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Posted by Joe Knox on Friday, May 22, 2015 - 8:35am

Our team treasures productivity power tools and applications. Of all the tools that we’ve adopted, the one that has consistently proven critical to our workflow is GitHub. In this post, I'll share a few use cases related to why we luv Github and highlight an upcoming level-up opportunity.

GitHub say what?

GitHub is a version control code sharing and publishing service that allows its users to manage and store versions of projects. While our team (and other teams) mostly uses GitHub for code, it can be used to manage other file types such as Word documents.

But why’s it so cool?

GitHub is bathed in some serious awesomesauce. While there is a command line tool (Git) for those who wish to work in Terminal or Command Prompt, GitHub also provides a Web-based graphical interface where you can create a series of chunks (commits) of code, can publish repositories, and collaborate with others.

Much of GitHub’s power lies in three of its features: fork, pull, and merge. Here are some classic use cases that outline how these three features work:

Forks

Problem: a member of your team or someone from the community wants to contribute to a project, but doesn't know the state of the project or where to go for updates on the latest work being done.
Github solution: 
the team or community member can view the latest updates and changes to the project repository, as well as make a copy of the project repository and save it to their account (fork).
 

fork a repository so you have your own copy
 

Pull requests

Problem: the team or community member has ideas for making the project better and would like to collaborate, but would like others to review and approve his work beforehand, in a timely matter.
Github solution: 
after making a few changes to the project, the team or community member can send a direct notification (pull request) to the owner of a given repository (a person or a entire team can be the owner) with details about the updates and changes made.
 

submit a pull request with updates or changes
 

Merges

Problem: the project owner wants to inspire more collaboration and could use the help of others, but rolling updates and changes into the project often isn't very harmonious.
Github solution: the owner of the repostory can easily copy any updates or changes from the 
team or community member's copied repository to their original repository (merge).
 

merge updates or changes to original repository
 

The seamlessness of the process encourages the sharing of more granular changes, which helps lead to better projects, products, and innovations.

This is just an example of how Github can enable teams, departments, and people to work together and collaborate. Want to learn more? Check out the following learning opportunity:

GitHub level-up opportunity

Want to get your hands dirty in Git and GitHub?

Tech Training is offering an interactive workshop, Git and GitHub Workshop: Becoming a Contributor, on Wednesday, June 3rd from 1:00 – 4:00 PM.

Enroll in STARS

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Cynthia Mijares Posted by Cynthia Mijares on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 8:55am

As a guest, StanfordWho.stanford.edu has the ability to search by name, email, work phone, or SUNet ID. As an authenticated user, you can check the Search in Stanford view option to see more information. Here's a tip to customize the URL link to a profile page on StanfordWho.stanford.edu.

Example link to a public listing

http://stanfordwho.stanford.edu/SWApp/lookup?search=Cynthia%20Mijares

This link points to my public profile page in StanfordWho.stanford.edu.

Example link to a Stanford and affiliates only listing

http://stanfordwho.stanford.edu/SWApp/auth/lookup?search=Cynthia%20Mijares

This link points to my authenticated view profile page in StanfordWho.stanford.edu.

Note: Use %20 for spaces between names when customizing links to a profile page.

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Sara Worrell-Berg Posted by Sara Worrell Berg on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - 4:09pm

Hey, fans of Drupal and WordPress - the Stanford Web Services team continues to grow! We are looking to expand our team with a talented and experienced web developer to help us create amazing websites and products to help Stanford faculty, students, and staff advance the mission of one of the top research universities in the world.

Who are you?

Web Developer

You’re a plan-maker and a problem-solver. You have a passion for healthy open source communities and are happiest when the products you build are efficient, stable, secure, accessible, version-controlled, tested, and documented. You enjoy the technical challenges in development and architecture and appreciate working hand-in-hand with designers and producers to craft the best possible user experience for clients. A fantastic communicator, you stay on top of technology and value an environment where learning is at the heart of our mission. 

Your work will include:

  • developing large-scale, complex Drupal and/or WordPress websites and services
  • pitching solutions and working with a team to craft scalable, high performing services in the cloud
  • providing technical strategy advice to departments partnering with external vendors to ensure their work meets Stanford’s web technology, quality, and security standards

Read more about the web developer position and apply on Stanford Careers.

