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The Joys of Content Management - In the Business of Dramatic Improvement

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 3/31/10 (12:28pm)

The best definition of a trade or skill that I can think of is being able, through your 'expertise', to make a significant improvement either in people's lives or in how they get things done. This applies to many things; it even applies to Content Management.

I remember the website I did for a relatively large non-profit organization. The original site consisted of nothing but a drab collection of web links and PDF files. It didn't take much work to automate the site and in that way to fundamentally change how people in that organization approached online content -- to the extent that the energy and dynamism of their activities "on the ground" finally were reflected in their web presence as well.

I was reminded of this again today at UIC. A number of people from Classroom Scheduling were looking at an application I had put together for students to find what room their final exam would be in (see page here). Since it's getting close to the end of the Semester, something like this might be kind of handy.

The demo went well. I had promised that the application would be easy as hell to maintain and it was. But what really impressed them were the feeds. These were formatted not as RSS files but as MS Word and Excel files (thank you, Views Bonus Pack module). This meant that every time they had an edit, they no longer had to distribute or print out for the entire University a completely new Word or Excel file. They could just point to the feed which like all feeds is updated on-the-fly. This they really liked!

Anyway, the time it had taken me to put this feature together wasn't much. In fact, the whole project didn't take me more than a day or two. So what's most gratifying then is the positive effect it produced in others -- almost sinfully out of proportion to the amount of effort I put into it. And that's a good thing!