Q3 2022 uPortal Open Source Support Briefing

Laura Moran (McCord),
Strategic Project Manager and Software Developer

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

Topics for this briefing included the uPortal OSS Program review, state of the uPortal ecosystem, an update about the uPortal Steering Committee, community events, and an overview of the Web Components using the Lit Framework recently being used in the tech sector.

Watch the uPortal Briefing Webinar here, and/or read a recap of the session below. 

 


uPortal OSS Program Review

Unicon’s uPortal team is growing! Joining Benito Gonzalez and Chris Beach, Michael Gillian and myself (Laura Moran) are both Software Developers that have been added to the team. 

Over the last 6 months, we handled 43 Zendesk tickets, including a few S1s. This aligns with the 42 we handled in the last 2 quarters. As a reminder, we are supposed to close tickets if we do not hear a response within 10 working days; however, we know everyone is busy and cannot always respond quickly. We do take your workload seriously. 

Just another reminder, unlimited Support Assistance is used to answer questions and provide recommendations. Consulting Assistance hours, usually 20 hours per year, are for reviewing logs, researching solutions, and providing hands-on coding assistance. 

Don’t forget Unicon provides services and support outside of the OSS program. We can help provide installation and upgrade services, training, and custom work. In fact, some uPortal features and fixes are contributions from our engagements outside of this practice: for example, WebProxy work from earlier this year. Feel free to reach out to learn more about how we may be able to help you.

State of the uPortal Ecosystem

uPortal 5.12.0 was released September 12th. This was an important release that resolved a layout bug for certain versions of Java 8. This bug had resulted in the doctype not being rendered in certain versions of Java 8 due to the old XSLT processor. Special thanks to Chris Beach who found a workaround that made many deployers happy!

Also, a bug reported by a client resolved some long-standing issues with WebProxy, which brought it into alignment with some of the expectations from version 1. The fix was to replace tokens in URLs because of illegal curly braces. This demonstrates that you can contribute not only by providing fixes, but by reporting bugs that improve the state of our projects as well.

There have been cleaning efforts performed by retiring deprecated portlets into the uPortal Attic. In the last 6 months, the WeatherPortlet, uPortal-home, and the uPortal-app-framework repositories have been checked into the attic. Just as a reminder, these portlets, while still accessible through the uPortal Attic, are no longer actively supported. The uPortal Attic is located at https://github.com/uPortal-Attic

uPortal Steering Committee Update

While the steering committee is not part of the Unicon OSS program, it is an important community-based vehicle for uPortal. Benito Gonzalez, Chris Beach, and I sit on the committee and serve as representatives for our uPortal clients. You can stay updated on the meeting minutes in the uPortal-project.github.io project.

The following three areas of discussion were covered by the committee: 

Community
We are focusing on a new marketing website for uPortal, including a demo site for potential adopters. Plans are underway to increase community outreach through participation in community events and engagement with our community through social media outlets.

Development 
We are in the process of migrating portlets to web components using Lit, a new technology focused on minimal dependencies for web components, making it easier to standardize. Upgrading to Java 11 and Spring 5 has also been included in the roadmap based on feedback from the community.

Documentation 
I’m excited, after being the uPortal Documentation Coordinator in the past, that a documentation strategy for onboarding documentation and robust tutorials is slated for our future roadmap. I will be reviewing our current documentation and reaching out to experts in our community to contribute knowledge-based articles for publication in our manual. If you’re interested in contributing, please feel free to contact me through the uPortal user mailing list at uportal-user@apereo.org.

It is important to note that these efforts are often done through Sustaining Engineering hours in this program.

OSS Community Sustainability

The Gates Foundation had contracted out with Unicon to build a rubric tool for measuring Open Source Community Health & Sustainability. The objective of this project was to identify metrics used to gain insight into the health of an open source project and where improvements can be made to build a sustainable community. 

Benito Gonzalez and I performed extensive research by reviewing top OSS communities and projects (ie. Apache, GitHub, Chaoss) to build an interactive tool to measure a project’s maturity model. We performed thorough tests and validated results using a collection of existing projects at various stages of maturity. Through our research and a newly created rubric tool, we measured the health of uPortal and identified areas to focus on improving. These areas reinforce the objectives we’ve determined above, increasing support through onboarding and installation documentation, training, privacy policies, and increasing the number of contributors and adopters.

The Gates Foundation has donated this tool to the Apereo Foundation under the open source CC-BY license and available for you to review at https://github.com/apereo/oss-rubric

Community Events

I’m very excited to announce the planning for uPortal Dev Days 2023 is underway! This conference will be taking place February 15-17, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV at the Harrah’s Hotel & Casino. This year's conference will focus on the use of portal platforms in higher education, and driving institutional and student success.

A call for proposals has begun, and we’re looking for our uPortal community to join us by showcasing your portal, presenting lessons learned, or giving a technical deep dive discussion to participants. Benito, Michael, and I will be presenting on technical and non-technical topics, whether you are a developer, administrator, or user, this conference is for you. Please submit your proposal by December 31, 2022, 11:59 pm at https://forms.gle/g1EHyaJR4LwzLqXY9

For more event details visit https://devdays.uportal.org.

Tech Talk: Web Components & Lit

Benito Gonzalez gave an introduction to the latest technology being used with our web components, Lit. We’re moving away from developing traditional JSR-286 portlets towards a simple, standardized approach with web components, making it easier for adopters most familiar with common web application development. The benefits of Web Components include pairing well with Microservices Architecture and direct support by browsers, following the W3C HTML DOM specifications. 

Previously, we were using the Vue framework with Web Components, but now we’ve started switching to using Lit. The advantages of using Lit over Vue are its simpler library, a greater focus on interoperability, and native support by browsers.

Benito will be leading a workshop at the 2023 uPortal Dev Days if you’re interested in learning more. 

Laura Moran (McCord)

Laura Moran (McCord)

Strategic Project Manager and Software Developer
Laura is a Strategic Project Manager and Software Developer at Unicon who focuses on strategic initiatives. Having joined Unicon in 2022, Laura brings over 15 years of experience in software development and academic administration for the higher education industry. During this time she has worked in many areas including marketing technology, teaching and learning, student information systems, and identity management. Prior to joining Unicon, Laura was the Manager of Student Systems at Rice University where she managed student administrative software and technical processes for the Offices of the Registrar, Cashier, Financial Aid, Admissions, and Academic Advising.
Top