A Drupal Intranet for Stanford University's SLAC Lab
Operated by Stanford University for the DOE Office of Science, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory works in four joint research centers that focus on cosmology and astrophysics, materials and energy science, catalysis, and ultrafast science. The SLAC lab is home to several Nobel Prize-winners, and its scientists publish 850 research papers each year.
To achieve their scientific research goals and foster a stronger sense of community, SLAC developed an Intranet. SLAC Today, where lab employees and staff can access a consolidated calendar of events, frequently used links, internal resources, and relevant news. Originally built on Drupal 6, SLAC Today had limited capacity to display on mobile devices. Also, running on an outdated version of Drupal caused SLAC to miss out on community-supported developments such as modules to improve content management and publication workflows.
Mediacurrent’s expert Drupal team led the SLAC Today migration for a smooth transition to Drupal 7. A platform t0 build on for years to come, the following project goals were achieved:
- Migrate and map existing Drupal 6 content into mobile-responsive Drupal 7 platform. Refine the primary content types to better suit the Intranet portal environment.
- Simplify content management and publishing workflows.
- Create an Intranet system that is easily extendable to SLAC’s staff, employees and developers.
The Mediacurrent team did excellent work on our Drupal migration project. They listened carefully to our needs and provided well-designed solutions. When we were not sure what we wanted, they provided clear options with pros and cons for each to help us decide. Throughout the project, they were highly responsive and accessible. It was a pleasure to work with them.
Project Manager, IT, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Content Migration and Responsive Theming
To facilitate a smooth data migration, Mediacurrent leveraged the migrate module as well as custom drush commands which allowed for an easy run and roll back of migration throughout the development phase. This approach elevated confidence in a seamless migration upon project completion.
Previously, the SLAC Intranet was configured to show and hide content rather than use customized markup that would work on all screens. Mediacurrent added custom tpl files to clean up the markup. We were then able to use the breakpoints SASS library to add responsive breakpoints where needed.
Fully-Responsive Events Calendar
As a bustling scientific community of 1,400 staff members across 150 buildings on site, SLAC employees desired a company calendar that could be accessed anytime, anywhere from their mobile devices. To achieve this, Mediacurrent developed a feature-rich and fully responsive events calendar. For ease of use, the calendar is color-coded by event type (e.g. Staff Celebrations, Events, and Meetings; Training and Development) and can be filtered through a simple drop-down menu. Designed following the SLAC style guide, the calendar now serves as a seamless extension of the Intranet.
The SLAC Today portal had three main content types which Mediacurrent helped to refine and optimize:
Access notices: Content fields were added so that access notices could be posted simultaneously to the homepage and events calendar. These alerts were created to notify users about important, time-sensitive information such as a lab closing, or limited access due to construction.
Upcoming events: SLAC Intranet users can easily create an event as well as tick a checkbox to promote the event as a news item. These upcoming events display on both the homepage and the responsive calendar.
Flea market: One feature of SLAC’s Intranet is a forum, similar to Craigslist, where employees can post items for sale. To ensure that all posted items are within company guidelines, Mediacurrent developed a system for users to flag inappropriate content.
Rich Content and Workflow Productivity
To improve productivity for the SLAC Communications team, Mediacurrent configured a personalized workflow for content creation, approval, and publication. Mediacurrent established “Author” and “Editor” roles and leveraged the Workbench Moderation modules to streamline what was once a multi-step process for publishing content. To create news content, Authors now have the flexibility to edit all fields of a manually created news item except for the publication date. Once the entry has been saved, the Author receives a confirmation email. Author’s may save their changes and return later to revise their entries, however, editing is restricted after submission.
Previously, a large amount of duplicate content on the Intranet slowed the site’s search function and made it difficult for users to quickly access important resources. In order to display the same content in different places on the Intranet, SLAC users had to enter the same content several different times. To address this, Mediacurrent augmented each of the content creation forms by replacing obsolete unused fields with more useful conditional fields. Now, SLAC Authors can easily publish rich, search-friendly content with the flexibility to display access notices, events, and news items recurrently across the Intranet.
- Customizable editorial workflow
- Clean and simple mobile-responsive themes
- Future-ready CMS to extend intranet longevity
- Workbench moderation
- Hook updates per feature branch for deploying configuration changes
On the front end of the SLAC Today Intranet, access to well-organized, fresh content and timely updates were key to deliver a positive user experience. Mediacurrent’s Drupal developers implemented the functionality needed to quickly update and refresh information. Today, this streamlined workflow helps to maximize employee engagement, while features such as a mobile responsive calendar deliver up to the minute scheduling updates.
Throughout all phases of the project, Mediacurrent sought to make the Intranet easily extendable to SLAC Today’s staff, employees and developers. Training and thorough documentation (compliant with Doxygen commenting standards) empower SLAC Today developers to maintain and extend the code in future phases.