Update / News

June 30 Update: While in the process of installing software ‘extensions’ on the forum-side of this website, it crashed and became completely unworkable (even with administrative privileges). For this reason, everything over there will be thrown-out and re-installed. This means, if you have already registered an account there, it will be lost and you’ll have to register again. I know this is inconvenient, but it’s better that this happens now, rather than when the forum is already full of actual discussion/content.

 

As of this writing (June 27, afternoon); the WordPress side of this website is not entirely setup, but is already largely functional. The phpBB (/Forum) side of this site is not setup or configured in the least. For both sides, the situation is similar, though at different stages. In broad strokes, this kind of thing involves separate phases. The first phase is easy enough, and that is installing the software core. The second phase involves installing all of the ‘pluggins’ or ‘extensions’. The third stage is all about configuring these installed pluggins and extensions, and the fourth stage is to tie it all off to the users with ‘permissions’.

There is no sense going through the ‘permissions’ exercise until after everything else beforehand is taken care of. If not, one must revisit the permissions issue several times, which just drags things out longer than necessary. Therefore, in the meantime, patience is required, even as we can already accommodate signups, on both sides (WordPress and phpBB).

 

As the ‘WordPress’ publishing side of this website is further ahead than the discussion forum side; let’s consider this WordPress side more closely…

Thinking ahead to how this will work; it became clear that ‘User Roles’ would be the way to administer everything; with any particular user having multiple roles (and attendant permissions/capabilities). The stock setup of WordPress needed two additional roles that were created and customized for our purposes. These roles are briefly outlined below.

  • Subscriber – This is the basic role granted to a new registrant. It allows someone to access and read all posted content, including privately posted content (viewable only to those who are signed-in). Subscribers can instantly participate in ‘Chapter Chat’, can author and publish posts and comments without facing a moderation queue.
  • Contributor – More powerful than above, to be detailed very soon…
  • Author – More powerful than above, to be detailed very soon…
  • Moderator – More powerful than above, to be detailed very soon…
  • Editor – More powerful than above, to be detailed very soon…
  • Administrator – More powerful than above, to be detailed very soon…
  • MasterAdmin – More powerful than above, to be detailed very soon…

At present, the ‘Administrator’ and ‘MasterAdmin’ roles are unassigned; and are reserved for the ‘webmaster’ and ‘owner’ accounts only. This is a safety issue, since both of these accounts have powers and permissions that are ‘below the water line’ — meaning that mistakes made under these roles/permissions can drastically hurt or even destroy the software installation. Using these roles safely requires caution and some knowledge of dangers that are not apparent. We can discuss specifics at a later time. For right now, that’s a lot to write-up for transient purposes.

After this all is better setup and configured, the ‘owner’ account which was used to create the installation, will be formally backed-up with the Chapter Treasurer, and basically left alone. That is, until something goes wrong with the installation and it becomes necessary use the ‘initial’ “owner” account to fix something. Hopefully, that day will never come, but we have to be ready for it.

 

Moving forward, in the phpBB side of the site, capabilities and permissions are granted on the basis of ‘Group’ membership; and groups can be setup around roles or areas of access. So, we can have groups similar to those described above, but also groups for a specific SME chapter, and yet another group for an SME chapter’s board. Three questions deserve being asked at this juncture.

  • First, how can we best leverage this website to deliver value-added programing for our members, and perhaps even a revenue stream for the chapter?
  • Second, will there be ‘eCommerce’ involved?
  • Third, can we share this infrastructure with other SME chapters across Canada?

Answers to these questions will shape branding moving forward. Right now, I am quite focused on the technical build, so won’t be spending much time on aesthetics.

ALSO NOTE: The banner at top is a lot fancier than it seems. The idea moving forward is for the ‘foreground’ to remain constant, in front of a ‘background’ that can change randomly as visitors navigate around the site. Basically, what you see as a white background, can instead be any wide-aspect image. Ideal image size is at least 1220 pixels wide, and what you’re seeing currently is 150 pixels of vertical height. Start collecting images we can use (are royalty-free, purchased or that you’ve taken yourself with proper permissions).

CAUTION: It’s possible to pay money for an image that was sold to you under false pretenses (or which transaction is improperly registered), which creates a messy problem that is hard to fix (of identifying the offending image and purging it from one’s website). The best approach is to take a photo yourself, and gain permissions for its authorized use at that time. Or, ask an authorized person for an authorized photo of their industrial site; along with authorization to use it on our website.

We should probably develop a standardized release form for this purpose — perhaps a Google Form that can receive digital submissions.

 

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