Fermilab Today Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

New CMS website is easy on the eyes and efficient

Members of the CMS collaboration officially switched to their new website this month. The site now functions as a single portal to all the experiment's public and internal web pages.

CMS has about 3,000 members and about 1,000 official websites. Anyone can make one; few take them down.

"It's all a bit chaotic," said CMS Head of Communication Lucas Taylor. Nine months ago the collaboration asked him to create a new web portal using a modern content management system.

For years members of the experiment have been creating documents, detailing all aspects of CMS since its construction began, and posting them online. While 280,000 were already stored securely, a similar number were scattered over numerous systems. The CMS Communications Group is systematically harvesting these documents and storing them in the DocDB database, developed by Fermilab. So far 123,000 documents have been secured in this way.

Google analytics showed that the previous public website lacked viewers for many of its pages.

"Ninety percent of our public content was almost never looked at," Taylor said. "And most of our hits are the latest news."

He took the cue. Now the public homepage is based on news websites like the BBC's, with regularly updated stories. Noting that the old site pre-dated any physics results, the Communications Group created an interactive graph of published papers from different CMS groups over time for the new portal.

The most important part of the overhaul has been "to get control of our huge knowledge base," Taylor said. Future researchers, not to mention current ones, will need reliable access to the hundreds of thousands of CMS documents. That will require safe storage and sensible organization for all of them. So, the work continues.

"I'm under no illusions that we'll ever be completely finished with this process," Taylor said. "But the new CMS web portal is already a major improvement."

Amy Dusto

Fermi National Accelerator - Office of Science / U.S. Department of Energy | Managed by Fermi Research Alliance, LLC.
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