Skip to main content

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.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Inserting A Google Doc link into a Google Spreadsheet

This article looks at using Apps Script to add new features to a Google Spreadsheet.

At the University of York, various people have been using Google spreadsheets to collect together various project related information. We've found that when collecting lots of different collaborative information from lots of different people that a spreadsheet can work much better than a regular Google Form.

Spreadsheets can be better than Forms for data collection because:

The spreadsheet data saves as you are editing.If you want to fill in half the data and come back later, your data will still be there.The data in a spreadsheet is versioned, so you can see who added what and when and undo it if necessaryThe commenting features are brilliant - especially the "Resolve" button in comments.
One feature we needed was to be able to "attach" Google Docs to certain cells in a spreadsheet. It's easy to just paste in a URL into a spreadsheet cell, but they can often all look too si…

Writing a Simple QR Code Stock Control Spreadsheet

At Theatre, Film & TV they have lots of equipment they loan to students, cameras, microphone, tripod etc. Keeping track of what goes out and what comes back is a difficult job. I have seen a few other departments struggling with the similar "equipment inventory" problems.

A solution I have prototyped uses QR codes, a Google Spreadsheet and a small web application written in Apps Script. The idea is, that each piece of equipment ( or maybe collection of items ) has a QR code on it. Using a standard and free smartphone application to read QR codes, the technician swipes the item and is shown a screen that lets them either check the item out or return it.

The QR app looks like this.



The spreadsheet contains a list of cameras. It has links to images and uses Google Visualisation tools to generate its QR codes. The spreadsheet looks like this.


The Web Application The web application, which only checks items in or out and should be used on a phone in conjunction with a QR cod…

Getting CSV data into Google Spreadsheets Automatically

Today I was attempting to get CSV data from Estates' Alarm System into Google Docs as a spreadsheet. There were two ways to try and achieve this...


Create an AppScript in Google that pulled a .CSV file from a web serverWrite a (python) script on the local machine that pushed the data into Google Spreadsheet by using the API. The Google AppScript Way As you know, my JavaScript ain't great, but it initially looked like it was going to work... Some code like this below and using the Array to CSV functions from here, looked promising.



function encode_utf8( s ){
//This is the code that "I think" turns the UTF16 LE into standard stuff....
return unescape( encodeURIComponent( s ));
}

function get_csv(){
var url ='http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~admn812/alarms.csv.Active BA Alarms.csv';// Change this to the URL of your file
var response = UrlFetchApp.fetch(url);
// If there's an error in the response code, maybe tell someone
//MailApp.sendEmail("s.brown@york.ac.uk&qu…