Is it allowed (Website Design/Award Question)

This year i believe i am going to switch the team site over to PHP NUKE. The reason is because this year i am not going to be able to work on it as much as i did last year, and the new rookies to the team do not have any experience. Due to the fact that i am good at hacking and recoding Nuke (since i have done it for 3 years now on a different website) i will be able to run the website and help teach the new rookies how to code in php a bit, this will also get them ready to maybe write there own next year. But what i need to know is if i were to send it in to be judged for an award would it be judged, or is it in violation of the website rules (which i tried to find but could not find). I know that my team will want to submit it, but i want to make sure that it will be allowed…

Thanks so much for your time…

The Award section tells you the rules for the website criteria (2005). It’s on page 25. I am not a website guy, I don’t know if they will score it or not. But if you read the rules for 2005, you might be able to figure it out. Hope it helps. Good luck. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure what you are asking. Are you asking if PHP Nuke is OK or is your help ok?

The answer, as far as I can tell, is yes and yes as long as the students do the website work. BUT check out the 2006 rules when they are released.


yea, sorry i should have been a bit clearer…

What i was asking was is PHP NUKE allowed, and can it be judged…

And yes, i will def. check the rules once they are released…


Last yea there was no restriction on technology. If it will render then put it up.

The rules say that the site must be completely “student-designed, built, and managed.” Which means approximately *nothing *to anybody that has to read and interpret them, other than “don’t buy a website or let your mentors do anything.” Let’s think about it for a second. Are we to condemn designers that use someone else’s Javascript or forum software under a legitimate license? Of course not is the obvious answer. Most websites that win awards do exactly that, so that’s obviously not what FIRST meant in the rules by ‘student-made’ (and even if it was, it’d be an impossible rule to follow or enforce, plus it would mean FIRST has set incredibly bad precedents in handing out awards). It follows from this logic however, that full website software under a legitimate license must be legal, because there’s no clear distinction. Since things like phpBB and free Javascript code are allowed to be on winning websites, PHP-Nuke must also be allowed.

In other words, there was nothing that said you couldn’t use pre-made portal software in last year’s rules. To add to that, I can personally say with a fair amount of certainty that there won’t ever be one.


I wouldn’t suggest you go that way if your goal is to bring an award home (which it is), because such sites often have little creative effort on the part of students, and when they actually do, FIRST judges don’t notice it. Let’s think seriously and honestly about it. Would you want to enter in a site that is basically already made for you, for which you’ve changed the words and the site template? If the answer is yes, let me tell you, you’re not going to get an award, even if you have all the silly rubric criteria down. I think FIRST is right to frown on these pre-mades as competition websites aimed to exemplify a team and its members’ technical skill. That is the reason the Website Award exists, and I think judges have thus far done a good job of upholding it. In the end it’s your choice. Sites that use portal software have won in the past, but don’t say you weren’t warned if you don’t!

Either way, good luck with your website.

I agree 100% with jonathan, but want I want to add to it is regardless of the technology, the key is content. Work on good content. Don’t let the technology get in the way.

yea i agree also… ok thanks alot, i would rather make it my self, but it really a time issue, and hopefully next year the rookies i teach can make one them self…

I personally would disagree with using PHP Nuke. Just because of the fact its not coded by “rules”… if you go and check page validation just after installing you will get a ton of invalid code errors. Not to mention all the security holes in PHP Nuke.

I would personally go with Mambo… you can do anything you can do with Nuke if not more. Its easy to manage. Its Secure. And its fully valid.

