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How to use this document
This document is an appendix of ISCB-SC:Website.
All SC Leaders are recommended and members of the WCT are required to answer the questions on this Questions and Answers wiki page. Please feel free to submit new questions.
When making any changes, you should sign your contributions by typing three tildes --~~~. The reference of a comment is determined by the number of colons (':') in front of it. Place new text under old text.
Most questions and answers can be interpreted as user story names and descriptions respectively.
WCT should decide about the consensus on each question on this page and compile the requirements.
Questions could be sectioned just for convenience.
The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.
Q: What is the main purpose of ISCB SC Portal?
A: The main purpose is provide up-to-date information to current and prospective members --Alexander
A: The Web is a reflection of who we are, what we do and why we do it. Its main purpose in my view is to be useful to the young researcher community in computational biology. We want to use it as a portal for educational, career and scientific opportunities --Manuel
A: The web is to integrate the young researchers in computational biology by exchanging informations, activities, experience. --Teresa
A: Provide an active community for young researchers to share thoughts, information, experience. This is basically the same as the anwers above. --Thomas Abeel
A: To maintain a rapport with eminent Computational Biologists and make it a highly available open source platform. That said, all budding Bioinformaticists/Computational Biologists would be benefitted. --prash
A: To help the young scholars in our filed, this is same above statements. --venkata
A: SC website is our final projection to the outside world of what we are. It is our main medium to spread the awareness about SC and its activities--Abhishek
Q: What is the main problem with current ISCB SC website?
A: The main problem is inconsistence. It is hard to find useful information, and the information that could be found is ambiguous. --Alexander
A: The current ISCB SC website is not updated. --Teresa
A: We need some one who keeps it updated :) --prash
A: (from PARTHI) The following setup is ALREADY available:
I can only see ONE major problem: We need more people to continuously edit and update information. Access rights (ftp/http, forum admin, mailing list admin, etc.) have been given to many until now. This includes Manuel, Nils, Saraswathi, Sanne, Venkata, Victor, Prash, John and may be few others I don't remember. The rights were always given if the requesting person is well-known and trusted by leaders. BTW, the current web setup are around TWO and half years old FUNDED ONLY by me. Another problem is the restriction to have number of MySQL DBs. This has become slightly better as I had freed up few DBs that I had for my own purpose.
A: I think the main issue with the website remains professionalism. We need to have an active updated active protal. It may lack in the technology being used but must be able to communicate with the first time user bascially a student. We currently lack the appeal to attract a person to visit us again. --Abhishek
Q: What would be your typical use of the ISCB SC Portal?
A: My typical use of portal would be:
A: For me,
A: TO add on, free for all webinar system which could be widely used by groups of people. --Abhishek
Q: Do you support centralized/unified RSG portal infrastructure?
A: With centralized/unified RSG portal it will be most probably easier to maintain conections between RSGs. --Teresa
A: I'm in favor of a tigh integration with the SC and centralized infrastructure. Basically we provide a location on our website so that the RGS can announce their activities and have a corner on the forums. --Thomas Abeel
A: Very much --prash
A: Yes, we need this kind of solution, every thing at one place, one RSG template, all RSG will use same template so that we will have same look & fell and we can avoid each RSG spending lot of time and energy to design its web site --venkata
Q: What is the relation between RSGs then, what they share and what they don't?
A: RSGs are "localised" mini-Student Councils. In my view they should be decentralised from the main ISCBSC website, of course controlling that they meet a minimum required standard --Manuel
A: If they are localized mini-SCs I think they should be centralized with the main ISCBSC website. That's the only way to make sure they archieve some minimum requirements. --Thomas Abeel
A: RSGs share all infrastructure, which I believe is the same as the infrastructure required for the SC website and thus should be tightly integrated into the SC website. This will reduce the maintenance effort and we can focus on content, which is the thing that really matters. --Nils
A: While I too feel RSGs should share same infrastructure, there could be separate forum categories for every country. Moderators for respective RSGs would be involved in such integrative efforts. --prash
A: RSGs will have additional local information, I mean some job advertisements/fellowships only meant for that region, so whole ISCB-SC(world) is not interested at that information, it is only important for that RSG this kind of information will stay only on RSG pages, if anything from a RSG is of global importance will come to that main page. Each RSG will have how some local statistics like how many members/list of local universities/course curricula etc and their local activities... We don't put any information i.e available on main page on RSG pages. --venkata
A: Each RSG will cater to the specific needs of the country it is in. Specially there is a lot of difference in the Asian region. This makes each RSG will have their own agenda for action tailored to the need of the students of the region.--Abhishek
Q: How tight is the connection between RSGs and ISCB SC portal?
