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Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

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Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby strangelove » Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:35 am

I have an early prototype of a journal web site at iipj.org. I wish to make use of the OJS system, but have it integrated into my own web site's front end. Is this possible? Is it a complicated matter? Can you point me to some examples of a journal that uses OJS but does not make use of the OJS templates?

Again, thank you,

Dr. Strangelove
University of Ottawa
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Re: Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby strangelove » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:43 pm

While it took a solid nine days of mistakes, gross mistakes, and some steep climbing up a dozen learning curves, but I now have two prototypes running:


[EDIT] A new day a new problem: Still faced with unresolved Duplicate Enter ... Key 1 errors and cannot log in.

A week ago I never touched databases, looked at css templates, or .php files. Anyway, to the point. COMMENTS ON THE FOLLOWING PLEASE:

My intention is to use the /ojs site as the low-bandwidth version and as the admin/editorial backend.

I am not really in a position to say this, but OJS strikes me as excellent in the back end, but very limited for creating a full feature, multimedia web site that easily integrates forums and features such as phpBB.

My plan is to see if it is possible, in the long run, to integrate the information and articles that OJS produces seamlessly into the front end, so as to avoid noodley business of moving articles and new information from the OJS platform to the Joomla frontend (and I am talking about a very long term here -- I am no coder).

I am working under a few (possibly quite mistaken) assumptions:

CMS systems such as Joomla and Drupal have much much larger development and support communities which produce more features, modules, expansions and templates.

OJS lacks an interface for sophisticated and easy design of the front end (the design template).

By combining the two --- Joomla (or Drupral) and OJS -- I am either:

    A. wasting a lot of time
    B. getting the best journal management system and expanded front end features with (as in the case of Joomla) reasonably easy out of the box template design capabilities.

No criticism of OJS is intended here -- I am totally sold on its unique character and utility. Nonetheless, OJS appears to have little by way of out-of-the-box design features for those of us who are not template cracks and css coders. I see some interesting stuff being done with OJS, but from a design and feature point of view, it seems like academic journals are, for the most part, stodgy, stuck in the late 1990s (as far as web design goes), and unimaginative regarding the possibilities that the web offers for the transformation of what a journal can be. Yet this may be a gross overstatement.

Is anyone aware of another ejournal that uses OJS for the back end and some other cms product for the front end.

Dr. Strangelove
University of Ottawa
http://www.strangelove.com
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Re: Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby asmecher » Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:09 pm

Hi Dr. Strangelove,

Integrating applications is very tricky -- we don't want to take on the kinds of features that Drupal and Joomla might offer, which leads to a few tricky problems for users who want to use both. The approach I would recommend is to allow them to co-exist. If you're handy with CSS, it should be possible to theme several apps to look similar while avoiding the need to heavily modify each. This will pay off massively when it comes time to update either application to a newer release. Alternately, if you would prefer to use OJS for workflow but publish using another application, I would suggest looking into automating the process of extracting finished documents from OJS. You can do this in a number of ways -- an import/export or gateway plugin in OJS, some equivalent in Joomla, or a separate tool that shuttles database between the two at the database level. However, this will mean you'll lose a number of features OJS makes available to readers -- searching and indexing, reading tools, etc.

We've spoken within the team about making the reader interface more dynamic and have circulated some suggestions; if you have some specific ideas, we'd be delighted to hear them.

Let me know if you've got any further questions.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team
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Re: Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby strangelove » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:59 pm

Good points. I see a need (in the field this journal will be published in) for a low bandwidth site for some time to come, so I think it will be best to keep the iipj.org/ojs site as the plain jane version of iipj.org. You are right to point out upgrading issues. Over time I will work on acquiring "an import/export or gateway plugin in OJS, some equivalent in Joomla" -- I suspect that Joomla! has some plugins that will enable imports of xml (?) or other file formats. In the meantime, the site will be fairly low volume as far as actual published articles, so it should not be too much trouble to manually update the main Joomla site (http://www.iipj.org) with the main context (peer-reviewed articles) from http://www.iipj.org/ojs. So both sites will coexist, with OJS supplying the back-end management features, reader features, and academic indexing services (etc) while Joomla provides an opportunity to explore a robust platform for web site development (if indeed it does so...).

