ISEDC’s current online directory was relying on old and outdated technology, which was not scalable, did not meet the latest Government of Canada standards, making the updates and maintenance of the online directory difficult and time consuming.
The public was experiencing performance issues, making the website unusable when they were trying to search and find scientists, reflecting poorly on the ISEDC’s service.
From the scientists and professional perspective it was hard to create and manage their profiles.
Migrate and rebuild the current web app in Drupal WxT 4.x. The new solution had to support all the current features, meet the Government of Canada requirements: WCAG-AA accessible, multilingual, faster load time, and mobile friendly.
The Canadian scientists and professionals must be able to create and manage their own profiles. The approval, review and publication workflow must be handled by ISDEC’s employees with the appropriate user role and permission.
The solution must be flexible and scalable so that ISEDC’s IT team can mange and expand on it.
These are the high level phases we performed during the migration of the Online Directory web app.
- Discovery and analysis of the current Online Directory
- Propose and implement new strategy moving forward
- Migrate the current Online Directory into Drupal WxT 4.x
- Test & Iterate on the new Online Directory
- Migrate content, users and profiles
- Deliver and Go live
OpenPlus began by meeting with a variety of stakeholders to understand the user and business requirements and analyze the current solution. These insights we gain, helped us better understand the current challenges and propose a solution that will meet the current requirements, improve user experience and build a product that is scalable and easier to manage. We have built workflow maps and user journey maps to illustrate the users’ experience and process to create and manage their profile, the approval workflow, and the interactions with back-end systems.
Given the technical challenges with the current solutions, the best way forward was to rebuild and migrate the web app in Drupal WxT 4 that meets, out-of-box, all the Government of Canada requirements in an open and scalable solution. Our strategy was approved, and we proceeded with our solution.
OpenPlus started with Drupal WxT 4.x, which automatically inherits top header menu tabs and their dropdown menu as well as full footer from Canada.ca using CDN (Content Delivery Network). This method is considered best practice for continuous alignment with the new WRI (Web Renewal Initiative) for authenticated applications.
Migrate App, Content and Users
After performing the analysis or the current portal, we identified the current requirements and areas of improvement, and were tasked with migrating the web app and all its content.
OpenPlus did the following migration:
- Migrate the current web app by rebuilding and replicating the current functionalities and capabilities in Drupal WxT 4.x.
- Migrate and cleanse content from the current web app into their respective Drupal content-types, and cleanse content for known issues such as inline styles or potently dangerous code.
- Migrate users accounts and all their associated content, including their profiles, and the appropriate moderation status: in draft, in review, or approved and published. Users receive an email invite to reset their passwords. This encoded url is a one-time use, and allows low password policies from original system to now reflect an increased user password policy. Users will also be requested to update their profiles, and provided a link to a how-to Help section.
Landing Search Page
The main landing page has a simple user interface that focuses on finding and discovering scientists. The visitors have the option to search for scientists by name, by their expertise and profession or find all scientists with a specific expertise or organization. OpenPlus took the opportunity to also improve the user experience by adding an auto suggest search field, as the user types we suggest possible results instead of the current A to Z list that was long and cumbersome.
Browse Profiles - Search Results with Faceted Search
The front-end interface provides anonymous visitors the ability to search for scientists by keywords such as name, expertise, title, etc. or by using search facets to browse and narrow down their results by date, expertise, organization, location and so on. The search facets are hierarchical and context aware, making the search interface less cluttered and more user friendly.
Search is built using Drupal Search API, a modern faceted solution that reflects open.canada.ca framework, including the same styles and facet behaviours. Search API is turnkey ready for apache SOLR integration, however can perform like SOLR with the native database for facets.
Scientists Profile Page
Each scientist profile, once his or her page has been reviewed and approved, appears in the online directory. The scientist has a clean and clear user interface that shows their contact information, biography, credentials, experience and so on.
User Account Management & Security
Drupal comes with flexible and extensive user account management, allowing administrators to create users with different roles and permissions. The User Account Management is also tied to a workflow.
User Roles and Group:
- Visitors: anonymous users searching for scientist profiles
- Scientists: authenticated users who can create and manage their profile and request a review and publication of their online profile
- Moderator: authenticated users with higher privileges, who can create content, notify users, review and publish profiles
- Administrator: authenticated users with full Drupal access, reserved for developers and web app maintainers
All key pages include links to ‘Register | Login’ which feature a ‘Create an account’, Login and a reset a password function. We also a Help link which takes users to an online guide with instructions on using the website and creating a profile in order to reduce the amount of support calls.
User account creation and Login
Policies for passwords, Account reset expiration and on-time url password resets were configured into the Web App to improve security.
Workflow and Moderation
The online directory has full workflow and user account management, including the creation of a profile, review and approval process, and integration with an e-mail notifications system to notify scientists of the status of their application.
Creating a Profile
Scientists can create a profile by going through a step-by-step form, guiding them to fill all the required fields, uploading their photo, translating their profile and so on. The scientist can save the profile as a draft and make as many changes as needed. Once the scientist is satisfied with their profile, they can change the workflow to “Review Request & Online Publication” at which point an ISEDC’S Moderator is notified to review the profile.
Review Request & Online Publication
Only ISEDC’s Moderators can review and publish profiles through the admin interface. The moderators can accept or reject a profile by providing a brief message for the rejection. If the profile has been approved, the user is notified and the profile published in the online directory.
To keep the information up to date and accurate, the scientists can login from anywhere, at anytime, from any device to make changes. The changes will also go through a review and approval process before appearing online.
Using Drupal’s Taxonomy system we built a controlled taxonomy vocabulary which allows scientists to select predefined keywords that fit with their experience, organization, and so on. Taxonomies are also used as search facets and filters, which allow users to search and discover profiles based on the taxonomy keywords.
Extending and scaling
Given the open source and flexible nature of Drupal; it became extremely easy for ISEDC to extend the current portal. The next phase for IESDC is to enhance the current platform, by adding new features, such as social media integration, organizational charts and structures, reference to locations and building information.