Monday, 15 October 2012

Platform Dilemma ( UI Builder vs HTML application )

I'm currently working with the Chemistry dept. to help use Google Docs for recording students lab experiment marks.

It sounds simple enough until you find there are over 170 students in a year and there are at least 20 tests to be done, and the students get broken down into groups and rotated, and different people need to log different bits of information (that the student attended, their mark, that their mark has been agreed etc ). That's well over 2000 marks a year.... which in the scale of numbers isn't the biggest, I know, but that's not where the dilemma is.

Part of the problem is the different ways different people need to access creating the students marks but I'll come to that another day.

The dilemma is that, I have the need for a really simple to use interface for entering students' marks. I could either use the UI Builder built into AppsScript OR I could create an HTML application in AppsScript.

With an HTML application, it's a breeze to add jQuery ( a Javascript library ) which means I can lovely widgets such a calendar drop-downs or type-ahead scrolling ( where you start typing the students' name and it makes suggestions ) etc. jQuery really helps to make an interface user-friendly... and if you imagine that the lecturer may have to enter 30 at a time, you can see why it needs to be easy and quick.

With a UI Builder interface, there are fewer widgets available, but the Chemistry dept. themselves will ultimately be able to continue hacking anything I build as I work with them. It's very easy to just open up a UI Builder window and start adding things or moving them around whereas working with jQuery and HTML may be too big a leap into the geeky unknown.

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