CHSS Research Impacts Site is live!

Every now and then a project brings the whole team together and combines everyone’s knowledge and expertise.

It’s always extremely rewarding to see a final product so we’re very excited to announce the launch of the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Research Impact’ site. Going live today after months of planning, building, recording and editing we’re pleased to say it looks great! We will be adding new case studies and improving the website over the next few months but are very happy with announcing what’s in place to the big wide world. And so without further ado… (drum roll please…) here it is!

http://www.impact.hss.ed.ac.uk/

Humanities and Social Science Research Impact websiteResearch Impact website As a world leading university much of the research that goes on in Edinburgh is helping to change world politics, law, economics, social thinking and practises (to name a few!). Here at the uni we felt that the impacts of many of the research studies in the College of Humanities and Social Science were so outstanding that they had to be showcased. The Research Impacts site has taken some of the biggest personalities and most impactful studies and given them a platform. From rebuilding the face of an ancient Egyptian mummy to the impact of neuroscience on The Church of Scotland, the topics and staff featured are vast and all equally fascinating. Building the website, and in my case producing the video features, was (and is) a huge task given that even though these academics are leaders in their fields they can be far too modest or, heaven forbid, camera shy!

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Waiter, there’s a Baboon in my Drupal! Or how to use Drush in Windows with Babun to manage your Drupal site

I was struggling to find a robust solution to install and run Drupal’s Drush in Windows with MySQL and rsync all playing along nicely.

I run virtual machines to get around this for the larger, more sophisticated sites, but it’s nice to be able to fire up Uniform Server (my preferred wamp stack) now and again and just run things locally. I have tried a  lot of solutions, but the cleanest so far has been to make use of Babun, a rather cool package developed by Tom Bujok and Lukasz Pielak.

Drush command being run on the Babun shell

Babun (pronounced Baboon) is a pre-configured Cygwin with a lot of addons and lot’s of other bells and whistles including a zsh/bash shell and Git. You can download and install the software via:

Installation

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Nursing Studies Highlights

The Summer edition of Nursing Studies Highlights is now available.

Created using Adobe InDesign the Nursing Highlights newsletter contains current news and articles from the Nursing Studies department at the School of Health and Social Science. These will be of importance to current nursing studies students, alumni and staff but there are also stories of wider public interest such as the feature on “Ebola nursing in Sierra Leone” by Magda James and latest research in dementia care in an article by Professor Charlotte Clarke.

ECA Advent Calendar 2014

A fun Drupal site we’ve built recently was the ECA Advent Calendar 2014 for Edinburgh College of Art.

What’s in the ECA Advent Calendar 2014?

Behind each randomised door is a short video. All videos are the creative work of students on the BA (Honours) Animation programme.

The calendar grid is responsive. In other words, it adapts to different widths of device by resizing and re-stacking (24 is a handy number, being divisible by 4, 3 and 2).

There’s a lot of variety to the animations: some are very funny, some a little melancholy, and all are very creative. It’s great fun to check each morning.

ECA Animation Advent Calendar

http://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/advent-calendar (external link)

P.S. If you don’t feel like clicking through all the doors, you can get the elves to do it for you.
http://www.advent-calendar.eca.ed.ac.uk/?magic-elves=awake (external link)
(note: videos won’t autoplay on iPad)

After the success of the ECA Advent Calendar 2014, Edinburgh College of Art commissioned a new edition in 2015!

Discover the ECA Advent Calendar 2015

Adobe Edge Animate (part 2)

As promised, I have tried out extending Adobe Edge Animate with jQuery libraries in order to implement a “drag and drop” functionality. It is meant to be a fairly straightforward task of importing the scripts or including the relevant url paths, through Edge script interface.

