New Featured Object in CAREO

I finally got around to updating the Featured Object in our themes in CAREO. The previous one had been there since October, and was waaay overdue to be changed.

The new Featured Object is the “Powers of 10” animation, done by Florida State University. VERY well done, and cool, too.

Oh, and through the power of hierarchically inherited themes, I only had to change 1 xml fragment, and all themes in our repository were automatically switched to the new Featured Object… Cool. We can override the default for any of the themes, if we want, but this works pretty well as is.

RSS Search queries in CAREO

Well, that was kind of cool… I just implemented xml feeds for search queries in CAREO. Took about half an hour.

You can subscribe to any term you would normally enter in the search field in CAREO. Not sure how/if it would handle multiple words or anything. I guess as long as they’re URL encoded it should work.

Anyway, here’s how to subscribe:

http://careo.ucalgary.ca/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Repository.woa/wa/Search?theme=rss&query=MYSEARCHQUERY

Just replace “MYSEARCHQUERY” with whatever you want to look for. The top 10 results, sorted by relevancy, are returned. Searching for some stuff will be slow (something like “image” will get a bajillion results, which must be sorted for the top 10…)

The usual caveat applies: THIS IS PRE-ALPHA, PROTOTYPE CODE. IT MIGHT BREAK, OR JUST PLAIN DISAPPEAR. You’ve been warned.

UPDATE: URL-encoding the query seems to work fine for multiple word queries… i.e., to search for “biology video”, set “query=biology+video”

The Reusability Paradox

Just came across this link from Brian Lamb’s weblog

Very interesting article, which basically boils down to something like “Technical interoperability is not the same as semantic interoperability” and goes on to discuss some interesting issues involving the granularity of a learning object, and the impact that has on its value and reusability.

That was fast…

Just realized the RSS theme went from “Hey, that would be cool” to working prototype in under an hour and a half… And that was doing the vast majority of the theme fragment creation/conversion/entry manually to get around the namespace issue… Could have been about 15 minutes otherwise. Theming is cool ;-)

CAREO RSS Prototype goes live

I just hacked together a quick and dirty RSS theme in CAREO. Doesn’t do a heck of a lot yet, but it’s been a real eye-opener on what else will be required in the theming engine.

Test feed is located here. It might be down, or broken, or whatever. It’s waaay pre-alpha, prototype code. I’m subscribed to it in NetNewsWire, and will track it over the next few days to see how it works.

Also, they’re doing a training session on ALOHA, so there’s a lot of crap objects being uploaded as a result. So, you’ll likely get exciting objects like “Test Object” or “Sample” or something similar, with tags missing (no description…) – that’s the purpose of the training session, to get them to do it right…

The BIG thing I have to work on is support for namespaces in the theme XML fragments. The bits of XML that go into making up the themed component description are processed by XSLT, and I currently ignore namespaces, so we don’t have to declare them in EACH and EVERY fragment. I might have to require namespace declaration in fragments, or maybe only for the non-standard stuff like RSS etc…

RSS as a theme in CAREO?

I’ve been toying with the idea of implementing an RSS theme for CAREO, mostly as a way to prove that theming really does work, and that the interface really CAN be anything (including a machine-readable XML feed).

Stephen Downes was talking about RSS and Learning Objects at the IMS Technical Meetings (from what I hear), and Brian Lamb is talking about it too.

Might have to whip up an RSS theme that will expose an XML feed for stuff like Top Objects, Newest Objects, or perhaps a search query? They’d have to be run as the Guest user, since I’m not about to do authentication from URL parameters (something about security or some such thing…)

I’ll give it a shot, and post some URLs when they’re ready… Looking forward to subscribing to these things in NetNewsWire!

Repository theming goes live

I published the latest UCRepositoryCore framework, and the latest version of CAREO, to careo.ucalgary.ca today.

Minor “issues” – mostly cosmetic, which will be resolved when all components have been converted to the new xml format.

SciQ Pre-Alpha Goes Live

I’ve updated the theme for the SciQ Pre-Alpha theme. This version should handle stretching (vertically) much better. Granted, the search results pages won’t be too long anyway, but I have to accommodate any length of page since they’re being generated dynamically.

Currently, I’ve used placeholder “content” for all pages. I know, the default “Home” page won’t be Q-Live, but I had graphics for that. And yes, I know the Q-Live button doesn’t go anywhere (but you JUST SAID Q-Live had graphics! I know… I have to write a WebObjects component in the UCRepositoryCore framework that can handle “changeable” pages like in the Learning Commons Website. Should be done Monday or Tuesday of next week.)

Q-Zones has functionality, anyway – even though it’s using the default Browse hierarchy from the CAREO theme. This will be replaced ASAP with the pretty (and non-hierarchical) browse design for SciQ. If you want to see what I’m talking about when I say I have to build for vertical stretchiness, click on “Sciences” in Q-Zones… Now, THAT”s a LOONG page.

Take it for a test drive. Just be aware that it might be down or seriously broken while I’m working on it. You’ve been warned.