2012Q3 Reports: ACL Portal

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Report on the ACL Portal Robert Dale, 19th June 2012

The ACL Portal, at http://www.acweb.org/portal, was created to provide a web-based platform to house facilities for members that might be seen as benefits to replace the CL journal (which, until it went open access and electronic only, was a major tangible benefit of membership).

Over the last year or so, we have had the part time assistance of Josh Herring in maintaining the Portal, which is built on top of the Drupal content management system. The goal had been to provide Josh with a steady stream of interesting development work as well as routine maintenance, with that development work coming from the implementation of content and functionality that would provide member services. Unfortunately, no-one has had the time, energy or insight required to provide a constant stream of such developments, and consequently, Josh's main work has been making minor modifications to the software for managing memberships.

We have reached a point where we need to commit to a decision one way or the other on the portal. The current model is not sustainable: we are providing Josh with so little work that he may easily decide to go and do something else, at which point the portal becomes unmaintained. This is a problem because currently it is the primary source of all our membership information.

We have two alternatives:

[1] Assign someone the specific task of working out an aggressive portal development plan, and then give them responsibility for managing the rollout of this plan. This might be the incoming ACL Exec Member who is to be the information officer, but it could be a separate role.

[2] Wind down the portal with a plan to quietly removing it, returning the membership database to a simpler technology (probably the spreadsheet-based system that Priscilla used prior to the development of the portal).

In my view, it is too big a risk to leave things as they are.