Web Wednesday: UST WebSPACE application development

Web Wednesday: UST WebSPACE application development

From Information Resources and Technologies

The WebSPACE project team is redesigning the visual and information architecture of the UST Web presence and enhancing what you can do on the Web.  We are upgrading many of our Web applications (interactive forms, the ability to apply for admissions, record service hours, volunteer at the state fair, sign up to attend a conference) to a more robust, scalable and portable environment.  With more and more of the services that the university provides moving to or being mirrored on the Web, these applications have become essential to the services we provide.

IRT is making a strategic shift toward Java, a robust application development language.  Java's object-oriented framework permits code reuse through its implementation of data encapsulation and inheritance (e.g., the ability to write the code once and reuse elements in a variety of places).

Last May, we began using Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE). J2EE is the industry standard for developing portable, robust, scalable and secure server-side Java applications. The first project was the graduate admissions module (GAM), built for the College of Business and School of Education. The graduate admissions module is a Web-based admissions workflow tool that provides online intake of graduate student applications and management of each college's internal admissions process. Currently, more than half of all applications for admissions within the COB are completed via the Web.

The redesign of GAM is led by Greg Woodfill and will be deployed to the College of Business and the School of Education this fall.  Next up will be the graduate schools for Engineering, Music, Psychology, English and Social Work. They will be contacted this school year to gather requirements and set a time frame.

Another application redesigned and converted this summer is the Mentor Logs for the Law School. This application, led by Douglas Lochowski-Haney, allows law students to record their mentor and service hours via the Web; both actions are required for graduation. The application provides a great convenience to law students and the information used for assessment and accreditation purposes is held in one place.

Our student team

In addition to the full-time professionals in Web and Media Services, student employees assist in the development of university Web applications.  Students, Michael Bykow, Reid Miller, James Neumann, and Eranda Liyanapathiranage assist staff with writing code, developing systems and testing applications.  In addition to assisting with important projects, these students gain valuable real-world working experience.

Miller, a junior majoring in quantitative methods and computer science (QMCS), has been working for WMS since January 2006 and has been involved with a variety of projects. He hopes to translate what he has learned in Web and Media Services into a successful career in either Web development or systems administration. “Web and Media Services has basically served as an on-campus internship for me," says Miller. "I feel that the experience I've gained here is equal to, if not greater than the experience I would have received at an internship in my field. I also believe that it (my experience) will be looked upon just as highly by future employers."

Web and Media Services, along with our student employee partners, will be active in the coming months, redesigning older applications to ensure they remain robust and stable. Our list of projects continues to grow; enhancements and new ideas develop to keep up with changing processes and services as the expectation increases for the university to conduct its business via the Web.

IRT looks forward to working with departments on the continual evolution of UST's Web environment. Together we can reach the WebSPACE project's goal of creating a first-class communication and service channel.

To learn more, visit the IRT Web site, or contact the IRT Tech Desk, (651) 962-6230.