Monday, October 15, 2012

FNIC: Behind the Scenes

By Wendy Baier

             My partner Melissa and I recently completed our first rotation which was with the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC).  While there, we worked specifically with Team Nutrition whose focus is school meals.  It was a wonderful experience and I was able to learn a lot, not only about nutrition resources but also about all of the behind the scenes work that goes into maintaining a database and website. 
            The Team Nutrition website houses thousands of resources for food services professions.  These range from books on managing staff, to large scale recipes, to pictures and posters to hang in schools.  Pretty much every question you have pertaining to school food service, an answer can be found on this website.  But with all of that information at your fingertips, comes a lot of content management.  This was one of our main projects in the six weeks that we spent in FNIC.  

            Our main goals were pretty simple:
1.      Ensure that all information was still current
2.      Edit descriptions and titles
3.      Seek out the newest resources available

An example of the Access entry form
In order to achieve these goals, we were trained on Access and Drupal.  Access is a database program that houses all of the print resources available on the website.  In Access, we were able to make all of the necessary changes for any given resource.  These changes include adding and editing searchable keywords in order to make the site more user friendly.  When our changes were made, the entire database was uploaded to the site to put our corrections into place. 
The Second tool that we were trained on was Drupal, the program used to make live changes on the website itself.  This was used to manage all of the content that was not housed in Access.  One project that we worked on was the “Features of the Month” section.  In addition to general editing, we added new resources using Drupal.  Immediately after our change, it appeared on the website, allowing for immediate feedback.

An example of a Drupal entry form

Learning both of these tools was incredibly helpful and gave us insight into what really goes on when managing a website.  It showed us how easy it can be to make changes, but also how much time is spent on what originally seemed like a small fix.  Based on this experience, my respect and tolerance for websites has greatly increased.  It has also empowered me to work harder on my website and blog.  After working on such a massive website, my personal web pages seem much less intimidating.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh - you really learned some great INFORMATICS tools (drupal and access). And you had a good time doing it. thank you for sharing!