One of our latest consultations was with the Office of the Vice Provost. They publish the Research @ Tufts online newsletter, a component of which is a list of Tufts’ funded research projects. Presented in this fashion the list is quite cumbersome and unwieldy for easy browsing, searching, and discovery. It is hoped that providing easier discovery will help promote connections and collaborations amongst faculty and scholars.
After discussing a number of solutions (e.g. a custom programmed website, installing some kind of e-journal system, leverage our digital library system) we settled on building a prototype using our new WordPress installation.
WordPress proved to be an excellent choice to rapidly put together a proof of concept. The steps taken were:
1. Created a new WordPress blog and manually authored some posts. One post per project abstract and it’s associated metadata (e.g. principal investigator, sponsoring organization, duration).
2. Used the WordPress export feature to create an example XML file.
3. Once we understood the format of the exported file we set about creating an import XML file in the same format.
4. This file was created by scraping the HTML of the newsletter pages and then outputting the data gathered in the appropriate XML format. This not only included post information but also included a list of two category types: PIs and Sponsors. We used ColdFusion for this. The prototype contained about 100 abstracts.
5. Imported this file into our new blog. The import took care of creating a post for each abstract and associating the correct categories.
It worked well. With a little more tweaking of the theme and widgets the client will have a dynamic, searchable website with little effort.