A: They become part of the ISCBSC portal. --Thomas Abeel
A: This is the way to go to prevent duplication of information. --Nils
A: ...and the way to have an easy access to the information what is going on in different RSGs --Teresa
A: Latest news from every RSG could be highlighted, that yields no duplication --prash
A: As Thomas said RSGs are part of our portal --venkata
A: We share same portal. So we create a seperate zones for each RSG for their independent functioning. As per my knowledge this is quite possible in joomla. --Abhishek
Q: Which RSG do you represent? What is the main purpose of your RSG page/site/portal?
A: RSG site main purpose is to cover (communicate) local events and activities --Alexander
A: RSGs also need to present their current and past leadership and contact information. --Nils
A: I represent RSG, Denmark. The main purpose of having RSG, Denmark is to see that the student of Biology is introduced to ISCB throughs eminars, conferences, webinars etcetera. More details at http:/groups.google.com/rsg-denmark --prash
A: To help the local young research scholars in that RSG region --venkata
A: I am from RSG-India. I think we believe in spreading the correct information about Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and many names which are used by people here. Each member should have the confidence that this group of people can be trusted. We plan to do the same through our web portal giving each user an individual touch. --Abhishek
Q: What is the main problem with your current RSG website?
A: Loose connection to ISCB SC site and other RSG sites is the main problem. --Alexander
A: In my view, the main problem is that we have not provided what we promised: the posibility of hosting the RSG infrastructure at the ISCBSC server. Most RSG are currently working as googlegroups and that's frankly quite unprofessional --Manuel
A: I do not manage any RSG websites, but I feel that they should be tighly integrated with the SC. They should look professional and not as Manuel notes, as some (inactive) google-group. Tight integration assures that at least a basic level of standard is observed. --Thomas Abeel
A: I am talking in general because I am also not managing any RSG website, each RSG spending more or less same time and energy to design the their website, we should avoid this, and provide a common solutions for all RSG web sites. --venkata
A: I strongly agree with Manuel. Its time we do our website as none of the RSG's have their own. We are loosing out on momentum that we created in RSG-India specifically. --Abhishek
Q: If you are involved in RSG site development, please state your current plans for this site.
Q: Who should host ISCB SC portal?
A: Anybody is fine, as long as we can install our preferred CMS, so we need a recent version of PHP and MySQL. --Thomas Abeel
A: I would prefer siteground.com. However it is left to the chief webmaster who must be acquainted with all tools like Joomla etc. --prash
A: You mean which provider or which sc-leader, provider: please go for good provider by keeping our requirements in mind which gives the opportunity to expand (according to our requirements) and able to install broad range of software/tools. sc-leader: any body from web portal design team may be Alex or Thomas --venkata
A: As already been approved by Bod. Lets just be careful in choosing the right server. I think siteground.com as suggested by prash looks good. However we can still explore till the basic plot is being prepared. --Abhishek
Q: Who should host all the RSG sites?
A: In my opinion, they should become part of the SC main site. --Thomas Abeel
A: Agreed. Otherwise we are going to propagate the problems with the current SC website to the RSGs, creating an even more complex problem. --Nils
A: Yes I do agree, It should be part of main portal --venkata
Q: Do we need conferencing service? Should it be on site? Why? Provide usage scenarios.
A: I vote for a conferencing service on site. This could be implemented as a browser-based chat room with the possibility to save the log of the conversation. Having it on site meas that we do not need a separate (paid) service and separate accounts for it. When used not frequently some people would always have problems logging into 3rd party sites and would miss the conference. Basically it saves effort. --Alexander
A: I'm also in favor of a chat-based system that keeps logs as a conferencing system. The reason why: see the comments of Alexander --Thomas Abeel
A: I'm also in favor of such a system. --Nils
A: Me too, and the possibility of clear chat history view will be quite important i think. --Teresa
A: I would rather prefer a webinar software like Adobe Breeze or NetViewer or ASAP system. We could have vrtual conferences through that. A license for 100 people shouldnot cost much and that also allows all SC leaders to have online meetings insetad of conferencing systems --prash
A: It would be great to have this kind of service, but please check carefully which one serves our purpose. Prash has some experience, we should explore the options suggested by Prash and other if any. --venkata
Q: Do we need paper submission/review service? Should it be on site? Why?