But do note something else with both PHP Nuke and Mambo… if you get any custom modules or components… the code for them may or may not be valid but the CMS itself is.

yea, I have to agree with roboticsguy (aka larry :stuck_out_tongue: ) php nuke does have security holes in it…

Hey, jb, I too am working on a website for my team…now, when you say good content, what are some things that can be considered good? right now I have index (for news and stuff), media, game rules, about us, resources, forums…those are the main parts of my website, should I add/remove anything? ideas appreciated :slight_smile:

Muchos thanks :smiley:

I think a contact us page is a definite must. Also, maybe some sort of “sponsorship opportunities” page. And last, maybe a page with a couple paragraphs that outline how your season went. Finally, a calendar may not be a bad idea too. :slight_smile:

Content is just about anything. Keep it short and interesting. Web readers don’t spend a lot of time reading. Rotate often. A short incomplete list follows.

  • Info about FIRST
  • Info about Game
  • link to newspaper articles about you
  • team history
  • pictures
  • what you are going now
  • Spotlight a student or mentor
  • Spotlight a sponsor
  • talk about what your graduated FIRST students have done
  • Talk about other teams
  • Robots in the news

Lots of stuff qualifies as content.

You are building content to showcase your team and FIRST.

Awesome, I especially like the idea about the calendar =) I never thought of that :smiley: lol

nice I like the list here too =)

Thanks for all the pointers guys :smiley: I’m going to try to incorporate these into the site :smiley:

I know this is an old post i just happened to be exploring… but i have to disagree once again. While yes a CMS makes it easier to manage say content. You still spend LOTS + TONS of time working on the site. Take my teams website. It uses mambo. But i have spent forever modifying, making things work right, adding special stuff, managing it, modifying images, editing code, i could go on and on.

I think that while building a site form the ground up and coding it all yourself is great. I think you can learn a lot more from learning how to modify, fix, add, etc. by using a CMS.

I also think that using a CMS or a template is more of a real world thing these days than building a site form nothing. I mean think about it, do you really think places hard code everything… I think they would have some sort of CMS (GUI) way of editing stuff.

But yes i DO believe you should know the code HTML, PHP, Java script, etc. before using a CMS.

Thats my opinion, just throwing it out there, if someone wants to catch it and form it into there own opinion thats fine, otherwise it can land in a little puddle, lol.

Using a CMS is a good way to start. I started web-designing with PHP-Nuke too, but later I realized that I did not want to use some pre-made scripts to win an award, so I just started coding my own website using primitive PHP coding method. My team’s website is now entirely student-coded, it is not as complex as PHP-Nuke, but it is easier for me to customize…

I’m not sure if the above is really contrary to what I said.

I’d like however, to add that most people (including website judges) would reject your contention that one could “learn a lot more” from chiefly filling in the blanks of a CMS. I’m not going to sugar-coat this: I see no hypothetical situation in which that could possibly occur. And even if one could learn more from a CMS, that’s not what the website is being judged on. Bottom line is I’m presenting the viewpoint website judges have gone by in the past. And it makes sense; it is by its very nature difficult to create a website which adds to the FIRST experience by using a CMS. Is it impossible? Nope, but it’s very difficult, and for good reason. After all, how can a site be distinguished of it’s not distinguishable?

On the bright side, it’s clear from a glance that you’ve made a better effort than many CMS’d sites in FIRST. So best of luck with the award.

I guess my take on this topic is this.

I like to prepare my kids for the “real” world. A real world website developer now-a-days will not just be coding in html only or hard code everything. My students need to understand how the backend works. How to SSH into the web server and issue command line commands. How to use MySQL, and edit the database. How to install php scripts, and fix Unix permissions to run dynamic scripts. Installing something like a CMS is a value add that just coding a static HTML site will not give to my students. This is purely my opinion and my aggressive approach in teaching them how it’s going to be life after college.

However in the sprit of FIRST, the judging is based on “CONTENT”. If you code an html site “Static” and have good content, then yes you deserve to be praised. Using a CMS or not is irrelevant based on the scoring sheet of FIRST judging. They are looking at your content, layout, and navigation. Things that are important in a basic website REGARDLESS how or what tools you used to make it.

From my perspective, if I had to choose today to hire a student to be a webmaster for me, I’d choose a student that is experienced in PHP installation, Linux, MySQL, and DNS administration. That’s because that what’s important to me and my business model. Others might not need that in a student or employee but I view this as a value add that a student can bring when interviewing for a system administrator position within a company.

