Skip to main content

EdGEL (The Edinburgh Global Experience Language)

One of the most admired frameworks in the world of website and web application design is the BBC Global Experience Language.  It is a set of style guides, principles and tools that shapes the BBC's online presence, providing a common look and feel so that users are unaware they are browsing different web sites under the same brand.

I presume that many private corporations have a similar set of guidelines.  The advantage of the BBC GEL is that it is publically available, so we can see the thinking that has gone into developing it.

At the University of Edinburgh, we have developed a similar set of guidelines, which we call the Edinburgh Global Experience Language (EdGEL).  
EdGEL uses a responsive layout, which adapts to the size of the screen that is displaying the content.  It defines common University branding, including typography, colout theming palettes, and standard behaviours (e.g. if you click on the University logo, the web site will always take you to the University's home page).

At the technical level, EdGEL is implemented in HTML5 and Javascript, using the Bootstrap library.  It also uses the LESS or SASS pre-processors for CSS.

The first deployment of the EdGel was  on the central University Website.  It is also available for other web sites, and Development Services have packaged it to be used with all new web applications as well.

So, over time, most of the University's web presence will migrate to this common framework.  This is one way that we will give all our students, staff, and other users a joined-up view of the University that is focussed on your needs rather than internal structures.


Popular posts from this blog

Changing Principles

In EA, architecture principles set a framework for making architectural decisions.  They help to establish a common understanding across different groups of stakeholders, and provide guidance for portfolios and projects.  Michael Durso of the LSE gave a good introduction to the idea in a webinar last week for the UCISA EA community.

Many organisations take the TOGAF architecture principles as a starting point.  These are based on the four architectural domains of TOGAF: business, information/data, applications, technology/infrastructure.  These principles tend to describe what should be done, e.g. re-use applications, buy in software rather than build it, keep data secure.  See for example the principles adopted at Plymouth University and the University of Birmingham.

Recently though, I encountered a different way of looking at principles.  The user experience design community tend to focus more on how we should do things.  E.g. we should start with user needs, use iterative developm…

Why the UCISA Capability Model is useful

What do Universities do?

This may seem a strange question to ask and the answer may seem obvious.  Universities educate students and undertake research.  And perhaps they work with industrial partners and create spin-off companies of their worn.  And they may work with local communities, and affiliation bodies for certain degress, and they definitely report on their activities to government bodies such as HEFCE.  They provide student services and support.  The longeryou think about it, the more things you can think of that a University does.

In business, the things that an organisation does are called "capabilities", which is a slightly strange term.  I think it is linked to the HR idea of a combination of the CAPacity and ABILITY to do a task.  Whatever the name, it is a useful concept.  A capability is more basic than a process: a University may change the way it educates students but as long as it remains a University it will educate them one way or another.

A capability …

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.

This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…