Who are we?

Stanford Web Services is a creative web studio serving clients across Stanford University. We are a tight-knit and highly creative team of project managers, designers, producers, developers, and customer experience specialists, and we connect with every School and administrative group at Stanford, building strong relationships and encouraging an active community of web professionals.

In 2014, our agile team worked with 55 clients on 99 separate engagements - including 66 projects - and maintained the growing Stanford Sites system of over 1,200 active Drupal websites. We also contribute to the community by developing custom Drupal modules for Stanford and providing leadership in communities of practice for user experience, service design, and content strategy.

What it’s like to work here

Perks

  • a collegial environment with creative spaces for collaborative work and quiet spaces for heads-down focus time
  • amazing Stanford benefits and a healthy environment, including easy access to athletic facilities and wellness classes
  • support and funding for continuing your career development in technology and leadership
  • office kitchen with coffee, tea, and Free Bagel Tuesdays
  • top of the line workstation and laptop of your choice
  • friendly and supportive teammates

Location

Stanford Web Services is located on the main Stanford University campus in Laurel Hall, a small building behind the new Engineering Quad and within a 5-minute walk of restaurants and coffee shops, including Peet’s and Coupa Cafe at Y2E2, and the new Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center.

We need your help!

Apply today on Stanford Careers and include a cover letter, resume, and links to your Github and/or Drupal.org user profile. 

(Bonus points for including links to your online portfolio and/or contributions to open source communities, such as code or documentation posted on GitHub, Drupal.org, etc.)

We look forward to hearing from you!

@SUWebServices

John, Joe, Nick, Shea, Megan, Cynthia, Jamie, Caryl, Linnea, and Sara

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Posted by Joe Knox on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 8:30am

When learning something new — no matter what it is — many of us move through the same levels of competence. In this post, we'll look at this progression of learning, and discuss how a focus on practice can lead to a more sustained level of self-awareness.

This post was inspired by a dose of awesomeness shared with me by one of my Stanford Web Services teammates (thanks, Megan). It came in the form of a talk titled How Do We Design Designers, given at the 2014 UX Immersion Mobile Conference. In his talk, Jared Spool (@jmspool) considered what makes a great designer and summarizes the similarities in the journeys that great designers often take.

While Spool’s talk focuses primarily on designers, many of the useful nuggets he shared can be applied to almost any field of work. In fact, throughout his talk, he draws on many examples from other professions to better illustrate his point. In this post, I’ve leaned on generic examples to help make the ideas stick.

Levels of competence when learning anything

Many consider Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky respectively the greatest basketball and hockey players of all time. Yet even having demonstrated amazing skill, unmatched commitment, and a deep understanding of their craft, neither was or is very successful as a professional coach or owner.  

How can two people with such incredible ability struggle in directing and teaching?

In his talk, Spool discusses some of the findings of researchers who studied why many esteemed doctors make poor medical instructors. It turns out that there is a largely universal model to learning anything new that many of us go through:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence — we actually don’t know what we’re doing, and we don’t know that we don’t know what we’re doing
  2. Conscious Incompetence — we don’t know what we’re doing, but we understand that we don’t know what we’re doing
  3. Conscious Competence — we know how to do the stuff we’re doing, and we can pay attention to what we’re doing
  4. Unconscious Competence — we can do things without thinking about it; we’ve become amazing at it

After identifying and analyzing the model, researchers found that individuals who are unconsciously competent often don't make for good instructors, because in order to be a good instructor, you must remember what it was like to be consciously competent, which many unconsciously competent individuals can no longer do.

Most of us have seen this in one form or another.

If you ask a friend who’s a great cook how they knew to add more salt to a sauce when they did, they may reply with, “I just knew” or “It just needed more.” If you ask a mechanic who’s been practicing for years how they knew your car’s drive belt was three weeks away from giving out, they may reply with, “Can’t you tell? I mean look right there.” Or, returning to our sports example, if a reporter asks Jordan or Gretzky how they knew to attack a defender in the way that they did, they may reply with, “I just did. I could tell he was favoring his right side and was tired.”

Too often this is the problem: those who are unconsciously competent, even though they’re regularly right, can’t communicate what it is they’re doing and/or why they’re doing it in a way that helps another learn the skill. What if we could reach the level of capability associated with those who are unconsciously competent, while not forgetting how we learned to do what we do?

