Welcome, Dwarven Smiths!

Hail, my friends, and at your service! In this sub-forum, we will plan a website to host the ExLOTR Legacy Project.

Firstly, a disclaimer: I have pretty much no knowledge of web development, programming, or anything else that would be required to create a website. I’m here to gather a team of people who do have that knowledge (whom I think of as Dwarven Smiths, as they have wonderful crafting skills and speak a language I cannot understand!).

I’ll also be coordinating between you and our content team (the Elven Lore-masters) to make sure that the website structure is built to cater for the content that we are curating, and that they can deliver the content to you in a way that makes it easiest for you to implement.

I’m sure there will be many considerations and decisions to be made when making a website that I am not currently aware of, but to my eyes, the main thing we will need to do first is decide on a structure for the website. Currently we are leaning towards the idea of creating a wiki with articles on each episode, as well as articles on each of the themes we have identified that are present in more than one episode. If anyone knows of a website structure that might work better for our purposes than a wiki, we should get that conversation going early!

A few other considerations I have identified are:
  • Forward compatibility – we want to be using this website for many years to come, so it’s important we can continue to edit each of the articles to add content, and we also need to keep the website up to date with any technological changes that may occur in the future
  • Accessibility – we have several blind listeners, so we want the website to work well with screen-reading software, and we also want to be aware and considerate of any other accessibility issues in our diverse audience
  • Forum and community element – we want to keep the discussion going and make sure anyone has the opportunity to join in the conversation
  • Different sections for specific interest areas – I thought this might be helpful for collecting articles of similar topics, such as the grammar and linguistics discussions, into a central page

I’m definitely going to need your help with the implementation of this project – without a website, it won’t be able to come together as we imagine it! – so please use this sub-forum to discuss the website to your heart’s content! If you have any additional suggestions please add a comment below, or start a new thread. If you want to volunteer to do a specific task, please let us know in this sub-forum so that we don’t end up doing the same work twice.

Looking forward to working with you all!
Cheers, Jenni.
 

Huadlin

New Member
HI all, wondering if anyone has been looking into/playing around with technologies we should consider for the project. Does anyone have experience with the architectural decisions we will have to make to get this moving. I know there will be a lot of choices to be made concerning web/media hosting, UI frameworks, db technologies, etc. Is there anyone who has done anything like this(wiki/forum) on a personal/professional level.
 

wobh

New Member
I don't know how seriously to suggest it, but there is a git-based wiki called "gollum" which could be useful. A few years ago, I was on a team that used it for a developer wiki and general repository of plans and pre-plans, and I generally had a good experience with it.


Pros:
  • easy setup (for devs familiar with git, anyway)
  • allows content in many formats to be contributed
  • apropos name

Cons:
  • git-based, likely harder for non-devs to get a handle on
    • although there is a basic input interface non-devs could use we'd have to solve how they would contribute to a centralized repository (github, or gitlab).
    • (EDIT: what I mean here is that the idea of "production" and "development" environments will be blurred somewhat since content contributors will use the web interface, and developers will expect to be able to clone, patch, pull and push changes, etc without disturbing that.)

There's definitely some problems we'd have to solve anyway, like hosting, deployments, and whatnot. And maybe we don't use it ultimately, but I think it could be a good platform to start with. At least proof-of-concept.
 
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wobh

New Member
Some questions and notes to get started with. They don't all need answers although I put the most pressing ones at the top. I put a lot of extra details in the sections of "Release" and "Deployment" because these are areas where non-technical folks might not realize they have a role. I derived this from my professional experience, but I tried to keep it general. Anyway...

