By Rob FinfrockIn the interests of future support and functionality, the Citation Jet Pilots Owner Pilot Association recently ported its seven-year-old web site over to a new operating system. Although the actual transition took place in late April, CJP IT Administrator Mark Tschetter explained the upgrade process actually began more than a year ago.
“One of our first steps was to add a separate development server, so that any changes could be tested separately from the main site before pushing them live,” he said. “We also had the formidable task of determining the many functions performed by the site.”
Far more than simply a web portal for access to the Member forums, the CJP web site accommodates a broad range of features accessible to aircraft owner and non-owner members, CJP leadership, sponsors, and vendors. The site also manages accounting information about membership activities and dues payment, and provides online registration access for CJP events.
“It’s a tool for the entire organization,” Tschetter added. “It would have been much easier to start from scratch and simply create an all-new site, but of course we couldn’t do that. There were a lot of rules and methods to be considered for preserving that data on a better-engineered, and more streamlined, site.”
The team also faced a hard deadline of July 2015, when Microsoft will end support for Windows Server 2003. “The old site would have been a ticking time bomb after that without security patches and upgrade support,” Tschetter noted. “We needed to migrate each bit of data from the old site before that date, including past forum posts containing a wealth of important information for owners and members. We also wanted to preserve and maintain the Member experience with the new operating system.”
With the new site going live April 23, Tschetter conceded that the end result hasn’t been without some minor headaches. A bug affecting the Forum Email Settings became apparent early, with some Members receiving instant email notifications for forum posts – ALL forum posts – by default.
The new interface also lacks some minor functionality that Members had grown accustomed too, including support for emoticons and HTML editing functionality in forum messages, though Tschetter quickly noted he expects to add these features back soon in a future dev release.
However, the upgrade also brought several enhancements, including greatly improved mobile device functionality (the site now looks much better on a smartphone or iPad) with additional improvements to the “Citations in Flight” and Members maps. Future upgrades will ease management of forum posts and content, and provide support for the launch of the Russ Meyer Citation Library online reference tool.
“This is far from the end result,” Tschetter concluded, “but it is a much sturdier foundation on which to build CJP’s web presence over the next decade.”