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Application Development Guidelines

We want your project to be successful. In order to do that, we have to be able to provide support for your application. That often means ensuring that the application runs long after its original developer is no longer available.

The application hosting service provided by LTS Web Development Services operates under the following guidelines which we've developed to improve the support we offer. We follow these guidelines ourselves and are willing to work with you or your developer from the very beginning to ensure your project goes as smoothly as possible.

Application Development on Production Servers

  • LTS Web Development currently supports custom applications developed with Ruby on Rails 4.0, using MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server databases.
  • Application hosting is reserved for university-wide, critical functions related to UW-Eau Claire Web sites or other hosted sites that cannot be provided in simpler or more efficient ways. (Creating a web counter is an example of a project that would not be considered since our statistics provide hit counts. Wanting to create a custom CMS to make page development simpler would not be considered a legitimate project since CommonSpot templates provide similar functionality without scripting.)
  • LTS Web developers are available to develop projects at no charge using a first-come first-served priority basis. This should be considered the preferred approach, especially if a project is mission critical or has needs for complex logic to obtain data from administrative systems. It may be that the entire project or parts of it must be developed by LTS Web Development.
  • Space will be given to non-LTS developers if a project can be qualified. Developers must demonstrate adequate training or experience before being provided access to the test environment.
  • The development process and system standards are listed briefly here:
    • All developers work in a test environment that mimics the production environment.
    • Each system must be documented with meaningful comments before it goes into production.
    • The project will be tested to ensure it will work properly in the production environment and will go through an approval process.
    • Developers are encouraged to meet with LTS Web Development staff during the development, testing and review of the application.
    • Developers need to schedule deployments to production with LTS Web Development staff.
    • Developers should schedule deployments well in advance to ensure that deadlines are met. Applications which exhibit problems will not be placed into production until the problems are corrected, at which point the application is retested.
  • Access to development space is only available to UW-Eau Claire staff or students.
  • If the non-LTS developer is a student, he or she must be a member or be employed by the organization, office or department for which the system is being developed (this has to do with lifelong care needs-see below.) Developers are limited to the scripting and database environments described in the chart of services. These are subject to change.
  • A source and versioning development environment is available and its use is encouraged (currently Subversion.)
  • A code repository is provided for functions that must be developed in a standard way.
  • Authentication is a special function for which code will be provided, but only for the languages and platforms we support. Because of privacy and security issues, it is essential that systems requiring authentication be developed properly.
  • Projects developed must adhere to LTS standards for:
    • Web standards
      • Accessibility, valid HTML and CSS, etc.
    • Design
      • Template use, UW-Eau Claire style guide, appropriate use of brand toolkit
    • Coding
      • File naming, authentication, dataset calls, documentation, variable declaration, etc.
    • Documentation
      • System documentation, user documentation, help, contact information, etc.

Lifelong care

Once a site has been placed in production, the development does not end. Someone must be identified as caretaker of the project. If a caretaker is not available and the system malfunctions, one of two things will occur:

  1. The system will be taken off-line until corrections are made
  2. If this is a mission-critical system, LTS Web Development staff will make corrections. The client agrees to be billed at the current rate per hour for application development based on actual time spent on corrections.

Normally, LTS Development does not charge for development services. In this case, a charge will be required because we may need to hire additional developers to backfill other projects while we address a mission-critical application.

Project Lifespan

All systems have a life-span. At some point, a conversion of the system may need to occur, based on changes in server technologies, Web hosting environment or scripting languages. If a conversion is needed, the client will be notified and must determine the type of staffing to be used. If this is a mission critical system and the client does not provide the staff, LTS Web Development staff will perform the conversion and the client agrees to be billed at the current rate per hour for application development.

Developer Qualifications

In order to ensure prudent use of campus resources, we require that a developer not employed by LTS Development can demonstrate that he or she has the necessary skills to develop an application. This helps to ensure the eventual success of the project in development.

Students and staff must be able to demonstrate database and application development skills by providing code samples for our review or have met all of the following conditions:

  • have attained a passing grade in an IS or CS database course
  • have attained a passing grade in an IS or CS application development course
  • Have a basic understanding of UW-Eau Claire Web Development guidelines including accessibility.

One year of active development in Ruby on Rails or another MVC framework with database experience is strongly recommended in order to successfully develop an application for campus use. While we can (and want) to help you be successful, we have limited resources available to teach you how to develop stable production applications.

Third-party Applications

Requests for installation of third-party applications must be negotiated. The software in question must go through a selection process and must be qualified based on (at a minimum) the following criteria:

  • Must be tested and run acceptably in the server environment currently available
  • If an application has needs beyond our server environment, funding and staffing needs will be identified. The application will only be qualified if those needs can be met
  • Must meet standards for Web accessibility
  • Must meet standards for browser compatibility
  • Must meet security and privacy standards
  • A standard Server SLA must be signed by LTS and the client

Exceptions

  • Not all requests fit nicely into this model. Size and importance of projects, staff constraints and other issues may cause exceptions to these guidelines. Exceptions will be evaluated by the Software Systems team.

Questions about application development?

Call 715-836-3768 or send an email message to Matt Sias, siasmj@uwec.edu.

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.