Again though…CONTENT is the key to winning the judges over, not what technology you used to create it. Anyone can have a crappy website if they don’t put it together right or get their act together.

The best thing to do in my opinion is print out the scoring sheet in the AWARDS section. Give that scoring sheet to several people. NON-TECHNICAL people you know. People you go to church with, your grand parents and ask them to score you. You’ll find a wide range of opinions about what you’ve done. If you can’t design a site to score high marks with those people, then you’ve got some work to do to impress the judges.

Good luck with whatever you guys decide.

Here is my success story; In 1999 I started a website which is a “bought” forum board software much like chief delphi. Today is a 16,000 member site with almost a 1 million page impressions a month. People keep coming back because the “content” is dynamic. Technically a forum board is somewhat a CMS system. Are CMS systems bad? I dunno, but it makes it easier to manage the content that is put forth in the website, and people like this organization in a website, or they probably wouldn’t be coming back.

Another aspect of engineering is being effective in engineering a project. I use new technology tools every day to speed up the design process of machines that I design. Hence why I believe FIRST released “EasyC” to all the teams. What a wonderful tool to make a team more efficient in their software design. Efficiency in my work place is #1. The more efficient our engineering department is, the more money we make for the company. If that means spending $10,000 for a piece of software that makes our job easier, then that is what we will do. A recent example is spending $7,000 for AutoCad Electrical in our department. This one piece of software improved electrical design in my department by 47%. That’s truly amazing. Would I go back to doing the electrical design the old way and drawing each symbol the “Hard Code” way…probably not….I even made an AutoCad Electrical menu system pre-AutoCad Electrical to help, but it was time to find a faster “easier” way. I hope someday, you’ll share your success stories when your in the work field.

Autocad menu thingy I made for free download, sorry you have to register to get it though…forum rules…

To address chakorules’, comments I understand where he’s coming from – the ultimate goal here of course is to build marketable skills – although as he pointed out, the question we are framing here is with regard specifically to the Website Award. To add to what he said, we should note that after all, no backend technology in and of itself is a sufficient condition for this ultimate goal, or for that matter sufficient for an objectively “good” (i.e. irrespective of FIRST’s slightly i’ll-conceived criteria) website. In my experience, the non-CMS websites that win – and most of the winners were in fact non-CMS, or at least cleverly disguised the fact that they used a premade backend – created their own backend and used every one of the technologies above that you listed, only they often made it themselves (for those that don’t believe me, there are lists of the winners available). This is why I contended earlier that making a site by my lonely with no CMS taught me much more (and I’m sure many other webmasters would agree), and also raised the bar for what I would achieve. Also, not having to decipher someone else’s programming in order to make my site do what I wanted (but rather programming it myself) catalyzed this creative process.

Of course, since content (especially with regard to FIRST goals), navigation, and design are key, only the second of the three criteria are neccesarily met by a CMS; the intrinsic problem from a development perspective is that this pre-made system does not encourage any individuality or creativity, because the site already “works” out of the box. Bottom line is that CMS’d sites are not neccesarily bad, only that using a CMS tends to cause us web designers to set the bar lower. Speaking form personal experience, I don’t think we would have had a standout website if I’d decided to go that route. Couple that with the fact that website judges historically haven’t been big on blatantly-CMS’d sites, and I’d say that’s a pretty substantial reason to not go that way. That was my reasoning anyway when I made our team’s site back in the day.

I would have to agree with this one hundred percent. When I made the first version of my team’s website a year ago, I used the WYSIWYG editor in FrontPage 2003. Then, after reaching my limits in that, I decided to totally redo the entire website by hard-coding the entire thing. It is only after one hand-codes over thirty thousand lines of XHTML, CSS, and Javascript that one learns and appreciates what PHP/ASP can do. :yikes: