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Updated 5:30 PM January 20, 2005
 

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Upgraded Web software now more user-friendly

UM.SiteMaker version 3.5, a tool enabling non-technical people to build customized Web sites and simple Web databases, was released Jan. 8, and features many improvements for University users.

Enhancements in version UM.SiteMaker 3.5 include: Integration of a word processor-like ("WYSIWYG") text editor, simplified construction of complex Web sites with multiple levels of links, improved file uploading and file management, and better search options for Web databases built by users.

Also new this year, negotiations are underway to make the source code for UM.SiteMaker available to the public. UM.SiteMaker currently is licensed as a commercial product to Vancouver-based Global Village Consulting (GVC). U-M and GVC plan to place the program under a public license to encourage its adoption at other educational institutions, pharmacology Professor Jonathan Maybaum says.

The UM.SiteMaker Gallery (http://sitemaker.umich.edu/sm.gallery) is a showcase for examples of Web sites built to contain interactive teaching tools, scholarly resources, promotional materials for academic programs, and many other unique assets that further the diverse missions of the University.

"I've found UM.Sitemaker to be a powerful and flexible tool," says musicology Professor Mark Clague. "It allows me to build custom interactive teaching tools that encourage students (even those without HTML training) to publish their research and observations on the Web. My students can share ideas with peers or present their results to the world beyond the University. Such potential is a great incentive to do original work."

UM.SiteMaker is a University-wide system that is complementary in many ways to CTools, which also supports Web site creation, says Maybaum, who organized the project that developed SiteMaker.

Maybaum says it's important to distinguish between CTools (intended to support Web sites for courses and workgroups) and SiteMaker, because both have different strengths. CTools is recommended as the first choice for course Web sites, and it also is good for collaborative work, whereas UM.SiteMaker is well-suited for sites that are meant for public viewing—although pages in UM.SiteMaker can be private, as well, he says.

In addition, the data tables feature in UM.SiteMaker is a unique capability that enables non-programmers to quickly build Web databases. A more detailed comparison between UM.SiteMaker and CTools can be found at http://sitemaker.umich.edu/sitemaker.resources/which_tool_to_use.

This is the third cycle of UM.SiteMaker development to be funded primarily through contributions from individual units. Development of version 3.5 was funded by contributions from the College of Pharmacy, Dental School, School of Natural Resources and Environment, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, School of Education and LSA (Language Resource Center and Media Center), as well as the Ann Arbor Public Schools and Holland Christian Schools.

Production of the UM.SiteMaker service is supported by Information Technology Central Services and the Office of the Provost. Documentation, training schedules and other information can be found at http://sitemaker.umich.edu. Questions or comments should be sent to sitemaker@umich.edu.

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