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Thread: APA Web hosting

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    APA Web hosting

    Does anyone have any details about the APA's proposal to host chapter and division Web sites? I've heard both good and bad rumors, the bad being:

    * Chapter and division sites will be required to conform with a standard design template.
    * The storage area amount of pages hosted will be very limited.
    * APA will host mailing lists, but they'll be open to the members of the applicable chapter and/or division only.
    * Chapter and division Web sites will be viewable only by members of that chapter or division.
    * It's "a few months away," and many chapters and divisions are holding off on updating their sites until plans are definite.

    The good :

    * Unlimited bandwidth.
    * Free!
    * Decent security, daily backups, and so on.

    Any other details out there, such as a timeframe, number of e-mail addresses, URLs, Front Page/Dreamweaver, cgi-bin, .htaccess control, shells, mySQL, and so on?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    This is news to me....as an APA Chapter Webmaster. I have no plans to move to the national site....we're content with our little website and slowly improving it over time.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  3. #3
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Like the Kansas Chapter of APA. They have been waiting since..., well I'll let you look fo yourselves.

    Site #1. http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~jwkrcp/ksapa.htm

    "Last Modified on September 23, 1997"

    Then there is Kansas Chapter Site #2. http://aalto.arch.ksu.edu/jwkplan/ksapa/ksapa.htm

    "We regret that this page is no longer supported. Lack of financial aid and Kansas APA Chapter support - combined with serious financial deficits at Kansas State University necessitate terminating this web site. This page will remain on the server, un-maintained, for several months before being terminated.

    John Keller FAICP - March 21, 2003"

    I volunteered to maintain and host this thing two years ago. Looks like we are making progress.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Our state chapter website is rarely updated, has broken links, etc. I doubt a migration to APA would improve the level of service. Heck, they cant put out a decent magazine - what makes them think they can put out decent web content!

  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I don't think the APA would actually be maintaining the sites; rather, they'd be hosted on the same server in Chicago that hosts the APA National Web site. The APA would be the hosting service, instead of an ISP, Geocities or a private dedicated hosting service. Sites would still be maintained by chapter and division representatives, though.

    URLs ... I would think that the APA would require a standard URL for the chapters and divisions that it hosts, along the lines of california.planning.org, texas.planning.org, or information-technology.planning.org.

    There are still some chapters and divisions without Web sites; Western Central, New Urbanism, and Information Technology (which is rebuilding, BTW).

    I also offered to host and maintain the Kansas site. No interest on their part, so far. They don't even seem interested in a shorter URL, like apakansas.cyburbia.org.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Dan,
    Who is in charge of the KS APA these days?
    I'll write one of my classic emails and inquire why a group of highly trained - initialed - professionals can't manage to keep a web site up or maintained.

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by El Guapo
    Dan,
    Who is in charge of the KS APA these days?
    I'll write one of my classic emails and inquire why a group of highly trained - initialed - professionals can't manage to keep a web site up or maintained.
    I have absolutely no idea. I haven't heard a thing from the Kansas Chapter since I got here, although the Kansas City Metro Section is fairly active; I got contacted within a few weeks of moving here.

    The Web site lists the officers at http://aalto.arch.ksu.edu/jwkplan/ksapa/officers.htm, but it could be out-of-date now.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  8. #8
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    Yes -- They Do...

    Hey team,

    I'm pleased to be the new vice chair for the information technology division. Dev Vrat, who some of you may know, is the new Chair. We're hoping to revitalize the division over the next year.

    Dan was good enough to participate in the Information Technology Division business meeting on Monday night in Denver, and gracious enough (isn't he always!) to offer to host a discussion forum for the Division's new website, which we hope to have up and running shortly.

    However, to the issue of APA website hosting, I was invited to participate in the APA leadership events which took place on Friday and Saturday, including the Division Business Council meetng, in which Susan Turner discussed the APA's plan to host and help manage (i.e. staff time in updating the websites) the division websites. I think there are about 20 divisions right now. They are offering good incentives to move the division websites to APA's hosting, and it seems like a reasonable option.

    I think our feeling was that we should be good citizens and have a nominal presence (mission, newsletter, board, goals, etc.) on the APA website, but then shell out to places like Cyburbia or other content management systems for ehanced functionality that we hope to achieve.

    For example, Urban Insight will be donating web hosting space for the division and Dan has graciously provided the bulletin board.

    I dunno about APA plans for hosting Chapters, though.

    PS -- It was great meeting many of you in Denver!

    Chris

  9. #9
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    Dan wrote:
    Any other details out there, such as a timeframe, number of e-mail addresses, URLs, Front Page/Dreamweaver, cgi-bin, .htaccess control, shells, mySQL, and so on?
    I don't believe email is part of the deal. I think the URL will be something like www.planning.org/division/divisionname/.

    The APA staff manages all updates -- the web site coordinate would email them to APA. From what I understand the content is placed into a standard template, and that's the extent of it. No PHP, mySQL, etc.

    On the other hand, by using APA, you do have access to their membership authentication system (so you can have Division members authenticate against the member DB to access resources), and also the use of their listserv for division members.

    Chris

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Re: Yes -- They Do...

    Originally posted by Chris Steins
    Hey team,

    I'm pleased to be the new vice chair for the information technology division. Dev Vrat, who some of you may know, is the new Chair. We're hoping to revitalize the division over the next year.
    Well now that there's a familiar name and a face behind this, I'm apt to stop being the nay-sayer! Honestly, it's the content managment that bothers me most. I mean, look at our chapter site and just look at al of the dated content that's still labelled "new". *BLARG* it bothers the heck out of me!

  11. #11
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Chris .. thanks for chiming in! What sort of incentives is the APA ofering for hosting division Web sites? What's in it for them? It doesn't sound too exciting or flexible, and e-mailing information and pages for updating the site isn't too convenient; the Web site isn't updated instantly unlike a typical hosting service.

    Content management ... I doubt few APA chapter or division web sites use any sort of content management system like phpNuke or PostNuke. (Microsoft Front Page is not a CMS,) Installing and configuring a CMS can be tricky, but once it's up and running, Web site updates can be made very easily, usually through a Web-based form.

    Some chapters are pretty good about updating their Web sites. I would imagine that it would be the larger, more active chapters with a more tech-savy membership.

    I wonder how chapters and divisions can do to draw more people to visit the site? Newsletters, officer e-mail addresses and pending legislative issues don't seem like enough, especially if that content is duplicated in other forms like paper newsletters and listservs. Maybe local planning news, a la PLANetizen/Moreover? Web-only content? Moving newsletters to the Web? In any case, regular maintenance and updates are key, along with some level of interactivity.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Okay ... this looks like an APA hosted division Web site.

    http://www.planning.org/newurbanism/

    Yawn. I mean, it's better than nothing, but I think divisions could do so much more maintaining their own Web sites.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  13. #13
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    Hey Dan & Team,

    I'm kind of thinking that it would be useful to have the APA's 'template' website for the basic information, and then link out to another URL where we can put up a nice CMS that members can participate on/with, plus the InfoTech board, and other tools that we'll use.

    I just finished putting together a draft, 12-question membership survey. I'm going to reserve a domain name this weekend for InfoTech, and then I'll publish the survey and ask anyone who's interested to take a look before I open it for responses.

    Thanks for everyone's help.

    Chris

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