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Are you Developing an RFP and Need (or think you need) Single Sign-on? Read This First
We’ve implemented various degrees of single sign-on between content management systems and association management systems. Often when we receive a Request for Bid for an association website, clients tell us they want Single Sign-On (SSO) capabilities. Seems straight-forward, right? Not so fast.

A lot of times we don’t know going in if an association just needs the ‘light’ version or the ‘full-calorie’ version of Single Sign-On, because RFPs don’t always include the details we need to make that determination. The time for development can range from just a few hours for a light version, to well over 100 hours for a full-calorie version, which is why nailing down the difference between the two early on can save both your developer’s timeline and your deadline and budget.

As a starting point, consider this: with lite single sign-on you get to see. At full calorie, you get to do

Here’s what I mean…

Single Sign-On (Lite). Let’s say you have a scenario where you would like members to login to the website, which then automatically logs them into your Association Management System (AMS). With that, members can now access your AMS as well as see any protected content within your website. That’s the light version, and means a relatively inexpensive SSO. Piece of (lowfat) cake.

Single Sign-On (Full Calorie). In this scenario, you want members to perform advanced functions on the website, such as event registration, eCommerce, dues payments and more. You’d also like to add some convenience features for your members. For example, when the member logs in and registers for an event, you’d like their contact information (address, etc.) to auto-populate the registration form. When they complete whatever they are doing, that data will then be pushed back to your AMS. This is a full calorie version of Single Sign-On. Certainly do-able, but requires much more time in planning and development, which means more cost.

Like snowflakes, no two SSOs are alike. So it’s important to truly know what you need and why you need it, because you may end up be being quoted or billed for the full-calorie SSO, when all you need is the lo-cal version, or vice versa.

In our next post, we’ll talk about 5 critical things you should do for your website for January, 2015.


Mobile Design: Don’t Sign the Contract Until You Read This
Your association’s most recent member survey has resulted in a mandate: your website has to become mobile friendly. Now, don’t make that face; going mobile is the best thing an organization can do for its members these days.

Here are some things to consider when looking to go mobile:

Are you using a Content Management System (CMS)? If you are, and it’s something like Drupal, WordPress or DNN, say, then you are looking at potentially just creating a new theme that is mobile-friendly. All your content is there, you’re just having us create a new front end. Doing it that way could save some cost, both on our end and yours.

If your site isn’t in a CMS or something proprietary, you might run into issues. There are systems out there that combine a CMS with the association management system, and with some of those, you might be locked into a design that is not mobile-friendly. Bottom line: the technology your site is currently using is extremely important in determining whether a re-design for mobile is possible.

Your content: Is it clean? This has to do with the time it will take to make your site mobile friendly, and ultimately, the cost. And what clean means is if your site uses lots of tables and lots of “in-line code,” meaning forced font sizes and styles, all of that is going to need to be “cleaned” for mobile devices. What was fancy and appealing when your website was initially designed for displaying on a desktop is just plain messy for mobile use. And if there’s a lot this messily formatted content, you’re talking some additional time and expense in getting the content prepped for mobile.

Navigation: How complex/deep is your site now, and how complex/ deep does it need to be for mobile? With menus on mobile devices, you’ve typically got a scrolling list view of pages. If your site is four levels deep, it can make navigating a real problem on a mobile device. The more levels, the tougher it is for users to navigate. And with every extra click a user has to make to get somewhere on your site, the likelier it will be that they will give up. “Flattening” the navigation (less layers) and consolidating pages will help make navigation easier and more efficient on a mobile device.

Landing pages: With mobile, it’s all about consolidated content, creating landing pages that serve as launching pads to common content (pages that get the most traffic), so you’re not forcing your users to hunt for it. 

The days of flashy websites are, for better or worse, coming to an end as more and more people use mobile devices for everything they do online. A simplified look and optimized content presentation is key. With mobile devices, you only have so much screen real estate and often, limited bandwidth; anything that is not needed by your users should be eliminated.

In our next post, we’ll clear up the mysteries of single sign-on.


i2Integration Celebrates Twenty Years in the Web Development Business
With a video and multimedia business barely off the ground, John Forsberg had a meeting in 1994 with a client when the client mentioned that he would also like a website.

"I said 'Sure.' Then I drove straight to a bookstore and began learning everything I could about website development," Forsberg recalled. "That was our first website."

That one website transformed the direction of the company. Just three years later, i2 partnered with Microsoft, becoming one of the first companies in the U.S. to develop video for the web using Microsoft NetShow, a technology that would become Windows Media.

As they grew, they advanced into more complex programming, system design and application development. To reflect that, the company's name was changed in 1999 from Forsberg Multimedia to i2Integration.

Today, i2's clients come from across the U.S., and include a leading publishing company in New York City, a major southern U.S. retailer, a leading national wireless carrier, non-profits in Washington D.C. and even a veterinary clinic in Key West, Florida.

Forsberg's company has become known for its development and support of a content management system called DNN. To date, they have implemented upward of 500 DNN sites for organizations worldwide.

They also do development and support for Microsoft SharePoint, iMIS, Avectra netFORUM and SalesForce CRM.

"We never stand still," Forsberg said. "One day we might be building an entire e-commerce system for a major retailer, or building a mobile app, or a website redesign. And all that could happen the same day."

Innovation also plays a role. i2 is currently working on a web-based financial projection application for small businesses. 

"It’s a project born out of love (and necessity) when the economy crashed in 2008," Forsberg said. "From a crude app we built in 2008 that quite literally saved our business, we’ve refined into a sleek and powerful tool for small business owners. We’re in the beta stage and plan to roll it out this year or early next. But so far the response has been incredible. We’re pretty geeked about it."

With so many web development companies coming and going, Forsberg said client trust has been paramount to i2Integration's consistent track record.

"We've always been straight with our clients, even if it's not in our best interest," he said. "I don't know how many times we've offered recommendations that made sense for the client that meant us doing nothing at all. I'd rather have a happy client who knows we're looking out for them, because they'll come back – and they have. Do right, and you'll be rewarded."


i2Integration Creates Single Sign-on Capability Between DNN and Avectra netFORUM
Single sign-on for three independent but associated websites means a seamless member database and improved interactivity for users, thanks to i2Integration.

Administrators and members of the American Association for Women Radiologists (, the Society of Computed Body Tomography & Magnetic Resonance ( and the North American Society for Cardiovascular Imaging ( now enjoy a single sign on between Avectra and DNN.

The new capability allows members to log in to DNN, which then automatically logs them into Avectra’s NetFORUM. Upon login, member profile data is pulled from Avectra to populate the DNN user account with Avectra’s data. Roles are automatically assigned in DNN based on the member profile in Avectra. Instant benefit to members: one central login and one account to manage.

“Avectra netFORUM is a great platform for association management," said John Forsberg, i2Integration CEO. "Pulling that together with the open source DNN CMS gives our clients a powerful solution, directly tying the website to the membership database and online member interactivity."

How we did it:
i2Integration created a DNN login module that was placed on the three websites, which allows users to enter their credentials, click a button and attempt a login to the site. 

Upon entering a username and password and clicking the Submit button, the module attempts to verify that the credentials are valid using the netFORUM API’s “Authenticate” method.  This method returns a SingleSignOn Token if the credentials that are passed are valid. 

If the Authenticate method does not return a valid token, the DNN module attempts to log the user into the DNN site with local credentials.  If the DNN authentication succeeds, but the netFORUM authentication fails, an error is presented to the user that informs them that their user information is out of date, and that they need to contact the website owner for further assistance.

If neither authentication succeeds, the user is presented with a message stating that the entered user information is invalid. 

If the netFORUM authentication succeeds, but no matching username exists in DNN, a call is made to the netFORUM API “CheckEWebUser” method, passing in the username, password and authentication token. This method returns the basic user information needed to create a copy of the user in DNN. Once the user is created in DNN, the standard DNN authentication is performed, and the user is logged into DNN. The user is also added to a “Members” role based on a flag returned by the netFORUM API “GetIndividialByKey” method. If the individual has a value of 1 in this field, they are considered to be in the “Members” role; otherwise, they are considered a “Visitor" and only have the role of “Registered Users” in DNN.

If the netFORUM authentication succeeds, and a matching username exists in DNN, a call is made to the netFORUM API “CheckEWebUser” method, passing in the username, password and authentication token. This method returns the basic user information needed to update the user in DNN. Once the user's account is updated in DNN, the standard DNN authentication is performed and the user will be logged into DNN. 

The login is maintained using a cookie, so if the user travels to another website and then returns back to the DNN site, they are still logged in as long as the cookie is not expired.

The "Forgot Password" link directs to the netFORUM “Forgot Password” page.  

The three websites require a user’s session when moving from the DNN website to the netFORUMs site. Currently, netFORUMS only has one option for this, called the “SSOToken,” which must be passed in as a querystring variable for every link. DNN does not have an easy way to append this token to variable links. JavaScript was added to the three sites to recognize any links of and appends the needed site name and users' SSO Token, allowing them access to the Avectra netFORUM site. The user is notified via a pop-up that they need to log in before they have access to these pages. 


Sixty Days to Migrate Website and Switch CMS Is No Sweat for i2Integration
When the American College of Radiology contacted i2Integration in late October about switching to an open-source content management system for six of the independent subspecialty societies it manages by the first of the year, CEO John Forsberg knew it was going to be no small task. But he was confident the Lansing-based company was up to it.

That came as good news to Michele Wittling, executive director of three of the organizations. While no organization wants some or all of its online presence to go dark, even temporarily, anything less than a seamless transition was "not an option," she said.

"We were in the process of sending out our annual dues membership bills, and the switch also coincided with annual membership meetings," Wittling recalled. "The communications about those events, including activities at RSNA, the largest radiology conference in the world, are on the website. All non-meeting activities of the societies are also on the website."

Ronni Levine, ACR program coordinator of association services, found i2Integration online and liked what she saw, particularly the company's experience with DNN.

"We were using a content management system that was rather outdated, and we wanted to take advantage of having to find a new one that was more robust and flexible," she said. "And we were definitely looking for something that would address the needs of small associations."

In the eight weeks before the plug was to be pulled on the proprietary CMS system the organizations' websites operated,  five of the societies with a December 31st deadline migrated their content to new sites operated with the open source DNN content management system.

The project included creating new DNN sites for each organization and implementing a new design that is responsive to different devices (PC, tablet, phone). Each site utilized the same design structure, but was modified to give an individualized look and feel. i2Integration also provided training on the administration of DNN and assisted in SEO and content migration questions.

What was i2Integration like to work with? " I would recommend them, and I have." Wittling said. "And I don't recommend people or companies easily.

"We are not web professionals. That is not what we do. We needed to ask questions and to count on them to not only answer the questions we were asking, but to know the questions we weren't thinking to ask. We were treated as though they were a partner, that we were valued customers, like they were on our team."

i2Integration currently is also working on setting up single sign-on between some of the websites and the member database, Avectra, which will allow members to log in once  and immediately be logged into Avectra's netFORUM for member specific (and username/password protected) services. 


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