After eight years working for UCosmic, first as Graduate Assistant then as Applications Analyst, and finally as Chief Technical Officer of UCosmic, Dan Ludwig has left to pursue another opportunity. We thank him for those years of service and wish him every success with his new assignment. Dan has agreed to continue to assist UCosmic development as an external technical adviser. We all have full confidence in Tim Willis’s ability to proceed with development priorities until a new CTO can be put in place.
Dear UCosmic Consortium Members,
There are many updates to report on the UCosmic site!
1. On the Alpha Site, UCosmic Consortium Members can now add their own institutions. When you are adding a new agreement and you cannot find the partner institution, you can add it with the new “Add New” feature. Also, when you are editing your UCosmic profile’s formal education, you can add your Alma Mater. If the Alma Mater is not there, you can add the institution. Once a month, I will vet the newly added institutions.
2. As noted in the fall Stakeholder’s Meeting, UCosmic Consortium Members can now download an excel spreadsheet for the Agreements Module. Please note, we will be adding a few more columns in the coming weeks, so that you can download additional information.
3. API is now ready for both the Agreements and Faculty Module.
4. In the Faculty & Staff Module, the Advanced Search (Table) and Advanced Search (Map) capacities are now functioning as well.
Finally, I am preparing a focus group interested in preparing a Spring pilot of the Faculty and Staff Module. Email me if you are interested.
We are happy to announce the launch of the updated UCosmic® Consortium site, including a brand new section entitled “Conference Recap”. Under this category, you can find featured information from the 1st Annual UCosmic® Conference, including group photos and speakers’ PowerPoint presentations. By clicking on the speaker’s name found in the agenda, you can review corresponding presentations from each panel.
If you have not already done so, please take the time to Subscribe via Email to the UCosmic® Blog. By signing up, you can have monthly updates like this one sent directly to your inbox. You will see that our last blog post included a proposal to drop support for Internet Explorer versions 9 and lower. The decision has since been made to officially drop support; please review the list of compatible browsers below.
Recommended browsers include:
- Google Chrome, any version
- Firefox, version 4 or above
- Safari, version 5 or above
Accepted browsers included:
- All browsers featured in recommended list above
- Internet Explorer, version 10 or higher
We do not anticipate that many issues will arise from this change, but if you have any questions or concerns, please contact Program Assistant Jen Nevins at Jen.Nevins@ucosmic.org or Program Manager Rebecca Smolar at Rebecca.Smolar@ucosmic.org.
We would like to propose dropping support for Internet Explorer versions 8 and 9 for the further development of the UCosmic software project. For developers, Internet Explorer (IE) is notoriously the worst web browser to program against for a wide variety of technical reasons. While most problems can be solved (though some cannot), the code ends up with defaults that “just work” in every other major popular browser, sprinkled with many special treatments to accommodate for using IE8. UCosmic has some existing code and plans for more advanced user experience interfaces using technologies that IE8 simply predates.
Additionally, the Windows operating system will only let you install one version of Internet Explorer at a time. In order for a developer to test against IE8, it must be installed on the development workstation. If we are developing against IE8, this means that we are unable to test against newer versions like IE10 or IE11. Internet Explorer is constantly playing catch-up with Google Chrome and Firefox, so it has been releasing new versions more frequently. IE11 was released on October 17th 2013.
What about IE9?
IE9 no doubt offers many improvements over IE8. Microsoft accomplished a lot of this by inventing a new code-running engine which they call “Chakra”. Though Chakra enables many newer technologies that IE8 lacked, there are some things it just does not do fast enough (namely, drawing Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG’s)). Many of these performance-related issues were solved pretty well in the next version of Chakra, IE10. We propose dropping support for IE9 because these performance-related issues can give the impression that UCosmic is slow, when in fact it is the IE9 browser which is slow, on those pages where we employ SVG components.
What are the cons?
Dropping support for IE8 and IE9 means that we will not be able to guarantee that the UCosmic user interface behaves as expected in these two browsers. In fact, for some features, we will be able to guarantee that they will not work in IE8. As far as data integrity, there is no way that a user could corrupt or in any way affect data by accessing UCosmic in IE8 or IE9. The concern is simply that the user interfaces may not look right or operate as expected.
Another con is that the Microsoft Windows XP operating system does not support any version of IE after IE8. Users on the Windows XP operating system would not be able to access UCosmic using Internet Explorer on those machines. They would have to use a more modern browser like Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
Therefore, without purchasing virtual machine software or having developers spend unnecessary time installing different versions of IE, the best we can do is hope that the code’s defaults work in those versions, and wait for a frustrated user to tell us otherwise.
Why have you kept support for these browsers so far?
We have kept support for IE8 and IE9 primarily because we expected users in other countries to still be using IE8 browsers. Not everyone upgrades at the same pace, and there are many computers around the world that still run Windows XP. However, that number remains on the decline, therefore reducing the value added by additional coding efforts to support it over time.
The second reason is because of the nature of IT in much of academia today. I can offer an example directly from the University of Cincinnati: The Human Resources division here uses SAP software, which offers a web portal for Employee Self Service. That portal is an older piece of software that hosts pertinent employee information like W2 forms and annual health coverage enrollment verifications. This outdated system will not work in any browser except IE8. There are other legacy systems like these that cause people to delay or avoid upgrading browsers because their need to access these other systems trumps UCosmic.
What do you need from me?