A: This is an idea that was available on the list of projects on the wiki. I'm in favor of having such a system and it is not difficult to add to for example Drupal. However, in order to have a minimal list of things to do first, I would leave it out for starters. --Thomas Abeel
A: We have been thinking about this for a long time and looked into various systems. Eventually we decided to use the new ISCB system because it was readily available and mostly met our requirements. I don't think there is a need to pursue this at the moment. --Nils
A: It is good to have conference management system (paper submission/review service), because every year we are having discussion about it before the symposium, install it once and user for some time at least few years, later if we found better tool/version we can change. --venkata
A: I agree with Nils on this --Abhishek
Q: Do we need web-based forum service on site? Why?
A: Yes, most definitely. This should be the most important part in building an active network of online contacts for young computational biologists --Thomas Abeel
A: A forum is a MUST, however I'd like to warn that the success of a forum requires the interest of the community. This is something we haven't really seen in the past. --Nils
A: ISCBSC forum was running with 100 odd members earlier. But we should see that all SC members should maintain its activity, then we could see members posting in it. --prash
A: We need very strong & active forum, I know it is not depend on sowtware but on people, some how we should encourge people to use the forum . --venkata
Q: Do we need wiki service (collaborative edit) on-site? Why?
A: The idea of wiki is to have a post-moderation, this means everybody who is registered has write access to the page. This could conflict with fine-grain access control we want. --Alexander
A: No I don't think so, it may indeed be difficult to get the finegrained access control we want on a wiki. Besides, if we use a CMS, every SC-leader can be able to edit pages and keep it up to date. No need for a wiki. --Thomas Abeel
A: I don't think there is a need for a wiki with a CMS. However, we should have a tool that allows us to collaborate on documents, e.g. such as this one. --Nils
A: It depends if CMS is restricted to only few people, then we should have a wiki --venkata
Q: Do we need project management service? Should it be on site? Why?
A: Yes, there are quite some projects and I think the site should be the central location for everything. We don't want people spending hours to find out where the information they need is (website, wiki, mailinglist, forum, campfire, skypelog, ...) --Thomas Abeel
A: A project management service (such as Basecamp) is essential for the SC. However, I don't think it has to be integrated into the website. It would be nice if we can use the same login (e.g. OpenId, supported by Basecamp). --Nils
Q: Do we need online education/courses/seminars service (like Moodle)? Should it be on site? Why?
A: In the far future it may be an idea. However, to keep things simple and to get the website online before 2010 I suggest we leave it out for starters. If it later arises that Moodle or something is needed, some CMS (e.g. Drupal) have modules to integrate Moodle into your site. That's a problem for in let's say two years. --Thomas Abeel
A: Very very much!! --prash
A: Yes, we need --venkata
A: Yes very much needed --Abhishek
Q: Do we need video upload service, like youtube? Should it be on site? Why?
A: No, if we need video, we can upload to YouTube and put a playback window on our site. Simple as cake. --Thomas Abeel
A: Agreed. --Nils
A: I do agree, we did same way for SCS3 videos --venkata
Q: Which roles are essential for ISCBSC + RSG Portal development and maintenance?
A: What do you mean by roles? You mean user roles, access control roles?
A: I'm thinking about this and will let you know when I'm done. --Nils
Q: If hosted separately, which hosting service do you suggest for ISCB portal? (support your opinion)
A: I propose  . In my experience it proved as a reliable virtual private server hosting based on Virtuozzo technology. You get a virtual machine where an OS is preinstalled and you have root access. This enables your to install any virtual hosting control system, e.g.  that simplifies site management and install any software or services we wish. Including VoIP telephony and video/audio broadcasting. $15/month is worth the service. Besides, I have a personal virtual private server there, which is hardly 25% loaded, I can share is with StudentCouncil at no cost for SC, if it complies with our policy. If it does not, I can provide backup services to SC site with my host, e.g. DNS/MX backup --Alexander
A: I'm working with a local host from Belgium that is quite reliable and also offers hosting services based on Virtuozzo. You don't get root access to the virtual machine, but you get a VHC system installed. The service costs 18 euro/year (1.5 euro/month). . --Thomas Abeel
Q: How are we going to make the new website useful to people who do not know the Student Council?
A: By providing ...
A: I have two suggestions:
Q: Who is going to collect all due information: organisation, leaders, contacts, etc?
