Recommendations for building an interactive web page

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Recommendations for building an interactive web page

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:07 pm

Hi all,

I'm putting together some specs for my team to build a web portal. Right now, we're making do with spreadsheets, PowerPoints, and wiki pages. The problem is that the data gets stale pretty quickly. I've got a handle on the back-end database requirements, but I've got no experience with web development work.

What I'd like for the web portal to have is an interactive timeline, which can scroll left or right showing a date range. In that date range, the timeline should be able to draw various points based on reading the database (i.e. events on the timelines, new timelines showing up in the date range, etc). Zooming in and out and showing more/less detail would be ideal, but not required. And the timelines should be individually clickable so it can populate other forms/tables with information.

Can someone recommend a good technology/language to use? I'm probably going to try and get an intern for this project, so a language not too esoteric would be preferred.
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Re: Recommendations for building an interactive web page

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:17 pm

I've used SpreadSheetGear in .Net with good results. Can't speak to Power Point, ew.
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Re: Recommendations for building an interactive web page

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:33 pm

Am I misreading this, or it's about project management? Because there are a variety of online solutions for that.
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Re: Recommendations for building an interactive web page

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:36 pm

Well, it's the web, so there isn't really a choice here--it's going to be JavaScript. JavaScript is the language of front-end development, it is the only programmatic language that web browsers know. Whether it uses Canvas or some other auxiliary web technology isn't too relevant and will be up to whomever you hire; what's important is that it's still going to be JavaScript driven on the front end. The only exception is if you wanted to go Flash, which is not an ideal option unless you can find a product that gives you the functionality you want out of the box and you do not care to ever support tablets/phones.

I'm not too sure how you have a handle on the back end stuff without knowing anything about web development. You're going to need this information stored in a web database of some sort that's accessible to the front end. The most common way of doing this (and there are many others), the way that the largest number of developers are going to be familiar, is to store the data is a MySQL database, pull the data out with PHP, and do the timeline with HTML/CSS/JavaScript. That's what you're most likely going to want to look for in a developer. There are certainly other databases and languages for accessing them that are equally legitimate.

This is the best javascript timeline plugin I've seen, might serve as a good starting point:
http://timeline.verite.co/


Edit:
Just to add a couple things: the plugin above also supports pulling from Google Spreadsheets which I hadn't considered as an option. This might be a good option for you so you don't need to know how to update a real database and/or your developer doesn't need to build you a front-end to a database, or a script to import and deal with your spreadsheets (which isn't terribly difficult, but it is time and money).

Here's one other timeline plugin I remembered:
http://timeglider.com/widget/index.php
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Re: Recommendations for building an interactive web page

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:12 pm

It is project management related, but with the number of systems it will have to interface with (all custom solutions), normal project management software won't work. We looked at an outside contractor, but their solution was going to be too complicated for what we need, and too expensive.

I'm familiar enough with scripting languages and web technology to know about databases (I already was planning on MySQL and php). I wasn't sure if JS was the only way to go, or there was a better option. I've heard about Ruby, and others, but I wasn't sure what would be good for drawing.

Thanks!
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