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New Website Launch
Posted by Jennifer Dungavell on September 7, 2011 (147140 reads)
Department News

Welcome to the Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences' new website. A work in progress, this innovative site is being developed by Dr. Hao Yu, the Department's Computing Chair. 

Dr. Yu chose XOOPS, an extensible, OO (Object Oriented), easy to use dynamic web content management system because it is particulary well suited to the needs of an academic department.

The course, faculty, and graduate modules are well underway. Students should notice the immediate benefit of easy access to the standardized course outlines.

We appreciate your patience as we continue to expand and update the content of our new site and hope you will find it an easy to use and informative source of information.

Some tips on using the html editor in XOOPS
Posted by Web Master on August 31, 2011 (172881 reads)

The html editor in XOOPS is called CKEditor. It is a text editor to be used inside web pages. It's a WYSIWYG editor, which means that the text being edited on it looks as similar as possible to the results users have when publishing it.

It may take some time to master CKEditor. The general rule is to treat it as a regular Microsoft Word process, except that table creation has to be treated carefully to fit our new website. For those who want to read detail instructions, here is its Users Guide.  Below are some tips to assist with your editing.

  • The second-last button in the Tool Bar is the "Maximize" button. It will enlarge the editing area to the whole browser. When you are done editing, click it to shrink to the normal size. Don't use the Back button in a browser, otherwise you will lose all editing changes.
  • If you want to upload some files, click the "Link" button. In the new window, click "Browser server". A new bigger window will show up. Now you can create your own folder by clicking "New folder" and uploading files into it. Clicking a file will give you an option to "Select" which creates a link in your editing area. To upload a photo and show the image, use the "Image" button in the Tool Bar. Since you are able to delete files, make sure to create your own folder(s) and not to delete other people's files.
  • To copy pure text, you could click the "Source" button to show raw html text and paste it into the proper area. This is to avoid any unnecessary font information.
  • Another way to copy/paste is to copy text to a text editor such as Notepad or WordPad and then copy/paste to CKEditor.
  • During copy/paste, you might see many excessive spaces. Delete them whenever possible to make the text look tidy. Sometimes you may have to click the "Source" button to show the raw html and remove them at proper locations. For example, this html code "<p>&nbsp; </p>" leaves a large space between paragraphs or the end of a table.
  • If you want to break a page at a certain point for printing or PDF generation, please click the "Insert Page Break for Printing" button in the Tool Bar to insert a break.
  • Update: If you want to insert a table, click the "Table" button in the Tool Bar and make sure to change the Width to 100% or less. Do not use any pixel width. This 100% table is within a table with a width of 670pixel in XOOPS and will be the proper size when generating a PDF file. You can change the Width later on by right clicking on the edge of a table and choosing "Table properties". There is an option to click "Width". Choose 100% or less. Please don't drag the edge of the table to enlarge or shrink. To change the width of a cell in a table, right click the cell (the first row is enough), choose "Cell", and then "Cell Properties". Then choose a proper percentage in "Width" (again, do not use pixel width).
  • Relatively simple procedure for inserting tables: Though tables and cells with a percentage width work best, it is too cumbersome. The following example shows a relatively simple procedure because a table resize plugin is installed. The trick is that cell width can be set to pixel when the table is small and the table width is still a percentage. When a table expands, all cells will expand proportionally.
    1. Insert a table by clicking the "Table" button and changing the Width to 100% or less (default is 90%).
    2. Fill contents to cells (ignore cell width at this moment).
    3. Shrink the editor to a normal size if you use the "Maximize" button. Then move your mouse over the column border to see the cursor change that indicates that the column can be resized. Click and drag your mouse to set the desired width; however, do not drag the far righthand column since it will alter the width of the table to pixel again.

Our New Department Website
Posted by Web Master on August 30, 2011 (165122 reads)

Our current department website is based purely on an Apache server and almost all pages are maintained statically. On the other hand, content management systems (CMS) written in PHP and using MySQL for content storage are valuable tools for building a website that is more dynamic and professional looking.  After a few more rounds of planning, we will move our existing website to XOOPS, a dynamic Object Oriented based, open source portal script written in PHP.

XOOPS is an extensible, OO (Object Oriented), easy to use dynamic web content management system written in PHP. XOOPS is the ideal tool for developing small to large dynamic community websites, intra-company portals, corporate portals, weblogs, and much more. In simple terms, XOOPS is a self-contained online system that allows users to manage their content with nothing more than Internet access and a web browser. Just like R software, XOOPS has a core system, plus many modules for additional functionalities.

XOOPS is also well-suited to set up a department website with dynamic web content. We have developed a course module for managing all undergraduate and graduate courses and a facultygrads module for managing faculty and graduate students. Those two modules are not directly linked to end users. Instead, we have Undergraduate, Graduate, People, and Research content modules that are interactive with the course and facultygrads modules for proper content display and management.

When given an account, faculty can manage their webpages, update their research areas and publications, and manage the courses they are currently teaching. Course outlines are standardized across the whole department and past outlines can be easily retrieved for future reference. There is a handout system built-in for each course that allows instructors to add or update assignments, announcements, lecture notes, etc., without building separate course websites. For example, you can compose an assignment online without any additional steps to upload and to create a link. There are several categories of handouts to accommodate different types of documents.

Similarly, graduate students can manage their own webpage, research interests, and access restricted contents.

The website also has the following modules:

  • News module: any relevant news can be added and displayed in the front page.
  • Events module: essentially a calendar to manage events such as seminars and department meetings.
  • FAQ module: frequently asked and answered questions.
  • Photo module: photo management system, including photos shown in the front page and other modules.
  • Contacts (address) module: add useful local addresses with Google maps.
  • External Links module: add/manage external links.
  • Survey module: for conducting (anonymous) surveys or collecting applications.
  • Google Search module: use Google to search our website, in addition to XOOPS's own search function.
  • What's New module: automatically put the latest 5 items from News, Events, and FAQ modules in the front page.
  • Sitemap module: show almost all links within each module.
  • RSS Reader module: automatically retrieve outside news such Western news, CBC news, London weather, etc.
  • Internal Admin module: contents available to faculty only.
  • Internal Grads module: contents available to grads only.

Our new website has a RSS feed that provides the department's news and seminar series to the outside. For example, if Applied Math's website has a RSS Reader and has subscribed to our RSS feed, it can show a list of our news and seminars updated hourly.

Overall we hope this new department website will enhance our department's image and attract many potential students. On the management side, our responsibility has been reduced from managing links, layout, and other tedious duties, to adding and editing content. XOOPS will take care of the rest.

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