Architecture of the NAWCC Online Systems
This section will cover the basic structure of online systems and terminology. We will cover sessions, users, guests, visitors, access, permissions and recognition as those terms apply to these systems.
Common Terms for online systems
- When a user follows a link on the Internet the site that is visited creates a structure using the services of the sites internet server software (i.e. apache on Linux or IIS on windows), to create a session. The session represents that new connection. Typically the server will only know the address of the system requesting the service. You can find out what address the servers see from your workstation by using an Internet utility such as MyIP.com. As the user engages the services of the server, session variables are created as encrypted secure values to allow the system to interact with the connection.
Guest - Many online systems and in particular iMIS and XenForo refer to the unidentified human who is operating the workstation as a guest. Guest is a technical term on these systems describing a user that has no permanent presence on the system and is only known by their ip address.
If the guest provides identification information to the system, they are given another variable value that the XenForo System calls visitor. Visitor applies to any user who has registered with the system's database. The iMIS system also knows that a person has been registered and uses a membership class name for the user. The default value on our NAWCC iMIS system is Web-Nonmember for any new person who registers without enrolling for membership on the system.
Group - Everyone who registers on an online system will be assigned to one or more groups. The largest functional difference between the systems is how these groups are managed. In general the groups have specific permissions to perform actions on the system, access to content on the system and recognition to describe any special relationship they may have with the system. Recognition may apply to the organization itself or the software's presentation of user information or both.
Access refers to the ability to use display services and read material online. Access is usually freely given to Guests as well as Visitors unless the ability to view the material requires an additional subscription of some kind. If the users needs access beyond that of a guest, they must be registered on a system that controls the access. The three major NAWCC systems each provide access controls to some of the content. They must have at least visitor level recognition and may require additional group credentials to access particular material.
Permissions are attributes of a Group and are the basic reason for the existence of groups. On the XenForo system it is customary to have every user who is registered on the system be a member of the group with all the common permissions. On our forum system this is the "Registered User" group. If the Registered User is also a dues paying member of the NAWCC, they are also a member of the NAWCC group. If they have responsible for moderating discussions in the Forums and other content areas, they are also members of the Moderators group and so on. Each group adds permissions for the particular group.
The iMIS system uses a different mechanism for managing permissions. iMIS licensing is based on the particular features in use and the concept of a full user who has access in principle to all the purchased features. Members of staff who do not need to modify core records as part of the job are licensed as casual users and may view almost all the content, but may not modify it. Finally Public users are those people who correspond to Visitors on the XenForo system. There are a number of attributes of a Contact record that may be used to create a permission group and that group is associated with the query that defines it. The NAWCC primarily distinguishes between contacts who are current dues paying members with a paid-thru date in the future and have a status of Active. Some paid up members have offenses recorded in their account that must be cleared before they return to Active status.
Contacts who are not current active members are Inactive Members if the have been members in the past.
Contacts who have created accounts but never paid membership dues are mostly Web-Nonmember. Some of these are contacts/visitors who have used the Forum system for some period of time, while others have registered on the site to purchase items in the store or donate to the cause. A group called FOR has been created to recognize contact records for those who are active in the Forum community.
Interactive Functions and Services
The main site provides search facilities that relate to the information they are able to present. In particular the Index to the Watch & Clock Bulletin provides a search facility that can be used to locate articles by author name and selected keywords that were chosen at the time the bulletin issue was originally indexed. It does not have a full text search capability but that is planned for the relatively near future. Hamilton and Waltham watch ledger books have been stored as page images and are searchable by a hand generated database of serial numbers and other characteristics. The user of these facilities may see the pages scanned from the handwritten ledgers that contain the information on the watches that interest them. These resources and those available from other horological enterprises are planned for inclusion at some future date.
The Membership System and the Forums are primarily interactive and their service subsystems are described in the sections below.
There are two types of account management used by the NAWCC Systems. The personal accounting system on the Net server handles individual account subscriptions for NAWCC dues paying members and all other actions where the member is the primary focus, such as enrollment in training. Fund raising and membership characteristics and awards. The iMIS system also tracks committees and chapter membership with both officers and member lists.
The Forum system tracks all member content and records level of activity. It also carries the membership, committee and award information from the iMIS system and displays tags showing a subset of those with the person's identification when they post content.
Committees of all kinds may have private forums where they can use the discussion and reply mechanism to record the activity of the committee. Access to that information is based on the users committee membership and management of the committees is the responsibility of the committee officers. Committee Forums are created on request from the committee chair or NAWCC officers responsible for the committee such as the BOD Chair ir Executive Director of the NAWCC.
Forum users may or may not be NAWCC Members and all have the ability to manage their personal information and their interactions with other users of the forums.