CFWheels in Use at the OII

Obviously, I’ve been a fan of CFWheels for a fair while now. So naturally, when the opportunity came to build a new app from scratch, there was only one real contender.

At the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) – where you can find me from 9-5 (most of the time) – we’ve primarily been a research department, with no students. This changed a few years ago, with the introduction of a DPhil programme, and more recently, an MSc programme.

Naturally, when you throw 30 students a year together, and another 20 or so tutors/lecturers, you’re going to need some sort of organisational/courseware app. For the first year or two, we tried Wikis, Sakai, trialled Moodle, kept well away from Blackboard (due to licensing) but none of them quite did what we wanted them to. They all were built for another purpose – delivering complete courses online, or managing things we didn’t need, creating a lot of UI clutter.

Enter the new CFWheels app, nicknamed ‘Plato’ (not officially called Plato, as I think there’s *already* some existing courseware with that name). Let’s call it cfPlato then.

The aim was to build a closed system which fullfilled the following:

  • To list courses, their outlines and who’s teaching them
  • For Tutors to communicate with their students via bulk email
  • A complete email archive for all courses and groups
  • File storage, with archiving, tagging and bulk downloading via .zip
  • Individual user accounts
  • File submission
  • Deadline listings with notifications
  • Threaded discussion via Forums
  • Facilities for smaller groups, similar to courses
  • Multiple user roles, such as tutor, student, administrator etc.
  • Full logging and audit trail
  • Avatar uploading and cropping
  • Ability for students to provide anonymous Course feedback

I can up with the idea that we should give access to pretty much everything to authenticated users, then allow student to ‘subscribe’ to their areas of interest; Subscribing means they get email notifications etc, and various shortcuts in the system to their courses of choice. Whilst this puts the responsibility of subscribing to courses in the hands of the students, it removes a large administrative overhead.

As this is currently a closed system, I can’t demo it properly, but I thought it might interest other people to get an idea of the sort of apps which are starting to spring up based on CFWheels.

Tonnes of screenshots here as a Flickr slideshow. Turn on Descriptions/comments for some more info:

Built using CFWheels, CF8, BlueprintCSS, JQuery, JQuery Tools, TinyMCE, JCrop.

Comments & Questions welcome!

OxAlto Capita – A Free Theme for Mango Blog

As I’ve been exploring some more CF open source apps, I’ve come across Mango Blog which I’m really beginning to like.

So, as an attempt to get to the know the bits under the hood, I’ve written a theme which I’ve decided to release under Creative Commons – so that’s free to use for all you Mango Blog users.

It’s based on the Blueprint CSS framework, so hopefully you should be able to take advantage on the various layout schemes incorporated into that.

The banner image remains property of The Hinksey Studio, but has been released for use in this theme.

Edit: This is now available directly via the Mango Blog Admin interface – Thanks Laura!

BluePrint CSS wrapper for BlogCFC

Quick BlueprintCSS wrapper for BlogCFC v0.1

This is a set of starter stylesheets using the BluePrintCSS framework (see for full usage) for BlogCFC. As always, I take no responsibility whatsoever for anything you might do with this.

Essentially all I’ve done is add the BluePrintCSS as the main starting point, and added a few classes to the layout customtag so it works under Blueprints CSS concept. Also added a few custom classes in bp_custom.css to make it a bit prettier. Add your changes to bp_custom.css – as it’s the last one to be called, it’ll override anything set in the defaults.

Tested briefly on BlogCFC

NB: This is meant as a starting point – I’ve not spent ages with elements like the pods etc. Hopefully it’ll save someone somewhere some time – the reason I’ve bothered putting it in a zip is that I have to integrate blogCFC into most of my sites (which happen to always use BluePrint);

Install instructions:

  1. Backup/Move/Rename the file at /yourblog/tags/layout.cfm
  2. Download the zip and decompress
  3. Copy layout.cfm into /yourblog/tags/
  4. Copy the four stylesheets into /yourblog/includes/
  5. Restart the blogCFC cache using /?reinit=1