A: It collecting all this information a big job? This can be done during the first weeks while the site is running, it will be dynamic so you can change it. --Thomas Abeel
A: It is a fairly big job to collect and in particular to maintain this information. I propose that the WCT
Q: How are we going to integrate this information with RSGs?
A: Every RSG gets page where it can post announcements of activities, they get a forum, depending on whether the want it, they get a section for localized resources. And they also get a page with more static information like their board, workgroups, projects, etc. --Thomas Abeel
Q: Please state your availability and skills and how do you think you can contribute to Portal Redesign process?
A: I have several years experience as web-developer/team-leader/project-manager for a student council at Ghent University and as freelance webdeveloper. Currently I work mostly with Drupal, but in the past I've set up sites with Joomla. I can spend quite some time on the web site design and implementation. As stated elsewhere I made a sample site a few weeks ago to show some ideas. --Thomas Abeel
A: I volunteer for any technical level activity with active support of my team in RSG-India core committee. --Abhishek
Q: Which Content Management System (CMS) do you know best?
A: I have plenty of experience with Joomla 1.0.x and Drupal 5.x. Recently I tried to install Joomla 1.5.x so I've seen that one as well. --Thomas Abeel
Q: For which reason would you choose Joomla?
A: We go for Joomla as ISCB is using the same. --Abhishek
Q: For which reason would you choose Drupal?
Q: Which other CMS should be considered and for what reasons?
Q: What are we going to do with the funds that were approved for the server for SC/RSG?
A: Use it to rent server space to put the web site on. --Thomas Abeel
A: If we use them we will use them for the purpose they have been approved for. --Nils
A: We will use only for SC portal purpose --venkata
Q: How would you define the target user groups and what feature in particular could interest them?
Q: Should we make a distinction between ISCB(-SC) members and non-members on the website?
A: I think not, I think both should be able to get the entire functionality of the website. ISCB membership benefits are mainly cheaper conferences, journals, etc. I think that providing the service of a young bioinformatics community should be open to all bioinformatics students. In any case I suggest to make the registration on the web site open to anybody who wishes to join. In the end most people get convinced to join the ISCB when they go to a conference or workshop and get 100 euros off when becoming a member. --Thomas Abeel
A: Agreed --prash
Q: Which content types/services (news, calendar, forum, video) that are ESSENTIAL could you list?
A: News, background information, calendar, forums, conference paper submission system, task managment (project management) and chatbox are essential. --Thomas Abeel
Q: Which content pages on ISCBSC site are ESSENTIAL (e.g. SC Structure, SC RSG list, SC constitution)
Q: Should the event calendars of RSGs be separate or merged into one global calendar?
A: It should be merged to make easier for people to join other RSGs events. --Teresa
A: I would also choose for one centralized calendar. --Thomas Abeel
A: I would like to have one global data source that feeds a global calendar and local calendars for each RSG. The latter is important to highlight the activities and contributions of the RSGs. --Nils
Q: Should there be job postings service on site? Why?
A: Yes, this is one of the few services we can offer. And one of the most helpful I guess. --Thomas Abeel
A: No separate job postings. This is too labor intensive and the ISCB is already running a job board. --Nils
Q: Who would be able to access job postings? Name target groups
A: Anybody! Once the site is running really well, we can maybe consider on limiting the access to members as an incentive to become member. But currently I would not limit the access to any part of the website, because we first need people to get familiar with the SC. Except maybe the Administration and SC-leader forums ;-). --Thomas Abeel
Q: Do we want SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? I.e. do we want to optimize the site for Google, Yahoo, MSN search, etc.?
A: I think we should consider this. I feel we want young bioinformaticians to find ISCB-SC and join us, righ? --Thomas Abeel
A: This is a good idea but not a major concern at the moment. --Nils
A: Yes we should have this one --venkata
Merger/integration questions (ISCBSC+RSG portal with ISCB portal)
Q: What is the motivation to merge the ISCB and ISCB-SC portals?
A: This was decided during the discussion with ISCB BoD, right? --Alexander
A: There was no formal discussion with the ISCB BoD. But here are some thoughts behind the effort to integrate the SC website into the new ISCB portal:
Q: Should ISCB SC Portal be an independent server?
