ds106 Class Notes and Stuff

ds106 Class Notes and Stuff, Wordpress

Menu-izing ds106 Assignments Site

Ir’s been fun to do some redesign and alignment of the ds106 web sites. I’ve long had an interest in trying to make the ds106 Assignments site into more of a template that could be used to create similar sites, and that just got a little bit closer to possibility.

The entire 106 fleet is a WordPress multisite, the main site and the Daily Create site both use the Parallelus Salutation theme, so they were easier to coordinate; the one change was using incorporating the stressed 106 logo as part of the TDC. They both use menus at the top, and I’ve set up the rightmost ones to be “ds106” navigation ones.

ds106 new 250
tdc new 250

The ds106 Assignments site was a different beast. It is built on a 960c theme, one of the generic 960 grid system themes. I gave brief thought to trying to render it in Salutation, but it’s a hugely customized theme, and I was not even sure how to do taxonomy archives in Salutation. As is the design is a close-enough match.

The front page used a lot of graphics, and they were all hard code into place (to add a new assignment group meant a new graphics and the template edited):

assignments-front

The “Mission ds106” title was another graphic with its tagline “An anthology of new media projects” that really was not too explanatory. Not only that, I was unable to find the original graphics or even fonts used to modify those graphics.

Likewise, the interior page template used some hard coded icons, which looked nice, for the top navigation. Not easy to update or make more generalized:

assigne icon header

My plan was then to implement the built in WordPress menus for the top navigation, so it would be common on all pages (and be flexible to edit) and maybe to make those front page main icons also be menu driven.

ds106 Class Notes and Stuff

Tinkering Under the ds106 Hood


cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Thomas Hawk

Last week I wrote about the ideas and content changes I had in mind for the next semester of ds106. The car polish is looking shiny. Over the last few weeks I had out my WordPress wrenches, calipers and engine pulls to do some work under the hood. The current site is coming up on two years old, and has been a great example of growth by accretion, experimenting, adding things on. That is all part of running experiments.

But it also got a bit wobbly last semester; no one likes their web site going down, but we were sure ringing the buzzer frequently at our hosts Castiron Coding for server restarts. It wasn’t clear if it was the database, the demands on the server processes, but I took it as a mission to keep happy the unicorns that run the server room

server room unicorns

First of all, our site is a WordPress multi site that not only servers up ds106 covering numerous sections taught over the last 2 years, but also the Assignment bank, the Daily Create, the Assignment Remix Machine, in[SPIRE], plus the archive of Camp Magic Macguffin, and (just unearthed) the May 2011 class taught by Martha Burtis. We also run a MediWki install as a content engine for our documentation (using the Wiki Embed plugin).

The database was and is over 600 Mb. More on that later. There was a long list of plugins, active and inactive, quite a few were not in use.

I’ve done quite a bit and hope I can remember it all! An off the cuff summary…