Spool suggests that there is another way that we can look at the transitions in levels of competence when learning something new that may help us in reaching that goal.

Literacy to fluency to mastery

Let's look at the first two levels of competence. Our move from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence is often a result of the fact that we’re becoming more literate in a given area. We begin learning more about what makes one successful, what the best practices are, and what vocabulary is used to describe the work. At one point in time, the words dribble, shoot, pass, screen, post, and rebound were new to Jordan. He learned what the words meant by doing and by studying.

Often becoming more fluent in a given area commonly sparks our next transition from conscious incompetence to conscious competence. We’re able to speak a shared language with others in the field, which increases our ability to communicate ideas. At this stage, Gretzky was likely able to discuss the best ways of handling a two-man advantage and was thoughtfully aware of what he needed to do to make an amazing assist.

Finally, our move from conscious competence to unconscious competence is due to our mastery in a given area. We’ve reached the level of craftsmanship that we set out trying to achieve. You wouldn’t have to search very long to find clips of Jordan and Gretzky in their prime showing off their level of mastery. Their physical reactions are natural and not the result of the thoughtful (even if only momentary) planning associated with conscious competence.

Mastery through practice

No one master — not Jordan or Gretzky, our friends who cook, nor our mechanics — moved through the levels of literacy, fluency, or mastery when developing their skills without practice. What we’re trying to accomplish by doing and practicing is to move through these stages and reach the next level.

If we think in terms of practice, it makes it easier to identify what it takes to get from one stage to the next. Jordan first needed to learn what a jump shot was before recognizing what a good and a not-so-good one looked like, and he needed to recognize that before developing the jump shot form that he had so much success with.

Be mindful about what you are practicing, noting (physically or mentally) what works and what doesn’t. If we can build more self-awareness around our practice, we are in a better position to become mentors to those lower down in the levels of competence. Look for your equivalent to a jump shot in what you do and enjoy fine-tuning your skills as you move through the stages. While there’s no foolproof process for combating the challenge of communicating your level of mastery, thinking in terms of practice and remembering what it was like on your journey of mastery can lead to better results for you and those around you.

Final word

There’s always a person a level ahead of you. Seek them out and learn from them what you can. You may find that they are often anxious to help others develop. At the very least, they’d likely be willing to provide you with ideas of how you can practice your skills.

Similarly, as you continue to grow, there will always be someone at the level behind you. Inspire them where you can, and do your best to remember what it was like to be where they are.

The more of us who contribute to a culture of learning, the better our industry becomes.

I encourage all of our readers to pass on inspiring work or developmental-related pieces of work to those who may benefit or find it exciting. Speaking from experience, receiving a recommended read, watch, or listen can have a very positive impact.

Jared Spool’s full talk can be viewed on the UX Mobile Immersion site

Megan Erin Miller Posted by Megan Erin Miller on Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 9:00am

As designers, in order to come up with innovative solutions, we must embrace a “yes, and” mindset. But to really get the job done, our most important weapon is the ability to say “no.” To be successful, we have to constantly find a balance between a mindset of “yes” and a mindset of “no.”

This balance is at the core of finding and implementing creative solutions to meet business needs, yet it is a challenging balance to sustain, and not a skill that is taught (directly) in design school. This is one of those soft skills you learn by doing, on the job, with real requirements.

Open, explore, narrow, close

This balance is inherent in common design thinking practices. It is the essence of good ideation to open, explore, narrow, and close.

Open Explore Close diagram from Gamestorming
From the Gamestorming playbook
 

This framework for ideation and decision making is one way to handle the yes/no balancing act, by providing a process for switching contexts through the phases of open, explore, narrow, and close.

We can use this technique to guide clients through the design process, giving them a healthy way to participate more actively in the project and feel ownership over the results.

Internalizing the critic

But to be honest, it’s hard. Constantly on our feet, switching gears. Demanding from ourselves creative solutions and fresh concepts, while at the same time cutting features and design elements to simplify. Saying no to our own work constantly.

It is a labor of love and a state of constant compromise. But if done right, this narrowing in on the true goals of a project and putting the rest in the icebox will result in a better product.

