Tag Archive for elgg

Web Site Design Portfolio

This portfolio shows major sites I have designed and built for organizations.

Catlin Gabel School (2009-present)
The school’s main, public-facing website provides a complete content management system, multimedia publishing tools, user accounts for students, staff, parents, and alumni, and ties into the school’s student information system. A layer of the site is login-protected, so that community members may publish articles, photos, and videos to the school community.

Catlin Gabel website

Tools: Drupal and Blackbaud, including custom PHP development.


insideCatlin (2006-present)
This intranet web portal provides operational tools for the members of Catlin Gabel School. Teachers provide students with course materials and interactive discussion areas, departments publish commonly-used forms, and individuals schoolwide exchange information such as community service hours and textbook orders. The portal is organized by commonly-desired content and transactions, rather than by tool.


Tools used: Moodle, Drupal, Blackbaud database access, and custom Perl and PHP scripts.


Shasta Mountain Guides (2005 – present)
The guiding company uses this site to publish trip information, collect reservations, solicit customer questions, and sell merchandise. Customers may browse through trip descriptions, photos, and testimonials and then book a reservation online, including payment. The co-owners maintain the Backcountry Blog and photo galleries on the site. A live weather feed and equipment lists help hikers plan their trips.

Shasta Mountain Guides

Tools: Drupal, osCommerce, custom Perl scripts, custom graphic design


San Diego Hat Co (2001 – present)
This web site allows the company to quickly publish an online catalog of hundreds of items to wholesale customers twice each year. Within the login-protected site, customers browse or search for hat styles, zoom in to view close-up detail, and see available colors for each style. The site also includes static pages for company information and an online store for retail customers.

San Diego Hat Co

Tools: Web Site Baker, osCommerce, custom Perl scripts.


Maru-a-Pula School (2006 – present)
The school upgraded its web presence with a content management system and custom graphic design (Elavacion, Inc.). I moved the hosting service to the U.S., to improve upon the reliability of Botswana-based hosting services.

Tools used: Drupal


San Francisco University High School (2002 – 2006)
This site provided for all of the public-facing web site needs of this school community: a description of the school program, faculty and staff contact directory, admission inquiry toolkit, alumni profile and notes tools, and Arts department mini-site.

San Francisco University High School

Tools: Dreamweaver, custom Perl scripts.

insideUHS (2002-2006)
This intranet school portal provided the community with communication and information tools: course web sites, athletics schedules, community service project database, independent study project database, community announcements, schoolwide events calendar, student photo directories, online file access, and student discussion forums.

Tools: Moodle, YaBB, phpBB, FileMan, Blackbaud database access, custom Perl scripts.


site snapshot at The Internet Archive (original site no longer available)

Gateway High School (1999-2002)
The graphic design of this site communicates the school’s unique position as a public charter school in San Francisco. Learning Center and People receive high visibility, and student work is featured on the home page.

Gateway High School

Tools: Dreamweaver

www.gwhs.org at the Internet Archive

Elgg as Alumni Web Site, Part 2

Last week, I got frustrated with attempting to modify Elgg core code to make cosmetic changes. There were two problems. First, the language settings are only partially abstracted, so the text strings that appear within Elgg are actually hard-coded within core code. Second, text strings are spread out throughout different parts of the Elgg directory structure, so items are often hard to find. Contrast this with the east of modification of Moodle or phpBB, as I have found in the past. Hopefully, the good folk within the Elgg development team will abstract the language file soon, making it easier to use Elgg for a wide range of purposes such as an alumni web site.

I was dead in the water until I discovered this command-line trick from Rob Fisher to perform full-text searches of the Elgg codebase.

grep -lir "some text" *

I put each of the strings I wanted to change through this command to find the variety of locations on the server where the revelant items were located.

MAP alumni

I made a number of changes to make the site more useful as an alumni web site.

  • Changed all mention of “blog” to “post.” Most users won’t actually be blogging here but rather posting occasional updates on there whereabouts and activities. I didn’t want to scare off prospective participants with a loaded term that didn’t really match the purpose of the site.
  • Removed “Dashboard” and “Resources” to simplify the site and narrow its focus. Test users were confused about the purpose of these two items. Remote RSS feeds didn’t work anyway due to fopen() being disabled at Dreamhost. I would like to get this working one day.
  • Made graphic design shorter and more people-oriented (based on Northern stock template).
  • Provided some explanatory information on home page for logged-in users.
  • Eliminated “public” restriction type and made “logged in users” default. (Because this is a closed network, posts are not “public.”

One outstanding question is what to do about RSS feeds on a private site. Ideally, some users will follow the site through RSS feeds. But with the “walled garden” setting turned on, RSS feeds don’t work. One solution is to make the site wide open, though this won’t necessarily best serve the alumni who want to freely chat with each other without posting lots of information in a public space. Another is to modify code so that RSS feeds are public though the rest of the site is not. This is probably the best solution.

I still have not heard of other schools using Elgg for an alumni web site, though I did find that the Elgg development team certainly has it in mind: Elgg Alumni Spaces. I wonder what code modifications they are up to?