Life after Lawlink
During the summer of 2002 we will switch from Lawlink. While Lawlink has generally served us well, delivering almost six million messages since June of 1999, the system is dated and has technical flaws that make it difficult to maintain. Because Lawlink is such a complex system with many features including email, conferencing, and calendaring we will put several systems into place to repalce it. This article provides brief descriptions of those systems.
Novell Internet Messaging System (NIMS) replaces the email component of Lawlink. The NIMS system provides an excellent webmail client for easy access to email as well as standards-based email access that permits the use of other email clients such as Microsoft Outlook. NIMS integrates directly into our existing network infrastructure. This allows for easier adminstration as only one user account needs to be created to have access to our network resources.
Most users will find the webmail client of NIMS most useful, allowing for full access to email from any web browser. Features of the webmail client include the ability to create vacation messages, create and manage multiple mail folders, addressbooks, a basic calendar, and the ability to filter email through the use of rules. In addition to the webmail client, the IT department will support a single desktop client. Potential clients are currently under review by the faculty computer committee and include Microsoft Outlook, Netscape Communicator, Pegasus, and Eudora.
A strength of Lawlink is its conferencing features. This feature is used by many classes and groups in the law school. In many ways replacing these features offers the greatest challenge in leaving Lawlink.
For class support, faculty have two choices: traditional email lists and Blackboard. Email lists provide basic 'getting information out to the group' functionality, especially when the messages are relatively short and infrequent. For faculty looking to provide a richer online environment for their students including document sharing and conferencing features, the University run Blackboard is recommended.
Specifically for student groups, a web-based conferencing system with email subscription functionality is available. This system provides groups with the ability to reach their constituancies in the most effecient manner. A web-enabled and enhanced version of Law News provides information for students from the law school administration.
Staff communication continues to be handled by email lists with the use of network information shraing were appropriate.
Meeting Maker, available through the University, replaces the group and personal calender features of Lawlink. Using Meeting Maker allows you to schedule your time, propose meetings with others, share your calendar information with others, and publish to the web.
The tentative timeline for the faculty and staff transition from Lawlink is below. Please look it over and send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Based on feedback from the community, a final shedule for the transition will be published on March 1, 2002. More details about the transition will be in next months newsletter. A seperate schedule for students is under development.
Timeline for staff and faculty transition from Lawlink
- March 1 - Installation of NIMS on production server
- March 15 - NIMS ready for production use; all new staff accounts created here, not on Lawlink
- April 1 - Initial volunteer group of staff and faculty 'alpha testers' begin transition process from Lawlink to NIMS
- April 1 - IT staff begin installation of desktop email client
- April 15 - Larger volunteer group of 'beta testers' transition from Lawlink to NIMS
- May 15 - Client installations complete; General transition begins
- July 1 - Transition complete. All faculty and staff now use NIMS