Student Coded Projects for DTLT

This semester students in Karen Anewalt’s Software Engineering course (CPSC 430) will be working with DTLT to create a series of WordPress plugins/themes for UMW Blogs and Domain of One’s Own. This is pretty awesome because we could always use some development, and it gives these students experience working with clients who need particular functionality for an open source application.

Traditionally students in this course put a call out to the community for projects and built applications for any takers from scratch. This model had some success, but the issue with this approach was that there was no one to take care of the application after the students graduated. Under this new approach, DTLT will be maintaing whatever they program. Major kudos to Martha Burtis for coming up with this model as well as taking the lead on organizing it.

Below is a list of the projects we are asking the Computer Science students to develop. The descriptions are in italics and were written by Martha Burtis, I provide commentary following each description.

DokuWiki/WordPress Plugin 

umwdomains docsThis plugin will scrape content off of DokuWiki wiki pages and re-display them within WordPress. Similar plugins already exist for MediaWiki, [namely Wiki Embed],  and they may serve as models for development. Ultimately, when installed, the plugin should allow the site administrator to provide the address of DokuWiki install and then use shortcodes to embed specific DokuWiki content from that install on WordPress pages.

This plugin was motivated by the fact that DTLT has moved its documentation for Domain of One’s Own to DokuWiki (we are finally breaking up with MediaWiki). What’s more, the documentation is synched with GitHub so that anyone interested in using our documentation can simply fork it there. Tim Owens rocked out this whole setup over break, and I am blown away by how awesome it is. You can read his post “Please Steal Domain of One’s Own”  that breaks down his thinking and process—so good. This plugin provides us with the last piece that MediaWiki provided us that DokuWiki doesn’t, and these CS students will be contributing to at least two open source projects.

WP Install Packages 

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This plugin would allow users of Domain of One’s Own to add additional packages of plugins/themes to their WordPress install. In addition to being able to select packages, they should also be able to choose plugins/themes/features a la carte, based on their specific needs. A system will also need to be created to allow us to manage the installation packages.

The work with packages for Domain of One’s Own has already been blogged about by Martha, and this plugin would actually allow us to customize packages for specific courses. So if an art course needed a specific art portfolio setup or a faculty member wanted a syndication setup or a student wanted a professional portfolio this would provide all of these. What’s more, this plugin woud allow folks to choose which features of each package they want. What’s so important about this plugin is it starts to make the various options provided by Domain of One’s Own that much easier for people to see, understand, and use.
Reddit-Style Reader for Domain of One’s Own

Reddit-iconThis project would involve create a Reddit-style interface for viewing, commenting upon, and upvoting incoming content from Domain of One’s Own. It could be built within WordPress, or in another standalone application.

This project is why I’ve been exploring Reddit in more detail recently, and it promises to help us build a sense of community around all the disparate work coming out of Domain of One’s Own. By default we have every post from every domain pulling into What’s more, we have been able to capture metadata like department, instructor, course, etc. So, theoretically, we can use tags to create a series of subreddits off the homepage of Domain of One’s Own that allows people to dig down to posts by department, course, instructor, etc.

UMW Blogs Plugin Suite 


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This project involves developing several smaller plugins to enhance functionality and capabilities specific to UMW’s WordPress Multisite installation (UMW Blogs):

  • Enhanced Admin User and Site Search: Allow for searching of partial usernames and sitenames in the Network Admin backend.
  • Sitewide Comment Tracking: Allow users to keep track of their comments across multiple sites on the UMW Blogs network.
  • Enhanced Contextual Support: Provide additional contextual support and help across the network.
  • Instructor-Filtered View of Student Activity: Allow the instructor of a course to track student activity across the course/network.
  • Bulk User Import: Allow instructors to easily import a data file of a student roster to automatically add students to a site.

This is a list of plugins we would love to have for UMW Blogs. Stuff like Sitewide Comment Tracking used to exist, and might in sites like wpmudev—but we like our plugins free when possible. That said, if you know of freely accessible plugins that provide any of these feature we’d be much obliged. If not, hopefully they’ll be developed at UMW sometime soon.


I’ve already had two meetings with the students providing the specs for what we need with the Reddit-style theme, and I’m pretty psyched this is moving forward. I’ll be sure to provide detaisl and updates as the projects materialize virtually.

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3 Responses to Student Coded Projects for DTLT

  1. JMcClurken says:

    So, next time, lets see if we can get theme to create some new themes for Omeka.

    • Reverend says:

      That would be a great next stage of this collaboration, assuming it works out this semester 🙂 Nice thing about this is we can start customizing things for departments, like Omeka for History, and DTLT can support this beyond the life of the coure because we have been in on the conversations and (hopefully) understand the code—or at least have it appropriately commented.

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