We are not alone

In short, we designers occupy an interesting space where our responsibilities are to envision the unimagined, explore infinite possibilities, and make the critical decisions to narrow in on the right solution.

We are not alone in shouldering this balancing act – our project managers are our greatest partners in understanding and guiding the decisions that we have to make at every stage of the project. Working together, we can develop a practice for client engagement that cultivates a healthy balance between “yes” and “no.”

Cultivating Yes and No

This takes practice. Practice critiquing your own work. Practice receiving feedback. Practice facilitating workshops with clients. And the more experience you have handling complex requirements, the better you will get at this balancing act. Be open to influence and also confident in your decisions, and you will grow as a designer.

What tricks do you have to switch gears between a yes and no mindset?

How do you facilitate getting good feedback in your design process?

How do you productively engage your clients in ideation?

Megan Erin Miller Posted by Megan Erin Miller on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 11:00am

On March 20, we released a major version update to our Stanford-branded, mobile-responsive, Drupal 7 theme, Stanford Framework (read more about the update here). This version includes several new theme options that greatly expand functionality and flexibility of the theme. In this post, I'll highlight ways you can use the new Stanford Framework to create beautiful, customized designs faster.

"Style" options

We had found that many department and group sites were further customizing their look-and-feel using CSS Injector, with mixed results. We wanted to give people an easier place to start to get a more unique look-and-feel. The 3.0 release now lets you choose from seven different color palettes and three font options (below) to allow for easier customization of your site. All colors and fonts fit within the Stanford identity guidelines, and together can create over 21 combinations.

Stanford Framework style options

Stanford Framework font options

By starting with one of these style options, you can get closer to how you want your site to look through the theme settings page, and then add only minimal CSS to enhance the existing styles.

We had originally introduced this functionality in the Stanford Light theme, and very quickly realized that there was a larger demand for this kind of stylistic customization from sites that required the Stanford brand bars (only available in Stanford Framework). So we ported over the custom style options, improved them, and integrated them into Stanford Framework.

Subthemes as options

Another shift in the flexibility of Stanford Framework is that we now incorporate the subthemes, Wilbur and Jordan, into the Stanford Framework theme as theme options. There really was no reason for these to be subthemes in the first place, as they are simply a layer of custom CSS, and do not include any custom template code. So in 3.0 we moved the CSS for Wilbur and Jordan into Stanford Framework and you can now enable them from the theme settings page. This does not mean that we will be neglecting the stand-alone Wilbur and Jordan themes, but that it should be easier going forward to provide variety for groups and departments through Stanford Framework as a single theme, instead of requiring multiple themes to be enabled all at once.

Responsive header background images

An exciting new feature in Stanford Framework is a robust theme option to support a responsive header backgroud image. This includes a subsetting to set the background image to fill the entire page on the homepage for greater impact, and a subsetting for choosing light or dark text color to contrast with your background image for greater accessibility. See below for examples.

Stanford Framework header background

Stanford Framework header background full bleed

See a demo

Join us at Stanford Drupal Camp where we will be demoing the new theme options and how to use them creatively to get beautiful, customized designs faster for your Drupal site. After Drupal Camp, we'll upload the recordings to the resources page on the Drupal Themes website for reference.

If you are interested in requesting use of Stanford Framework for your department or group website, please visit the Drupal Themes website request form.

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Sara Worrell-Berg Posted by Sara Worrell Berg on Monday, April 6, 2015 - 2:54pm

The Stanford Web Services team is growing! We are looking for talented and experienced new team members who can create amazing websites and products to help Stanford faculty, students, and staff advance the mission of one of the top research universities in the world.

We are adding two new positions to our team: a web producer/site builder and a web developer.

Who are you?

Web Producer/Site Builder

You’re a people person - you love working with clients to bring life to their vision. You are energetic and enjoy variety in your day; your ideal task list includes a variety of activities, from leading meetings with clients, working with a designer on wireframes and building a new service prototype, to testing for accessibility and training content editors on the latest feature. You appreciate healthy, open source communities and actively seek ways to contribute. You thrive in a fast-paced, agile, start-up environment and deeply appreciate that your work has a meaningful impact on the world.

Your work will include:

  • managing the production of new Drupal and/or WordPress websites for a wide variety of clients, including everything from a small research lab to a large department reaching thousands of prospective students
  • sharing your knowledge by authoring posts on the SWS blog and speaking at events like Stanford Drupal Camp or BADCamp
  • advocating for the best possible user experience by producing accessible, mobile responsive, and user-friendly websites

Read more about the web producer position and apply now on Stanford Careers.

Web Developer

You’re a plan-maker and a problem-solver. You have a passion for healthy open source communities and are happiest when the products you build are efficient, stable, secure, accessible, version-controlled, tested, and documented. You enjoy the technical challenges in development and architecture and appreciate working hand-in-hand with designers and producers to craft the best possible user experience for clients. A fantastic communicator, you stay on top of technology and value an environment where learning is at the heart of our mission. 

Your work will include:

  • developing large-scale, complex Drupal and/or WordPress websites and services
  • pitching solutions and working with a team to craft scalable, high performing services in the cloud
  • providing technical strategy advice to departments partnering with external vendors to ensure their work meets Stanford’s web technology, quality, and security standards

Read more about the web developer position and apply on Stanford Careers.

Who are we?

Stanford Web Services is a creative web studio serving clients across Stanford University. We are a tight-knit and highly creative team of project managers, designers, producers, developers, and customer experience specialists, and we connect with every School and administrative group at Stanford, building strong relationships and encouraging an active community of web professionals.

In 2014, our agile team worked with 55 clients on 99 separate engagements - including 66 projects - and maintained the growing Stanford Sites system of over 1,200 active Drupal websites. We also contribute to the community by developing custom Drupal modules for Stanford and providing leadership in communities of practice for user experience, service design, and content strategy.

What it’s like to work here

Perks

  • a collegial environment with creative spaces for collaborative work and quiet spaces for heads-down focus time
  • amazing Stanford benefits and a healthy environment, including easy access to athletic facilities and wellness classes
  • support and funding for continuing your career development in technology and leadership
  • office kitchen with coffee, tea, and Free Bagel Tuesdays
  • top of the line workstation and laptop of your choice
  • friendly and supportive teammates

Location

Stanford Web Services is located on the main Stanford University campus in Laurel Hall, a small building behind the new Engineering Quad and within a 5-minute walk of restaurants and coffee shops, including Peet’s and Coupa Cafe at Y2E2, and the new Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center.

We need your help!

If either the web producer or web developer position sounds like your dream gig, then we want to hear from you! Apply today on Stanford Careers and include a cover letter, resume, and links to your Drupal.org user profile. 

(Bonus points for including links to your online portfolio and/or contributions to open source communities, such as code or documentation posted on GitHub, Drupal.org, etc.)

We look forward to hearing from you!

@SUWebServices

John, Joe, Nick, Shea, Megan, Cynthia, Jamie, Caryl, Linnea, and Sara

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Linnea Williams profile pic Posted by Linnea Ann Williams on Friday, April 3, 2015 - 10:00am

This last week I attended the Habit Summit, a day-long conference here at Stanford where industry leaders in software and app development get together to talk frankly about how to make engaging customer experiences and get people hooked on their tools and games.

The amount of research and philosophy, buzz words and metaphors presented was very impressive. It was a fascinating (and sometimes scary) glimpse into the enterprise and start up world. This post outlines some of the ideas and trends that I witnessed.

Interesting Models and Psychological Research

Nir Eyal and "Hooked"

Nir Eyal opened the day with a quick overview of his Hooked model. According to Nir Eyal we can get people "hooked" by ensuring that we are monopolizing on internal and external "triggers" (emails, desires, emotions, tweets, etc) by giving people "actions" to take (tasks, links, calls to action) which create "rewards" (likes, reposts, mastery, competency, resources) that lead into future "investments" to loop them in and reload the next trigger (storing value or content, building followers, pinging someone else so that they respond) Check out this image of the hooked model to get a better idea of how this all works. Nir wrote the book Hooked: how to build habit forming products that outlines the ideas above in great detail. He was also the MC for the day. 

Kintan Brahmbhatt of Amazon and "Friction"

Kintan Brahmbhatt, the Head of Products for Amazon Prime spoke about reducing "friction" in user experiences by discovering where people are struggling and how to smooth those places out to make better experiences. He described friction as anything that comes in the way of a user's ability to achieve his/her objective. When a new user has a new toy (your app or tool) and things are going well, they're delighted, which is always the goal, BUT delight + friction = disappointment. For instance, a new toy (delight) + no batteries (friction) = disappointment.

