News, ideas and randomness

University of British Columbia e-EDI and e-MDI

Posted: August 8th, 2013 | Author: Andrew Gleave | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s been a while since my last blog post. This is primarily due to me being busy with work, and partly because I’m not much of a blogger.

However, two projects I had the pleasure to work on recently are the e-MDI and e-EDI systems for University of British Columbia. Initially my involvement was purely the development of the e-MDI system, and later, and partly due to the success of the that, the development of the e-EDI as well.

The MDI is a survey that is taken by children in grade 4 across British Columbia and is used to give insights in to child development and wellbeing.

http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi/

Previously the process was a manual one – students entered their information on paper forms which were then sent back to UBC for analysis. This project required the development of a web-based platform for creating and issuing online surveys, and the collection and export of data.

The project is built using Django and PostgreSQL (as usual) as well as Redis for ephemeral storage, caching and as the backend for Celery; Fabric and Nginx on the backend and was probably one of the largest I’ve worked as the sole developer, and required developing interfaces and functionality for 5 different types of user, a RESTful API and a small Javascript-based DSL for authoring surveys built on top of Backbone.js.

The team at HELP have been great to work with, and both systems will help them to roll-out and surveys faster and to gain insights on to student development quicker.

I may write a follow-up post about the technical implementation of some of the more interesting aspects of the systems.


Flip Maps – Simple location bookmarking and sharing for iPhone

Posted: December 30th, 2011 | Author: Andrew Gleave | Filed under: Uncategorized, iphone, portfolio | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I’m pleased to announce that Flip Maps is now on the App Store! (link)

Flip Maps lets you bookmark places you have visited and share them with others. Each new place is added as a page to your notebook so you can quickly flick through all of your maps to find the one you want. Maps can be organised by title, city or region, and when you create a new map, you can attach a photo or movie to it as well as giving it a name and adding notes.

You can see your current location on each map, and get directions.


Flip Maps came about when I was looking for a way to keep track of the great places I went to when I was in New York this September. Trying to remember exactly where a restaurant was quite difficult, and what I really wanted an app I could open up, it would pick up my current location, I could give the place a name add some notes about how great it was, maybe take a photo of it, and save it for future. So, a couple of months after getting back, I still couldn’t find a simple app which would do what I needed and looked nice, so I decided to build one!

Gorgeous page turn animations!



Sort and order your maps by title, city and region


I wanted the app to feel like a little notebook crammed full of maps, so we’ve put a lot of effort in to making the app great to use and look and the same fluid page turn animation that iBooks uses to make it feel like you’re really flipping though pages of notebook.

Maps are shared via email and the recipient just has to tap on the attachment to import it in to their copy of Flip Maps. It’s quick and simple and makes it easy to send maps (and their attached photo/movie) to friends and family without signing up to anything.
Also, maps can been created even if you don’t have a data connection since Flip Maps can still get your location from GPS. So, even if you can’t see the map you can still save it and Flip Maps will get the address information and map tiles the next time you go online!

I have some great ideas for future improvements to the app, but we’re always happy to get feedback and comments!

You can download Flip Maps from the App Store now.

The Open Elm Project

Posted: October 24th, 2011 | Author: Andrew Gleave | Filed under: Django, Uncategorized, couchdb, mobile app, portfolio | No Comments »

This is a blog post which is well overdue.

In April we launched the Open Elm Project which, in collaboration with the Isle of Man Department of Environment, Food & Agriculture, enables the public to monitor and record the Isle of Man’s Elm tree population and report potential outbreaks of Dutch Elm Disease.

Unlike the UK, the Island has been largely unaffected by Dutch Elm Disease and has a population of ~200,000 trees. Unfortunately, the disease is on the rise and although the Isle of Man Government has done a sterling job of controlling and mitigating it’s impact, budget constraints have reduced the funds available for regular professional tree surveys meaning little is known about how quickly or to where the disease is spreading.

Early in the year we approached the Government with a concept: give the public simple tools which they can use to help the fight against the disease and report suspected outbreaks. The idea comprised of a website and two apps for iPhone and Android devices which can be used to find out information about Dutch Elm Disease and record sightings of diseased (or healthy) trees. To our delight, the Government jumped at the chance to participate in the project.

We build a site which enables people to get information about Elm trees and about Dutch Elm Disease itself, and learn how to spot the signs of the disease. We also build two mobile apps (another first for the IoM Government), which enables people to record sightings while they’re out in the countryside.

Using the apps users can take a picture of the tree(s), choose whether it requires inspection and submit it for review by the DEFA team. The records are automatically geotagged by the phone’s GPS radio, so the team can see where the tree is to an accuracy of ~10m on the site’s Google Map – much better than a grid reference!

All reports are first reviewed by the DEFA team and are then made public on the site’s report map and in the mobile apps themselves.

From the off, we wanted this project to be the Isle of Man’s first Open Data project and we released all the source code, and have documented how to get direct access to the database – everything about the project is fully open and transparent.

The project was build entirely using Open Source technology: Django, CouchDB, PhoneGap, jQuery Mobile and the source code is licensed under the GPL. We encourage others who think this type of project could be beneficial to their cause to use the code as they see fit.

The project announcement proved a hit with it being reported by the BBC and by numerous sources in the US and we’ve had a great uptake for such a new project.

Since the disease is hard to spot during the winter months, we’ll be promoting the project with urgency next spring and hope to get a loyal band of contributors to help preserve these trees.