Talks between CIS and Mocha for Banner merge on hold

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Friday, September 26, 2008

A link to Amazon.com and a new, independent domain name are among recent changes to Mocha, the popular student-created online course-shopping service. But one change announced last year has not come about: integrating Mocha with the Banner online registration system.

The Mocha team has been trying to determine its next step for the site – which might include expanding the service to other schools and institutions – and has put discussions about integrating the site into Banner on the back burner.

“If there are any plans to integrate Mocha more formally with Banner, they are not in the discussion stage, and given all of the other projects with which (Computing and Information Services) is involved, I doubt that anything of that nature will happen in the near future,” Registrar Michael Pesta wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

Mocha has been used by students since 2006 as an alternative course catalog, first to the Brown Online Course Announcement and now to Banner. Students still have to officially register on Banner.

Adam Cath ’07, one of Mocha’s founders, said interest in the merge remains, but busy schedules have prevented the two sides from moving forward with any concrete plans.

Mocha’s creators have graduated, and are all currently employed full-time, reducing the time they have to devote to the site, Cath said.

Both Cath and John Styer, director of enterprise application services for CIS, said the Mocha team has maintained a close working relationship with CIS, which has provided informal guidance for some of the recent changes to Mocha.

While Mocha was previously hosted by the Department of Computer Science, over the summer the Web site moved to another server and its own URL, http://brown.mochacourses.com. Users who type in the former URL are redirected to the current one.

The Web site’s new feature allowing students to compare book prices at the Brown Bookstore to those on Amazon forced the move, Cath said. Mocha now gets a commission when students buy books from Amazon having gone through Mocha first, and Brown cannot use its resources to support a for-profit endeavor, according to Cath.

The agreement with Amazon might preclude any integration with Banner for the same reason, Cath said.

The Mocha team has been discussing expanding the service to other schools, but the creators have not yet mapped out specific plans, Cath said.

According to Styer, no big changes are on the horizon for Banner.