TechNews deploys new site, notable quality of life improvements

IT Manager
Mon Aug 27, 2018

Just in time for the 2018 Fall semester to start, Illinois Tech's student newspaper, TechNews, has received a new website (located at technewsiit.com). Of course this is more than a new coat of paint, but even that aspect is significant alongside the other changes detailed in this article.

The most notable upgrade is the addition of a mobile-friendly interface, which was missing from the previous long-running iteration of the site. Those reading this article on mobile will have already noticed this change, but those reading in print should know that there is now a more pocketable version of the paper aside from the digital print version that is available through Issuu (and linked on the site). Although it does not directly affect the reader end of TechNews, article editing and writing can now be reasonably done on mobile without having to zoom all over the page. In a punch, this could make all the difference in ensuring articles turn out as well as possible.

In terms of media, the new site offers a richer set of tools for uploading and managing images, meaning that there will finally be pictures featured in our online versions of articles as well as print. In addition, there is built-in support for embedding Instagram and Twitter posts directly into articles, provided it is significant to the article. On the other side of the last point, featured at the bottom of each article are share links for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and while that last option may have fallen into obscurity for many, this addition will make sharing articles much simpler.

Last, but not least, on the more aesthetic end, users should notice smoother content transitions due to the bootstrap-based theme the site now employs, which mostly boils down to the smooth visual of the top navigation bar as users scroll down the page. In addition, the new site exhibits more of the colors associated with TechNews and Illinois Tech, along with thicker title text and navigation links which moderately improve legibility.

Those interested in some slightly more technical details and challenges of what lead up to the new site existing should read on. Otherwise, this marks the end of improvements.

Aside from the drive to get the TechNews site to be mobile-friendly, there was also a support and security aspect that the old site just did not meet. Most notable was the fact that ProsePoint, the Drupal distribution employed, had been last updated in 2013 and since saw no security upgrades nor feature improvements. Unfortunately, directly upgrading to a Drupal 8 distribution (the new site runs on one called Thunder) from Drupal 6 was not possible, so we had to create a new site entirely. In addition, the newer, more secure versions of PHP were incompatible with the old site. The biggest struggle in this process was exporting the articles from the old site and importing to the new one, which may well have been the majority of the work put into it. All said, everything is in working order now.

If you would like to submit feedback on the website and request features, send an email to [email protected] and we'll try our best to implement changes.

 

 

Appears in
2018 - Fall - Issue 1
Tags
Channel