If you are indifferent about the decision, you don’t need to do anything. We will tell you in a later blog post when a decision has been reached. If you agree that the UCosmic software project should drop support for Internet Explorer browser versions 9 and below, please leave a comment below. If this decision is approved, our first recommendation for users would be to update IE to versions 10 or 11 if you wish to use them for UCosmic. For users who cannot update IE or would prefer to keep an IE 8 or 9 installation, our recommendation would be to use either the Firefox or Chrome browser for UCosmic.
If you disagree, tell us why we should keep support for one or both of these browsers. However when doing so, please keep in mind the potential advantages of our argument, so that we can fairly weigh them against yours. If a significant discussion arises out of this, we will begin a dialogue with those parties who have expressed interest in the matter.
What are the pros?
There will be fewer special cases to handle for these versions of IE, meaning the developers can develop a leaner, more consistent set of code, faster and cheaper. We will also be able to take advantage of newer technologies that are ubiquitous in modern machines and browsers, including those used for smartphones and tablets. UCosmic will not appear slow because of performance problems in IE9 that were solved in IE10. Finally, developers will be able to accurately test user experiences in IE10 and IE11, because they will not have to keep IE8 or IE9 installed on their workstations.
On October 31st, the UCosmic® Consortium hosted its first annual conference: Collaborative Software Development to Address Strategic Challenges in Higher Education: Kuali, VIVO and UCosmic®.
Held at the SUNY Global Center, the conference provided highly relevant discussions on shared challenges and opportunities, largely facilitated by speakers by the three open-source, higher education consortia: UCosmic®, Kuali and VIVO.
“The conversations surpassed my expectations. I have some immediate, concrete, take-aways and there are some very important issues that I think we need to move up our agenda. Speaking for me and for UCosmic®, we’ve learned an enormous amount and I really do hope that this is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue” said Mitch Leventhal, SUNY’s Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs and Executive Director of UCosmic®.
Topics included fulfilling strategic operations with big data, consortia-led development, governance structures, decision-making and prioritization, applications roll-out, privacy and policy, and strategies for fostering adoption.
Speakers included Hao Wang, SUNY’s Chief Information Officer, Mitch Leventhal, SUNY’s Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs, Eric Denna, Chief Information Officer for The University of Utah and Utah System of Higher Education, and many others.
Following the conference on November 1st, the UCosmic® Consortium also hosted its Fall Stakeholder’s meeting at the Global Center. Members convened to discuss the UCosmic® Consortium development timeline, best practices, and the possibilities of future collaboration and data exchange amongst the three software initiatives.
For information on UCosmic® membership, please email Jen.Nevins@ucosmic.org.
We look forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming UCosmic Conference on October 31st. There are still a few spots available, so please sign up if you plan on attending: http://www.ucosmic.org/Conference.aspx.
The F all Stakeholder’s Meeting will take place on November 1st at the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan. Email email@example.com if you plan on attending either in person or virtually. If you cannot attend the Stakeholder’s Meeting in person, please use the following to virtually attend:
BB Collaborate Guest Link: http://tinyurl.com/ucosmic-guest
Cisco Meeting Place dial-in: Phone: 518-320-1200 Passcode: 0007
Dial-in can begin 15 minutes before scheduled meeting time (10am).
I would like to welcome Jen Nevins firstname.lastname@example.org and Michael Batten email@example.com to the UCosmic Team. Michael will be helping organize the UCosmic conference and Jen will be helping out with project management during my maternity leave from early November – January. During this period, Jen will help all consortium members with adding member institutions to UCosmic and other project administration needs that arise.
The latest updates to the UCosmic system will be unveiled at the conference and stakeholder’s meeting on October 31st and November 1st.
We are still accepting participants for the First Annual UCosmic Conference: Collaborative Software Development to Address Strategic Challenges in Higher Education: Kuali, VIVO and UCosmic to take place on October 31st. Please note that conference hotel rates will expire on September 28th, so please book today or tomorrow to get the special conference rate. If you cannot attend, we encourage you to forward the invitation to your institution’s senior administrators, including the chief technology officer and chief academic officer.
We are now also accepting reservations for the UCosmic Consortium’s Fall Stakeholder Meeting to take place on November 1st from 10am to 4pm at the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan. Click here to view the agenda. Participants will be able to remotely join the Stakeholder Meeting. The call-in number will be sent closer to the date of the meeting. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for the Stakeholder Meeting and note whether you will be attending in person or remotely.
All of the modules, except the Agreements Module, are now turned off on the preview site: https://preview.ucosmic.com/. We hope that this change will help with promotional efforts this fall. All of the modules can still be found in the Alpha site, where they are being developed.
Registration is open for the first annual UCosmic Conference to be held on October 31st, in New York City. The theme this year is “Collaborative Software Development to Address Strategic Challenges in Higher Education: Kuali, VIVO and UCosmic.”
This one-day conference will focus on an institutional ecosystem of inexpensive, open-source technology solutions to enable global strategy. This conference will share best practices among three cutting-edge, open-source, higher education consortia: UCosmic® Consortium, VIVO, and Kuali.
We have an amazing group of speakers lined up, including Hao Wang, Chief Information Officer, State University of New York, Eric Denna, Chief Information Officer, The University of Utah, Randy Ozden, President and Chief Executive Officer, VivanTech, Kiki Caruson, Associate Professor, and Assistant Vice President for Research, Innovation and Global Affairs, University of South Florida and others.
We have reserved rooms at three NY hotels at really great rates. The rates expire in September, so make your reservations soon! Please note that the NYC marathon is taking place the weekend after the conference, so hotel rates are extremely high and scarce.
Check out the conference website to learn more about the conference and the room reservations: http://www.ucosmic.org/Conference.aspx.