PMUNC Website Redesign - Design Document


Primary Goal:

To automate as much of the pre-Conference coordination and work for the Princeton Model United Nations Conference as possible, especially coordination between the Conference Managers and the Conference Attendees.


For our project, we will be redesigning the website and conference management software for the Princeton Model United Nations Conference (PMUNC). The current PMUNC website provides basic management features for the conference, however as the conference has grown to over 1250 participants, the need for a full redesign to implement some fundamentally new features has become evident.

Every year, PMUNC is attended by 30-50 schools, each with 5-70 delegates. Princeton staffs the Conference with about 100-125 University students. The Conference is divided into 20 committees, each with different agendas and topics of discussion. Delegates and staff members are assigned to one of the 20. The conference lasts four days, meaning lodging and food need to be coordinated in advance. From this arises a need for a sophisticated database driven web application to manage all the various aspects of the conference throughout the 5 month period from the opening of registration to the conclusion of the conference. Also, as this conference is the primary source of income for the Princeton University International Relations Council, high production quality, reliability, and appealing design are all needed.

Major aspects of the conference to be managed by the website:

The primary enhancements over the previous PMUNC web application will be functionality at the individual delegate level. The previous website did not have accounts for each delegate, only each school. Without knowledge of each delegate, functionality such as committee assignments and rooming assignments had to be handled by spreadsheets sent via email. One of the aims of this project is to eliminate the need for this.

User Scenarios:

Faculty Advisor - Registration:

User arrives at the index page, which is designed to market PMUNC as effectively as possible. Should include photos from previous conferences, and possibly testimonials. Welcome letter from Charge d'Affaires directs user to FAQ and further conference information like time line, fees, etc. After user decides that s/he wishes to register for PMUNC, they follow a navigation link to the registration form. Information such as school name, contact info, desired user name/password, number of spots requested is submitted. Input is validated and confirmed. User receives email confirmation of the received registration. After being reviewed by Conference Management (CM), user receives confirmation of official registration and an invoice for payment (automatic generation of invoice is a reach feature).

Faculty Advisor - Delegate Management:

N.B. - The actions taken here are likely to take place over several sessions. However, there is no reason it could not occur in a single session, and it is presented as such for brevity.

User arrives at the index page, and clicks the log-on link. After logging on, user is taken to the FA home page, where the latest announcements from CM are displayed. User clicks on "Delegate Management." The delegate view grid is empty. User decides to enter his/her delegate list into the web site. User is only required to provide the name of the delegate (and optionally email), from which a user name, and initial password is automatically generated. The remainder of required information about each delegate is likely to be inputted by each delegate at initial log-on. However, user may also provide this information at initialization of the account by switching to a separate view. This information includes: grade, contact information, partner (if applicable), committee assignment, rooming assignment. Reach feature: Write a script that will take a .csv file outputted by MS Excel and update the information in the database with the values in the .csv file. User will be given instructions on how to format the Excel file and how to save as a .csv file.

Upon completion, user is presented with a link to a printable version of the delegate list, containing delegate names, usernames, and passwords. Additionally, if the user provided email addresses for the delegates, a single-click will send out an email to all users with their individual user name and password.

After the entire delegate list has been entered into the database, the user may now view his/her entire delegate list, and make edits as necessary by clicking an edit button next to the delegates name.

From here, the user clicks on the "Committee Assignments" tab of the Delegate Management view. The user is presented with a two-pane view. In the bottom pane, the user is presented with the list of all positions s/he has been given by CM. In our case, the user has been assigned the Canadian and Brazilian delegations to the UN committees, and 3 spots on specialized committees In the top pane, the delegate list appears, with only the name field showing. If a delegate has a partner, both names appear on a single line. There are two drop-down menus: committee and position. User selects the committee to which they wish to assign the delegate to. If only one position exists for that committee, it is automatically selected. If not, the user selects which of the positions on that committee to which to assign the delegate (in our case, likely Canada or Brazil). After completing this, the user presses submit to have the information updated. (Reach feature: Use the same script mentioned previous to accept .csv input. Also, output a template .csv file based upon the given assignments to be filled in).

