Recently finished a new project built on Python/Django/Heroku.
This project is built up for CU-CitizenAccess.org using data compiled from inspection reports handed over by the cities of Urbana and Champaign through FOIA requests.
Full story here.
After the data is catalogued, it can be imported into a database for feeding the new application.
From the map, readers can quickly get an idea of how many private student houses fail their initial inspections. They can click on the map icons to see more about the house, and read the actual inspection report using DocumentCloud.
This is a very basic approach to building a news application, but even as a basic utility its powerful in that it provides direct access to information that would otherwise be difficult for the general public to access.
Python and Django are common tools in web application development. The only departure I took from the status quo in building this was in the decision to use Heroku as a hosting provider. The general consensus is to fire up an Amazon EC2 server.
For our needs, using Heroku made more sense because there is zero setup, configuration, or maintenance involved. Since I’m the single in-house developer/web designer/server administrator, either I can be paid to maintain and update servers, or I can be paid to develop news application.
So even if Heroku costs more, the money invested towards keeping me busy developing is more effective than spending it in areas that do not provide a tangible return.
Moving some things around. A little bit of maintenance.
CU-CitizenAccess is a community based journalism endeavor based at the College of Media at the University of Illinois. I am the primary web content developer and administrator for the site, and publish the majority of my work there. The back-end is handled through Drupal 6, in addition to Pantheon and Aegir on a Linux based Rackspace cloud server maintained by PixoTech in Urbana. I am responsible for the administration and maintenance of Drupal, design changes, coordination with reporters, interactive content creation and any data-driven needs. This site can be seen in its archive at archive.cu-citizenaccess.orgAn update rolled out for Fall, 2012 brought the CU-CitizenAccess.org site up to date with a migration to a new, highly-cache web server, and a software update with Drupal 7 and an HTML 5 responsive theme design. This allows the theme to be used for any size screen, from a very large desktop to a small mobile device. This was quite a challenge for me as each tweak of the style needed to be done five times, one for each possible screen size. Despite the extra work, the final result was completely worth it. Visit the site: cu-citizenaccess.org
The Infant-Parent Institute
The Infant-Parent Institute is an early childhood research clinic based in Champaign, IL. The site uses a WordPress backend for updating and publishing content, and is integrated with Google Merchant for e-commerce solutions. I worked on updating the theme to fit the needs of the organization, content creation and continue to handle maintenance requests. Server deployment is based on a Linux shared hosting provider.
In 2013, The Infant-Parent Institute website was migrated to a permanent e-commerce website called Shopify.com. This helped to offset some of the additional costs and maintenance by consolidating everything into a single server. As the website was migrated, it was given a fresh makeover for a more modern look and feel.
Visit the site: infant-parent.com