Q2 2017 uPortal Open Source Support Briefing

Benito Gonzalez , Senior Software Developer , October 25, 2017

The quarterly uPortal Open Source Support (OSS) Briefing is an opportunity to share the contributions performed on behalf of the OSS program, highlight Unicon's perspective on contributions, and share happenings in the community along with opportunities to engage further with Unicon.

Discussions for the OSS Briefing concerned maintenance development on uPortal, plans for further enhancement of the uPortal project, as well as soliciting and discussing feedback on OSS and uPortal community future priorities.

On Wednesday July 26, 2017, the Unicon Open Source Support (OSS) Team held the uPortal Briefing summarizing OSS activities for Q2 of 2017.

Briefing Agenda

  1. uPortal-start Overview
  2. Open Apereo 2017 Recap
  3. Sustaining Engineering Recap
  4. Community Spotlight

uPortal-start Overview

uPortal-start is the new uPortal repository intended for implementors that is much smaller than the main uPortal source. The goal is to centralize configuration in this smaller repo and bring in most of the application as pre-built binaries. uPortal-start will initially contain configuration files, data files, and skin files as these are most often modified by implementors.

We also covered how uPortal-start does not require Ant or Maven, only Gradle. Further, the repo includes Gradle, so only Git and a JDK are required for the build. There have been a number of new command line tasks added, including some to support embedded Tomcat.

This was one of the most important sections of our briefing, with Drew Wills spending plenty of time discussing the high-level goals and some details.

Open Apereo 2017 Recap

We shared our experience at the Open Apereo conference, focusing on uPortal, of course. Before the conference there are a number of three-hour workshops offered. Three of them were uPortal related. There was the standard “Getting Started with uPortal” which was going to be presented by me, but due to illness was mostly given by Drew Wills (Thanks Drew!).  While I was present, my voice was too hoarse to do an effective job. Drew also presented “Developing Soffits for uPortal 5.” Andrew Petro hosted “My UW for You: Workshop Edition.” Workshops provide a real value as they allow a deeper dive into subjects that may not receive an in-depth treatment in a typical session. There is often little tidbits to learn even if you are quite familiar with the topic.

uPortal was covered in at least 13 sessions during the conference. Some were review and many more were about new technologies emerging in the uPortal ecosystem. Five of the presenters shared their slides. See the linked briefing slides below for the URLs.

After the sessions, many in the uPortal community stuck around for Collaboration Days. We have spent this time at previous conferences discussing issues and desires. Last year, we leveraged the time into developing the uPortal 5 Roadmap. This year, we did the same. We spent the time talking about what we would like to see in the next 12 months in the uPortal space. 

Of course, the most important reason to attend Open Apereo conferences is the face-to-face time. We have a great community with strong bonds. Attending the conference strengthens these bonds. There is also talk about a uPortal Developer Days conference late 2017 / early 2018. Check the mailing list if you are interested.

Sustaining Engineering Recap

Of the four open Sustaining Engineering (SE) efforts mentioned in the Q1 briefing, three were completed, and one was started. These efforts centered around refactoring packages, splitting out uPortal-start from uPortal, transitioning to Gradle, and improving testing and documentation.  

For the automated testing, we were able to increase the uPortal automated testing coverage from 20% to 22%, and focused on the REST APIs. Documentation topics ranged from F5 and IDE Integration, to porting over the uPortal manual from Confluence to GitHub, and building out a Getting Started guide.

As a reminder, for folks that have an Open Source Support agreement with Unicon, if you want to help shape what Unicon’s SE is comprised of, please open an severity-5 ZenDesk ticket.

Community Spotlight

For the Community Spotlight, we were pleased that Marissa Warner-Wu, from The University of Edinburgh, could join the call and discuss her institution’s recent efforts with uPortal. The efforts focused on transforming the way students experienced their portal.

Marissa’s team identified several areas in their uPortal implementation that were hampering the usability of the application, including minimal support for user preferences, service-oriented (instead of task-oriented) flows, and information presented in a difficult to understand and often generic way.  

The team at Edinburgh is now working towards solutions with uPortal that focuses on student ‘journeys’ and more flexible and personalized user experiences.

Useful links:

Recording: https://youtu.be/Y4EMQju_IWA
Slides: https://www.slideshare.net/BenitoGonzalez13/2017-q2-uportal-open-source-support-briefing