  • Hosting:
    • Where will the project's "production" environment be hosted?
      • Signum U?
  • Access control:
    • How will we do authentication/authorization?
      • Does Signum U have a CAS? (Central Authentication Service)? If so, perhaps we could use our Mythgard credentials?
  • Content management and moderation (related to access control)
    • how do we identify and respond to bad behavior, malicious actors?
    • how do we ban people? why? what documentation is needed?
      • content flagging, review, removal/restore
      • user reporting, review, action
    • admin and moderator onboarding and offboarding
    • admin and moderator tooling
  • Releases:
    • What should release process be?
      • (I like having checklists that stakeholders can review, carry out release responsibilities and authorize the releases--I don't think it should be a purely development matter.)
    • release tasks and responsibilities:
      • Quality Assurance report:
        • do the desired features/fixes for release work?
        • does the release meet standards for acceptability?
          • reviewing automated tests
          • scan code/staging environment for security flaws
          • code review
      • changelog update
        • what has changed with this release? (usually terse technical notes for developers, QA, technical partners)
      • announcements messaging
        • what do we tell stakeholders and partners about the release?
          • a less technical overview than the changelog
          • emails
          • blog posts
      • authorizing release
        • who says when to deploy the release to production, send announcement emails, etc?
      • deployment (see next section)
  • Deployment:
    • how should the product be deployed?
      • very platform specific
      • ideally, as simple a process as can be
        • there's nothing worse than all the dev work is done, release has been approved but there are delays because the deployment process is complicated by service-level interdependencies, or what-have-you
      • pre-deployment questions/checklist
        • what database migrations have to be run for release?
        • what pre-deploy scripts have to be run?
        • what post-deploy scripts have to be run?
        • what data changes have to be made to support the release (Ideally these are already in the migration or a pre- or post-deploy script, but sometimes they have to be manually done)
        • what services are affected by the release (downtime notifications may need to be sent)
        • what's the rollback plan if something goes wrong?
      • post-deployment
        • how will we know that we have to do a rollback?
  • Maintenance:
    • How do we report bugs?
    • How do we respond and follow-up to bug reports?
    • How do we prioritize maintenance work?
  • Feature development:
    • How do we prioritize features?
 

Frau Holle

New Member
I think wobh pointed out some really good questions and I suggest to add a point to that. I belive we should think about some kind of internal organisation (of the Dwarven Smiths/ Implementation Team).

At least we should have someone who is responsible for communiation to:
  • Signum U, to ask about and organize
    • hosting
    • CAS
    • ...
  • The Elven Loremasters for
    • general input
    • ideas about content management and moderation
    • ...
  • Anyone else (I expect there will be questions in the ExLOTR community about the current status)
Maybe Smaug the Mighty can help with some of that, but I think we should get someone with a technical background to accompany her.
 

drowsnake

New Member
I don't know how seriously to suggest it, but there is a git-based wiki called "gollum" which could be useful. A few years ago, I was on a team that used it for a developer wiki and general repository of plans and pre-plans, and I generally had a good experience with it.


Pros:
  • easy setup (for devs familiar with git, anyway)
  • allows content in many formats to be contributed
  • apropos name

Cons:
  • git-based, likely harder for non-devs to get a handle on
    • although there is a basic input interface non-devs could use we'd have to solve how they would contribute to a centralized repository (github, or gitlab).
    • (EDIT: what I mean here is that the idea of "production" and "development" environments will be blurred somewhat since content contributors will use the web interface, and developers will expect to be able to clone, patch, pull and push changes, etc without disturbing that.)

There's definitely some problems we'd have to solve anyway, like hosting, deployments, and whatnot. And maybe we don't use it ultimately, but I think it could be a good platform to start with. At least proof-of-concept.
I almost want to use it just for the name alone! But I like that it accommodates different formats; that will be helpful given the nature of this project. I think using some kind of simple markup language like LaTeX would enable anyone to contribute, regardless of technical background. Do you have an example of what the frontend would look like when you used this before?

I'm fluent with git, and I think it's simple enough that someone with limited technical experience could pick it up (especially with a nice IDE). A git repo will be a necessity on this project.
 

Shogoki

New Member
Heyho, I´d like to join in here.
I had already sent Prof. Olsen an email, offering my help on this a while ago.

I am currently working as a FullStack Developer with also quite some experience in Web Development, which might be helpful here.
I do also have a long background of working in IT Infrastructure, which might be helpful for getting this thing deployed/hosted :)

I think the list with topics from @wobh is a really good starting point.

I also had a brief look at the suggested gollum software. I really like the simplistic approach of it, but i fear it might be too simplistic for us. While i think a lot of the things we need could be accomplished with it, I am not sure if it is the best idea and also see some bigger pain points here:

Biggest pain point: There is no user-concept in gollum, right now. From some discussions i saw, that there is omnigollum, which add´s some OAUTH features to it, but it is quite limited. This is of course, dependent on the already raised question if we can use a central IDP from SignumU or if we would need to roll our own user management for the site.

Of course we could also try to improve the existing project with the functionality or even fork it if we wanted too (it´s MIT licensed), but I am not sure if this is the best solution.

