Developing Conditional Fields for Content Creation and Form Management

Greetings – It’s the Holidays at TIS, and that means a room full of decorations, off-tune seasonal music, and website development!

At UT Libraries, we have a robust amount of different content, and deal with a large community of engaged active website users. One thing we actively have to consider all year long is how to make thorough webforms and other data entry.

To make a holiday example: If you are writing the Libraries for research information on decorations, there’s a chance we’d like to set up a form that thoroughly investigates every type of decoration, color, kind of decor, etc, so that your inquiry is best answered. Regrettably, this can lead to a lengthy and intimidating webform that shows each option all at once, filling up a page with text.

To help address this, we’re currently developing new content strategies using conditional fields. In Drupal, we’re using two modules, Conditional Fields and Webform Conditional. (Any Drupal readers here will want to know that we’re on D7, and Webform 3)

Both of these modules add a great amount of flexibility to cleaning up a content form or a webform, so that a user is not bombarded by a huge amount of text showing EVERY detail of information needed to complete an form submission. Instead, they allow for a series of initial questions to be answered, which will then reveal appropriate additional questions.

Step one: Using this with Webforms

To take our hypothetical example of writing for Holiday Decorations advice. (caveat: We do not offer Holiday Decorations advice at UT Libraries!) – But a non conditional webform might display like this:

Type of Decoration: (Red, Blue, Neither)
If you chose Red, is Orange okay? (Yes, No)
Do you Have another Color you would like? (fill in the blank)

This can sprawl out into all sorts of fussy questions. Perhaps there could be a nicer way, where only the first of these three questions appeared, with follow-up questions based on how you answered?

Now, if this form were modified to be conditional, that lighter looking form would be attainable.

So, instead of seeing all three questions below, a user would only be asked “Type of Decoration” first.

If they pick “Red” then the question about “Is Orange okay” would then appear. And if they picked “Neither”, then they would be offered the question “Do You Have another Color you would like?”

Technical Jargon: The way this works is you identify dependancies with fields, so that one field will only display if a value of another field is triggered. For Webforms, this is fairly easy to figure out – a new field setting called “Conditional Rules” is added to the options for each field you create. There, when setting a condition for a hidden entry (Like “Is Orange Okay”) you select a component and a value for this to display if the other Field “Pick a Color” has a chosen value for “Red”, which is likely “1”.

Step Two: Using this with content types

Conditional Fields work instead with internal content type forms, offers even more workflow options – particularly for large organizations that often have sprawling content items addressing any number of fields, decisions, tabs. You can modify your existing forms to instead just reveal the first one or two questions about a piece of content, and then reveal other items, as needed – based on what is answered. Prior to Conditional Fields, the workflow solution would instead be to group items into a series of tabbed off sections and indicate Required Fields that were common to everyone. A great video that explains this, including how to customize these features can be found on Youtube, courtesy the always-useful Daily Dose of Drupal.

Like a holiday tree, we at UT Libraries we’re excited about being able to trim down our content forms (ho-ho-ho! sorry about the tree pun!) And we hope you enjoy idea for managing your own content forms and webforms in Drupal.

Fall 2014 Captioning Metrics

We’re a good ways into the fall semester, so I thought it might be interesting to share some data we’ve gathered through our captioning and transcription service piloting phase.

First up is a chart displaying how many minutes of video or audio we’ve transcribed and captioned total. There’s also a trend line indicating the amount of staff hours worked. I’ve grouped this data into 2-week chunks.

minutes captioned chart
Minutes Captioned from 9/2014 – 11/2014

As you can see, we hit a high mark in the second half of October with steady increases up to that point.

Of course there are quite a few variables that affect how quickly a video or piece of audio can be transcribed and  captioned. How quickly someone speaks or how technical the language can have a big impact on turnaround time.

Below, you’ll find a chart displaying a breakdown of which groups have requested captions or transcription from us over the course of the semester. This is based solely on number of videos or audio (not duration).

Requesting Parties chart

I’m always on the lookout for ways to increase efficiency. It’ll be interesting to see how this data develops over time.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for reading.


Digital Humanities/Digital Scholarship activities update

MappaMundi is a digital portal for teaching and learning in global medieval studies. Ece “pronounced AJ” Turnator, CLIR-Mellon post-doc working in TIS, has been collaborating with scholars working on disparate projects – a 3D virtual representation of a Spanish town, and of rituals in the city of Cahokia, East Africa’s connections with the Far East, and a database of manuscripts about an imaginary king across five centuries, to name a few – to bring them together into one cohesive digital resource and revisioning of the existing interface.

