A Domain-Specific Content Management System for Managing Large Conference Websites

August 31, 2015

Federated conferences such as SPLASH are complex organizations composed of many parts organized by volunteers. The main conference consists of multiple tracks and sub-conferences (OOPSLA, Onward!, SPLASH-I, invited speakers, tutorials, panels), and additional conferences, symposia, and workshops are co-located before the main conference. Each of the parts has its own steering, organizing, and program committees. For each of these parts, presentations (often based on papers) have to be selected. These presentations should be put together into a program that the attendees of the conference can inspect to decide what to attend. While there has been considerable attention for organizing and automating the paper submission and review process, developing the website for such a conference also requires a considerable effort, and requires input from many people over an extended period of time. Often the process of developing it is reinvented for each yearly edition of a conference by a fresh team of volunteers using software that provides little to no support for the domain. As a result, the information for many tracks is not integrated in the main website. Each workshop maintains their own website from which the attendees have to harvest calls for papers and programs.

Since early 2014, we have been developing Conf.Researchr.Org, a domain-specific content management system developed to support the production of large conference web sites. The system is developed using WebDSL, a domain-specific programming language for the development of data rich web applications that integrates sub-languages for data modeling, a template language, access control rules, data validation, and full text search. The application has been adopted by the main conferences in programming languages: SPLASH (‘14,’15,’16), PLDI (‘15,’16), ISMM’15, ESOP’15, ECOOP (‘15,’16), POPL’16, PPoPP’16, Modularity’16, ICFP’16.

We will be presenting a poster about the site at SPLASH 2015. The extended abstract that comes with the poster explains the key concepts of the application. A pre-print is available.