The three types of friction he called out were:

  1. avoidable effort needed to complete a task
  2. unnatural context switching
  3. count and complexity of decisions

Minimizing these will maximize people's satisfaction with your product and decrease the likelihood that any habitual use will ever be broken, meaning they won't switch to a competitor. Kintan emphasized that discovering and prioritizing which fiction points to resolve is the hardest part.

Natalie Nahai and Psychological Principles

The very fast talking Natalie Nahai, covered a series of psychological principles that could be used to override people's conscious thought and build habits or product addiction. It was slightly terrifying and very impressive to hear her discuss all of the consumer psychology standards that have been developed over the years and how to apply them to the web. Her book Webs of Influence comes highly recommended.

Here are a few examples of principles that she outlined:

  1. Endowed Progress If something looks partially completed at the outset, the chance of completing it is twice as high. For example, a buy 8 and get one free card works twice as well if it's a buy 10 and get one free with two already punched.
  2. Sunk Cost Fallacy We will stick with something if we've already invested in it, even if it's not in our best interest. For example, I'll keep playing this game because my player is so high level, I've put a ton of time into it.
  3.  Opportunity Cost We'll trade money for things like time if the cost of waiting is high enough. This is a case where "fun pain" comes in; people playing a game that requires waiting (like training troops in Clash of Clans) will pay to get rid of their fun pain and make the troops train faster. And a great way to remove the pain of purchasing even further is to introduce an intermediate currency.

At the end of this session, a woman asked, "How do we prevent children from becoming addicted via these subconscious patterns?" And the answer was, "You can't!" Learning about these principles doesn't make them not work on you. The best way to keep kids (and yourself) safe from games like Angry Birds is to limit screen time and focus on what the game or app is getting from you, so that you're conscious of the corporate will behind the principles. I've decided I'm going to give myself more slack for being addicted to Clash of Clans.

Know Your Users

User-Centered Design

There were a few of great presentations on user-centered design and user research featuring design and research leads from Twitter (Ximena Vengoechea) and Instagram (Bo Ren). These presentations emphasized starting with research before ever building anything. Asking questions like:

  • What are we changing?
  • What is our goal?
  • How do people feel when they open my app?
  • When do people use this tool?
  • What does my user's happiness depend upon?
  • Where is my user coming from? What in their life experience is most relevant to my product?

In particular, I appreciated that these two focused on the potential positive impact of their work. Bo Ren said, "Good products aren't just delightful, they help you take action toward a goal." As someone who isn't a heavy app user, I was glad that there was more emphasis in their presentations on thinking about people in a positive way by solving a problem they have, rather than just getting them hooked.

Neuromarketing

Roger Dooling presented on all of the wild technologies out there that power companies are using to test the physical and neurological responses of their consumers. He emphasized the fact that 5% of our decision making is conscious, so asking users what they think is not that meaningful. A few processes he called out were fMRI, eye tracking, facial coding, and EEG. At this point, the research is just starting to come in on whether or not these tools can be used as indicators of potential purchases, with fMRI being the best indicator at this point. Today these sorts of studies are very expensive, but with the advent of wearables like the Apple Watch, it may become easier and easier to study people's unconscious responses to your products.

My takeaways

I have to admit that going in I had hoped there would be a little more self-awareness in the community: questions of ethics, presentations on positive habit formation, not just a focus on addictive habit formation, but it was extremely interesting despite that. And there were a few examples of people using these techniques for things like reducing energy consumption. Let's do more of that and get these concepts into the non-profit world! "We planted two trees for you, plant eight more and get a tree hugger t-shirt" That one needs work, but you know what I mean.

I'd also like to further explore how we can use these sorts of tools and principles to relieve friction in the workplace using tools that allow people to come to their work with the unconsciousness that they open their favorite app. Companies like Slack are working in that sphere these days, which is pretty great.

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Posted by Joe Knox on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 9:00am

Have you ever wanted to try something new on your site, but wished you could view and experiment with it before making the change(s) live? You can! All you need is a development site. In this post we'll talk about how to request a dev site and why you might want to have one.

