Blog posts you say? What in the world are those you ask? Well let me tell you, they are going to be the bane of your existence this semester if you allow them to be. My goal in creating this post is to make the process of creating these darn things as smooth as possible for you. I will try to lay out as much as I can, so buckle up and relax, cause we might be here for a while.
Why Blog Posts?
These posts aren’t here to make this semester even tougher on you, they serve quite an important purpose. These blog posts will basically provide a chronological history of your work over the semester. They are intended to capture the evolution of returning projects over several semesters. In addition, and this is probably overlooked, it provides a space where other students, professionals, and even potential employers can analyze and learn from the work being done by you. And finally, it gives you the students the ability to analyze, review, and learn from work done by students from previous semesters.
What to Blog?
Your blog posts will consist of this or that and everything in between. To be more specific, you will be posting about:
System and Subsystem Models: Mathematical, Computer Simulations, Scale Models, Physical Models
Mistakes, how they were discovered and how they were overcome
And everything else!
Now I know this seems daunting at first, but do not worry, you should be given a task matrix on all the tasks that will need to be done, in order to achieve a successful demo at the end of the semester. You will have certain tasks assigned to you, which when completed, you will have to create a blog post about. So how do you create this post you ask? Well, I am glad you asked…kinda.
Getting Started with Arxterra
Before we dive into how to format a blog post, let us first go over who and how you will be posting them.
Over the semester, each group and group member will be assigned to a certain task, within the task matrix. It is the duty of whoever is assigned to that task to get it done, obviously, but it is also their responsibility to write up the blog post pertaining to that certain task. However, Project Managers and the Quality Assurance Engineer will be the only ones with the ability to edit and create posts on the actual site, Arxterra. Therefore, whoever is assigned the task, completes it, creates a document of the blog post, preferably Word, then sends it to their respective PM. The PM verifies its contents and is then the one who actually creates a draft of the blog post on the site. The Q/A however, whos job is to approve of the posts formatting, is the only one who can actually publish the post, basically making it officially up on the site for all to see. For a more in depth look at this approval procedure, click here.
Making an Account
So as we have gone over, only PMs and the Q/A can create and edit posts on the actual site. With this in mind, they are the only ones who will need to create accounts on Arxterra, the site. They will be achieve this by doing the following:
Visiting the site at www.arxterra.com
Clicking on “My Account” and then “Register”
Figure 1: Arxterra Home Page, Showing “My Account” Tab
Now with your account made, you should see a black/grey box appear at the top of your browser window, hover over to the “Arxterra” tab, then click “Dashboard”.
Figure 2: Arxterra Home Page, with the “Arxterra” tab Displayed
From here, you will be able to view all previous semesters blog posts and create new blog post drafts by clicking on the “Posts” tab on the left of the screen. To create a new blog post, simply select “Add New”.
Figure 4: Arxterra Post Page, Displaying “Add New” Tab
Now, from this window, this is where you will be creating and formatting your posts, so expect to be spending quite a bit of time here. From here, there are are many tools at your disposal. The two editors you have to use are either the “Default Editor” or the “Advanced Layout Editor”. The latter being a bit harder to use but allows you for much more control of how your post will look. From the default window, which would be of the “Default Editor”, there is the “Advanced Layout Editor” button, which once accessed, will display the many elements you can use when formatting your post. However, when creating your first post, I would recommend using a template, the “General Blog Post Template”, which will give you a nice layout to get you going. To access this template, click on the “Template” tab just below the display of elements, then from its drop-down window, choose “General Blog Post Template”.
Figure 5:”Default Editor” Window, with “Advanced Layout Editor” Displayed
Figure 6: “Advanced Layout Editor” Elements, with “Templates” Tab Displayed
Figure 7: “General Blog Post Template” Access Displayed
Now with this template opened up, you can now begin creating your blog post. All posts should follow the formatting of this template or very close to it.
Figure 8: The “General Blog Plost Template”
All posts will need to follow a specific formatting. An example post displaying the correct form of formatting, which was created using the template, can be viewed here. In addition, the top blog post mistakes and general guidelines can be accessed here. A couple more formatting guidelines are listed below:
Blog post title specifies semester, year, and project name
Example: Spring 2033: WonderCraft Trade-Off Studies
All posts need to be verified by the PM, approved by the Q/A
Their statements of verification/approval will be stated below the author of the post
Need to have a table of contents, specified by the “toc” command, which should be specified after the Author/Verification/Approval statements
All equations, calculations, tables, and graphs should be screenshots, which are numbered and annotated
Center all included images
Have all References/Resources links numbered and located only in your References/Resources section, which will be the last section of your post
Make sure all included links are accessible
All lists need to be bulleted or numbered
Have Figure, Equation, Table, and Graph numbering separate from each other. For example, you can have a Figure 1, a Table 1, and an Equation 1
All posts should be categorized on the site
And this can not be stressed enough, correct all spelling and grammar issues, so, proofread
Keep in mind that a future employer could read your post. You would probably want to express the idea that you know the difference between to and too
As specified in the blog post, “Top 10 Blog Post Mistakes“, all posts will need to have a squared featured photo accompanying them on the site. This photo adds a visual to the title of your post. For ideas, the teaser photo can be unique, or a small section or version of a larger photo that appears in the blog post.
Creating your Featured Image
When creating your featured photo, keep in mind it needs to be squared and compressed. To achieve this, a compression software can be used, such as Caesium – Image Compressor. I would recommend the use of this software because it is free and very simple to use, but any image compressor software can be used. I personally downloaded Caesium off of sourceforge.net. To create a featured photo using this software, simply follow these steps:
Add the picture you want to compress and/or resize using the “Add Pictures” tab in the top left or the “Add” function on the bottom left
Make sure your photo is selected/highlighted within the window
Under “Compression Options” on the bottom left, set the Quality to 80, hit “Set Quality”
Check the “Resize” box at the bottom, then change the “Width” and “Height” values to 144 px (squaring it)
DO NOT CHECK “Keep Aspect Ratio”
Click “Apply” just below the “Resize” checkbox, this new dimension, displayed under the “New Size” column, will now be applied to your photo
Specify your output folder on the bottom right, this is where your new compressed photos will be placed
Check the “Remember last folder” box
Hit “Compress” at the bottom right
Your new image size and resolution quantities will now be displayed at the top
Figure 9: Caesium Software Main Window, Points of Interest Displayed
Uploading Your Featured Image
The job of actually uploading the featured image will fall under the Project Managers. To upload the image, navigate to the “Add New” post window, which was explained earlier. From this window, scroll down and locate the “Featured Image” tab, which should be on the right. From here:
Click the tab “Set featured image”
From the new window, select “Upload Files”
Select and upload the featured photo you created
Make sure the image is 144×144 (squared)
Select “Set Featured Image”
Make sure the “Don’t display image on single post” box is checked
Your featured image will now be displayed along your post
Figure 10: Upload File Window, with Points of Interest Displayed
Figure 11: Make Sure this Box is Checked
Figure 12: Featured Photo Accompanying Post
Selecting A Category
All your posts should be given a category, in which they will be displayed to on the site. The “Category” tab is located on the right of the screen, of the “Add New” window of Arxterra.
Figure 13: The “Categories” Tab
Advanced Layout Elements
Here, I will go over the two basic Advanced Layout elements you will mostly use when creating a post on the site.
