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About this document

This wiki page goals are:

  • integrate the information about ISCB Student Council Web Portal and RSG Portal;
  • establish a consistent understanding among SC Leaders about what is Web portal, what we need and what we can provide;
  • provide a collaboration environment for SC Leaders to collect input and ideas, answer the questions, comment/vote, i.e. elicit the requirements
  • coordinate the activities
  • reflect current status and schedule

This page is initially compiled by Alexander and will be maintained by SC Web Coordination Team members (see below).

ISCB SC Web Portal Redesign Motivation

The Student Council of ISCB society actively uses web services for teamwork, communication of Council activities to its members and attracting new leaders. The main website served for two years as a starting point to obtain information about the SC. It is linked from the main ISCB website

Currently presence of SC on the Internet is provided by the following services:

  • the static HTML website (information outdated);
  • phpBB forum, installed on the same server, but loosely connected by interlinks to the website. (forum is not active: 84 uses and only 29 articles);
  • RSGs are listed on main website, but hosted on Google Groups or separate websites;
  • SC Wiki is at OpenWetWare Wiki, the information is not consistent with the main site. Wiki is used as the main information repository;
  • scfriends -- maillist, hosted using MailMan on same domain as the website. So far announcements only in this list. 336 members;
  • scleaders -- leaders only maillist, hosted using MailMan on same domain as the website. (Parthi, is it managed by ISCB directly?) This is the most dynamic component in Internet presence of the SC and the main tool for collaboration at the moment. (how many members?)
  • Basecamp project management and chat online services. SC uses a trial subscription to evaluate this commercial software.

The Student Council defined issues related to its Internet resources that require redesign:

  1. the content is not up-to-date
  2. there is nobody in charge of updating the website
  3. it's not easy to update the website without hacking html code
  4. access rights can't be fine-tuned (this causes problems for RSGs)
  5. re-design process should not break the existing links
  6. more content like job opportunities, courses etc should be available
  7. forum is not active
  8. integrate services in one place - one system with one account

The SC identified redesign of web portal as one of its prime goals. Also there is an urgent need in setting up RSG web infrastructure.


Student Council represents the most active part of the ISCB community - students, who displayed interest in ISCB Portal redesign. In his talk at SC3 Symposium in Vienna Reinhard Schneider has shed some light on the process of development of "New Face of ISCB" -- new Web Portal. Please have a look at the related documents.

The requirements specifications were compiled by Kamalakar Rao Mettani, who did it as part of his Masters thesis in Schneider Group, EMBL, Heidelberg. The procedure follows general guidelines defined by IEEE SRS Standard 830-1998 and is very interactive. The starting point was Improvement of the ISCB Membership Benefits, compiled by ISCB BoD. This document defined the Web Portal as an important means to improve membership benefits and services. With necessary background covered it has provided the ground for High Level User Requirements Specification. It helped to define key questions that formed the online survey targeted ISCB Members. This feedback helped to elicit more detailed User Requirements Specification. Some more specific questions with regards to functionality, content, new member attraction, task prioritizing and long term goals were individually discussed with ISCB stakeholders (Executive Board, BoD and SC Leaders) in interviews during the ISMB conference. The draft version of the new portal built with Joomla 1.5 has been released recently. There is space reserved for the pages of the Student Council in this layout draft.

I stop the description of ISCB portal progress here, because this is its current state. Please update if you know more.


Web Coordination Team is now responsible for the compilation of Web Portal requirements and coordination of the Council's activities regarding the Portal.

Regarding the integration with ISCB Portal, the features and the release schedule, a few inquires has been sent to Kamalakar. Unfortunately these requests have not been responded so far. This will make it harder for us to make important decisions. Venkata and those guys who have been in contact with Kamal recently, please help the WCT to bridge this communicational gap with ISCB portal development team.

Web Coordination Team

On Sun, 7 Oct 2007 in a Student Council Leaders Teleconference Web Coordination Team (WCT) has been established.

Currently WCT members are:

  • Abhishek
  • Alexander (lead)
  • Manuel
  • Parthi
  • Venkata
  • Teresa
  • Thomas
  • Prash

The purpose of WCT is to analyze the needs of the Student Council, compile the requirements, perform and coordinate any activities related to SC Web Portal.

The project is tracked in Basecamp. Another purpose is to evaluate project management capabilities of the Basecamp software to decide whether it's a good choice to manage SC's internal projects.

