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Web development for higher education

OmniUpdate 2018 Training Conference

By | 2018-03-28

Last week I had the pleasure of attending four days of OmniUpdate's annual Training Conference (OUTC)! I'd like to share a special thank you to Shoreline Community College for helping pave my way to #OUTC18. Although it's not a comprehensive overview, here are some of my favorite bits from the week.

About the Conference

OUTC is an annual conference targeted to new and existing users of OmniUpdate’s OU Campus system. If you’re not familiar, OU Campus is a CMS targeted towards higher education that provides a very powerful and extensible platform using XSLT.

It had been four years since I’d last attended a national conference, so I had a lot to learn. I was also excited to meet up with those who I had previously worked with during redesign projects and smaller updates. (It’s so rewarding to meet the real people behind the emails!)

Keynote Notes

OmniUpdate’s team shared a few highlights for the coming year(s):

  • Global Search (April)
  • Code Mashup
  • Updates to the Feed Manager, additional sorting, example: Hope College news
  • Components (slated for June): separate content from design easily and at any scale
  • Official release of Jesse Clark’s Unpublish Gadget (not to mention winner for Customer of the Year!)
  • Special offers for OU Insights/Emergency Alert modules pack
  • Snippets available across sites and snippet access groups
  • OU Campus Platform Redesign

Some takeaways from the panel (Nathan Gerber, Utah Valley University; Stephanie Geyer, Ruffalo Noel Levitz; Aaron Blau, Stamats, Inc.; Joshua Dodson, VisionPoint Marketing; E. Sean Sweeney, iFactory; Kimberly Prieto, OmniUpdate Product Development):

  • Check out the E-Expectations report annually.
  • Adapt trends to fit a sustainable model for your school. (Aaron Blau)
  • Use foundation donations for web updates—this is important to the University and it’s a revenue generator to you. Tie it back to current campaigns.
  • Consider the 5 W’s for keywords: Who, What, Why, Where, How? Take the keywords and answer the questions to create a headline for an article. Use labor insight tools for relevant search terms for programs/courses.

Also a book reference: “Everybody Lies”

#OUTC18 Hackathon

It might not have been three hours of sheer bliss, but with Adam Staffa by my side, I was excited to create a functional gadget that successfully sent an email to a user! Here’s a quick rundown of the all the tools presented:

  • Send a message to a selected user
  • Lock Directory: change Publish settings to skip all file types, essentially locking the directory to any new publishes
  • Grammar Checker
  • Look-up directory group and send notice of new user added to group
  • OU Insights by directory
  • OCR Google Image alt suggestion tool (winner)

Adventures

Since I arrived early on Sunday, I met up with Jim Heiney—a new friend—through the power of Twitter. We had the opportunity to walk around Anaheim in 70°F weather and see the myriad of WonderCon attendees dressed up as superheroes. We also visited the Garden Walk—I thought it would be more garden and less shopping—and the House of Blues.

Sunday night we were spoiled with an In-N-Out food truck whereupon I enjoyed a “Double Double” (and I think I heard that Jeremy Rex ate four?!)

Monday evening we were all braceleted up and sent off to Disneyland’s California Adventure. After weaving through crowds of people, we finally happened upon the dinner buffet. (I also discovered I hate blue cheese…) After a little music from Lala Jazz and some excitement that the saxophonist had a Neotech strap, we wandered off to find some rides. One round of bumper cars and a very cool Monsters Inc. ride later, we headed back.

There were a lot more adventures that week and I learned many problem-solving ideas including using Google Sheets for feeding data, tips for enhancing pages through XSL, server-side includes, and maybe my favorite—how to preview markdown in VSCode. (CTRL+K,V—Thanks Jim!)

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