However, I am more than happy to discuss and help getting something started here, whatever technical solution it will be at the end :)
For the start I can also offer to host it for free on my server if this would be required.
 
I think wobh pointed out some really good questions and I suggest to add a point to that. I belive we should think about some kind of internal organisation (of the Dwarven Smiths/ Implementation Team).

At least we should have someone who is responsible for communiation to:
  • Signum U, to ask about and organize
    • hosting
    • CAS
    • ...
  • The Elven Loremasters for
    • general input
    • ideas about content management and moderation
    • ...
  • Anyone else (I expect there will be questions in the ExLOTR community about the current status)
Maybe Smaug the Mighty can help with some of that, but I think we should get someone with a technical background to accompany her.
I agree with Frau that wobh has put forward some excellent points! I also agree with your additional point, I would love to start getting the dwarves organised into a structured team!

I think the first thing would be to find someone who would like to be the team leader, a Durin for our dwarves, who has the technical knowledge to work with the rest of the team to develop a team structure, and a plan for getting the website started.

I'll continue to be involved however I can, particularly with communication and management of content between the Elves and Dwarves (although I'm sure our teams will be much easier to bring together than the races they're named after!) I'm also happy to ask the Signum folks any questions that need answering if they don't see them here.

If any of you here would like to be the tech team leader, let us know! I will also put something out on the General Qs subforum.
 

wobh

New Member
I should reply to some things.

think using some kind of simple markup language like LaTeX would enable anyone to contribute, regardless of technical background. Do you have an example of what the frontend would look like when you used this before?
It supports multiple markup languages, although, not the BBcode markup used by this forum. We'd have to write something to support that.

I did set up a test wiki last weekend and fiddled around with it. It was very plain and simple looking. That could be customized, of course.

Biggest pain point: There is no user-concept in gollum, right now. From some discussions i saw, that there is omnigollum, which add´s some OAUTH features to it, but it is quite limited. This is of course, dependent on the already raised question if we can use a central IDP from SignumU or if we would need to roll our own user management for the site.
User access control is a foundational issue, so much so, I'd say it was whole "pain volume" not just a point. I think the first question we need to look into is whether and how we might leverage existing access controls for whatever we use.

I would go further and say, if Mythgard were willing to host, and Mythgard's own tech stack had a wiki feature or plug-in, we should prefer to use that. That would simplify not just access control, but hosting, and possibly deployment. We could quickly move on to content creation and moderation.

If it wouldn't work out as a Mythgard hosted and/or access controlled site, before we rolled our own, possibly we should look for a partner, like maybe Tolkien Gateway (or some other one, if there's some rivalry or emnity with them I don't know about).

It's flattering to think of myself as a Dwarven smith, but after thinking critically about the prospect, I'd rather help figure out how our content contributers can quickly get started rather than wait for a bespoke wiki application. If we don't have to build something, let's not.

I think the first thing would be to find someone who would like to be the team leader, a Durin for our dwarves, who has the technical knowledge to work with the rest of the team to develop a team structure, and a plan for getting the website started.

...

If any of you here would like to be the tech team leader, let us know! I will also put something out on the General Qs subforum.
As I see it, leaders take responsibility, I would be uncomfortable volunteering or nominating anyone at this early stage, we don't really have anything to be responsible for, yet. For myself, I'd like to see some more ideas, hear about what resources we have for hosting and access control, and understand what deployment would look like.
 

DolorousStroke

Active Member
Just wanted to re-ask this question here since it may have gotten lost on the other thread.
---

Can I ask, has a full proof-read text transcript of each and every episode, 1 to 3,000 or whatever we’re on now, been produced?

I think that should be started and proofreading organized as an initial matter. Maybe someone with software skills can make an initial transcript speech-to-text and proof-readers can each volunteer to do 5 episodes each. (I’m glad to do 5.) I'm glad to spend a small sum of money on a service or software if there's no good free solution and someone can establish the best paid service/software.

There would need to be a proof-readers guide (standard spelling of names, template format, etc.).

However we end up packaging the legacy work product, the text transcripts I think will be the absolute foundation.

(I think we'd want the transcripts to be access-controlled, just to keep everything in-house for now?)

Don’t want to suggest this if it has already been started or mentioned above—apologies, I’m not sure!

Thanks!
 

Frau Holle

New Member
Just wanted to re-ask this question here since it may have gotten lost on the other thread.
---

Can I ask, has a full proof-read text transcript of each and every episode, 1 to 3,000 or whatever we’re on now, been produced?