The MappaMundi project has also spawned a grant-funded workshop on linked open data for use by scholars of the medieval period (aka 500-1500 AD), which will take place at UT Libraries in May 2015.

digital humanities word visualization
Digital Humanities / Digital Scholarship word visualization

In an effort to explore UT Libraries’ capacity to support digital humanities/digital scholarship (much vagueness over these terms has led us to use them both), Jennifer and Ece have attended several digital humanities conferences. Many other folks here in the Libraries are already involved or interested in the topic, and we have collectively decided to pull everyone together to have a formal conversation about what the Libraries’ place is/should be. Stay tuned!

We have also revitalized the campus-wide UT Digital Humanities Discussion List, and used it to promote two gatherings of folks who are doing, or are interested in, digital humanities or digital scholarship. The September 5th gathering drew 20 faculty, students, and staff. The second gathering on October 2nd drew about 15 people from various departments, and even other area universities. The seeds for several interdisciplinary collaborations were planted, and future monthly gatherings are planned. Join the DH Discussion List here if you are interested in these conversations.

Geology Redesign Update

We are making good progress migrating the Geology branch pages into Drupal with updated organization, content, and look & feel.

A former GRA, Rachel Lynch, did a spectacular and thorough job assessing and reorganizing the site’s content, separating out the parts that should be migrated into Geology Research Guides, and designing page-level wireframes based on actual content (which is so much better than dealing with actual content near the end).

Matthew Villalobos freshened the look & feel, which included some fun original photography for the banner images.

Ethan Persoff, our new webmaster, and Stefanie Roberts, our new GRA are now working in concert to theme it in Drupal and migrate the content.

One outstanding challenge is the Theses & Dissertations data which is currently separated out into several different chunks but should be combined into a single database with improved search and browse functionality. Stefanie and Ethan are tackling this in conjunction with Calla Smith-Dowling and Dennis Trombatore, the Geology staff.


Captioning update

Here in TIS we’ve been quietly rolling out a captioning and transcription service. It’s not widely publicized yet, but we’ve captioned or created transcriptions for almost 70 videos, totalling nearly 1,000 minutes of content.  That’s roughly the equivalent duration of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (theatrical edition) 2 times through!

In addition, we have almost 50 hours of new content on the docket for the upcoming months.

We are very fortunate to have hired three fantastic student staff members, who are diligently and efficiently transcribing, timing and creating very high-quality captions and transcripts at blistering typing speeds (want to challenge us to TypeRacer?)

So far, the feedback has been very positive for both our turnaround time and overall quality of work.

Although this is just the beginning we’re very excited about the progress. Especially since we have some other exciting initiatives in the works. Our next phases will include:

  • rolling out a website
  • ramping up our capacity
  • creating a captioning knowledge base
  • getting the word out to entire UT campus

If you are interested in seeing some of our work, here are a few links to public facing content that we’ve done:

School of Pharmacy [Dr. Talbert Interview for AACP Award]

UT Libraries Poetry Center [Reading and Discussion with Texas Poets Laureate]

UT Undergrad Math Club iTunes U videos –iTunes U

Need captions or transcriptions for your videos? Make your content accessible! Please contact me, Daniel Jacobs ( to get the ball rolling. I’d love to talk shop and answer any questions you might have about all things captions/transcription.  And please do check back here for more updates in the future.

p.s. I’m serious about TypeRacer. Set up a race, send me the link.

Support Your Libraries Redesign Update

We’re iterating!

After spending time researching and documenting project requirements, benchmarking fundraising sites inside and outside of academia, and getting Staff Advisory Committee for Library Advancement (SACLA) suggestions on big impact stories to highlight, we created a set of wireframes.

The first design relied on a crowd sourced funding technology to replace our current Wish List of items ranging from $100 to $80,000. We’ve since learned that approach isn’t tenable at this time and we’re now working on a redesigned information architecture that doesn’t use crowd funding. The benefit is that it’s helped the project team reassess the number of different giving options we provide, and scale back in order to not overwhelm.

Things shifted, as they can, and we’re now working on a redesigned information architecture that doesn’t use ScaleFunder. The benefit is that it’s helped the project team reassess the number of different giving options we provide, and scale back in order to not overwhelm.

After the next version is done and approved, we’ll move into designing the look & feel and then building the site in Drupal 7.

