daily or weekly e-mails with key data.

Platform Migration

Currently the sites are being run using a coding language called ASP. This language is roughly 10 years old, which is almost ancient, considering how quickly things change in  the world of technology. The system is definitely showing its age, with the memory leak mentioned in the 2010 review post being one of those signs. At the time the sites/CMS was developed with this platform/language it was a feasible solution, but that was about five years ago, and many things have changed since then.

So while I’ve been maintaining/updating the current system, I have also been looking into where to go next. This has been a lengthy pursuit, as there are many different viable solutions out there, all with their own pros and cons. After testing these different options, I’ve decided to go in the direction of open source, taking advantage of preexisting systems that are backed by a community of developers.

What this means in short: The sites will be moved to a new, more flexible system that is easier to develop features on.

The key open source systems I’m looking into are WordPress and possibly jQuery Mobile.

WordPress

WordPress is a very flexible open source platform, backed by an extensive library of plugins and template themes. It was once geared primarily for blogging, but they have been expanding to cover general site management.

WordPress has a powerful admin panel that gives admins more control over their site while maintaining a user friendly interface. Side column widgets can easily be managed, links can be edited and menus can be setup.

My goal is to extend this platform as a base, and then migrate sites over. This move won’t change who is hosting your site, or remove any services. It will be a lengthy process, and I will have more updates on this as time goes on.

I would like to get some sites early on, so if anyone is interested in using this platform sooner then later, please let me know.

Mobile

With the move to WordPress, going mobile will be easier. I am assessing an open source product named jQuery Mobile to handle mobile websites. This will allow users to view listings on their smartphone, such as an Android, iPhone, Blackberry or Windows Mobile. They have a demo up at jquerymobile.com. There are other options out there, so there is more testing needed before settling on a product.

Mobile is like the Wild West of web technology these days, so compatibility is one major hurdle to overcome. If you view the jQuery mobile demo on a non-native (default) browser, it may not look or function as desired. There is an insane number of device+platform+browser combinations to possibly support, so only the more popular of these combinations will supported at first.