Defining project plan and status

Roughly, the current action plan is:

  1. (Alexander, done) get feedback from Kamal (or other ISCB portal developer) regarding the integration with the main ISCB portal, the features it will provide and the ISCB release schedule
  2. (Alexander, done) cover the background on SC Website Redesign and provide a collaboration environment so that WCT and other SC leader can join efforts
  3. (Alexander, done) summarize the previous discussions from the mailing list and the Teleconference
  4. (Alexander, done) compile first draft of Questions and Answers. All WCT members are expected to answer the questions by appending comments to the answers section with a wiki signature.
  5. (Alexander, done) invite WCT and other SC leaders for a discussion in the mailing list and answering the questions on the QA page
  6. (WCT, done) extend the QA page with more questions and answers and help to cover every uncertain bit with public discussion
  7. (WCT, done) draw consensus out of QA page on each issue. Perhaps a WCT Teleconference is needed at this point.
  8. (Alexander, in progress) analyze/refine requirements based on the QA page. i.e.: remove contradictions, make a consistent list of requirements in form of user stories. Define acceptance tests for each listed requirement.
  9. (WCT, in parallel, in progress) evaluate CMSs to comply with our requirements. Make a judged selection of a CMS, taking into account the aspects of integration with the ISCB portal
  10. (WCT, done) define/adjust the schedule for the above described action plan using Projectpath software. Define milestones for the first iterations

Summary of sc-leader mailing list regarding SC and RSG websites

(please feel free to correct, I do not intend to follow the discussion here. just to summarize the main ideas. Alexander).

ISCB BoD was asked for funding in July to host a new SC Portal, extend it for RSGs and add more services, e.g. Moodle. hosting service (~$6/month) has been proposed. Budget for 2 years, as requested, will be provided.

Joshua, RSG Korea proposed its service to host SC Portal and RSGs. There were more proposals for hosting (Angela).

In July, during BoD meeting it was suggested that SC Portal becomes a part of new ISCB portal, which is currently under redesign. BJ wondered why SC should ask 3rd parties for hosting and initiate own SC portal redesign then.

The main idea is that there is an urgent need in an up-to-date portal for SC and RSGs (expressed by Amr, Abischek and Saraswathi). SC aims on integration with main ISCB portal, but since the ISCB portal is not ready yet, SC and RSG groups propose to elicit our own requirements and develop new portal now, so to merge it with ISCB portal later.

Amr Abu-zeid proposed requirements for RSG Canada website in his letter to ISCB BoD. Highlighted benefits: enable students to join RSG, monitor activities of other groups, communication tool. Requirements highlighted: general RSG biography page, RSG activities page, page for prospective RSG students, private link for job postings. Amr votes for an integrated international portal.

Manuel proposed that the RSG initiative should go from RSGs (e.g. Joshua), develop into fully functional portal and then be used as base for other RSG groups, but decentralized. Nils suggested (and Venkata supported) that the initiative should come from SC, with a central portal infrastructure designed by SC firstly and all RSGs -- tightly integrated. Pages of RSG India (Abhishek, Saraswathi) could serve as a sample template for other RSGs.

Abhishek stressed, that some current web links are published and should be working in new portal.

We have skillful leaders inside SC:

Parthi can not continue to serve as site manager, although he offered some support with the existing infrastructure.

Prash offered his help as webmaster.

Saraswathi can design web pages.

Abhishek, Alexander, Joshua(?) and Thomas are web developers.

Thomas analyzed current infrastructure, reported the problems found and proposed questions for discussion, he also demonstrated that content could be migrated to CMS (Drupal) very fast. See the sample site.

On most issues discussed there was no consensus reached, that's why WCT's main task is to coordinate efforts.

Hosting options discussed: part of ISCB site;; RSG Korea; Angela.

In ISCB's documentation, there is no written statement whether Joomla 1.5 will fit the defined requirements or not, this looks more like an arbitrary choice. Some SC Leaders discourage the employment of Joomla and suggest Drupal. Parthi and Thomas have already set up trial Drupal installations for the purpose of evaluation. Abhishek has a judged opinion that Joomla fits because it's the choice of the ISCB.

Questions and Answers

The analysis of User Requirements Specification is intended to be a collaborative and interactive process. For this purpose all SC Leaders are recommended and members of the WCT are required to answer the questions on a separate Questions and Answers page and if necessary, submit new questions.

WCT will decide then on the consensus on each question.

It is recommended that we start the CMS software evaluation ASAP and comment with examples from CMS documentation or linking to sample sites we set up for this purpose (prototypes), so that everybody could have a better idea.

Use sketches or diagrams if you think it will illustrate and/or support your opinion better. Besides, it's not very convenient to handle attachments in the mail list.

Content copywriting


User Requirements Specification

Based on Questioner and compiled on a separate page: User Requirements Specification.

Software Evaluation

CMS Comparison Table


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