Welcome to UMRA's Website (updated November 1, 2016)

We expect you will find your way around, and find that much of the information content is current, and of broader interest than the previous generations.  In large part, that is because much of the new site content is being directly provided by those who create it, instead of having to pass through multiple hands before being posted by the volunteer webmaster – which usually happened in a big batch once a month. 

A Few Tips for Using the Site

  • Much of the content shows up as announcements or events.  These appear as brief excerpts that expand when you click on their heading
  • Everything shown in underlined maroon is a link.  Clicking on the link takes you to the full story, and your browsers "back arrow" brings you back to the page you were on.
  • Most of the content was transferred from the old site, and new content has been added and will continue to be complete and more timely. 

A Brief History (by co-Webmasters David Naumann & Cathy Lee Gierke)

In January, 2010, former UMRA President Ron Anderson, then the webmaster, wrote a proposal to the board describing a website that included "an online membership database."  After I (Naumann) took over from him in January, 2011, I elaborated on his concept with a more detailed design document, which was presented to the Board in Summer, 2013.  Little implementation was begun until Fall, 2013, when I and two volunteers began prototyping and testing the database design.   During that time, the U of M made a major commitment to a standardized website development environment named "Drupal," which was targeted for availability in early 2014.  Of course it took a bit longer.

 By fall of 2014, our volunteer crew, by then up to 4 persons, began learning and experimenting with Drupal.  By May, 2015, we had a basic implementation and a few pages we wanted to keep, and that brings us to September, 2015.

 A Completion Plan

This static portion of our website was turned on, “went live” September 15, 2015.  There are already quite a number of corrections and improvements on our list, but we generally know how to fix them when we find them.  The current task on the "front-end" is to document and show and help UMRA leaders who create information how to add it to the website with no direect involvement by either of us. As this is written, in November, 2016, that is still a work in process.

 The database portion of the project, the "back-end," is much more complex.  We are releasing "services" one or a few at a time, after lengthy and thorough testing.  Our "defect list" count has been in the 30-40 range for a while, but enough bugs were repaired and tested that we confidently went live with online member logins, online member record editing, and both new member joining and existing member renewal online beginning July 21, 2016.  This was 2 weeks later than the normal start for renewals, but Database Manager Virgil Larson did not expect it would be a problem.  

We were happy to see that nearly half of those joining or renewing did so online. For November, 2016, we added online luncheon reservations. The remaining online service will be an online directory so that members can select contact information of other members, and generate member lists.  We expect to have this working sometime during Spring semester.

We are currently documenting issues that should or could be revised or improved in a revision to be completed before July, '17. 

— Dave & Cathy

Our Volunteer Crew and Student Workers

David Naumann, co-webmaster, project manager, and chief designer, who has been working on the project for nearly 5 years, retired faculty from the Carlson School's Information and Decision Sciences Department

Cathy Lee Gierke, co-webmaster, who is doing the lion's share of detailed design, implementation, and documentation of the front-end, retired info tech professional from the Carlson School

Craig Gjerdingen, Application Development Manager at Carlson OIT, project planning and technical advisor on the resources we are employing and on project implementation strategy

Max Fierke, CLA Junior and program designed and coder who is fluent in just about any computer tool needed, Max built most of the back-end