May 27th

on Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Usability was one of the things we discussed on Monday.I believe that it is not only about how easy it is to use a tool, but also how widely it can be used and how many users can benefit from it. Undoubtfully, mediawiki is used more than Trac. Hence, it might be better if we thought about the "data insertion tool" as a wiki extention which can be later adapted as a Trac extension.

Mediawiki Extensions:
It is nice that they explain the main concept behind writing Mediawiki extensions. I will look at the source code for some extensions to gain some insight. I will have to learn PHP along the way.

  • Google Maps extensions will be a great help. It allows users to add a 'pin' in a place based on a latitude and longitude and write notes. How is it useful to us? It has an interactive editor, and it links to a website (manyeyes for example in our case). I have printed the code to read it thoroughly and see how difficult it is to design a GUI in php.
    One note though; it takes around 4-5 seconds to load the map (so you will see only a white page at the beginning). Here is a website that uses it. But it's in German or Spanish (I think).
  • Plotters: Given data, it plots them using Javascript. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like it requires a bit of markup. I will try it today or tomorrow.
I checked manyeyes, and the visualizations are javascript. There is a 'share this' tag which provides the full java statement. This chapter explains how to embed javascript directly in HTML pages. There is also 'Embed Media' extension, which sounds promising, but I could not find much information about it. I will investigate more. Though it might be simpler to directly edit the HTML code of the page rather than using another extension and editing the installation file.

Other stuff we might need later: Embed flash into mediawiki explains one way to do that by editing a php file in Mediawiki installation file. There is already a Mediawiki flash extension that does such a job but I don't know if we can install it as part of our tool.