Web Development Status Report

Fall 2009

Jennifer Oxelson & Tom Yoksas

In this status report:

It has been a busy summer:

  1. 2009 Unidata Training Workshop
  2. Metrics Data Collection
  3. Web Development for the 25th Anniversary Event

I. 2009 Unidata Training Workshop

Participation in the TDS Training Workshop

For the second year in a row, Jennifer helped out with a few sessions of the TDS training workshop. The focus of these sessions involved general servlet container (Tomcat) installation, security, and logging; as well as web application deployment and configuration (in this case the TDS). Jennifer re-wrote the content of these sessions for the TDS group, and taught them to the workshop participants. The training workshops provide another opportunity for Jen to interact with the community, as well as solidify her knowledge of the subject material. She has offered to volunteered these same services to other developers in Unidata who may utilize Tomcat in their packages.

For more information, please see: TDS Tutorial: 2009 Workshop Schedule

CSS Template

Jen took some time to developed a template using CSS for the TDS training workshop materials. The curriculum for the TDS training workshop includes numerous code and Java Exception examples requiring a way to display this information in a way that offsets it from the rest of the content. The CSS template also allows the TDS developers/workshop trainers to create sections of emphasis to denote curriculum exercises, reminders, troubleshooting tips, etc.

II. Metrics Data Collection

August Metrics Shindig

Mohan, Linda, Jen, Tom, Tina, and the Jeffs met in late August to discuss the topic of 'metrics' and 'metrics gthering' within the UPC. While it was agreed upon that there may be many reasons for gathering metrics (and many sources of metrics data), the most important reason was to dervive information that may show us how to better serve our community.

Various action items came out of the meeting, including the creation of a map to show the location of 'all Unidata users' to be unveiled at the Unidata 25th Anniversary Event.

Jen created a list of common metrics queries that could be made from the various metrics data sources to which she has access. This list will be used to derive the model logic for a web interface UPC staff can use to gather metrics data.

Database of Metrics Information

Jen has been spending a lot of time compiling a list of resources to include in a database that will be used to gather or reference metrics information. (No such 'free' resource exists that she can find.) Collecton of this information involved getting information from our own database, mailing lists, and support database. Jen also scraped numberous websites for this information, made automated calls to online web services providing geo-location information, and performed dig and whois lookups. (Jen's workstation IP was temporarily banned from performing anymore lookups to the whois server when they determined she was hogging bandwidth. :) )

This database and its data will also be incorporated into the new website to aid in user registration.

The database currently contains:

  • 2900+ US and international universities, community colleges, and other EDU institutions.
  • For each of these institutions, Jen has compiled the following data:

    • domain name(s)
    • institution name(s)
    • city
    • state or province
    • postal code
    • country
    • latitude
    • longitude
    • affiliation type (e.g., edu)

  • ISO 3166-1 information for all countries of the world.
  • For each of these, Jen has compiled the following data:

    • country name - e.g., United Kingdom
    • ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes (or two-letter country codes) - e.g., GB
    • ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codes (or three-letter country codes) - e.g., GBR
    • ISO 3166-1 numeric (or numeric-3) codes - e.g., 826
    • ISO 3166-2 codes - e.g., ISO 3166-2:GB

    Jen has also created a list of country aliases to match country codes to their proper country - e.g., UK (is not a proper ISO 31656 country code for the United Kingdom).

  • Internet domain suffixes

IV. Web Development for the 25th Anniversary Event

The comments/ Page

At Linda's request, Jen created an online comments/ page for the Unidata 25th Anniversary Event. Users can share their thoughts, memories, or comments about the Unidata program with others in the community. To prevent the abuse of the web appliation by spammers, the comments are not immediately made visible, but are held for review by UPC staff members before publishing to the web.

The creation of the comments/ web application is serving others purposes as well:

  • Testing of the geo-location gathering mechanism to be used in the new website.
  • Jen can geo-location site visitors based on their IP address, email address, and/or postal code. The comments/ web application is using the IP address detection class and testing how effective it is. Depending on the results, adjustments may be made to the code before deployment of the new website.

  • Continued population of the aforementioned database of known institutions/affiliations.
  • Any new institutions contributed by users of the comments/ application will be added to the institutions/affiliation database before the deployment of the new site.

  • Trial run of using the Spring MVC framework in the context for gathering and persisting metric data.
  • The comments/ application was built using the Spring MVC framework. In order to take full advantage of the Spring framework's ease of use, Spring requires user data to be 'binded' to backend java objects. this can be a challenge if you plan to create form elements dynamically via JavaScript. Jen has found the experience of building the comments/ application valuable in contrusting these objects when considering the use of dynamic web forms. These lessons learned have been incorporated into the creation of the user registration application of the new website.

Map of to Show Location of "All Unidata Users"

As previously mentioned, Jen has been tasked with creating a map showing the location of the 'Unidata Community' for the Unidata 25th Anniversary Event. Using the Google Visualization API, Jen will display user information from the following available data sources:

  • Website registration database
  • Mailing list subscribers
  • Support database
  • Package download data
  • Equipment Awards data

For more information on the type of metrics data collected from these sources, please see the available metrics data metrics Jen made for after the August Metrics Shindig.

The map is to be considered a work in progress and is available for viewing here.