Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Openness Followup

My last post was on the cities website and agenda packets. Time to do a followup. First, the city clerk is trying to work out a solution to this issue. Not all of this is under the city's control. They are using an outside service to host the website. What was a good, forward looking solution just a few years ago is now difficult to use and too limited for what the the city needs. One of the limits is how the space is allocated on the website. There is also an issue with uploading large files. As a temporary patch, they will be putting the agenda packets online in pieces. This will mean some internal links will not work but all the information will be there. You will just have to manually search for it. A reasonable trade off until a better system can be put in place.

It is time for the city to look at a different approach and different system for their website. Based on my experience they can have a better website with more flexibility and fewer limitations at a better (i.e. lower) price than what they have today. We will see what it looks like in a year. I'm hopeful.


  1. I assume the website to which you refer is sanangelotexas.us, powered by GovOffice.com. It is functional, though from a purist's standpoint the Home Page seems a mite busy.

    San Angelo has at least one professional level site building/hosting service, Mediajaw (with which I am NOT affiliated), that appears to be capable of building a site capable of servicing the city. I think the city should at least talk to these folks.

    Dealing with them would at least keep the money local, and a local outfit may be a bit more flexible than one that likely builds from templates in a "one size fits all, if not most" mode.

    Lastly, hosting that allows multi-gigabyte storage should not be expensive.

  2. There is plenty of local talent that can build what the city needs. There are also many ways the city can do better on the hosting. I guess the real point is that the needs of the city website have greatly outgrown the capabilities of an off the rack solution like GovOffice.com.

    In the mean time, at 5:00pm on Friday, October 1st, I got a pleasant surprise. Not only was the agenda online, but so was the Agenda Packet for Tuesdays council meeting. They also left up the packet from the last council meeting. Progress.

  3. Also, I did get a CD with the agenda packets from the first of the year through the Sept 14th meeting.

  4. San Angelo has many web professionals capable of building web sites. Mediajaw did not build his web site, he purchased the software.

  5. Most professionals when building a complex, dynamic website, will start with a framework such as an open source CMS like drupal or joomla or django (the one gosanangelo.com uses.) Even the Whitehouse.gov website started is built on top of drupal. No sense reinventing the wheel.

    And yes there are many pros here in San Angelo that can build the website the city needs. Starting from a proven base is probably the smart way to do it. Makes site maintenance and upgrades much easier, predictable, and less costly. We have out grown off the rack, but a custom website not built on a solid CMS is also not the way to go. Once the site is built by professionals, it must be used daily by city staff who are not web professionals. Starting with a good CMS makes that easier.