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TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters


Introducing Mobile Maps

Need to find a building on the go? Want to see all the dining locations on campus? Need to know where a bus stop is? Want to find out where a course is held and see it on a map? You’re covered. Version one of mobile maps is out and is integrating everywhere!

Thanks to the Google Maps Javascript API, we were able to integrate our knowledge of local building data into a map service that works fluently on the majority of smartphones post 2009. Our primary goal for this project was to offer a service that allowed anyone on any device to easily find a building they were looking for on campus. Other requirements for this project included the ability for mobile maps to integrate with the rest of our mobile website easily (Course Search, Bus Routes, Hours of Operation, Dining…). Since a good majority of the site is dynamically generated, the primary issue was making sure we could locally query building data and throw it up on a map.

That’s not even the best part. You can create a mobile map too! As our service grows, our API will too. So go ahead and create mobile map of where you will be tailgating this weekend!

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Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 Campus Maps, Mobile Web, Podcasting No Comments

iTunes U revamp

We’ve just finished updating the iTunes U site as well as the Texas A&M store on iTunes U. The store gets new graphics and a consistent set of branding for all of the albums and a cleaner, lighter look.The site gets a new layout and added functionality as we try to bring more of what’s in iTunes U to the site for people to see. We’re starting with the top downloads, but hopefully will be able to pull out other feeds of titles and topic areas.

But what the new site does is set a foundation of design for one of the projects on our slate. It’s tentatively titled “Podcast Central” (I wanted to use “Rasputin” but I found out that Favreau and Co. are using that codename for Iron Man 2), but it would be a central point to feed in podcasts from different places and venues. This would allow us to highlight videos from iTunes U, our and other A&M youTube sites and playlists, MediaMatrix feeds, KAMU streams, departmental podcast RSS feeds and more — and have it appear and be highlighted on this site.

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 Multimedia, Podcasting No Comments

YouTube channel changes

For those of us who meddle and work with YouTube, the Google/YouTube developers have been working on an overhaul of the “channels” . They’ve cleaned it up quite a bit and have added the opportunity to customize a little bit more.

You can see the new layout in our Texas A&M channel, and you’ll notice how it has changed with the channel info now being below the video and playlists running down the side. It is considerably cleaner looking b/c they have streamlined the options. I like the ability to create your own “theme” for the channel; this allows for greater flexibility to change the look and yet still keep a base customized theme to work from. Also, because of the type of channel we have, we are given a little more flexibility with graphics and branding on the page.

Even though they launched the new look/admin less than a month ago, anyone who has a channel can opt-in. And since they are still in “beta” (which in Google time could be years), you can switch to the beta, and if it’s not what you’re wanting/liking, you can switch back.

More information or to keep up with the changes is available on the YouTube Channels Beta blog.

By the way, since we are using this YouTube channel as a point of entry to A&M and A&M vids, if you’ve got a YT account you’re using, let us know so that we can begin building our subscription/features plan to include more of the campus YT community on this channel.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 Multimedia, Podcasting, Social Media 4 Comments

University Podcasting

Last Friday we took our first step toward creating a unifying Podcasting Central for campus. We revamped and republished the Do You Wonder? website into what will be the beginnings of a site that will bring podcasts from around campus into one common area where they can be browsed and played. The eventual end product will contain similar modules from YouTube, iTunesU, Media Matrix, and from offices around campus. Many of you have probably seen the announcement from YouTube last week about creating EDU channels; we have already applied and hope to take advantage of this partnership program.

In order to create this modularity and interoperability, RSS feeds will be an important element binding them all together. The new Do You Wonder? uses YouTube as a back-end and administrative platform. Favorites and Playlists hold the pool of videos and categorize them, and then RSS feeds from each allow us to bring those links to the web site. We are able to constantly add new videos to the mix through subscribing to particular search terms on YouTube and marking interesting ones as a favorite.

The original Do You Wonder? site was designed to display user-generated content from our fans and followers. While we will continue to do this, we see the future of the site shifting more toward university generated content. If you would like to see your videos displayed on the site simply upload them to YouTube and tag them as ‘doyouwonder,’ and our administrative mechanisms will do the rest.  BTW, don’t forget about accessibility!  YouTube now allows users to upload captioning with their videos.

Our next installment will be an upgrade of the iTunes U website and the iTunes store. John is working on the graphics and layout now so with luck it won’t be long…

Monday, March 30th, 2009 Multimedia, Podcasting No Comments