Posts tagged phone

As you’ll know if you follow the adventures of Alex and myself we’ve been playing around with our new-look staff directory (give the beta a whirl). We’ve rebuilt it from the ground up to be stupidly fast, using bleeding-edge search technology all wrapped in Web 2.0 goodness to deliver your search results as quickly as possible. After all, why would you want to hang around waiting for half a second when we can have the number you’re looking for in a quarter of that time?

Directory search is awesome, but we thought we could do more with this information. We could take a person’s staff directory entry and make it a little bit more epic, as well as a bit more useful on the internet as a whole. So we did, and we’re happy to introduce the (beta) of staff profile pages – for examples see mine, Alex’s, Joss’s and Paul’s.

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I’ve had a couple of people ask how my lunchtime project today actually works behind the scenes, so here’s the lowdown in easily-digestible speak. I should point out that I am relying heavily on two frameworks which we’ve already built at Lincoln. These are Nucleus – our heavy-lifting data platform – and the Common Web Design – our web design and application framework. These two gave me a massive head-start by already doing all of the hard work such as extracting data from our directory and making the whole thing look great. Now, on with technology.

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Today on my lunch break I enjoyed a creamy chicken and broccoli bake from the Atrium, and then decided to muck about with code and see what I could come up with.

Turning to the power of Nucleus, our one-stop-shop for data, tying it together with the Sphinx search engine we’ve used previously in Jerome, and wrapping it all up in the CWD I was able to come up with a glossy version of our existing Staff Directory.

Give it a whirl at http://phone.labs.lncn.eu.

Staff Directory v2, complete with Bakelite rotary dial phone.

Take a look at this website.

This is our current staff directory search. It’s very simple, does more or less what it says on the tin, and looks like it’s been thrown together in Front Page in about a minute. Whilst normally I’m not a massive fan of websites which are chock full of unnecessary imagery, there are some situations where you just have to go “you know what, why can’t we make this look good and be functional at the same time?” So I duly busted out my CSS-fu and had a go.

It loads just as quickly, it does exactly the same thing, but it looks so much nicer. It also avoids words like “criteria”, which sound a bit over the top for native English speakers and just confuse the hell out of those who have it as a second language. Behind the scenes it also avoids a load of the crap which Microsoft decides is necessary to build a web page (apparently JavaScript is a necessity to submit a POST form), and since it uses the CWD it is mobile ready without any extra effort.

You may never see the result of this quick hack I did today, but I really hope you do.