Thanks,

Michael

[EDIT] To see the results and progress of the attempt to integrate OJS into an existing web site, see http://www.iipj.org
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Re: Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby BHD » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:47 am

I'd like to pick up on this point of Strangelove's:

OJS appears to have little by way of out-of-the-box design features for those of us who are not template cracks and css coders. I see some interesting stuff being done with OJS, but from a design and feature point of view, it seems like academic journals are, for the most part, stodgy, stuck in the late 1990s (as far as web design goes), and unimaginative regarding the possibilities that the web offers for the transformation of what a journal can be.


I had the same response, and came on this thread while googling around to find out about discussion of integrating OJS as a module within Drupal. I'll preface the below by admitting that I'm fairly ignorant of OJS and the OJS community. That said ...

To me OJS has the domain-specific knowledge and functionality (for managing, in particular, submission and review), but Drupal has the generic infrastructure: blogs, standard user authentication and roles, commenting, trivial support for OpenID, Atom, etc., excellent theming support. All of these features SHOULD be in a 21st century eJournal, at least as an easy-to-turn-on option. And the RDF support coming in Drupal 7 will open up a lot of possibilities for scholarly use cases.

So notwithstanding any technical issues about integration, I'm a little surprised by the notion that OJS should remain a monolithic application (Alec's "we don't want to take on the kinds of features that Drupal and Joomla might offer" comment). Surely you can see that that kind of functionality may well be exactly where open access journals can and should innovate? It seems to me commenting of articles (and maybe drafts) should be a default feature, that blogs for editors might make a lot of sense, etc. And of course it makes no sense for the OJS community to have to build out all this support. But then that seems to make the case for paring down OJS and integrating it with a more generic solution stronger?

Perhaps not, but just wanted to ask.

Also, a general aside: in looking around at example sites, I'm noting there's still far too much emphasis on PDF. It's in part this focus that limits the possibilities for open access journals.

For background: I'm a scholar, and so a potential promoter of and contributor to open access journals. I'm also very interested in contemporary web technologies, in part as a way to make that happen. And I come to this question in part because of some recent contentious discussions in my discipline about open access.
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Re: Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby asmecher » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:23 am

Hi BHD,

Rather than expanding our own code to include a lot of features that already exist in other mature apps -- comprehensive forum support, blogging, etc. -- it would be better to focus our attention on the things that OJS does best and build bridges to other open source apps for the rest. We've started this with OpenAds, for example, and hope to start refactoring some major parts of the system to allow better integration with other apps. This means OJS will be a much more nimble application and users will have a lot more choice about how they deploy it, e.g. in combination with other well-known applications such as Drupal and Joomla.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team
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Re: Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby fgoertzen » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:50 am

Hey Everyone,

I've been developing PHP applications for 5 years which have included customization for Drupal and Joomla, as well as developing a multi-tenant CMS from scratch. And I have to say that it's a much wiser choice to build bridges to other applications/platforms/services than rebuild/mimic functionality that already exists.

That being said I also have a library of design/template modules (Token Template Editing, Basic Image Editing(Resize, Crop, Caption) , HTML Editor..etc) which I hope to integrate into the OJS system to smooth out the front end administration.
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Re: Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby bytefree » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:34 pm

Well there are some very good suggestions here already, but instead of trying to adapt OJS to work with Joomla or Drupal, what about trying to adapt one of them to work with OJS? The design of Joomla and Drupal is to allow for easy add-on development, and probably some module or plugin can be made for one of those that can integrate it with OJS to allow them both to function concurrently and share info.
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Re: Integrating OJS into an existing web site front end?

Postby mbria » Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:32 pm

subscribing to follow the discussion.
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