Mostly all the elements you will be using are located under the “Content Elements” tab
You simply drag and drop the element you want to use into the editing window
“Special Heading” is used to create, well, a special heading. You should use it to specify the different sections of your post, such as the Introduction, Body, Conclusion, and References
Within its window, you can specify the section title, heading type and style, which a preview will be displayed on the right
Important: When selecting the heading type, keep in mind that “H1” will be displayed as main sections within your table of contents, while the subsequent heading types will be displayed as subsections
For example, “H3” will be displayed as a subsection of “H2”, which will be displayed as a subsection within a section specified under an “H1” heading type
Figure 14: Special Heading Window
“Text Block” is where you will place the bulk of the content for your posts
Here you have access to functions found similarly on Word
You can bold, italicize, create bullet points, create links, and add images within its window
A preview of what you are placing into that “Text Block” will be displayed on the right
To include tables, click the Table icon
Indicate the table size by clicking on one of the squares
The cells and table can be customized by clicking “Table Properties,” or “Table Cell Properties.” Make sure to check the box next to “Caption” in Table Properties. After pressing ok, you can edit the caption by typing in the dotted lines above the table.
Figure 15: Indicate the Table Size by Clicking the Cell
Figure 16: Cell is Changed to Header Cell Type
Figure 17: Check the Caption Box to Create a Table Caption. Then press OK.
Figure 18: Edit the Table Caption by Typing in the Dotted Section Above the Table
To place images, click “Add Media”
From this window, select a file to upload, and make sure to include a caption for your image, which will include the Figure # and a brief annotation
Before clicking “Insert Into Post,” scroll down to see the Attachment Display Settings. Make sure that the image is centered and that the size is appropriate for the blog post layout. You may need to preview the blog post multiple times before the image is to your liking.
Figure 19: Text Block Window, with “Add Media” Displayed
Figure 20: “Add Media” Window, with here to Place Your Caption Displayed
Figure 21: After scrolling down, the layout for the image can be edited.
Videos are a great addition to the blog posts. To include a video, you will need to upload it YouTube, and simply include a link. When the blog post is created, the link will allow the viewer to open the video in a new window.
Upload your video to youtube or upload to Arxterra Google Drive Folder
Insert a Video Block
Insert Link to Video
Blog posts should never repeat something that has been previously posted. If you are using calculations from a previous semester’s blog post, simply include a link to the post that contains the information.
Your blog posts should contain new information only. Any work that has been previously completed, datasheets, retailers, etc., can simply be linked to.
To add a link simply press:
Final Remark on Procedure
The basic gist of the timeline of creating to the uploading of a blog post is as follows:
A task is assigned, to a company member, from the task matrix
Whoever was assigned the task, works on it
They create a blog post updating as they complete the task
Once finished, they notify their PM to check the document
PM verifies the content, checks again if the correct format/layout is used
PM then submits the post for review
Q/A then reviews it and the post is published or it is not
The Q/A will pass the post back to “draft” if it lacks proper formatting or publishes to the site
If passed back to draft it will be up to the member and the PM to correct
Again, a more in depth look at the interaction between PM and Q/A can be found here, under “Future Review Procedure”.
Figure 21: Menu PMs Will See to Submit for Review
Project Manager Checklist
Blog Post includes a Featured Image.
Blog Post includes Authors name and position.
All photos have been resized, compressed, and have a resolution of 72dpi.
Photos, tables, graphs, are labeled and have explanatory text.
Text within an image or table is readable
Blog post does not include material from a previous post. If you are using calculations from a previous semester’s blog post, simply include a link to the post that contains the information. There are exceptions to this rule. If you are not sure ask the instructor.
All photos are original to the project.
Images, including screen captures of tables, are readable.
Make sure to proofread to catch any English, typos, and other errors.
Look for Plagiarism
Only post to your area
Only upload individual photos once (Delete extra copies)
Use the preview function so you can view what the post will look like when it goes live. This will allow you to make any final corrections or changes.
To conclude this, well, I hope you paid attention. You may not realize this now, but these blog posts are quite essential to the class. I hope this blog post will help relieve a bit of the headache they can potentially cause. Just stay on top of them, follow the format, get them published by their due date, and you should be all right.