A short story:

Mr. Webby owns a site on Stanford Sites. Currently, his homepage is very text heavy, and he fears that his site is unwelcoming. To address this, he's decided to cut out half of the text on his homepage, adding a cool, splashy banner image in its place.

Here’s the problem: Mr. Webby's site is live, and he doesn’t want to risk making a change that could affect other items on his homepage. He's also deciding between three banner images, and wants to see what each looks like on his homepage before making a final decision.

Here’s the solution: After chatting with one of the Stanford Web Services team members, Mr. Webby learned he could request a development site, where he could test different content layouts, banner images, and more before pushing the changes to his live site. "Boom!" he thought.

The following steps outline how to request a development site.

Request a dev site

  1. Direct your browser to https://sites.stanford.edu/drupal/admin
  2. Click the desired site’s Edit Configuration button


     

  3. Click the Create Dev Site button


     

Your development site should be ready within one hour. You will receive a confirmation email when the process completes.
 

What if my site has a vanity URL?

If your site is using a Vanity URL (e.g., mysite.stanford.edu), you must first submit a HelpSU request to create a vanity URL for the development site.

Here is an example of such a HelpSU request:

Please create a new virtual host, mysite-dev.stanford.edu, to point to sites-dev.stanford.edu/mysite.

Once you receive the email confirming that the vanity URL has been successfully created, proceed with following the instructions above.

Want to migrate your live site to your development site?

See Making a copy of a website with the Backup and Migrate Module: https://swsblog.stanford.edu/blog/making-copy-website-backup-and-migrate-module

Photo of John Bickar Posted by John Bickar on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 8:00am

University IT will perform maintenance on all websites on the Stanford Sites Drupal hosting service on the following dates:

  • Friday, March 20, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.: personal sites hosted on people.stanford.edu

  • Saturday, March 21, from 4 a.m. - 8 a.m.: group and department sites hosted on sites.stanford.edu

  • Sunday, March 22, from 4 a.m. - 8 a.m.: group and department sites hosted on sites.stanford.edu

These changes are significant and include updating Drupal core to the latest release, security-related module upgrades, new modules, and theme updates for both Drupal 6 and 7 sites. See below for a complete list of updated and new modules, and this related blog post for a complete overview of theme updates.

Websites are scheduled to receive upgrades on a rolling basis. Please note that when the upgrade begins on a website, all logged-in users (if any) will be logged out, and the website will be placed offline temporarily. Visitors will see a message that the website is offline for maintenance. Security patches and database updates will be applied, and the website will be placed back online. We expect the website to be offline for approximately 1 minute during the updates.

If you experience issues with your website hosted on Stanford Sites, please submit a HelpSU request. We will respond as soon as possible. Thanks for using Stanford Sites!

What is included in the upgrade

* = new addition to Stanford Sites

Drupal 7:

  • admin_menu 7.x-3.0-rc5 (fixes bug with Firefox)
  • admin_views 7.x-1.4
  • better_exposed_filters 7.x-3.0
  • colorbox 7.x-2.8 *
  • context 7.x-3.6
  • ctools 7.x-1.7
  • drupal core 7.35
  • encrypt 7.x-2.0 *
  • entity 7.x-1.6
  • features 7.x-2.4
  • feeds_jsonpath_parser 7.x-1.0-beta2*
  • feeds_xpathparser 7.x-1.0
  • flag 7.x-3.6
  • google_analytics 7.x--2.1
  • mollom 7.x-2.13
  • node_convert 7.x-1.2 *
  • relation 7.x-1.0-rc7 (that's a lot of RCs)
  • rules 7.x-2.8
  • social_share 7.x-2.1 *
  • stanford_capx 7.x-1.1 *
  • stanford_courses 7.x-3.4
  • stanford_events_importer 
  • stanford_person 7.x-4.1 *
  • stanford_sites_helper 7.x-1.4
  • token 7.x-1.6
  • views 7.x-3.10
  • views_datasource 7.x-1.0-alpha2 *
  • webform 7.x-4.5
  • workbench_moderation 7.x-1.4
  • xmlsitemap 7.x-2.2

 

Drupal 6:

  • mollom 6.x-2.12
  • views 6.x-2.18
  • webform 6.x-3.22
 
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