Mining chat reference transcripts for UX issues

Attention Staff who provide reference: We want to know about the questions that highlight users’ difficulties with our site.

Whether it’s an issue with how information is organized, its lack of searchability, or it not being there at all…we want to know the ways our site can be improved to meet user needs.

We’ll plan to work with content owners to make improvements.

Feel free to provide this info whatever way is easiest for you, including simply forwarding chat transcripts.


Drupal Classes!

University of Texas Libraries Staff: TIS is pleased to announce the first session of a proposed class on Drupal, specifically its role in University of Texas Libraries system and editing Libraries content.

The first one of these classes (scheduled for Monday October 20th, from 2pm-3pm) will be more of a demo and a presentation than actual hands-on editing. The reasons for this are numerous, as many of you have very different kinds of content in the Libraries system, and a basic understanding of certain Drupal terms and examples would likely be a very good first introduction for many of you, as well. It will be geared as an interactive presentation (interruptions and questions very welcome) – We’ll discuss Drupal’s role here at the Libraries and then discuss individual pieces of content, explaining how things are edited.

Here’s the plan for the hour:

1) Introduce Drupal – What is Drupal?
An overview of what Drupal can do, what it is not good at doing, what it is great at doing, and examples of Drupal installs elsewhere on campus

2) A description of how Drupal is implemented here at UT Libraries
We have two separate Drupal systems here at the Libraries, what’s that about? Also, we have non-Drupal content, and blogs content, and many other kinds of content, what’s all THAT ABOUT, too?

3) Hey, let’s edit something!
In a matter of great excitement, we will edit a piece of UT Libraries content LIVE AND BEFORE YOUR EYES! Sounds exciting! There will be an opportunity here to make requests, too, and we can then discuss what goes into editing different sorts of content, and what decisions occur.

4) Questions. Specifics. And LINKS
Much of Drupal is best learned in one-on-one, or small group scenarios. Here we’ll conclude the hour with questions about your specific content. Further steps about individual tutorials or meeting one-on-one with members of TIS will be determined. Class will conclude with a list of suggested list of links and tutorials to further enhance your skills and understanding of Drupal.

Does this sound good for you? Can you make the time? Let me know and I’ll look forward to seeing you on Monday October 20th, 2-3pm

Limited space availability, please contact me if you’d like to attend.

Thanks much, Ethan

Staff Web Redesign Update

You may have heard that our lovely Staff Web is being redesigned. “What? I love our staff web just the way it is!” I hear you saying. Don’t worry, change is good. In addition some of the other tools we use for collaboration and information sharing are being updated. We just finished upgrading the Libraries WordPress blogs with a new accessible and mobile friendly theme (you’re looking at it right now.) The wikis also received an update under the hood.

Our Staff Web’s more beautiful and charismatic twin SharePoint is currently undergoing a major upgrade. This upgrade is actually much more than a makeover. The new SharePoint site includes improvements in usability and mobile accessibility. You will, for example, be able to check out a shared Word doc and edit it on your iPad.

Technology Integration Services is working with central ITS to migrate the Libraries SharePoint site to the latest 2013 version. The migration process is already underway and TIS has begun reaching out to content owners to review their SharePoint sites and confirm that they do indeed want their content to be migrated to the new site. You will be hearing from us!

Meet Stefanie, the new TIS GRA

Salutations! I’m Stefanie Roberts, a first-year UT iSchool master’s student and the new TIS User Experience GRA.

I majored in English at the University of Florida and dabbled in nonprofits, media, education, and healthcare before finding my way to UX. I didn’t even know the field existed until I stumbled upon it while researching library graduate programs. The common threads I found woven through my experiences in other fields—working with people, producing creative deliverables, and designing new systems to improve workflows and outcomes—are also at the heart of UX research and design. I feel fortunate to have wound up here working on UX for a library, the dream combination for many an MSIS student.

This semester, I’ll be collaborating with TIS staff and the Library Web Oversight Group on implementing best practices to redesign and create optimal experiences for UT Libraries website users. Since joining TIS in September, I’ve been generating IA and migrating content for the new Geology branch page. I already can’t remember life before Drupal. I’m especially looking forward to learning more about content strategy, responsive design, and accessibility.

When I’m not at the library, you can find me doing schoolwork, co-directing the Student Association for the School of Information and UT’s student chapter of the Association for Information Science and Technology, biking and running (for fitness and/or to Juiceland), or exploring the cultural goings-on in and around Austin.