I think that should be started and proofreading organized as an initial matter. Maybe someone with software skills can make an initial transcript speech-to-text and proof-readers can each volunteer to do 5 episodes each. (I’m glad to do 5.) I'm glad to spend a small sum of money on a service or software if there's no good free solution and someone can establish the best paid service/software.

There would need to be a proof-readers guide (standard spelling of names, template format, etc.).

However we end up packaging the legacy work product, the text transcripts I think will be the absolute foundation.

(I think we'd want the transcripts to be access-controlled, just to keep everything in-house for now?)

Don’t want to suggest this if it has already been started or mentioned above—apologies, I’m not sure!

Thanks!
I think this comment belongs in the elven loremaster section, but I can help you with your software question. You won't need any special tool or software skills. Youtube does automatically generate transcripts even with timestamps. Please note that this does not work for live sessions and not for the first 15 episodes.
  1. Open the video of the session
  2. Select the menu (the one in the same bar as the like and dislike buttons)
  3. Click on 'Open transcript'
The result is not perfect and will definitely need some correction and editing, but that is a task for our elf friends.
 

DolorousStroke

Active Member
I’ll take it over there! I had seen the visual subtitling but I didn’t know you could grab a transcript. Thanks!
Apologies: before I take it to the (tech-clueless-Elves) can I ask for a more precise description and a test of the above process 1-2-3? I am not seeing the "open transcript" button. It could be that I started with Episode 1, and it looks there like CC is turned off. I'll try a later episode soon.
 
As I see it, leaders take responsibility, I would be uncomfortable volunteering or nominating anyone at this early stage, we don't really have anything to be responsible for, yet. For myself, I'd like to see some more ideas, hear about what resources we have for hosting and access control, and understand what deployment would look like.
These are some excellent points, thankyou! I have updated my post on the General forum to reflect this point of view.
 

Simbelmyne

New Member
Hey all, some good thoughts so far :)

Credentials-wise it would be great if there was some way to hook into the SignumU auth; agree with wobh that we should avoid reinventing that wheel if at all possible, meaning less work but also a single login to reduce the barrier for entry (and potentially re-use these forums for discussion rather than having a completely separate area for that).

Gollum (the software) looks to me a bit simplistic feature-wise, but also difficult to use because it would require using Git as the storage mechanism. This seems impractical for the use-case unless I'm misunderstanding it.

In terms of my experience I scope & web applications for a living, so am happily biased in terms of the tech stack I'd prefer if we did have to roll our own outside of the Mythgard environment. I use Laravel which has a whole bunch of 1st and 3rd party packages to handle boilerplate things like auth, backups, file uploads and so on. It's also in constant development so futureproofing and applying security patches etc is fairly easy. I'm happy to investigate wiki packages for Laravel if anyone thinks this is a route worth investigating.

Regardless, as others have said we need someone to liase with Smaug_the_Mighty and the Signum side of things to first establish what is and isn't possible hosting- & integration-wise.
 

FirstFish

New Member
Putting in a 2-cents, TikiWiki is the php-framework that I have played around with for my personal writings archive for the last 6 or 8 years. It does everything suggested above and has ease of use backend and frontend editing and backend managing. It does have a slight learning curve for the syntax if the WYSIWYG editor or RTF plugins aren't used. But the syntax is all wiki related and structurally useful. Deployment is fairly straightforward if the hosting is up to date. Security has been reliable. And modules are easy to add and update for moderation, auth, etc.
 

NancyL

Member
Ignorant Lore Master here: I've volunteered at Project Gutenberg for years. I think we might be steps ahead if we stole (ahem, borrowed)(ahem ahem learned) from their long-in-place and effective system. Also, as another ignorant soul mentioned -- TV Tropes has a lovely cross-referencing system.
 

FirstFish

New Member
Ignorant Lore Master here: I've volunteered at Project Gutenberg for years. I think we might be steps ahead if we stole (ahem, borrowed)(ahem ahem learned) from their long-in-place and effective system. Also, as another ignorant soul mentioned -- TV Tropes has a lovely cross-referencing system.
So, Project Gutenberg uses ibiblio.org to host their site and an assortment of partners to manage their volunteers and contributors.
TV Tropes uses PmWiki, a deployable CMS, as their collaborative framework and website.
 
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