NASA to unify Web sites

NASA will shortly collect its myriad Web sites under one portal and give them all a common look and feel, said Brian Dunbar, Internet services manager for NASA's Office of Public Affairs.

NASA CIO Patricia Dunnington and assistant administrator for public affairs Glenn Mahone announced the consolidation last month in a memo.

'We have thousands of Web pages,' Dunbar said. 'It's hard to go from one site to another in a natural chain.'

Dunbar will head up the consolidation effort with Nitin Naik, who is an associate chief technology officer for the CIO office.

Since each NASA center now maintains its own Web pages, each site now has a distinct look and feel. NASA administrators felt that the stylistic diversity under the nasa.gov domain was becoming too unwieldy. The portal will provide a common look and feel for all the sites.

In addition to establishing a unified format, the agency will establish a set of directories linked off the home page that will compile information across different centers'a service the agency now lacks. The portal will offer 'Best Of' sections specifically compiled for children, researchers, vendors and other groups.

Dunbar said that the agency hasn't decided yet whether each center would continue to manage their own sites'by using page templates'or if they would submit the information to headquarters to post. But any new content that a NASA officer produces should be formatted with the portal style, the memo directed.

In addition to matters of style, changes are also afoot in NASA Web addressing. Now, NASA assigns subdomains to each center. For instance, 'www.grc.nasa.gov' returns the home page for NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and 'www.gsfc.nasa.gov' returns the page for the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

That approach may be discarded in favor of using subdirectories, i.e. Glenn will be accessed via 'www.nasa.gov/grc,' Dunbar said.

The public will start to see changes within a few months. At first the agency will change the top-level pages to conform to the new look, and then work on the deeper links, Dunbar said.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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