With the name set then, we are now ready to release a first demo of the tool, which I quickly put together this afternoon and recorded in this screencast:
As you can see from the video, we now have a functionally complete web-environment, where registered users can create new interactive tutorials, and classify them in different overarching scenarios. Each tutorial consists of a series of 'states', using different mediums such as rich text, videos, and most importantly an interactive web-mapping environment. The idea with the states is that we can provide in each tutorial a set of anchor points to which a learner can return if they get lost, all the while preserving a rich interactive user experience, especially when it comes to the web-mapping. Further development of functionality will focus on the inclusion of more spatial functionalities, as well as thematic formatting, to make this a much more rich environment encompassing a wide range of geographic concepts.
There are still plenty of rough edges to trim, and we need to put a nice face on the functional interface. We have just completed the design of a website logo, and will attack the styling of the User Interface this week. So hopefully, in a couple weeks time, I will be able to give a much more polished presentation of the system!
Technical Development details (warning, geoweb-geekiness ahead!!):
The technical design of the tool consists of two major components:
- Server-side framework (we used GeoDjango, a spatially aware web development framework as the basis). The server manages the user and tutorial creation, editing and management, and serves all the tutorial data and connected spatial datasets for use by the client in a standards compliant manner (GeoJSON), with all the data residing on a PostgreSQL + PostGIS database.
You might notice that we use OpenLayers as our mapping library, which slightly contravenes the previous conclusions we arrived at in this project regarding appropriate web-map API's. These conclusions reached previously about ease of development and deduplication of effort, achieved by reusing legacy codebase from different projects, were rendered irrelevant after switching to a structured web development framework, ie (Geo)-Django, and enabled us to use OpenLayers instead to take advantage of greater capabilities and openess of this library.