GiveCamp Day Two

We have exceeded the goal of having 100 volunteers (I believe the final count was 102). This goal means that the event organizer has promised to have his head shaved on a live video stream and then posted on YouTube! In addition, the Microsoft Developer Evangleist who is helping organize this event has promised to have his head shaved into a Mohawk. This should be happening Sunday afternoon. Volunteers are to be randomly selected to receive an XBox with FF13.

A group photo of the volunteers.

I got there today to do work on the layout for a special education group. They needed a layout and they proposed a layout idea which I began work on. There were three CMS (Content Management Systems) being strongly suggested for GiveCamp projects. One of them, Sitefinity, was being used for the site in question.

Apparently, this CMS is pretty easy for the developers (I was told this by the developers); it’s just a matter of drag-n-drop. However, this CMS, like many others, is based on prepackaged templates which dictate the layout. It was pretty late at night when I was informed of how the system worked and its relation to the layout (No big deal. There were some issues with GiveCamp and communcating how exactly the projects were to be executed. It was no one person’s fault. But it’s alright. We had a good group of people who were able to work under tight conditions and be flexible.) There was a group working on a similar project, and they had another web designer work on a layout. He had the HTML and CSS file ready to go, but unfortunately, his layout could not be implemented, because all the elements of the layout have to conform to the template (this is the long and short of it). So, for the layout I was working on, we just put on the brakes for that, and just decided to go with the layout that comes with the Sitefinity template, with a minor alteration to a navigation menu.

At this point, we were pretty short on time (all projects have to be done by Sunday). They had room to insert a banner graphic at the top, so I made one and then I was finished with that project, and let the developers continue from there. I got some stock images from one of the developers, and they were all impressed by what I was able to come up with in just a few minutes.

The internet was still slow, but much faster than yesterday. A developer I was working with on a WordPress based site, was trying to identify problems with the site (the site loads slow, as does the page for the administrators to log in.). But the slow connections prevented us from being able to download the site’s files in order to look at them. But, ya know, this is the first ever GiveCamp event on the East Coast, I’m sure there are many things that can be done to prepare for next time.

There was a site being built on DotNetNuke, with a template for layout. We tried making some changes to the layout, but we unfortunately found out that there were so many boxes (cells, divs, etc.) inside so many other boxes, wrapping around other boxes (it was just a big web of boxes), that it was nearly impossible to make any changes to the layout without starting the whole project from the start. I guess the moral of the story is that prepackaged layout solutions for websites can be good, but if you want to customize, well, things may get very messy, visually.

I was sitting in a room full of developers who were using Sitefinity for the first time, and were learning from it. There were quite a few people there who had to step outsie the boundaries of comfort, step outside what they were used to. Myself included.

Tomorrow, I’m going to be working on enhancing the layout and some graphics for the site of a children’s educational group. The site’s built in DotNetNuke, so I get to play around with some HTML and CSS (and who knows what else) and see what happens to it in DotNetNuke.

Anyway, I’m trying to keep this one short actually, so… can’t wait til we all get to show off our projects during the closing ceremonies!

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