A: No, ISCB SC Portal should become a part of ISCB portal. ISCB SC Portal can be developed now as a separate site and merged with the main portal later. --Alexander
A: It should merge ISCB portal. --Teresa
A: I'm in favor of a seperate site, because I think that the audience of the ISCB and ISCB-SC are quite different. If we do it well, we can offer quite some services to young researchers. This means that we should have full control over our website because we are basically a seperate entity with it's own activities, it's own community. While I think that in the end the two should be merged, I don't think that we should take that into account now. The average survival age of a web site is less than five years so I suggest to work on two seperate sites for now. We and ISCB can start thinking on a unified portal to be deployed in let's say 5 years.
As others have noted in the past month or so, the website is quite urgent. It may be an idea to stop dreaming about this one grand portal that has all information and get to work on our own little portal that suffices our needs. When that is done, we can start working towards the next goal, but I think we should take this one step at the time. --Thomas Abeel
A: The Student Council webpages should become part of the ISCB webportal. --Nils
A: I guess it would be nice if we are part ISCB --venkata
Q: If ISCB SC is an independent server, how tight should it be bound to main ISCB portal?
A: As an independent server, ISCBSC site can be linked from ISCB site. Members should be able to login to ISCBSC using their ISCB login credentials. Services and information that are present on main ISCB site should not be duplicated on ISCBSC, but linked. --Alexander
A: I agree that we should not duplicate any content. But if you want to have cross site/server authentication things are going to become tricky. I suggest we have our own authentication, we do not duplicate ISCB content and we supply ample links to the ISCB web site. The following questions arose from the cross site/server authentication idea of Alexander. --Thomas Abeel
Q: Has the ISCB an LDAP server installed for us to use?
A: AFAIK, no. But if we want the integration, we need to figure out a technical solution. LDAP directory could be one of the possible solutions. The best would be to have Kamal available for questions, he did not respond to emails so far. --Alexander
Q: If NO on previous question: Is ISCB still going to deploy with Joomla?
A: Yes. Joomla 1.5 is the CMS of choice. --Nils
Q: If YES on previous question: Has Joomla cross site authentications?
A: Yes, there are solutions for Gmail, LDAP and OpenID. --Alexander
Q: If YES on previous question: Has Joomla cross server authentications?
A: Yes, the cross-site authentication solutions Gmail, LDAP and OpenID are all cross-server. They do not need shared database access. Is this what you mean, Thomas? --Alexander
Q: If NO on previous question: Do you have any suggestions on how to make it work securely?
A: one note, we have troubles going further with this discussion without proper feedback from ISCB web team. --Alexander
Q: Has anybody experience with the things above?
A: Yes, with OpenID. It is rather simple to deploy and secure enough for our needs (i.e. ISCBSC portal). I have some experience with Novell Directory and LDAP, but this is not related to Joomla. --Alexander
Q: Should we wait for ISCB to deploy their new portal and join it? Or develop our own infrastructure?
A: We should develop our own infrastructure that could later be completely merged with new ISCB portal. Therefore, SC WCT should work in tight collaboration with ISCB web team --Alexander
A: Absolutely agree --Manuel
A: Time is important, so we shouldn't wait. --Teresa
A: I don't think we should wait. Design and develop our own corner of cyberspace and then maybe start thinking about the integration and merger. Time is of the essence so we should move forward on this. (See also questions at the end) --Thomas Abeel
A: Disagree with everyone and strongly believe that we should avoid any duplication of efforts. The ISCB has their new system running and we can get started exploring how we can integrate our content and additional features that we require (which???). --Nils
A: To some extent I agree with Nils, However we need to be clear how much time we can wait. I donot see ISCB upgrading there portal in next couple of months. Even if we want to stay with them, lets just update our existing portal for the time being which is very important.--Abhishek
Q: Who has experience migrating, merging or moving sites?
A: From my experience, moving sites is first of all migrating content. Link preservation could be a problem. As a solution I propose that we introduce permanent links (which we publish, print on paper or distribute). Permanent links are redirected links. E.g.: site/special_event_link redirects to site/?page1&name=event&id=special. Most CMSs provide tools to maintain redirects --Alexander
A: We may not require to do this now. I can manage it in anycase --Abhishek
Q: Who has experience migrating, merging or moving CMS based sites?
A: I have some unpleasant experience. If the CMS has no special functionality for merging, and they usually don't, this is all manual work, and the work effort could be sometimes squared. Copy-pasting content from one site to another is quick and dirty. It works even if you merge two different kinds of CMSs, the common problems are different markups and broken links to pages and media.