28 Oct 11 Our first sites are live in Drupal−check them out now!

ALA Migration Report Logo


On Wednesday, October 19 we reached two truly significant milestones in the ALA Migration to Drupal project. We soft-launched the first phase of single-sign-on (read more, below) powered by Shibboleth and the PLA website in Drupal. Although the process hasn’t been without a few bumps, this Thursday we launched ALSC, ALSConnect Online, LLAMA and I Love Libraries. We owe a debt of thanks to the various vendors who helped us get to this point, but that’s going to be a separate blog post, when I have time to breathe.

The Bumps in the Road, or What We Learned During the Test Migrations

We’ve analyzed the server activity and developed an alternative approach to use for the process that was taking the live site to its knees when new sites were being added . Our thanks go out to early adopter PLA, as they bore the brunt of it while we were trying to get the next batch of sites onto the live server this week. With any luck, we won’t see this behavior during subsequent migrations–a good thing as we have 5 down and about 55 to go.

There’s also a known bug that’s preventing the site caches from clearing immediately when new content is added or existing content is updated for unauthenticated users. In human-speak, that means that our early adopter editors are making changes that won’t be seen right away by anyone who’s  not logged in. The fix for the bug will be rolled out early next week during our next round of updates.

About 5 to 10 staff and vendors working on the migration have go-live responsibilities. The flurry of emails when we were taking four sites live in quick succession was overwhelming.  For future go-lives, we’ll be using a chat session to keep everyone in touch in real time, and asking our site reviewers to send information directly to me rather than Redmine during go-lives, so I can act as a gatekeeper and pass along only the problems that the team hasn’t already noticed.

It’s also better if we allow ourselves at least an hour between site migrations to take care of anything that requires immediate attention on the newly migrated site, and to make sure we have the Shibboleth login in place before we drop the rules into place that make the site visible and direct traffic to it.

Now that we’ve learned from our early adopter migrations, it’s time to talk about what, or who’s next.

Who’s next?

Next week we’ll be taking all the round tables, AASL, ALTAFF, ASCLA, LITA and  RUSA into review, with go-lives staggered on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of November. If you’re a reviewer, I’ll be sending updated information out about what to note in Redmine this weekend.

What Shibbolizing Means to Members

While single-sign-on will ultimately make it possible to to login to any ALA resource with the same username and password and to move seamlessly between various resources during the same browser session without having to re-enter information, it will take us time to get all the various resources shibbolized (set up in Shibboleth). For now, only the website, whether serving from Collage or Drupal, is shibbolized. To help you recognize them, resources using Shib have a login page that you can see if you click the Login link on  A member (or any site visitor with an account, such as a non-member who has registered for an event) can login on PLA, then move to ALA or ALSC, for example, either in the same tab or another tab.

Login Tip: When you move to another site in our multi-site Drupal installation, you won’t immediately see a logged in view. You must click on the Login link in the upper right, and it will acknowledge your earlier login in that browser by recognizing you.

Logout Alert: With shibbolized resources, when you logout, you have only logged out from the local resource of the tab you’re in. Even if your other tabs or windows aren’t open to ALA resources, you will still be logged in to ALA. Those logging in from public or shared computers should note that Shib will not completely log you out until you exit your browser by closing it.

For now, keep in mind that only the main ALA website, along with the division sub-sites and I Love Libraries have been shibbolized. As additional ALA resources are ready, we’ll announce them here and tag them with the Shibbolized Resource Announcement tag, so that there’s one place to track them all.

Thanks to Rob Berquist, ITTS’ Internet Administrator, who has really made all of these improvements possible. Yay, Rob!


Louise Gruenberg | ALA Sr. Usability Officer | Information Technology & Telecommunication Services