Adobe Edge panels

It turned out to be quite fiddly, as including the url path didn’t work for me and importing scripts into edge also turned out to be a bit problematic. There is a separate script for touch devices – jQuery UI Touch Punch, and this seems to be sensitive about the order in which it is included. It has worked after a fashion and an example can be found here: http://www.ed.ac.uk/staff-students/students/new-students/student-support/preparing-for-study/school-and-college-leavers/looking-back/time-management/looking-back

Since Adobe Edge export includes a bundle of files (edgePreload.js, edgeActions.js, main.js as well as HTML files and images folder) the easiest way of including all these in our CMS Poloply was to host these packages separately to be called in via iframes.

Not the most elegant solution.

The new section  http://www.ed.ac.uk/staff-students/students/new-students/student-support/preparing-for-study/school-and-college-leavers/looking-back is a bit of an experiment. It is an attempt to make the activities more interesting than reading PDF files.

Whether the new JavaScript  elements provide an added value is up for debate…keen to hear your views.

 

Integrating a Drupal 7 website with the University’s EASE authentication service

ease1In the web team we recently took over the technical maintenance and development of the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) website. Part of this development work involved integrating the University’s standard authentication service (EASE) with the Content Management System (CMS) used by the ECA website, Drupal 7.

Although the Drupal CMS has been used for many years throughout the University, it has not been widely used with EASE. The only exceptions that I am aware of are work I did myself in collaboration with Colin Higgs on the School of Engineering website to implement EASE authentication on a Drupal 6 plaftform in 2010, and which has subsequently been updated to Drupal 7 by Billy Rosendale, and http://www.projects.ed.ac.uk, built using Drupal 6. The University Website Programme (UWP) are currently developing Drupal 7 for use as the main University CMS and part of this development process is support for EASE authentication – and this EASE integration work was used by the web team as a model for the ECA website.

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Extraordinary poster art of China

Over the last two weeks I’ve been working on a mini-site for the Confucius Institute showcasing the exhibition on propoganda poster art of China they are hosting at Adam House.

The exhibition, which features 133 posters dating from 1913, is just a small sample of the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Collection, which has over 5000 examples of these rare artefacts. The styles and subjects give a fascinating insight into the cultural and political shifts in China through the twentieth century.

Details from 'Model Opera: Red Army Women', 1971

Details from ‘Model Opera: Red Army Women’, 1971

Having such a wealth of visually interesting and colourful material made building the website a lot of fun. Using a timeline plugin allowed me to place poster images in context alongside text explaining the shifts in styles and messages used in the artwork. Text from the exhibition catalogue is illustrated with some of the fascinating background details from the posters.

The exhibition runs from 6 June – 12 July at Adam House, Chambers Street. Full details of of opening times and times of guided tours are available on the exhibition website:

Poster Art of Modern China website

Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center (PPAC)

 

“Landscapes of Hope”

Recently I have uploaded podcasts from the “Landscape of Hope” symposium held by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

Experts in fields ranging from History of Art and English Literature through to Linguistics, Anthropology, Human Geography and other subjects discuss the issues around the broad topics of “hope”, “landscape” and “identity” in the context of deciding what the future may bring for Scotland. They don’t make any explicit political statements but rather draw on their own expertise to see if any relevant parallels can be made.

Detail from 'Vignettes of Cairnsbruck' by Sam Caldwell

Detail from ‘Vignettes of Cairnsbruck’ by Sam Caldwell

The opening address by Doctor Maxim Shadurski begins with an assumption that we all know how hope can change our individual lives, and how hope guides and informs aspirations for our societies.

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Adobe Edge Animate

Edge Animate promises to replace Adobe Flash and (unlike Flash) allow animations to display on mobile devices. You have to subscribe to Adobe cloud in order to use the most up to date version, so I have downloaded a trial version for now.

The interface looks vaguely familiar, except all icons seem much smaller. It doesn’t have the advanced drawing capabilities that Flash use to have, so it is best to use another graphics programme to create individual assets and then import these to the image library. There is a very useful option to make the animation responsive. In terms of scripting the interactions it all still seems rather basic in comparison with Flash but I’m sure this will improve with time.

I have started with an extremely basic diagram below and next hoping to try out the drag and drop functionality….