Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Many things brewing

Happy harvest festival!

I realized the other day that it's been 5 months since my last posting. Things have been happening, but many of them are still in progress so I've kept quiet. But here's a sampling of some of what I've been working on.

AccordionLegend control for Leaflet


This was actually my prior blog post, back in June. It's a Leaflet control that displays a spiffy collapsing legend, with layers broken into accordion sections, with legend swatches and opacity sliders and all.

Just today, someone reported a bug with it and I fixed that bug, then went on to improve the demo, and add a few more features.

Early Warning System v2

The EWS scrapes project disclosures from several international funding banks such as the World Bank, International Funding Corporation, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and others. The material is reviewed by the International Accountability Project, looking projects that could threaten human rights, e.g. involuntary relocation of a whole town, and connecting with local activists.

I did the original EWS system back in 2011, but they want to clean things up, expand on the system, add support for other folks editing it, etc. Internal goals included some code cleanup, a nicer model structure, better error handling, a nicer search UI, and more. And, this project is in Django, which I just love, so there's a bonus.

The EWSv2 is coming along well, and preliminary feedback is quite positive. We should have the thing launched to the public in a month or three.

Tobacco retailer visualizations, next-generation system


A long-time client of GreenInfo Network, CounterTools has us make interactive web maps of tobacco retailers, inspections and undercover purchases of tobacco, and derivative stats such as "percentage of undercover sales which sold, by county" Our oldest maps with them go back to late 2011 or early 2012, with the latest of the current generation having been set up only a few weeks ago.

I'm working on the next generation of both the data management and mapping components. The project involves 3 agencies for 3 sections: back-end, front-end, and GIS/mapping. The mapping fits in the middle, firmly in both front-end and back-end: data models and tables, file uploads and data processing, data searching and reporting, and front-end cartography.

Unlike the current generation, this one will work with a living dataset, with new retailers and retailer inspections being added daily, so there's a whole new dimension of intelligence in the upload capabilities and error handling, in the calculations and rendering, and so on. Also unlike the current generation, the front-end is in AngularJS, and the back-end is in Django. (yay!)

I've been learning a lot from how the other teams do their job: AngularJS and Sails for the front-end, Django REST Framework for writing new APIs, their particular tactics for layout out the sections of the Django app, and so on. It's been a learning curve there, but I'm appreciating the education.

Coder Commando

I've also been handling the usual flow of miscellaneous requests that aren't large projects, but "my coder quit and I launch in two weeks!" situations. This happens a lot more often than you would imagine; four projects in the last five months, come immediately to mind.

I don't usually blog about these since they're not usually the lengthy and involved projects, but they do keep me busy. Some of my recent ones have involved some neat moving parts:
  • A tool to draw a polygon on a Google Maps map, and derive statistics from census blockgroup data, then download a PDF.
  • Learning about Expression Engine, a CMS from the folks who made CodeIgniter, and writing a bunch of fixes in various pages, some of them maps and some not.
  • A map of farms and farmers' markets statewide, with a nice CMS on the back end where one manages five pages of details about their farm. Notably, the part that lets you upload photos of your farm, has a UI for zooming and cropping the photo, so your 200x100 thumbnail looks the way you want it.

Happy Harvest


So yeah, I've been silent but not idle. I'm told of at least 2 new projects waiting for signatures, and some these projects in progress will likely start going live over the next few months. Once the lid is off, I can describe them in more detail.

Have a nice holiday!

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