Student - Setup and Viewing Committee Info:

User has received user name and password either directly from the website via email, or from his/her FA via the print out. User arrives at the index page and clicks log-in to log in to the site. Upon logging in, he is taken to the Delegate home page, displaying the latest announcements, and relevant links to necessary downloadable documents (Delegate Guide, Rules of Procedure, Code of Conduct, etc.), as well as his/her committee page. If this user's profile information is incomplete (contact info, etc.), s/he is prompted to update it by clicking the Edit Profile button. After filling in all the requisite information, the user downloads each of the conference documents to read later. User now clicks on the link to his committee page.

Committee view contains the name of the committee, the topics for the committee, if applicable, as well as a welcome letter from the Chair. User then clicks on the link for the committee Background Guide (BG), which downloads as a PDF. After reading the BG, user then writes his/her position paper in the word processor of his/her choice. Upon completion, user returns to the Delegate home page to upload his/her position paper. File name is validated to end in: .rtf, .doc, or .pdf. Users submitting .docx files receive a particularly bitter error message, while users submitting .odt files are given an apologetic error message with a small rant about monopolies at the end.

Staffer - Selecting Room Assignments:

User loads the index page and clicks the log-on button. User logs in with his Princeton NetID and a temp password created for him/her by CM. User is then taken to the staff home page where s/he can see to what role s/he have been assigned by CM. They can also see special staff announcements in addition to the public announcements User clicks on the Rooming Assignments tab, and is taken to a list of all the staff rooms and the current occupants of each. User then clicks on the room s/he wishes to join.


The website will use the Django web framework, MySQL, and the Yahoo! User Interface JavaScript library.

Using Django's Object Relational Mapper (ORM) we will define our data model entirely in Python classes. A basic outline of our object model is listed below. Note that a * indicates that that field is not necessary for all instances of the class, and will therefore often be NULL.

Delegate (derived from Person):
Staffer (derived from Person):
Application Question:
Committee Application:
Delegate Application

This object model will be accessed using the automatically generated Django database access API. This enables complete modularity between our web application and the database, as Django allows you to simply change which database your application points to with nothing else in the code being affected. The SQL database will not be accessed through any other interface.

The provided Django admin interface will be used to set up and initialize the database at the start of each year. Efforts will be made to add functionality in the web application itself to administer the conference, however since most of the required functionality is met reasonably well by Django's administration interface, these will be low priority.

The user interface will be written in a combination of XHTML, CSS and Javascript using functionality and UI components from YUI. The Django templating system will be employed to maintain strict separation between the view and the controller. Additionally, an inheritance hierarchy of templates will be maintained to minimize repetition in the markup. An effort will be made to conform to the XHTML 1.0 Strict specification. This is to ensure complete separation of the markup and style information. YUI provides some basic CSS functionality which will be used to ensure uniformity in style across browsers. The application will be tested in IE6, IE7, and Firefox 2.0. Part of the goal in adhering to standards strictly is for the site to "work" in other browsers, such as Safari and Opera, though they will not be tested or officially supported. The YUI Core will be used to ensure compatibility across browsers in our JavaScript code. Additionally, several of the UI controls will likely be used, most notably the DataTable control and the LayoutManager control.

We will use the exiting server of the International Relations Council to host our website, though we will be completely reformatting the system. We will run Apache with mod_python on a Linux system, either Ubuntu 7.10 Server Edition or a more customized Gentoo build, if time permits. We will also use this machine to host our SVN server.


After our first TA meeting we will use the advice of our TA to determine the timing of the remainder of these milestones:

Risks and Open Issues:

None of us have very significant web development experience, though we have some familiarity with web technologies. Also, none of us have ever used Python or Django, and only a few of us has done significant JavaScript coding. Therefore there will be a HUGE learning curve initially. There is the chance that we won't grok all the required technologies quickly enough to finish the project.

Also, while our data model is pretty simple and straightforward, there are large number of different features and views that have to be implemented. Depending on how efficient we eventually get, we may not be able to complete all of the required functionality for the site.

Fortunately, because we have our own server that we are allowed to administer, we are unlikely to run into any blocks on the logistical side of things. All the software we intend to use is free open source software.

Reach Features: