A few months ago I set about the daunting task of finding out which data source to use for an update to the inaccurate Staff Directory search app pictured below.
Oarabile Selekisho (firstname.lastname@example.org), the former Assistant Web Developer here at MIS, put this Staff Search together from scratch as a new idea to help staff and students. However, the source data (database for contact details) was rather unreliable.
When our new Assistant Web Developer, Ashley Jones, joined me he brought with him a tonne of knowledge on PHP. With his crazy skills on hand we embarked on creating the new directory. With him, we discovered that the best data source is CPUT’s ITS installation. With that in mind, we started an Object Oriented Agile programming plan for the new directory (mid July). Our blue print was this UML diagram below:
Ashley finished the PHP API back-end in a couple of weeks. Thereafter, the front end had to be done.
The idea was to use proper RESTful techniques that I acquired while at the University of Cape Town working on Vula (powered by Sakai). However design-wise, I was uninspired. Until went to JoomlaDay and discovered a jQuery powered toolkit made by Twitter called Twitter Bootstrap. It is cutting-edge and awesome! I was now inspired.
This past Wednesday, I started reading up on the toolkit and trying out a few things. In a couple of days I had written the UI to the directory using the toolkit’s Fluid layout, Tooltip and Modal plugins. This is the final accessible design:
The nerdy stuff:
This is a RESTful implementation using Ajax to ask the PHP API for a a jSON object with staff members. Simple stuff. The HTML/JSON code is not available on this blog since it will change frequently with new features put onto the app.
This is fun stuff we think you will like (in no order of priority);
- Pictures per each staff member’s profile,
- Short CVs for academics. This is so that they can be found online for supervising, external marking, collaborative activities…,
- Forward contact details to email or cellphone,
- Social network links per staff member,
- Integration to the upcoming CPUT Mobile App for Blackberries, iPhones, iPads and Android devices,
- more to come…..
Most of these features are optional to each member of staff.
I hope you enjoy this app, and leave feedback or requests below!